More Americans are pushing aside their money worries to live their lives.
More than one-third of Americans (35%) delayed a major life decision in the last year because of finances, but that’s a drop from the 51% who did so in 2015, according to a new survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Why? The economy is picking up, the Great Recession is a decade behind them and they’re ready to reach for their dreams. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the AICPA, polled more than 1,000 adults.
Here’s how else people no longer seem to be affected by financial concerns:
• Wedding bells: 6% of people put off marriage last year compared to 12% in 2015.
• Having children: 7% delayed having children, compared to 13% in 2015. (Other evidence suggests that Americans aren’t exactly rushing back into parenthood. The U.S. birth rate has hit a 30-year low.)
• Going to school: Only 13% of Americans put off higher education, compared to 24% in 2015.
• Homebuying: Just 14% of Americans waited to buy a home, compared to 22% in 2015.
• Doctor visits: 12% of Americans put off a medical procedure, compared to 19% in 2015.
• Retirement: 10% delayed retirement this year, compared to 18% in 2015.
Six out of 10 people who continued to postpone life events did so because of lack of savings, just like in 2015. The second most popular reason was a concern about the U.S. economy, followed by medical bills.
But some are still walking, not running, toward major milestones. Sarah Snyder, 36, from Austin, Texas, has delayed proposing to her girlfriend this year because she recently started her own public relations business and wanted it to be stable and profitable before they took the leap. Snyder also wants to pay for the ring in cash, but says others don’t seem to be as cautious. “I think in general people are unfortunately making choices to go into debt to accomplish a goal,” she said.
Holding off on an engagement has been challenging, but she said her girlfriend has been understanding during the process. “With her, it has been letting her know there is a future planned,” she said.
Major life events can come with big price tags of course, and they can greatly affect a person’s finances for decades to follow. The average American wedding in 2016 cost more than $35,000. Parents can expect to spend more than $233,000 on a child between birth and college. Student loan debt just hit a record high of $1.5 trillion, and the average student graduates with about $39,400 in loans. Americans — especially older millennials in the midst of pursuing an education, getting wedding and having children — have it tough, and feel the pressure of balancing daily expenses with saving for their future.