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Millennials & Gen Z Couples Delaying Key Milestones Because of Debt—But That Doesn’t Stop Relationships From Growing

Study by Laurel Road finds debt and finances are no longer taboo topics New York, NY – February 5, 2020...

Published February 05, 2020

Study by Laurel Road finds debt and finances are no longer taboo topics

New York, NY – February 5, 2020 – Over one in three (37%) young Americans are putting off getting married because of debt, according to new study exploring the intersection of relationship dynamics and financial habits by Laurel Road, a digital lending platform and brand of KeyBank.

The study, which polled 1,000 millennials and 1,000 Gen Zers, found that of those with debt, 84% have at one point considered delaying or holding off on taking their romantic relationships to the next level because they want to pay off their debts first.

Due to debt, 37% are delaying engagements, while a further 37% are holding off on getting married. Another 25% have put on hold moving in with their partner, while 29% have delayed purchasing a home.

At the same time, debt is no longer a taboo topic among younger generations. The study uncovered that 81% of those surveyed understand that debt is common amongst their peers and do not want to allow it to affect their romantic relationships negatively.

“Debt and personal finance can be a tricky topic for even the most stable couples, but it’s essential to be open about your debt if you are going to grow a relationship,” said Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Marketing Officer for Laurel Road. “Our survey also found that student debt especially, has become a widespread financial concern among millennials and will likely be the same for Gen Z. It’s encouraging to see the empathy that younger generations have developed for one another.”

Having ‘The Debt Talk’

The results also revealed that a third (33%) of the younger generations surveyed currently have debts they are working to pay off. Still, younger generations are trying to be proactive and seek advice about how best to handle their finances, with nearly three in five (58%) respondents revealing they found out about their partner’s debt within a year of being together.

When it comes to the most appropriate time to reveal debt to a partner, results reveal that over a third (34%) consider it appropriate to inform their significant other about their debt within six months of being in a committed relationship.

Millennials and Gen Zers are open about their finances and debt. A whopping 84% of respondents are open about discussing their debt with a partner, but that has not necessarily translated into those conversations regularly taking place just yet.

For example, the survey suggests that this openness is not always immediate. Of those with debt, nearly half (49%) have avoided discussing their debt with a partner when it comes up in conversation, and 65% are currently hiding that debt from their partners.


Avoid discussing debt if it comes up in conversation                                     49%

Decide to withhold information about debt                                                  45%

Share how much debt they currently have                                                    41%

Discuss a plan to pay off their debt                                                                37%

Seek out advice on how to pay off debt                                                         18%

Lean On Me

Millennials and Gen Zers are also going to their partners for money advice and support. 76% of those surveyed say they often seek advice from their partner about how best to manage their financial situation.

Beyond giving general advice, millennials and Gen Zers are supporting and encouraging their partners to be proactive about their finances and debts. 55% of respondents worked on a budget or payment plan together with their partner, while an additional 36% researched refinancing options in an effort to help each other manage the other’s debt.

“Not only are younger generations more empathetic about the common financial pressures of their significant others, but they are providing actionable advice and support. Millennials and Gen Zers have an incomprehensible amount of information at their fingertips, which is why advice from a partner or peer is so highly-regarded – it’s the trust factor. We were delighted to see this trust factor come through. At Laurel Road, we see this every day through our Refer-A-Friend Program,” added Schaefer.

Lending Support

38% of those whose partners have spoken to them about their debt have helped them pay some of it off themselves.

Over half (56%) would be willing to help their partner with paying off student loans, while 38% would be willing to assist their partner with their credit card debt.

Make or Break

Unfortunately, having debt can also be a deal-breaker for many. 46% considered breaking things off with a partner over student loans, while a further 28% have considered ending a relationship because of credit card debt.

That said, Millennials and Gen Zers reveal being open about their finances allows their relationships to thrive, with 74% say talking about their financial situation with their partners and getting their advice makes their relationship stronger.


These results were taken from a random double-opt in survey of 1,000 Gen Zers (respondents aged 18-24) and 1,000 Millennials (respondents aged 25-39) conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Laurel Road between December 24, 2019 and January 16, 2020. OnePoll is a corporate member of the AAPOR and adheres to the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practice.

About Laurel Road
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products, mortgages and personal loans that helps simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The mortgage product is not offered in Puerto Rico. KeyBank is a Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. NMLS ID # 399797.


Media Contacts:

KWT Global for Laurel Road


[email protected]

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