Young Adults Doing Well

According to a new study by Money Under 35, young adults are not only financially healthy but also actively focused on saving and managing their credit. In fact, young adults are generally doing well, most of them are rated in “good” financial health, according to the report. Many are starting families, saving money and managing their finances. Financial health increases over time as young adults gain education, build incomes and repay student loans.

Starting a family or spending time with family ranks as the most important of six life goals for a leading 29% of young Americans aged 22-35, closely followed by being happy, which is the top goal for 28% of Americans of this age, according to a study from Navient. Being debt-free is also a much greater goal than home ownership or career advancement, says the report, though the financial health of the respondent appears to have an impact on the ranking of these goals.

Millennials Most Important Life Goal (“Most Important”; US Adults Age 22-35)


Percent Rating Most Important/Financial Health

Most Important Life Goal

All Respondents

Excellent Financial Health



Starting a family or spending time with family





Being happy





Being debt free





Owning a home





Advancing career





Able to travel anytime





Source: Navient, December 2015; (Financial Health based on 15 objective and behavior indicators)

The study was based on a survey conducted by Ipsos of 3,006 young Americans aged 22-35, constructing a “financial health index” based on 15 objective and behavioral indicators, then segmented the sample into three groups of financial health based on those index scores. One in 5 respondents were classified as being in “excellent” financial health, with 63% falling in the “good” category and the remaining 17% determined to be in “poor” financial health.

  • Young adults between the ages of 22 and 35 go through many transitional periods in their lives: leaving high school or college, starting their first job, going back to school, getting married, buying a home and starting their family
  • Financial health improves with age and education, and 65% of young adults see their education as a worthwhile investment
  • 63% of young adults score in the “good” financial health range, while 20% are in “excellent” financial health and 17% are in “poor” financial health. Age 30 is a break point in moving from “good” to “excellent” financial health

Fewer than one in 10 with a bachelor’s or advanced degree is in “poor” financial health (8% bachelor’s, 5% advanced) compared to two in 10 of those who did not achieve a degree (20% high school or less, 21% some college, no degree).

  • Individuals in “excellent” financial health are more likely to prioritize being debt-free over being happy. These individuals also put a higher priority on owning a home than do those in “good” or “poor” financial health
  • Young adults in “poor” and “excellent” financial health both tend to engage in cost-saving behaviors, such as eating at home and using a grocery list, more frequently than do those in “good” financial health
  • Agreement that education was a worthwhile investment rises with educational attainment. Seventy-eight% of young adults with a degree agree that their education was a worthwhile investment, versus 59% of those without a degree (56% high school or less, 63% some college, no degree)

Those with higher levels of education are more likely to get married; borrowing for college does not deter family formation.

  • Young adults with an advanced degree are twice as likely as those with an associate degree to be married (67% versus 35%, respectively)
  • Bachelor’s degree holders who borrowed for college are equally likely to have children as those who did not borrow for college (39% and 40% respectively) and to be married (52% for both groups)
  • Advanced degree holders who did borrow for college are more likely to be married (70%) and have children (51%) than are advanced degree holders who did not borrow (62% and 42%, respectively)

Men and women continue to have different rates of full-time employment, and pay varies substantially within the same professional field.

  • 64% of young adult men are employed full time, compared to 47% of young adult women, a difference explained mostly by women’s choice to act as a full-time at-home parent (21% of women versus 1% of men)
  • Income differences within the same field of study are often substantial: in engineering, women make 17% less than their male counterparts, while women make 53% less than men in social science fields (e.g., psychology, economics, political science). The narrowest income gap, 5%, is observed in math/science fields (e.g., biology, computer science)
  • Women are more likely than men to have the most common types of debt except student loans: auto, mortgage and credit card debt, with a 10% lead over men for auto loans (34% to 24%)
  • Student loans are the only type of debt that men are more likely to have, with 36% of men reporting student borrowing, versus 32% of women.

Generally, young adults are more satisfied with their life and health than they are about their current job or income, but they are more optimistic about future prospects for income and career, concludes the report.

For (considerable) additional information about the study, please visit here.



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