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Gen Y Personal Finances: A Crisis of Confidence and Capability

Despite Generation Y’s optimistic nature in regards to their financial capabilities and happiness, they struggle with managing their assets and debts. This report highlights the challenges this generation faces and how credit unions can help.

  • Carlo de Bassa Scheresberg Senior Research Associate at the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University
  • Annamaria Lusardi Professor and Academic Director at the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University

Executive Summary

Generation Y will leave a lasting imprint on American history. The largest, most diverse generation America has seen, Generation Y comprises millions who were born between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s. Young. Educated. Ethnically diverse. Optimistic. Even in the face of a staggering recession, Generation Y is buoyant and ambitious—especially when it comes to personal and professional achievement. 

While this generation is confident, they face financial pressures that will jeopardize and limit their economic opportunities. A fragile economy, student debt, and an unstable job market are a few of the hurdles they face. Looking at the data from the most recent National Financial Capability Study (NFCS), we are concerned about their unprecedented levels of student debt and their overconfidence in financial matters.

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