Unique challenges confront today’s young adults navigating our financial system. They entered the workforce during a severe recession and as a result, continue to feel the impact of high unemployment and persistently stagnant wages. “Financial inclusion” — having access to affordable financial tools and services — is an important topic to address as we consider the long term financial stability of the Millennial generation. Access and use of traditional financial tools can improve young adults’ income, help them save, and attain financial security. Conversely, barriers to gaining access to the financial system or “financial exclusion” can exacerbate poor financial health as individuals and households without access to adequate financial tools tend to save less and are less able to cope with an economic shock.
Following a Young Invincibles report analyzing the financial challenges of today’s young people, the Financial Health of Young America: Use of Financial Tools and Alternative Services brief provides a snapshot of the financial health of this generation. It reviews the use of traditional tools, including checking and savings accounts and alternative financial services (AFS) products like check cashing and payday lending and highlights the racial disparities new, and perpetual, that exist therein.