Earning potential is overestimated by teenagers

But research reveals they understand the importance of saving

Henry Hepburn

Scottish teenagers are fairly sensible with money - although they have wildly unrealistic expectations about what they will earn when they are older.

The Royal Bank of Scotland's MoneySense research panel has surveyed 50,000 teenagers since 2007, and the latest findings often bear out Scots' reputation for frugality.

Some 72 per cent of the 1,721 Scots interviewed in 2011 said they had saved money in the previous month, and 80 per cent disagreed with the statement "there is no point in saving money".

There is a "good understanding" of what to consider when applying for a loan, such as the time needed to repay and how much they could afford to repay. About 81 per cent expect to have debt by 25, with the average prediction pound;22,000.

But the teenagers often go off track when projecting into the future. They believe they will earn pound;54,000 by the age of 35, even though people in their 30s tend to earn less than half that: the current UK median salary at 30-39 is just over pound;24,000.

Their parents are less optimistic: 60 per cent believe their children will be worse off than them in the future.

The five-year sweep of data available to RBS shows, however, that young people may be tempering their expectations, as the future salaries they predict have actually come down. Equally, while 24 per cent in 2007 expected to have no debt by the age of 25, that figure is now 12 per cent.

Even so, only 22 per cent of teenagers expect to need a loan in the future and 15 per cent think they will need an overdraft. Some 61 per cent expected to buy their own house by 25, and 86 per cent by 30.

Despite the growth of financial education in schools the teenagers still struggle with some concepts, including annual percentage rates (APRs).

Some 57 per cent learn about money management at school, and 36 per cent want more money management lessons.

"We know from our research that children want to learn about money, and we know that they instinctively look to their parents," said Andrew Cave, of RBS Group community affairs. "But we also know a lot of adults don't feel comfortable talking about money with their children - only 18 per cent of them could very confidently describe what an APR is."




- Boys spent pound;129 a month, girls pound;101.

- Most money spent on clothes or shoes (pound;39), driving lessons (pound;25), socialising (pound;22) and technology (pound;21).

- 29 per cent expected to have a business in the future.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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