Our society today is far different than the period where our parents and grandparents grew up, in every sense! Today, the word “millennials” is often thrown around, referring to a group of younger adults born anywhere from 1981-1996. This group of millennials is now in their mid-to-late twenties to forties.
Compared with other generations, millennials have a unique set of tendencies. As an example, millennials are far more educated than past generations, with a higher number of people attending college or higher education. In addition, millennial women are more involved in the workforce than past generations (less stay-at-home housewives).
Throughout various categories, millennials seem to be a cohort that does things their way, challenging the ways of their elders. Keep reading to learn more about popular lifestyle trends for millennials, including trends surrounding marriage and debt accumulation.
Millennials are far more educated than their grandparents, due to the increase in college attendance. According to Pew Research, young adults with Bachelor’s degrees have steadily increased since 1968. About 39% of millennials (age 25 through 37) hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to only 15% in the past generation.
Of course, these changes in educational trends also lend themselves to changes in employment and jobs. Today, there is more of a notable gap in income earnings between those who attended college vs. those who did not. With an increase of young adults attending college, this also means that millennials have far more student debt than past generations.
When Student Debt is in the Picture
Compared with earlier generations, millennials have a significant amount more student debt (Pew Research Center). Not only do more people hold student debt, but the amount borrowed is also much larger. Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980), the generation that was before millennials, had less than half of households with any student debt when compared to millennials.
The millennial generation experienced a drastic shift in ideas surrounding higher education. Not only were college costs on the rise, but college loans were often the only way many students could make attending college possible. As such, the debt they’ve accumulated holds a negative perception in their minds today.
According to the College Board, the average amount of student loan debt in 2020 was $28,400. However, for millennials, the average amount of student loan debt was closer to $38,000.
Millennials Are Getting Married Later
Not only do millennials have more student debt than past generations, but they’re also waiting longer to get married. According to the Pew Research Center, the average American woman was married at age 21 in 1965 and 29.5 for men. In comparison, studies suggest the average American woman today is not married until 33, while the average male age is 35. This notable difference makes it clear that millennials are not in a rush to get married.
In addition to getting married later in life, millennials are also experiencing decreasing marriage rates in general. Compared to Gen X, which had an average of a 36% marriage rate, millennials are only marrying at a 26% rate. When you look back to even farther back generations, the marriage rate has declined for every subsequent generation. Now, that’s a little bit concerning!
Millennials Have More Debt Before Marriage
As we examine these lifestyle trends of millennials, what does this all mean? Ultimately, these trends have set the stage for an increase in prenuptial agreements each year. Why? Millennial trends are driving this! According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 62% of divorce attorneys have noted an increase in clients requesting prenuptial agreements. Amongst those attorneys, 51% noted an increase in millennial-age client requests for prenups.
Naturally, as we examine the causes for this, we can make a few assumptions. Millennials are likely driving the increase in prenups created each year based on their lifestyle trends. Millennials are more likely to wait until a later age than previous generations to marry. As such, they’ve accumulated more debt (student debt, credit card debt) than previous generations at the time of marriage. Thus, prenups have become increasingly important.
Another reason for the increase in millennial prenups is divorce. Millennials grew up in a period when many parents were divorcing. Research has concluded about one in three millennial children had divorced parents. As such, this has put doubt in the minds of millennials surrounding marriage. As they see the realities of divorce, marriage has become more doubtful. In turn, it makes sense that they would be more interested in a prenup to protect themselves.
Millennials Break Stigmas
The millennial generation is also widely known for its acceptance, inclusion, and diverse beliefs. Compared to their previous generation X, millennials can break stigmas and make significant social change. Not only do they have the power to do so (through advanced technologies) but they care far more than previous generations. Stigmas, surrounding many topics, including LGBTQ marriages, mental health, and more, have been broken by this generation.
As such, many millennials are beginning to break the stigma surrounding prenups too. In Gen X and past generations, prenuptial agreements became a “hush-hush” type of taboo topic. If you and your partner created a prenup, you were assumed to be very wealthy or bound for a divorce. Today, we know this is not true, as prenups can protect the less wealthy spouse too!
No longer are prenups considered a bad thing! Many millennials believe that prenups have brought them and their partner closer together. Not only are prenups increasingly important for this cohort, as they have more debt, care more about protecting their assets, and worry more about divorce, but they care less about the stigma associated with prenups.
As a generation that has led many movements, millennials have the power to continue to break stigmas around prenuptial agreements. With modern websites such as HelloPrenup, creating a prenup is not as expensive, time-consuming, or stressful as it used to be. In the Gen X period, creating a prenup required going to an expensive lawyer and drafting up boring paperwork. Things are much different today!
Projections for Future Generations
While prenups should be the next millennial trend, we also anticipate them extending into future generations. The Generation Z (or Gen Z for short) group, was born between 1997 and 2012. This group was raised in a much more modern time, where much of their lives are consumed by technology and social media.
In addition to this, millennials who do choose to have a prenup can protect their future inheritances as well, so that they can pass on generational wealth to their kids!
Considering a Prenup
No matter what the trends indicate, it’s important to remember that prenups are designed to protect you and your partner and each couple has unique goals and concerns that a prenup can be used to address. No matter what your financial status or age, discussing a prenup before marriage with your partner can be not only thorough, but improve your relationship. With increasing uses and trends of social media there are also different clauses that can be considered to keep up, such as a social media clause.
If you’re a millennial (or anyone!) trying to learn more about prenups, HelloPrenup offers a vast selection of content, as well as offering our services to create a fast, affordable, and valid prenup!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].