The Changing American Dream: Focused on Being Debt-Free

The American Dream is fading away from owning a home and having 2.5 kids to one of being debt free. What’s it mean for future generations?

by FOXBusiness

Each generation develops a reputation and parenting style that shapes the financial habits of the next generation, and many are wondering what traits millennial parents will pass along to their children.

“Depression-era parents taught, ‘a penny saved is a penny earned,’ ” says Robert Wendover, director of The Center for Generational Studies. “But they didn’t live in a consumer society like we have now. Millennials think that installment debt is not as important to pay off, it’s not as high on their radar. How they will transfer that understanding to their kids still remains to be seen.”

The traditional American Dream of owning a home and having 2.5 kids is quickly fading as younger generations strive to save more for retirement and become debt free.’s latest survey found that for most respondents, their ultimate financial goal was retiring financially secure at age 65 (27.9 percent). However, a close second say being debt-free was their top priority. Those ages 18-to-24 were most likely to name being debt-free their top financial goal, and were least likely to cite home ownership or joining the 1 percent as their top ambitions.

The survey was conducted by GFK Custom Research for, based on 1,000 interviews with Americans 18 and up.

Millennials have gotten a rude wake-up call post-recession, says Wendover, and for many reasons, their aspirations have changed.

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