31% of Teenagers Have Experienced Financial Red Flags in a Romantic Relationship

31% of Teenagers Have Experienced Financial Red Flags in a Romantic Relationship

Teens turn to the adults in their lives for advice, despite having financial relationship issues of their own
father and son time

For many Americans, much of the teenager experience involves learning how to manage new and changing relationships with the people around them — as well as the potential issues that these relationships bring.

Nonprofit organizations Junior Achievement (JA) USA and The Allstate Foundation revealed in a new joint survey that nearly a third (31%) of American teenagers have experienced financial red flags in a romantic relationship — including being prevented from going to school or work, and being told what they could or couldn't buy.

Other relationship warning signs reported by respondents include:

  • Feeling pressure to say "yes" when a romantic partner asks them for money (37%)
  • Not being paid back as expected (29%)
  • Being told who they could and couldn't hang out with (22%)

Young adults trust parents, guardians for advice on healthy financial relationships

As they begin to navigate these relationships for the first time, teenagers look to those around them for advice and support. A majority of teen respondents (61%) trust their parents and guardians most to teach them about how to share finances with a romantic partner or friend in healthy ways, especially during a time when families are having more money conversations than ever before.

However, 55% of teens say that, in the last 30 days, they've heard their parents arguing about money — and about the following topics in particular:

  • "Spending too much money" (45%)
  • "A bill costing more than expected" (37%)
  • "Needing more money" (34%)
  • "A big expense" (32%)

Another third of respondents also say their parents spend money on things they don't need instead of supporting the family. Still, just 30% of young people say they've already talked to their parents or guardians on how to share expenses with a romantic partner or friend.

"These statistics are concerning because they may be early indicators of what could become lifelong behaviors affecting these teens," says Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA.

"Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence and one of the main reasons victims can't leave their abusive partners," adds Francie Schnipke Richards, vice president of social responsibility at The Allstate Foundation. "We know that relationship violence can start at a young age, and the results from this study underscore the importance of teaching young people about healthy financial relationships early."

Majority of teens agree they're not ready to share financial responsibilities with others yet

The survey also indicated that most teenagers seem to understand the implications and potential consequences of these relationships though, as 62% of teens say they're not ready to manage shared financial responsibilities with a romantic partner or friend.

Young people also realize that they still have much to learn about money: A recent survey from Wells Fargo found that, although parents are making an effort to teach their teens about personal finance, a growing number of them are also turning to social media and the internet to further their financial education.

Similarly, the joint JA and Allstate Foundation report found that many respondents want to learn about healthy financial relationships from websites (56%) and in school (39%).

Methodology: On behalf of Junior Achievement and The Allstate Foundation, Wakefield Research conducted an online survey of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. teens (ages 13-18) and an oversample of 100 Asian Americans from July 16-22, 2021.