Approaching 30 and loving it?

Wave 4

What began as an inquiry into how college students form financial behaviors has become a chronicle of the passage to adulthood for the first generation of young adults in the 21st century. For them, the pathway to adulthood has been met with unexpected and sometimes extraordinarily disruptive external change.

As young adults approach 30, it is an ideal time to what progress these pioneers are making in achieving stability.


Key Study Findings

Despite growing up in a time of instability and change, most of the young adults are doing well.  They’re well-educated and employed, living independently and forming relationships. They’re financially capable, confident and able to manage their finances. They’re making prudent financial choices in achieving life goals, often working more hours to make ends meet and saving before purchasing.

Debt is a downer. Although less than 1% of those with student loan debt were in default, the presence – or absence – of student loan debt was a key factor in quality of life: lower levels of psychological well-being, financial well-being, friendships, career satisfaction, and life satisfaction – compared to their debt-free counterparts. Those carrying debt were more likely to be from lower- and middle-SES and ethnic minority families and first-gen college students.

Higher Education pays off; maybe not equally. In this predominately college-educated sample, unemployment rates were very low, and earnings rose significantly over the three-years since the previous survey. However, men were earning significantly more than women. This earnings gap may also explain why more women were receiving financial help from their families, investing less, and feeling less confident about their finances than their male counterparts.