Young adults between the ages of 23 and 28 are more worried about being “financially fit” than “physically fit,” Charles Schwab found in a survey of 1,252 people conducted in January.

Fifty-two percent said that “making better choices about managing money” is the single most important issue for Americans today, outpacing the 18% that cited strengthening family relationships and 11% who said protecting the environment is the most critical issue. Only 9% cited improving personal nutrition and health.

In terms of education in school between kindergarten and grade 12, 51% said that financial education is the most important, followed by physical education (31%) and sex education (18%).

“This age group is clearly riveted by our weakened economy,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation. “When we see people in their 20s prioritizing responsible money management over personal nutrition and health, it seems clear that the need for individual accountability has penetrated deeply into the culture.

“Without diminishing the importance of good health, these results are very encouraging and could signal a new era of financial responsibility among American consumers,” Schwab-Pomerantz continued.

Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said they were surprised to find out how much it takes to live independently, and only 51% are financially independent from their parents. More than a quarter still live with their parents, and 28% are unemployed.

Twenty-something year-olds’ interest in finance presents a tremendous opportunity for 401(k) sponsors and administrators, Schwab notes, since only 31% of this age group say they are familiar with their employers’ financial benefit plans, and 30% aren’t contributing to their 401(k) plan.

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