New Survey Focused on Latinos Highlights Financial Education Issues

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We aren’t born knowing how to budget and save money for our future. It is a learned skill set often overlooked when discussing formal education staples like history, math, science and social studies. Many adults have had to learn financial skills the hard way, hoping their children won’t follow in their same financial missteps.

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In a recent OnePoll survey, 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 41 were asked about their financial habits and how their years in high school and college influenced current financial perspectives.

Half of the survey respondents identified as Latino, and for good reason — the survey was commissioned by TurboTax as part of the company’s Leading Con Educación program. The multi-year educational program helps prepare young Latinos to take control of their finances through educational content, webinars, and hands-on experience through Intuit TurboTax simulation.

The findings indicated that non-Latino respondents were much more likely to want their children to learn from and model their own money habits after theirs. Compared to 76% of non-Latino respondents, only 51% of Latinos surveyed said they would want their children to make the same personal finance decisions they did.

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Identity aside, subjects claimed not saving money (45%), needless spending (45%) and getting into debt (41%) as the top financial decisions parents wouldn’t want their children to emulate.

Education Is Key to Success

The curriculum found in many of today’s schools lacks the latest real-world, financial tools available for informed personal finance decision making. Forty-seven percent of survey respondents wished their high school had taught them to better manage their money.

Limited access to personal finance knowledge impacts Latino students disproportionately, according to the survey. With Latinos, having access to skills learning in their own language is crucial to building the financial blocks required to effectively mange their finances, something their parents didn’t have during their own early adulthoods.

Parental and Peer Pressure

Latinos reported being less likely to talk to their parents about money than non-Latinos, resulting in 50% of survey respondents saying this made it harder to figure out how to finance their education.

Talking about things like saving (35% vs. 50%), investing (20% vs. 35%) and budgeting (23% vs. 34%) were less prevalent in Latino households than in non-Latino households. Thirty-five percent of Latinos indicated that the lack of conversation about how to manage money with their parents at an early age resulted in having debt as an adult.

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Sixty percent of American adults said they faced peer pressure around spending money from parents, friends and classmates. However, 80% noted that earning their own money helped them learn how to make better spending decisions on their own.

Schooling and Savings

Lack of access to financial education in school and healthy discussions regarding the importance of financial awareness is evident in how it influenced respondents’ adult financial decisions. Ninety percent said being financially literate helped them choose a better-paying career than they would have otherwise.

Only 21% of Latino survey subjects said they’ve completed a bachelor’s degree, compared to 37% of non-Latino respondents. Twenty-six percent of Latino respondents claimed they were the first generation in their family to attend high school.

We have been talking primarily about schools and peer influence, but 71% of Latinos surveyed think that financial support from corporations — in the form of scholarships or educational grants — would be beneficial to support the financial future of Latino students.

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Regarding scholarships and grants, lead of TurboTax Latino Communications Alejandro Molinari agreed. “In addition to schools, financial institutions can do their part in supporting Latino communities in pursuit of their education goals,” she says. “Providing scholarships and grants can widen career choices for underrepresented communities and alleviate the stress of financing tuition costs.”

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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