Millennials, money and marriage: Why young people are waiting to tie the knot

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – The percentage of millennials getting married by age 40 will be much lower than in previous generations, a new study finds.

Reasons for the wedlock aversion are multi-layered, but experts say financial factors play a major role.

There’s no single explanation for the shift, but Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, aka “The Money Coach,” said the burden of student loans and credit card debt, coupled with the skyrocketing cost of weddings are just two of the reasons why millennials are waiting to wed.

“Unfortunately, college loans are sort of an ‘anti-dowry,’” Khalfani-Cox said. “Lots of people don’t want to seriously date and/or marry those with large student loans or poor credit.”

There is $1.2 billion in student loan debt outstanding in the U.S. and the average college grad leaves school with $33,000 in loans, so these young people who may otherwise be focusing on marriage are not focused on reducing their debts, Khalfani-Cox said.

Another reason for the decline in marriage among millennials: they have different priorities than their parents and grandparents.

New research from Prudential shows millennial women are more interested in three things: paying off debt, buying homes, and starting new businesses.

For example, about 25 percent of millennials want to start a business versus just 16 percent of Gen Xers, Khalfani-Cox said. So unlike prior generations that tried to find a spouse earlier and build a life together, millennials seem more inclined to get their finances and careers together first — then get married.

As more young women earn degrees, climb the corporate ladder and earn their own money, some may feel less compelled to get married in order to achieve financial security. Even those women who are married are often out-earning their partners, as 44 percent of all U.S. women are the primary breadwinners in their households, according to Prudential’s research.

Even the price of weddings is a consideration.

The latest survey from The Knot notes that the average wedding in America — especially in the NYC region — costs about $30,000.

Such a hefty price tag probably gives some millennials pause, which explains why more people opt to live together, which has become more socially acceptable today versus previous in previous generations.

So the question is: should millennials combine their money, and when?

Khalfani-Cox recommends both join and separate accounts. Joint accounts should be used to pay for the household bills and separate accounts for individual’s own discretionary spending and to maintain financial autonomy and independence.