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Press Room

30 March 2010

British Teenagers Are Emerging From Recession With More Money Sense

Independent research shows a breakthrough in British teenagers’ money management skills as money lessons in secondary schools pay off.

  • Over two thirds of the 10,000 teenagers surveyed say their money management skills have improved during the recession
  • Boys are more likely to save than girls – 33 per cent compared to 24 per cent save all or most of their money
  • Teens in the North East are the biggest savers while those in the East Midlands worry most about money
  • The highest future salary expectations are in London.

According to research released today there is one group in particular who are emerging from the recession with more money sense: British teenagers. The findings from NatWest’s 2010 MoneySense Research Panel, an annual poll which surveys over 10,000 12-19 year olds across the UK to assess their financial awareness and aspirations, reveal that the recession has had a profound – and encouraging – impact on the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of British teenagers around money. It shows that, compared to 12 months ago, they are now significantly more considered now in how they plan, budget, spend and save.

As many as 67 per cent of young people surveyed thought their money management skills had improved from last year. Commenting on the news, Sarah Neary, Head of NatWest MoneySense Panel, said: “The results from this year’s Panel demonstrate that young people recognise the importance of money management and the need to make prudent financial choices. Having surveyed close to 30,000 young people over the last three years, and provided impartial money lessons in 60 per cent of British secondary schools, we are certainly encouraged by this news".

The recession has exposed many young people to “adult” money issues; feeling the household budget tighten and increased awareness of unemployment and parents’ money worries. This has not only influenced their thinking, it has had direct impact too: teens today report receiving just over half the amount of money they received each month last year.

Boys lead the savings trend

The findings show clear differences in behaviour between Britain’s boys and girls:

  • Boys are much more likely to save than girls, with a third of boys (33%) compared to a quarter of girls (24%) saying they save most or all of their money;
  • Boys are also more likely to be earning money in some way, either through part-time work or chores (30% for boys, compared to 27% for girls);
  • Boys have seen less of a drop in their pocket money as a result of the recession than girls (15% for boys, compared to 18%for girls).

There are also significant differences between age groups, with:

  • 11-13 year olds most likely to save all of their money;
  • 14-16 year olds most likely to spend all their money;
  • 18 year olds, those closest to higher education and the workforce, likely to save most of their money, indicating a sensible approach to money as they reach adulthood.

Breakthrough as research shows money management lessons pay off

For the first time since this five year research project began, there are now proven findings that show NatWest MoneySense lessons in schools around the country have directly and positively impacted on teenagers’ ability to translate their attitudes and beliefs into positive behaviours. Young people receiving MoneySense lessons are:

  • More likely to keep track of their money;
  • Less worried about money in general because of their increased understanding;
  • More likely to have saved most of their money.
  • More likely to discuss money matters at home - money conversations are no longer taboo

"These results are proof that financial education in schools does make a difference. Money management lessons help students become 'financially fit', instilling good budgeting practices and helping to prepare the next generation for a brighter financial future," Neary continued. Programmes like MoneySense, which is taught by NatWest staff in 60 per cent of secondary schools across the country, coupled with the advice given by parents and guardians, will help lay the foundations for a financially stable future. Continued support of the UK's younger generations to build their holistic understanding, attitudes and behaviours towards money, will help them become financially capable consumers, and in turn will help make our communities more sustainable

Sensible today, daydreaming tomorrow – unrealistic aspirations

There is still work to be done to ensure that the good habits teenagers form now continue into adulthood, as there is currently a significant gap between expectation and reality regarding young people’s future financial expectations:

More than a third (38%) of young people who hope to go into higher education expect to owe up to 10,000 by the end of their course.
In fact:
The average amount of debt that young people incur in higher education is currently around 20,000*.
More than 6 out of 10 young people (61%) expect to be able to buy a house by the time they are 25.

As many as 85% expect to be homeowners by the age of 30.

The average response for how much a typical three bedroom house should cost was 75,000.

In fact:
Only 14 per cent of homeowners in the UK are under 25**.

The average house price valued at 163,481 according to the Nationwide House Price Index.

Over half of those surveyed said they did not know how much they would be earning at different life stages (classified as ‘when they first finish their education’, ‘by the age of 25’, and ‘by the age of 35’).

In these three groups young people report expectations of:

  • 11,600 – when they first finish their education
  • 31,000 – by the age of 25
  • 51,800 – by the age of 35
In fact:
Young people’s salary expectations are over-inflated - average salaries are:
  • 18-21: 10,195***
  • 22-29: 20,962***
  • 30-39: 28,933***


  • * Debt figures:, the leading independent guide to UK universities, student life, gap years, open days, student finance
  • ** Homeowner age: English Household Survey data
  • *** Salaries: Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

Note to editors:

About MoneySense

MoneySense for Schools is the largest corporate financial capability programme in Great Britain. The programme began in 1994 and has since grown to encompass a range of financial capability projects for adults, young people and vulnerable groups.

‘MoneySense’ incorporates ‘MoneySense for Schools’ and ‘MoneySense for Adults’. The impartial schools programme, delivers over 330,000 MoneySense lessons each year. There are 3,583 schools using MoneySense resources out of 5,703 secondary schools in the UK. It is aimed at the specific needs of young people and is provided to teachers free of charge. It seeks to develop business and financial skills among students and helps teachers deliver curriculum-linked ‘financial capability’ lessons. The materials, carefully thought out by teachers for teachers, deliver real-life activities in the classroom that are relevant to real life money management. A unique part of the programme is that it is delivered by NatWest employees in partnership with teachers.

About the RBS Group

The RBS Group is a large international banking and financial services company. Headquartered in Edinburgh, the Group operates in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Asia, serving over 30 million customers.

The Group provides a wide range of products and services to personal, commercial and large corporate and institutional customers through its two principal subsidiaries, The Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, as well as through a number of other well-known brands including Citizens, Charter One, Ulster Bank, Coutts, Direct Line and Churchill