Young woman smiling putting a coin inside piggy bank as savings for investment

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NEW YORK — For many people, the most important moments of adulthood often center around getting married and having kids. And who can forget that white picket fence? Well, a new survey shows that may not be the case anymore. It seems Americans are trading in their dreams of a happy home and instead are focused on personal finances in 2020 and beyond.

A poll of 2,000 Americans, commissioned by Life Happens, finds that a majority of adults are putting off traditional life milestones like marriage, starting a family, and saving for retirement. Sixty-one percent of respondents say those goals were no longer important to them, with the biggest reason being money.

“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,” Life Happens CEO Faisa Stafford says in a statement.

The most common milestone being delayed was saving for retirement. That was followed by marriage, having children, buying a new home, and getting engaged.

Financial fears

Nearly half of the survey admit “personal insecurities” were the cause for changing their priorities. Those issues range from fears over their current finances to concerns their careers weren’t far enough along to support a family.

Forty-seven percent of adults say their student loans were also making them delay some life milestones. A third of the poll adds that a friend’s decision to hold off on major life events influenced their own choice to delay having children or buying a home.

Researchers say those who are waiting longer feel good about the decision; at least where their wallet is concerned. Seventy-four percent of those adults reported being more financially stable after holding off on traditional life goals.

Love and banking

It might not seem very romantic, but many Americans believe the best gift they can give a significant other is a healthy bank account. A large majority actually call reaching financial stability a sign of their love and affection.

“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%,” Stafford explains.

Peer pressure

Although more adults today find marriage less important, many claim they’re still being judged for not reaching some of life’s biggest milestones. Researchers say the reasons for the peer pressure mostly depend on the person’s age.

Seventy-seven percent of young adults in Generation Z say they feel judged for not getting married. Nearly half of both millennials and Generation X admit they get judged for not having a retirement plan in place yet.

In the age of coronavirus, adults have realized how uncertain life can be. Researchers for the financial planning nonprofit say these unexpected dilemmas are one of the biggest reasons why Americans are changing their priorities.

“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,” Stafford said.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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