Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Their Older Peers

Millennials are often lumped together, but the financial realities and habits of the 20–24 year-​old set are very different from their older peers, according to new data from PNC's Financial Independence Survey.  The surveysought insights into the financial patterns and mindsets of 20–29 year-​olds, comparing responses both within the age group and among those with and without higher education. Millennials


Of respondents claiming to hold debt, the younger set carried just half ($17,100) that of their older peers ($35,600). Nearly one third of the younger set carried no debt whatsoever, compared to the older set, noticeably lighter at just one in five. Another key finding; among respondents with some level of college education, average reported debt came in at $31,800, a noteworthy 30% drop from $45,400 in 2011.

"Financial maturity in this generation has noticeably shifted," said Cary Guffey, CFP and financial advisor at PNC Wealth Management. He continues, "Younger millennials just entered adulthood when the economy shifted downward and as a result, it's clear they've become more cautious by avoiding debt."

Categories of debt also highly varied between the two groups. In the older set, debt amounts were reported at double, triple and quadruple that of their younger peers when it came to car loans, credit cards and mortgages, respectively. One category where both age groups fall in-​step with one another is education; about 40% regardless of age claim to hold debt from student loans.


While debt numbers are trending down, so is the number of millennials claiming to save, dropping 6% overall since PNC's 2011 survey.  Younger respondents however, are more likely to save (90%) than their older peers (83%) and do so with a larger proportion of their annual income for short and long-​term saving combined (59%) than the older set (52%).

Millennials hold ambitious goals when it comes to major life events that require financing in their future. Regardless of age, three-​quarters (74%) think they'll own a home before age 35, two-​thirds think they will retire before or in their early to mid-​sixties, and more than three in five (62%) claim to have considered starting a business.

Reported saving patterns, however, do not currently reflect these aspirations. Just 11% claim to save for buying a home, four percent for starting a business, nine percent for starting a family and just six percent for retirement. The top savings category regardless of age is emergency funds.

[Source:  "PNC Financial Independence Survey."  PNC Financial Services Group, Inc./Artemis Strategy Group.  2 Jan. 2014.  Web.  9 Jan. 2014.]