Friday, October 27, 2006

CPA Survey: Gen Y Crushed by Debt

Net worth is down, savings have dipped, and debt has spiked. It's not a pretty picture, but that's the snapshot of Gen Y consumers (ages 25-34) captured by a recent survey from a non-profit accounting trade group.

The average credit card debt balance:$4,088; the student loan average: $20,000, with an average of 24 percent of income going to overall debt payments.

Here is a quick overview of survey results.

· The median net worth of Americans in the 25 – 34 age group is significantly lower than it was 20 years ago, despite increases in income: In 1985, it was $6,788; in 2004, it was $3,746.

· The number of people in this demographic maintaining an interest-bearing savings account is declining, from 61 percent in 1985 to 47 percent in 2004.

· There is an increased willingness among Americans in this age group to acquire unsecured debt: The average level of debt in 1985 was $3,118, whereas in 2004, it climbed to $4,733.

Saving money on a small budget is possible. I like the money savings tips from MP Dunleavey of MSN Money.

Her tips include adopt a veggie diet, stash away found money, do-it-yourself dry cleaning, increase your insurance deductible and never pay full price.

I also like the money savings tips from Meme, 93-year-old woman, who passed down a savings legacy to her granddaughter.

Survey credit:
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants commissioned two economists from Beacon Economics of Los Angeles to conduct the survey the personal finance habits of Gen Y consumers.


Trent said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Generation Y is going to financially pay for the misbehaviours of Generation X and the baby boomers. Those generations created an artificially high standard of living based on a housing and education market growing much faster than wage growth. Now when it's time for Gen Y to have to buy into these to even meet the standard set by the other two generations, the greed of Gen X and the boomers is forcing Gen Y into a big financial hole. OF COURSE Gen Y is going to be in a big hole - they're young, they've got a much bigger financial mountain to climb, and they have the weight of their parents (who had a much easier financial path) doubting their children because they're not as easily pulling off the ol' home purchase or education purchase that their parents did.

Do you think I'm bitter? Not for my own personal situation, but for the situation I continually see people my age (yep, I'm Gen Y, at least by this definition) stuck in.

The parents of the baby boomers might be the "greatest generation," but it's Gen Y that's going to have to save the West, and the only way to do it is to have a large number of them be financially smart.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where these studies come from, but I'll say that the Gen Y'ers I know are doing great (some better off than me). They are young (mid- to late-20's) and making $150k+. Pharmacists, engineers, MBAs, and the list goes on.

Frugal Duchess: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg said...

Trent and Anon:

Thanks for your comments.
I've seen lots of material and data about GenX and GenY consumers having difficulty creating the standard of living set by their parents.

Sure, many are doing well. But because of debt and other financial issues, there are more young adults living with their parents.

Maybe the surveys are wacked...but that's what I've seen.

I'll keep looking.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.