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Millennials seek financial independence

News, 16 April 2015

DES MOINES/AUSTIN: The majority of US millennials think young adults should have cut the purse strings to their parents by the age of 25 and more than half want a credit card by the age of 20, according to two new surveys.

The Principal Financial Group polled more than 800 people aged 23 to 35 for its Millennial Research Study and found that 83% felt that adults should be financially independent by the time they're 25; just over one third (35%) favoured a lower limit of 21.

Cellphone bills turned out to be the expense most often picked up by parents, ahead of car and health insurance and rent or mortgage payments.

Almost half (46%) reported that the financial topic they struggled most with was the basic process of living from paycheck to paycheck.

Some people might choose to use credit cards if they experience difficulties in making it to the next payday, but a separate survey of 1,000 adults for CreditCards.com found that more than one in three 18-29 year-olds have never had a credit card, although six in ten (58%) believe they should have their first card by 20.

"Millennials' financial views were forged during the Great Recession and in the apocalyptic job market that they and their friends have faced," said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior analyst.

"That skittishness has pushed them away from credit cards towards debit and prepaid cards."

Interestingly, Principal's research also found that the millennials' preferred method of interacting with companies was email, which was far ahead of postal mail, social media, phone calls, online chat, text messages or in person.

Over 40% chose this route whether contacting financial institutions (43%) or retailers (47%), compared to just 2% who opted for social media when contacting a financial institution, rising to 6% for a retailer.

Marketing Land noted that email had the advantages of being dependable and device-agnostic, while at the same time serving as an arm's-length tool that prevented brands from "trespassing" on personal networks. 

Data sourced from Principal Financial Group, Marketing Land, Credit.Cards.com; additional content by Warc staff