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Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds

The bank surveyed the personal finance habits of consumers age 20-29.

The financial habits of millennials aged 20-24 differs vastly from that of their older counterparts in the 25-29 range, a survey from PNC Bank found.

The PNC Financial Independence Survey, which sought insights into the financial patterns and mindsets of 20-29 year-olds, found that the younger set carried just half the debt -- about $17,100 -- than that of their older peers ($35,600).

Nearly one third of the 20-24 demographic carried no debt whatsoever, compared to the older set, where just one in five reported having no debt. Further, the study found, among respondents with some level of college education, average reported debt came in at $31,800, a 30 percent drop from $45,400 in 2011. In the 25-29 age group, 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, the survey found.

Millennials overall hold ambitious goals when it comes to major life events that require financing in their future, the survey found. Regardless of age, 74 percent 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 percent claim to have considered starting a business.

"Financial maturity in this generation has noticeably shifted," said Cary Guffey, financial advisor at PNC Wealth Management in a statement. "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."

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 7:14:33 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
That is true, but I know plenty of people my age who have student loan debt much bigger than the cost of most cars. I would think that would kind of cancel out the fewer auto loans held by people in this age group.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 7:11:29 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
I think that has to be the case. This is purely speculation, but I bet many people don't think of their student loans as debt until they get out of college and that first bill comes due.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
1/8/2014 | 2:48:42 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
That is a good point, a 21-year-old likely doesn't have a mortgage, or car payments.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Strategist
1/7/2014 | 9:43:32 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
You all are young whipper-snappers as far as I am concerned. To put things into context -- my first job when I got out of college in the late 70s was with an executive outplacement firm. That was when the traditional "compact" between employers and employees (at least white collar) for essentially lifetime employment was beginning to fracture -- big layoffs at companies like Sears and United, in the aerospace industry, etc.I don't think people at the time realized just how transformative these events were -- that they represented an historic change, not a one-time event.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 8:50:09 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
Very interesting, thank you. So it seems there's a case of selection bias at work here. I also wonder if some of those 20- to 24-year-olds who might still be in college aren't yet counting their student loans.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 8:26:49 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
Well then, as a confirmed Gen-Xer I react to this study with an air of sardonic indifference.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 7:28:02 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
Just looked it up - seems that Millennials and Gen Y are the same and consist of people born between early 1980s-early 2000s. Gen X were born between early 1960s and 1980s. There are likely different parts of the millennial generation, though, since this article specifies 'younger millennials.'
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 3:55:59 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
That makes great sense. Millenials aren't in such a rush these days. We see this in the rising ages of marriages too. At some point it will all happen, but perhaps the timeline isn't as structured, or reliable, as it once was.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 3:51:11 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
Wait, I honestly thought Gen Y and Millennial was the same thing. I was born in 1979 and always thought I was at the tail end of Gen X, is it possible I'm Gen Y and never knew it? I'm confused...
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 3:48:55 PM
re: Younger Millennials Carry Less Debt Than Older Counterparts, PNC Study Finds
An excellent point. Still, I wonder why Gen Y and millennials differ so much in this regard, they've both experienced that reality. Maybe Millenials are leveraging more alternatives, like zipcar, that weren't as ubiquitous in Gen Y days
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