Are we managing our children’s financial expectations?

According to a recent RBS Survey, 59% of parents believe their children will be financially worse off than them in the future

On average children believe they will earn £56,000 aged 35 – twice the average wage

Only 5% of adults share children’s optimistic views about their future earning potential

New data released by RBS shows that adults overwhelmingly think today’s teens will be worse off in the future. Children on the other-hand expect to earn twice the average wage. The stark differences have been highlighted by the RBS MoneySense Research Panel, which is part of the Bank’s financial education programme, and has surveyed over 50,000 children over the last 5 years.

The 2011 findings of the MoneySense Research Panel also indicate:

  • English teens expect to earn most (£57,000), compared to those in Northern Ireland who anticipate earning £39,000. Both are significantly above the actual rate of £24,000.
  • 9 in 10 children think it’s important to learn about money, and are more concerned about debt than any other year since 2007.
  • 71% of young people would like their parents to teach them about finance.

This strongly contrasts with adult’s opinions:

  • The majority of adults believe teens will be earning £25k at the age of 35.
  • Nearly 80% of parents don’t consider money a top priority to discuss with their children.
  • Despite teens wanting to talk to their parents about finance, only 36% of adults actually feel qualified to discuss it.

Andrew Cave from RBS Group Community Affairs said:

‘We know from our research that children want to learn about money, and we know that they instinctively look to their parents. But we also know a lot of adults don’t feel comfortable talking about money with their children, only 18% of them could very confidently describe what an APR is. That’s one of the reasons why RBS believes it’s more important than ever to educate young people about money in the classroom. We believe every child should leave school armed with the ability to manage their money and the skills to make the best financial decisions for their future.’

MoneySense Research Panel

This report is in its fifth and final year and in total has interviewed over 50,000 young people up and down the country. The aim of the five year project has been to speak to children between the ages of 12 and 19 to discover their opinions, attitudes and understandings of cash and how it works in the modern world.

Some of the key regional differences and trends since 2007 are charted here:

Regional Differences

Country Salary expectation aged 35 Reality
England 57,200 Current UK median salary aged 

30-39 is £24,316. That’s a

difference of £32,074.

Northern Ireland £39,600
Scotland £53,600
Wales £46,600

Future Debt

Country Expectation of Debt Reality
England 37% Students starting university in 2012 should expect their average debts to reach £53,400, according to the latest PUSH National Study Debt Survey.
Northern Ireland 32%
Scotland 24%
Wales 30%

Money Management

Country % who learn about money 


England 45% MoneySense has reached 

70% of all secondary schools

since 2005 and taught over

2.5m young people.

Northern Ireland 56%
Scotland 57%
Wales 47%

Key trends across the last 5 years.

Learning about, 

and keeping

track of money.

90% of young people are keeping track of their money, up 10% on 2007 figures. 

More than half of children used formal methods of keeping track of money between

2007 and 2011.

90% thought it was important to learn about money an increase from the

previous year.

Debt In 2007, 24% of young people thought they’d have no debt by the age of 25. By 2011 

this figure had halved to 12%.

More forms of debt were identified by young people in 2011 compared to 2010.

Expectations of £30,000+ debt after university increased, particularly in England:

8% to 33%.

Pocket Money In 2007, 27% of young people earned their own money through a part-time job. This 

Figure had reduced to 20% by 2011.

In 2007, 71% of 16-19 year olds and 89% of 12-15 year olds received pocket money.

In 2011, 79% of 16-19 year olds and 85% of 12-15 year olds received pocket money.

Savings Around a third of all young people had saved for their longer-term future in 2008 

(34%). This increased to 37% in 2011.

The percentage of young people who believe ‘It’s important to Save’ reached 85%

in 2011.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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