Money, marriage, and the world of millennials

By Beryl Jantzi
couple-1853996_1280-copyThere are a number of good resources currently available for pastors to use when working with couples getting ready for marriage. One of my favorite inventories to use with couples when I was in congregational ministry was PREPARE/ENRICH. One of the 13 categories assessed in the inventory provided by PREPARE/ENRICH inventory is Financial Management.

PREPARE/ENRICH recently hosted a webinar by The Love & Money Project, an initiative of brightpeak financial committed to helping young Christian couples grow stronger around the topic of money. The Love & Money Project shared a resource for couples they have developed entitled, Better Halves, which is for engaged or married couples wanting to work at enhancing their relationship and their ability to talk about money. Better Halves Workshop, is a fun and fast paced, 3 hour training, that includes 12 modules of experiential learning and Better Halves Small Group is a 6 session program for couples to do together.

Besides promoting this new curriculum, the webinar included five revealing trends related to the new reality of money, marriage and millennials.

Five new realities concerning money, marriage and millennials

1) Millennials are getting married later in life

  • In 1956 the average age of women getting married was 20.1 and 22.5 for men.
  • In 2016 the average age for women getting married is 27.1 for men it is 29.2.
  • One of the reasons identified for waiting longer is that individuals do not feel financially prepared to get married.
  • 66% of persons surveyed with in the age range of 18-35 were not married but most hoped to be married one day.
  • Living with parents is the most common living arrangement for individuals in the 18-35 age range. For many, this is a necessity due to financial constraints which do not allow them to live on their own.

2) Cohabitation is on the increase

PREPARE/ENRICH has determined that couples that live together, have a greater chance of splitting up than couples who get married. As part of the research they have conducted over the years, they identify couples as fitting into one of several categories from conversation-799448_1280-copyConflicted to Vitalized.

  • 21% of cohabitating, dating couples were identified as Vitalized. However, 51% of dating couples NOT living together were viewed as Vitalized
  • 48% of cohabitating, dating couples were identified as Conflicted, compared to 16% of couples who were not living together.

Studies have shown that a public wedding ceremony offers extra benefits for a couple. In many cases a wedding is preceded with pre-marriage counseling that provides opportunities for conversation with a third party to address current and future relationship issues. Couples that cohabitate do not typically have the benefit of these conversations. There is the show of public support at a public wedding ceremony as well as the offering of gifts, financial and other wise, to help the couple get established in their home. These tangible and intangible expressions of support are not to be taken for granted.

3) Cost of weddings

The average cost of a wedding in 2015 was $26,000. Along with this, weddings are bouquet-1854074_1280-copybecoming increasingly spectacular in nature which creates pressure for others to do the
same.

In 2014, Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, conducted a survey of couples and the increasing cost of weddings. They surveyed more than 3,000 people–all of whom have been married just once–and found that across income levels, the higher the cost of the wedding, the shorter your marriage will be. A few takeaways from their research:

  • Guys, spending $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate $500 to $2,000.
  • For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding increases the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • For the best odds, keep the cost of festivities to less than $1,000.

4) The new bread winner

Women for the first time are graduating from working-1219889_1280-copycollege at a greater rate than men. As a
result of women becoming more educated than
men, they are also earning more than used to be the case. From 2000-2014 the average wages for men has gone down by 34% (adjusted for inflation) while the average wage for women has increased. This means that more women are becoming the primary income earner in many millennial homes. This is good news that wages for women is on the increase and but it is also a recognition of a change that is happening within culture and the church.

5) Student loans

In 2015 the average student loan owed by college graduates was at a new high of $35,000. This has implications for all the categories listed above. As a result, it will take millennials longer to get established and become independent from parents as well as being able to purchase a home, save for retirement, and start a family.

These are sobering realities which call for us in the church to encourage honest and open conversations with millennials as well as the upcoming generation about finances and the longer ranging impact it has on our lives. If you are interested in resources that can be used to assist with these conversations, feel free to reach out to me at beryl.jantzi@everence.com.

About the Author

Beryl Jantzi and familyBeryl Jantzi serves as Director of Stewardship Education for Everence, a Christian-based, member-owned financial services organization which is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and other churches.

Photo credits: pixabay.com

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