Money, marriage and the world of millennials

Jantzi-BerylBeryl Jantzi is director of Stewardship Education for Everence. If you are interested in resources that can be used to assist in conversations about finances and financial planning, be in touch with Beryl.

There are a number of good resources currently available for pastors to use when working with couples getting ready for marriage. One of my favorite inventories to use with couples when I was in congregational ministry was PREPARE/ENRICH. One of the 13 categories assessed in the inventory provided by PREPARE/ENRICH is financial management.

In a recent webinar sponsored by PREPARE/ENRICH, they announced a new resource for couples they have developed entitled, Better Halves, which is for engaged and recently married couples wanting to work at enhancing their relationship and their ability to talk about money. Better Halves is a fast paced, three-hour training that includes 12 modules of experiential learning.

Besides promoting this new curriculum, the webinar included some revealing trends related to the new reality of money, marriage and millennials.

Millennials are getting married later in life

  • In 1956 the average age of women getting married was 20.1 and 22.5 for men.
  • In 2016 the average age for women getting married is 27.1 for men it is 29.2.
  • One of the reasons identified for waiting longer is that individuals do not feel financially prepared to get married.
  • 66 percent of persons surveyed with in the age range of 18-35 were not married but most hoped to be married one day.
  • Living with parents is the most common living arrangement for individuals in the 18-35 age range. For many, this is a necessity due to financial constraints which do not allow them to live on their own.

Cost of weddings      

The average cost of a wedding in 2015 was $26,000. Along with this, weddings are becoming increasingly spectacular in nature which creates pressure for others to do the same.

In 2014, Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, conducted a survey of couples and the increasing cost of weddings. They surveyed more than 3,000 people — all of whom have been married just once — and found that across income levels, the higher the cost of the wedding, the shorter your marriage will be. A few takeaways from their research:

  • Spending $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal who only allocate $500 to $2,000.
  • Spending more than $20,000 on the wedding increases the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • For the best odds, keep the cost of festivities to less than $1,000.

The new bread winner        

Women for the first time are graduating from college at a greater rate than men. As a result of women becoming more educated than men, they are also earning more than used to be the case. From 2000-2014 the average wages for men has gone down by 34 percent (adjusted for inflation) while the average wage for women has increased. This means that more women are becoming the primary income earner in many millennial homes. It is good news that wages for women are on the increase and it is also a evidence of a change that is happening within culture and the church.

Student loans

In 2015, the average student loan owed by a college graduate was at a new time high of $35,000. This has implications for all the categories listed above. As a result, it will take millennials longer to get established and become independent from parents as well as being able to purchase a home, save for retirement and start a family.

These are sobering realities which call for us in the church to encourage honest and open conversations with millennials as well as the upcoming generation about finances and the longer ranging impacts they have on our lives.