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Survey: Members Delay Financial Decisions On Life's Big Moments
WASHINGTON (2/26/13)--Credit union members--especially younger ones--are taking longer to make decisions, causing major purchases and subsequent life events to be delayed, a survey released Monday by TruStage, the consumer brand of CUNA Mutual Group, has revealed.

The survey of more than 1,600 credit union members asked about major financial life events they face in 2013. It focused on the financial decisions members made regarding vehicle purchases, home buying, the birth of a child and planning for college, weddings and retirement.

"When we took a deeper look at the survey results, we were surprised to see that it's taking longer to make major financial decisions and purchases," said Alan Bergstrom, TruStage brand and creative services director. "Given the nature of our fast-paced culture, we anticipated those decisions to happen faster, but the results show many people are actually slowing down and taking more time to plan and decide."

The survey uncovered several generational trends in making major life purchases and decisions. For instance:

  • Generation Y (18-34 year-olds), typically the most connected and tech-savvy demographic, actually takes 18 days longer, on average, to shop for a car than those who are 45-54 years old.
  • People date much longer now before marrying, therefore delaying wedding-related purchases and big life events such as buying a home or a car.
  • Current 18-44 year-olds have underestimated how long it will take to graduate from college, despite rapidly increasing tuition costs and student-loan debt.
  • Retirements are taking longer to reach. For those planning retirement, the expected retirement age is nearly 64 years. For those already retired, the average retirement age was 59 years.
The 18-44 age group--the group underestimating time in college--"is actually attending college at least one full semester longer than they had planned," Bergstrom said. "As a result, the big moments we usually associate with post-graduation--the car buying, weddings and home-buying--are delayed."

The survey also found 18-34 year-olds plan to retire at a significantly older age than preceding generations, with 71% starting to make retirement plans earlier in life--starting, on average, at age 24.

"This presents an opportunity, as our survey indicated this generation considers credit unions to be one of several 'trusted sources' for help in planning retirement," Bergstrom said.

Credit unions should ask some very important questions, he said. "What does this information mean for credit unions?" he asked. "How are economic, social or cultural factors affecting decisions and life event plans? What role does instant access to information and mobile technology play in the decision-making process? When we learn about members' mindsets and behaviors and how they continue to change, we can apply that knowledge to member connections and relationships."

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