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ABC Presents One Young Spendthrift as Symbol of Poor Money Management

     Young people are too busy buying scores of jeans to worry about socking away money for retirement, ABC’s Betsy Stark suggested to viewers in the first story in her “Money Trap” series on American debt. But Stark left out that a new survey shows 20-somethings are the most likely age bracket to be invested in tax-free Roth 401(k) plans.

     Stark’s July 10 “World News Tonight” story centered on Erin Browne, a 27-year old “already living under a mountain of debt” with “a $130,000-mortgage and at least $50,000 in student loans.”

     Of course Browne’s mountain may be a rolling hill or it may be an Alpine peak, depending on her salary, occupation, earning potential, and cost-of-living where she resides. Stark didn’t inform viewers of any of those factors. She also left out the actual equity in the home with the $130,000 mortgage.

     What’s more, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Browne is five years ahead of the game when it comes to owning her first home.

     “The median age of entry-level buyers is 32 years,” with the typical buyer putting in a down payment of “2 percent on a home costing $150,000,” NAR noted in a Jan. 17, 2006 press release announcing the findings of its 2005 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

     And while Browne confessed to Stark that she plans to start saving for retirement sometime in the future, a new survey shows that 20-somethings are planning for retirement right now, opting in higher numbers than other age groups for tax-free retirement plans.

    “A recent survey by Hewitt Associates found that nearly 14% of workers in their 20s selected the Roth 401(k) when it was available. That was the highest participation rate for all age groups,” reported USA Today’s Sandra Block in the July 11 paper.