Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Eric A. Powers

Second Reader

Dillon Chewning


Purpose – Many people between the age of 20 and 34 have not considered planning financially for the future in any significant capacity and in doing so, they limit their potential savings. The purpose of this study is to examine what financial expectations are for people in the early stages of their career and determine if improving financial literacy and revealing financial realities helps to produce more accurate or realistic expectations. Ultimately, the goal is to better prepare participants in the study for the working world and increased responsibilities outside of the college/university environment by getting them to start thinking about financial planning topics.

Methods – Participants took an initial survey that gathers their current financial information as well as their financial expectations and perceptions. This information was then used to generate individual financial plans using Northwestern Mutual®’s financial planning software. After sending each participant who completed the survey a financial plan along with a two-page document explaining common financial planning topics, participants took a second survey that gathered information on whether their perceptions have changed. The information from the surveys and financial plans was then analyzed through SAS® Studio software utilizing nonparametric statistical tests.

Results – The data showed that before students were exposed to the financial literature, there were significant differences at some level (either short term or long term) for the gender and educational background subgroups, but not the economic background subgroup. Additionally, on an individual level of the strata of the subgroups, subjects seemed to underestimate the amounts they needed for both the retirement funds and emergency funds with the following differences being significant underestimations: retirement funds for female subjects, emergency funds for female subjects, retirement funds for subjects with BRM1 (Business related majors and minors), emergency funds for subjects with NBRM (Non-Business related majors and minors), and retirement funds for subjects with HIB (High-income backgrounds). After they were exposed to the financial literature, the strata within the subgroups were no longer significantly different on any level which indicates that being exposed to similar financial literature may make people’s expectations both more realistic and more uniform. Each individual stratum difference was also either closer to 0 or became positive (or both) which indicated that subjects’ expectations were more realistic, and they expected they needed more than they previously did. The study indicated that financial literature can significantly change one’s perceptions about financial services and potentially spur them to think more about financial topics. There was also a drastic drop in financial confidence regarding retirement goals after subjects reviewed financial literature. This indicates that the younger demographic may not have a realistic grasp of what they need for retirement and that revealing what they need make them realize how much planning goes in to reaching their financial goals.

Implications – The findings may mean that financial literature may make the overall population reach a similar level of financial literacy with that level being higher than it was before the financial literature was introduced. This could have significant implications regarding how to mitigate issues such as the gender and wage gap and show that more information may lead to more educated decisions being made regarding financial management. It may also support the concept of introducing more financial information at a younger age so that the effects of financial literacy can be seen earlier rather than later.

First Page


Last Page


Honors Thesis Importable - No Name.xlsx (53 kB)
Raw data used for statistical analysis

Honors Thesis Analysis-results.pdf (595 kB)
SAS analysis results used to form conclusions

Honors Thesis Two-Pager.docx (17 kB)
Financial information provided to participants

Financial-Plan-2020_03_23_22_46_51-SixtySix-DRAFT.pdf (816 kB)
Sample Plan 1

Financial-Plan-2020_03_24_00_54_56-OneHundredThirtyFive-DRAFT.pdf (827 kB)
Sample Plan 2