Everything You Thought You Knew About Millennials May Be Wrong

June 21, 2016

Credit Karma Study Finds 18-34 Year Olds Value American Dream

Millennial photo557

A new survey by Credit Karma finds that contrary to trending criticisms, young people really are interested in “adulting” in pretty traditional ways. They are getting married and buying homes and cars in large numbers. Urban, suburban and rural 18-34 year-olds are starting families and using credit cards. They collectively carry more student debt than any generation before, but that is not stopping them from moving forward with their lives and saving for the future.

How do we know? Credit Karma, working with Qualtrics, surveyed over 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 34 on their plans for everything from marriage and money to cars and kids. While the results shattered many of the negative stereotypes that have been perpetuated in anecdotes about young people putting off the responsibilities of adulthood in favor of short term relationships and jobs, living for the moment and putting off retirement planning, we were not surprised. Millennials across the country have been an active segment of our more than 60 million members who use Credit Karma tools to monitor their credit, find better credit and loan offers and make data-based financial decisions. From Los Angeles, California to Blue Ridge, Georgia and Cambridge, Massachusetts, millennials are following in the footsteps of generations before them.

What is a myth and what is the truth?

Myth: Millennials have less of a desire than previous generations to get married and are having children later in life.

Fact: Four out of five millennials say they want to get married and the majority that have married did so in their 20s.

q6 marital
marriage plans
q10 Children

As illustrated by the massive popularity of matchmaking shows, young people are overwhelmingly committed to finding that special someone, and most of them plan to make it official one day. Of those planning a wedding, most are setting the date for while they are still in their 20s, according to the survey. They also plan to start families with three-fourths of millennials surveyed already joining the ranks of parenthood or planning on it.

Survey findings:

  • Almost half (46%) of millennials are already married or living with a partner
  • Over four out of five (83%) millennials who are unmarried hope to get married one day
  • The biggest chunk of married millennials tied the knot between the ages of 22 and 26 (43%)
  • Over two out of five (42%) millennials already have a child; and another third plan to start a family at some point
  • A previous marriage attitudes survey conducted by Credit Karma comparing Baby Boomers to millennials found that when it comes to marriage the two generations have similar approaches to discussing and managing finances.

Myth: Urban millennials are not as interested in getting married as suburban or rural millennials.

Fact: Millennials all over the country say they want to get married in overwhelming numbers.

There was little statistical difference between urban, rural and suburban percentages of married millennials, those who want to get married, those living together and the age of marriage.

  • 85% of unmarried urban millennials hope to get married. Similarly, 82% of suburban and 83% of rural millennials hope to tie the knot
  • Over one third (34%) of urban millennials are married, while 36% of rural millennials are married
  • About one in ten urban and rural millennials (11% and 12%, respectively) are unmarried but living with a partner
  • Only 22% percent of both rural and urban married millennials were married between ages 16-22.

Myth: Millennials don’t care about owning a home.

Fact: Millennials aspire to own homes, but are hindered by affordability

q13 Housing
q14 home plans
q16No home

Despite reports of waves of millennials returning to the nest, a significant majority are out on their own. Over half of those surveyed (58%) were homeowners who bought their home before their 26th birthday. Those who had not taken title yet to a piece of the American Dream overwhelmingly (88%) said they would like to take that milestone step. Those who did not see homeownership in their future cited the expense and difficulty of qualifying for a loan as stumbling blocks, a statistic that makes managing credit even more important for young people.

  • Millennials are equally split between renting and owning
  • A large majority of millennials (nearly 88%) who do not own a home today hope to purchase a home in the future
  • 17 percent of millennials who own a home had purchased one in their early to mid-20s
  • Of those that do not own a home, the majority confess that buying a home is too expensive; fear of debt ranks as the number two hindrance
  • Younger millennials who said they did not want to own a home most often said they didn’t see the benefit while older millennials most often said that they thought buying a home was too expensive
  • Less than 5% said student loans were the reason they did not want to buy a home.

Read more results of the survey on how millennials manage money here.

Methodology: Credit Karma, in partnership with Qualtrics, surveyed 1,016 18-34 year-olds between May 25 and June 3 to ask their opinions on 33 questions. All data was aggregated and anonymized.