American Young Adults Are “Living Rich” With Accessible Luxuries
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, young Americans have struggled to catch up to prior generations financially. Compared with Baby Boomers at the same stage of life, today’s emerging adults are earning less, have fewer assets, and are less likely to own homes. How has this affected their attitudes toward saving and spending?
Viacom’s new study, “The Economy of Now,” offers an in-depth look at today’s financial youth culture among Americans aged 18 to 30 via a nationally representative survey, one-on-one interviews with young people and financial service experts, and qualitative methods such as selfie video testimonials, lifelogging, and diaries. Here are some key findings:
Financial security is important, but it’s not a top priority. Only 44% of American young adults rate financial security as important when making life decisions. They place higher value on sharing their experiences, personal freedom, and self-fulfillment.
They were raised to believe that everything turns out okay. Passed down from their Baby Boomer parents, American young adults are optimistic and expect that affluence will come to them in the long run. They believe they deserve the best, their job should match their passions, success will come, and everybody wins.
They take a “YOLO” attitude toward spending and “live rich” through accessible luxuries. “You only live once” is an important motto for this generation. These emerging adults aim to live rich by purchasing things that are premium but affordable, easy and seamless to achieve, and that make them feel rich.
Many are caught in a spend cycle, expecting to save later. Many young adults in the US believe that eventually, they’ll make enough money. They can save when their income catches up to their lifestyle. The thought is that if they work hard, they should allow themselves indulgences because “you only live once!”
They use a digital-first approach to banking and spending. Phones feel safer than wallets to emerging adults in America, with 95% believing that all banks should have mobile banking tools. But this also means that spending is simpler – sometimes maybe too much so.
Purchases must be effortless, so they can get back to living rich. Emerging adults want to “buy first and shop later,” paying to receive products and then decide whether to keep them. Returns are important. Virtually all respondents (92%) said they will buy something again if returns are easy and 79% want free return shipping to be standard.