NEW YORK — There are few moments in life as cherished and celebrated as saying “I do.” Marriage is often looked at as a new chapter in life and adulthood, but alarmingly, a new survey finds a staggering amount of young Americans feel unable to enter their next phase with the person they love because of debt.
A total of 2,000 young adults were surveyed (50% millennials, 50% Gen Z), and 37% said they are putting off their wedding plans due to outstanding balances in their lives.
In fact, 84% admitted they’ve at least considered pulling back on a romantic relationship because they’ve wanted to pay off major debts before things became too serious. Besides the 37% that are engaged but haven’t set a date due to money woes, another 37% are putting off even getting engaged for the same reasons. Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents have changed their mind about moving in with a partner over financial restraints, and about three in ten (29%) are dragging their feet on buying a home.
The research, commissioned by Laurel Road, also came to another interesting conclusion. While being buried in bills was looked at as something of a scarlet letter by older generations, young people today realize outstanding debt is largely a fact of life for the vast of majority of Americans under the age of 35. In all, 81% of respondents said that debt is very common among their peers, and they don’t intend to let their financial woes negatively impact their romantic relationships.
“Debt and personal finance can be a tricky topic for even the most stable couples, but it’s essential to be open about your debt if you are going to grow a relationship,” comments Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Marketing Officer for Laurel Road, in a statement. “Our survey also found that student debt especially, has become a widespread financial concern among millennials and will likely be the same for gen Z. It’s encouraging to see the empathy that younger generations have developed for one another.”
Among respondents, one third said they are currently working on paying off some outstanding debt. Additionally, most young people are at least upfront regarding their financial situation with their love interest; 58% found out about a partner’s debt within the first year of dating. Similarly, 34% believe it’s prudent to inform their significant other about their debt within six months of seeing each other.
In broad terms, young Americans are very open about their financial situations. Over four in five (84%) respondents are more than happy to discuss their debt with a potential life partner. However, many still like to wait until the time is right. For example, among respondents currently paying off some debt, 49% admitted they have avoided talking about their own debt with a partner when finance came up in a conversation, and 65% are still hiding their debt from a partner.
If one thing is clear, it’s that many young Americans are very much in the same financial boat. As such, it makes sense that 76% of respondents have gone to their partner for money or debt advice. On that note, 55% have collaborated with their partner on a budget or payment plan, and 36% have even looked into refinancing options to help their drowning partner.
How’s this for selfless: 38% of respondents who are aware of their partner’s debt have offered to take it on themselves. Would you be willing to do the same for that special someone in your life?
Another 56% would at least be willing to help their significant other pay off their student debt, and 38% would do the same regarding credit card bills.
Of course, for some, debt can be a deal breaker. In all, 46% have considered breaking up with someone because of their student loans, and 28% have pondered ending things due to piling credit card bills. On the other side of the spectrum, 74% believe openly discussing finance and debt with their partner has ultimately strengthened their relationship.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.