A qualitative study of selected demographic characteristics, generation of birth, and birth order on the stated purpose and goals for money usage among college students and their parents




Dilworth, Jennie

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The purpose of this study was to explore the influences on the formation of money purposes and goals using a qualitative method. Little published research pertaining to the formation of money purposes and goals is available. Goal-setting and perceived purposes for allocating money may influence an individual's relationship with money and money-related behaviors.

A purposive sample of 75 college students and 75 of their parents was obtained. Three research questions guided the study: (a) How do selected demographic variables influence money purpose and goals? (b) how does generation of birth influence money purpose and goals? (c) how does birth order influence money purpose and goals? Data were collected by means of written responses to open- and closed-ended questions in a survey format.

The findings of the study revealed that respondents held specific goals for the use of their money, and they perceived various purposes for money. Respondents indicated preferences for money purposes/goals relating to the necessities of life and providing security for self and family. Savings and luxuries also were common purposes/goals and four money philosophies were identified. Debt was a less common theme, and charity was listed by few respondents.

Trends in theme preferences were explored for respondents grouped by selected demographic variables (ethnic identity, current and birth family gross income, gender, marital status), generation of birth, and birth order. Few notable differences emerged for theme preferences among groups. Parents indicated greater interest in retirement savings whereas students more often listed general savings in their responses. White respondents preferred educational themes, yet the sub-theme of student loans was more common among African Americans. Males indicated greater interest in providing security for self and family and retirement savings. No male respondents proposed a charity purpose/goal for money. Similar theme preferences were observed for respondents classified in the birth order positions of oldest male and female, youngest female, and only male and female listed similar themes/sub-themes.



Sociology, Birth Order, Education, College Students, Parents, Finances