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In depth: How financially independent are young adults?

Young Gen Y woman, biking through town to work.

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Everyone has a theory on how today's young adults are doing.

Members of Generation Y have been declared both better and substantially worse off than their parents. But maybe we're missing the point. What really matters is whether young people are achieving financial independence in today's economy. This is an important issue not only for young people themselves, but also for parents who may be supporting their kids long for much longer than expected.

For some insights on where young adults stand, we collaborated with the polling firm Abacus Data and yconic, which provides youth market research and operates StudentAwards.com. The result was a poll in which 1,538 people aged 15 to 33 were asked earlier this year about their hopes, plans and current financial reality.

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Specific questions included:

  • How satisfied are you with your life?
  • Do you think you’ll be better or worse off than your parents’ generation?
  • Have you achieved financial independence?
  • Have you found full-time work?
  • Have your parents helped you pay off your student loans, and do they help you pay your monthly bills?
  • Do you intend to buy a house and, if so, do you expect help from your parents?
  • Have you started saving for retirement?

The results offer a different take than the economic indicators that are most often used to measure Gen Y's success. If you really want to know how the aspirations of today's young adults match up against financial reality, this is required reading.

Our package started off with the launch of our Gen Y blog, where a 20-something recent university graduate is chronicling her real-life journey of embarking on a career, struggling to repay her student debt and trying to find her financial footing.

Personal finance columnist Rob Carrick provided analysis of the poll results, and his two cents on what they mean for Canada's millennials, as well as their parents. He answered Gen Y personal finance questions on Twitter (hashtag: #genYmoney) and we compiled a gallery of Gen Y's own thoughts on how they are doing. Rob's Saturday column is a look at why Gen Y needs to get comfortable with stock market risk.

We filmed a video with some bad news for Mom and Dad: Sorry parents, supporting your kids into adulthood is the new normal. Finally, we launched a 'Can I Afford to Move Out' calculator and a slide show with a breakdown of the poll results.

Full results of the poll can be obtained through yconic's website (signup required): Gen Y financials findings, Gen Y state of mind findings.

Any comments or questions? Please feel free to reach out to us on twitter, we'd love to hear from you!

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In our new #genYmoney blog, a recent Canadian grad chronicles her real-life journey to becoming a financially independent adult. She - and some other members of her generation - have found it difficult to find paid work in their chosen field. Did you? Cast your vote below or click here.

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About the Authors
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

Personal Finance Web Editor

Roma Luciw is the Globe and Mail’s personal finance editor. She has worked at the Globe as a business journalist since 2001, covering stock markets, breaking news, and most recently anything that helps regular Canadians manage their own money. More

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