Millennials think paying for this (very cheap) thing makes them real adults

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“Adulting” is getting more difficult. Nearly half of young Americans (48%) say they have experienced a quarter-life crisis as they fail to meet financial goals expected of them, according to a new survey released by TD Ameritrade.

The survey polled more than 3,000 U.S. adults and teens ages 15 and older, (a third Gen Z, a third young Millennials, aged 22-28, and a third parents, ages 30-60) and found that young adults are caught in between expectations and what’s financially possible for them. The financial goals that were possible for their parents or for generations before them aren’t always possible now.


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Lagging behind financially

Young Americans are expected to be financially independent by 22, on average. However, one in five Millennials expect to rely on their parents for money into their 30s. A full 92% of parents expect their children to be financially independent by age 25.

On average, young millennials say it’s not embarrassing to receive parental financial support… until age 30. Meanwhile, parents think it’s embarrassing if kids are still receiving help from the bank of mom and dad past the age of 27.

Perhaps all this support is ok – after all, 77% of parents surveyed agreed with the statement, “My child is my best friend.” And 63% of Gen Z/young Millennials said that their parents were their best friends. So share and share alike, right?

Meanwhile, one in five young Millennials stay they can’t afford to save anything at all. And 35% are only saving $51-$200, plus 27% saving $201-%500.

Meanwhile, the number of young Americans who say they are not currently saving money has increased by 10% in the past two years.

The younger generations shouldn’t be so hard on themselves, experts say.

“In today’s socio-economic climate where years of stagnant wages meet ‘hustle culture,’ it’s easy to understand why some young Americans feel they’re falling short of achieving their high financial ambitions,” said Chris Bohlsen, director of Investor Services at TD Ameritrade. “But as the concept of ‘adulting’ continues to evolve, so should young Americans’ thoughts and attitudes toward their financial expectations and milestones. Even though wage growth has started to improve and the job market is better than it has been in years, what may have been realistic for their parents or even older siblings still may not be now.”

Still expect to do better than their parents

However, despite their struggles – more than half of American young people (58% of Gen Zs and 52% of young millennials) predict that they’ll be more financially successful than their parents.

These generations define “wealth” a little more differently than their folks did: 63% of Gen Z and 64% of young Millennials agreed with the statement “Wealth today is more defined by the way you live than the amount of money you have.”

A generation lost in space

Young Americans are expected to start saving for retirement by age 23, but only 28% of young millennials over 23 have started saving for retirement.

They’re expected to get married and have a child by 25, but men are getting married by 30, women by 28 and American women generally have their first child by 27.

They’re expected to a full-time job, pay their own phone bill and move out from their parent’s home by 20, and buy a home by 27, but Americans are buying their first homes at 32, on average.

The traditional status markers are lost on this generation.

So… What makes an adult these days?

According to the survey results, young Americans believe that paying for streaming services is now one of the first markers of modern adulthood – and they typically do it at the age of 19.

So now you know. Do you know they pay for their own Spotify? That’s a full-fledged adult, right there.