Big life decisions — starting a family, buying a house, pursuing higher education — cost money, but significantly fewer Americans today are putting off such decisions for financial reasons than three years ago when they were still emerging from the recession.
The American Institute of CPAs reported Tuesday that only 35% of Americans in a new survey reported delaying at least one important life decision in the last year because of financial concerns, compared with 51% who did so in a 2015 survey.
The poll showed that the percentage of Americans postponing specific life events for financial reasons has been nearly cut in half in several areas. Take marriage. Last year, 6% put off exchanging vows, down from 12% in 2015.
Just 7% of respondents delayed having children, compared with 13% in 2015.
The AICPA noted that unstable economic times can make getting married and starting a family hard because of the financial commitment involved, especially when you consider that the average wedding in the U.S. costs more than $30,000 and the estimated price to raise a child through age 17 eclipses $230,000.
“As the economy continues to pick up steam and we put the recession further in the rearview mirror, it is important to be cautious and not forget the difficult financial lessons we learned,” Greg Anton, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said in a statement.
“When making a major life decision, don’t just focus on the immediate costs. Consider the long-term financial implications as well. Taking on too much credit card debt to buy things your savings can’t cover or making big purchases when you aren’t financially stable are reckless moves in any economy.”
The positive trend also showed up in higher education, according to the survey. Whereas in 2015, 24% of Americans reported that they had delayed furthering their education because of financial concerns, now only 13% were doing so.
At the same time, the AICPA said that with overall college enrollment down and the average cost of college tuition continuing to rise, Americans may be questioning the idea that going to college is the best financial decision for everyone.
And with the average student graduating with $39,400 in loans, higher education can potentially affect savings and other financial decisions well into early adulthood.
The survey further found fewer Americans prevented by costs from getting into the housing market. In 2018, only 14% delayed buying a home for financial reasons, compared with 22% in 2015.