Age Milestones for Your Finances
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) In the good ol' days, life was simple: you would get your driver's license at age 16, move out of your parents' home at age 18 and by age 25 you had a spouse, a house, a dog and 2.5 children.
Fast-forward to today, and the 'new normal' is that there is no 'normal.' People today often find themselves in school until their early or mid-twenties, sometimes living at home or with roommates. This delayed 'adulthood' in reality is a buffering zone in a world in which jobs (or even marriages) for life are a thing of the past.
"I think there are a lot of factors that contribute to delayed adulthood," says Dr. Stephanie Buehler, a psychologist with the Buehler Institute. "I think that being offspring of 'helicopter parents' contributes to delayed childhood. However, this generation was launched into a bad economy with few opportunities to stretch into as adults."
Feel a bit young (or old) for your age?
See how your life stacks up with these new 'age milestones':
Old Milestone: Settling into a career with your employer; enjoying newlywed status with a new house and young children.
New Milestone: Fresh out of school and often deciding if you want to further your education; usually single for maximum mobility; still may be working a second or third job to pay the bills
"I'm of the view that people need to be fully engaged in adult life in their mid-twenties," says Dr. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, as well as associate professor of sociology at the university. "People flourish in their careers and their lives in general if they get serious during this time of their life. If they are still jumping from one job to another, they are not getting those networking experiences that will serve them in their career."
Milestone Meaning: Don't let others' tales of how established they were at 25 intimidate you, quality decision-making often takes time, especially when variables like where you live and where you work are not set in stone.
Old Milestone: Your young and energetic years are past; your children are growing up quickly, and you may find yourself out of shape; it also may be the time to buy a larger house for your growing family.
New Milestone: You finally know what you want to do with your career, and the hobby or side job of your 20s may actually turn into a desperately needed additional revenue stream; dating-wise, you might finally be ready to look for Mr. or Mrs. Right.
"Unfortunately the younger generation not getting married until later will not decrease this country's divorce rate," says Buehler. "With divorce rates still over 50% in first marriages, younger people are more likely to divorce. But it does give people an opportunity to explore their options and date more people."