Today’s 20- and 30-somethings seem to be living the good life. Instead of being tied down by marriage, a house or kids, they’re free to roam as they please.
Ah, youth is bliss, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, recent studies prove otherwise. Rather than being free from responsibility, many young adults feel hesitant about moving forward—even though that’s what they want to do.
Waiting for the Right Reasons Is Wise
It’s true that big, life-changing decisions like marriage are best reserved for people who are ready. You know, after you’ve found that special someone and you’re emotionally prepared for lifelong commitment. Similarly, you should only buy a house when you can afford one. You remember the rules: Get out of debt and save enough money for at least 10% down on a 15-year mortgage with a payment no greater than 25% of your monthly take-home pay.
And kids … well, no one’s ever really ready for kids.
So what’s the problem?
Just the Facts
While most consumer debts have decreased since 2007, one debt continues to climb: student loans. On average, students leave college with $27,000 in loans—and the top 1% owe more than $150,000.
But student loans aren’t the only number that’s climbing. Since 2007, the average age of marriage is also on the rise—up from 27.5 to 28.7 for men and from 25.6 to 26.5 for women. Conversely, fertility rates and home ownership among young adults continues to drop.
Could it be that debt is shaping our cultural norms when it comes to getting married, buying a home, and starting a family?
The Borrower Really Is Slave to the Lender
Despite the fact that college-educated women statistically have a better shot at getting married, women who take out student loans to obtain that education are at a disadvantage. Saddled with debt, they’re now less likely to enter matrimony than women who are free from debt.
Experts suggest that some women are putting off marriage until they pay down student loans and some men are reluctant to ask for a lady’s hand if it also means taking hold of her debt. Of course, a lot of those same guys are weighed down by debt themselves.
As a result, many young adults are moving back in with family, sharing a home with friends, or renting an apartment with their significant other. Oftentimes it’s not the glamorous story of youth we see portrayed on TV. More likely, it’s a desperate attempt to manage the chaos of student loan repayment. Debt is derailing the plans of a generation.
What to Do If That’s You
Sure, some young adults aren’t looking to get married, own a home, or have kids right now—and that’s okay! But others do want to move forward and simply feel stuck by student loans. If you and your honey find yourselves in a similar situation, follow these tips:
- Be honest with each other about exactly how much and what kinds of debt you owe.
- Prove that you’re serious about taking care of your debt by making a big dent in itbefore you discuss marriage.
- Talk openly about how you will get rid of any remaining debt once you do get married.
Studies show that money is the top cause of conflict among couples who are planning a wedding, newly married, or hoping to start a family. Knowing this is half the battle. So go ahead and be proactive! Talk regularly about any money issues between the two of you. Then move forward with confidence! If you can work together to tackle this, you guys can handle anything.