There’s been so much news coverage in the last several years (and perhaps this has happened with previous generations as well) about how 20-somethings are no longer adults in the same sense that our grandparents were when they were the same age – we are engaged in “emerging adulthood” or “adultescence” instead. Sometimes finances are implicated as a cause of this extended adolescence/delayed adulthood.
“Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so.” (source)
Kyle and I have only completed three of these five milestones. We jumped out and completed those three rather soon after college and we are apparently dragging out feet on completing the last two.
I became financially independent from my parents and moved out of their house when I was 22 (same for Kyle). Kyle and I got married when we were 24.
I hope that I’ll finish my PhD before age 30 (age 28 is ambitious; age 29 is likely). Kyle will be finished with “school” when he’s 28 but as he’s planning on doing a postdoc he will still be “in training” and won’t get a real job for 2-5 years after that (we hope on the shorter side!). We’re still debating over when we want to have our first child, but I really can’t see it happening before we turn 30 because we will likely be living apart for a stint.
Reviewing when we complete these milestones made me wonder if their timing had anything to do with our finances. The lack of well-paying entry jobs and student loan debt are routinely cited as chief factors in young adults delaying marriage, reproduction, and home-buying.
For us, finances had nothing to do with the timing of the milestones we have completed; they will have nothing to do with our graduation dates and likely nothing to do with when we have our first child. We started our full-time jobs right after graduating from college and moved out of our parents’ houses within a few months, so that had mostly to do with when we graduated from college. We got married when we were ready, relationship-wise, to make a lifelong commitment to one another, and I think our finances were irrelevant to the timing of our progression to the alter. Delaying our marriage to save more money for our wedding never even occurred to us. Even if we couldn’t have had the wedding we did, we still would have gotten married because we wanted to move forward with our life together.
I suppose it’s possible that our finances will influence when we have our first child, in the sense that if we are both unemployed we probably won’t try to get pregnant. But it will have much more to do with 1) whether or not we’re living together, 2) our relationship readiness, and 3) the logistics of when we might next be changing jobs/moving.
Probably the reason I think that our finances haven’t affected when we’ve reached these life milestones is because they have been overall fairly rosy. We don’t make much money, but we do earn more than the living wage, we haven’t yet been unemployed, and our parents have supported us (paid for most of college, gave us space to get on our feet, and contributed financially to our wedding). We have been very fortunate. So maybe our finances have influenced the timing in the sense that they haven’t hindered the timing.
Which of these markers of adulthood have you achieved and in which order? How much did your finances have to do with the timing?
photo from Free Digital Photos