APLUS: Financial Behavior During the Transition to Adulthood

As young adults approach 30 years of age and enter into financial adulthood, most are doing well. They are well-educated and employed, living independently and forming relationships. They are financially capable, confident and able to manage their finances. And they are making prudent financial choices in achieving life goals, often working more hours to make ends meet and saving before purchasing. This finding comes from Wave 4 of the Arizona Pathways to Life success for University Students (APLUS), a longitudinal study that has followed young adults who were incoming freshman at University of Arizona in 2008.

Wave 4 of the study, co-funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates, focuses on adult financial capability, stability and well-being. And while the study shows that the kids are (mostly) all right, findings also show that some are doing better than others, while some are struggling. For example, men are earning more and are more confident than women. Participants from lower SES families feel less control over their finances, less confidence and report less healthy financial coping behaviors. More non-white participants still had student loan debt and scored lower on financial self-efficacy than whites. And first generation college students felt less confident and capable, but outperformed their peers on objective knowledge.

Not surprisingly, higher well-being and life satisfaction generally followed healthier financial behaviors and higher financial knowledge and confidence.

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