No matter how much a nation progresses, its citizens will always be measured by the same three milestones: financial security, marriage, and procreation.
Not everyone aspires to achieve all or any of the three, but they remain traditional markers of adulthood nonetheless.
A new study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Life Happens unpacks all the ways in which younger generations are delaying the proverbial American dream. Initially, the delay was thought to be a protest against antiquated ideals. This may be true to some degree but insecurity and debt likely distances the majority from family life.
“While traditional milestones are no longer making or breaking what’s important in life, our study shows our hearts are still an important driver to achieving financial peace of mind, no matter your life path,” explained Faisa Stafford, President, and CEO of Life Happens. “A whopping 72% say financial security is an important act of love — with men more likely to agree that financial security is a genuine act of love compared with women — 80% versus 64%.”
Of the 2,000 Americans polled, 47% said that they are currently grappling with various forms of self-doubt. For some respondents their anxiety regarded finances. For others, it was a looming fear that they will never realize their full potential. Whatever the factor, the end result saw participants deprioritize many of the things we associate with success.
Having said that, more than half of the study pool feel judged by others because they didn’t achieve certain milestones by specific ages.
Generation Z (77%) is particularity hard on themselves about having no immediate plans to tie the knot. Seventy-four percent of our youngest generation is waiting to secure steady income before they begin to seriously consider marriage even if the repercussions of this decision haunts them.
For Millennials and Gen Xers (46% and 48%, respectively) the panic mostly had to do with insufficient retirement savings.
The general rule of thumb suggests you start putting away 10% to 15% of your income by the time you enter your twenties. Unfortunately, a considerable number of Americans either don’t make enough to sustain this figure or habitually put off doing so until it’s too late.
In fact, insufficient retirement funds were lamented by most Americans collectively (43%) followed by owning a home (39%), having children (35%), getting married (32%) long-term financial planning and life insurance (28%).
The participants were just about halved on the roadblocks keeping them from domestication. Forty-seven percent said that they are currently weighed down by student loans. The remaining simply privilege their careers over starting a family.
Top 5 reasons to delay a traditional life milestone
1. Personal insecurities 48%
2. Lack of financial stability 47%
3. Partner/spouse has alternative priorities 47%
4. Paying off student loans 47%
5. Friends are also delaying these things 34%
“Significantly, our study shows that 54% of people have had to deal with unexpected life events, which have impacted their long-term financial planning, bringing to the surface the reality that our life’s path can change in a second,” said Stafford. “Regardless, life’s path consists of milestone moments that usually require a promise – to love, cherish, guard and protect.”
Top 5 delayed life milestones
1. Saving for retirement 54%
2. Getting married 53%
3. Having children 50%
4. Buying a home 44%
5. Getting engaged 38%