Research shows that Americans think traditional life milestones like marriage are less important

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The survey was conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Life Happens, and (Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash)

Say goodbye to traditional life milestones like marriage, children and buying a home — according to new research, 61% agree these are no longer important.

The poll of 2,000 Americans found people are delaying traditional milestones in favor of financial security — surpassing marriage, having a child and a successful career as the most important milestone for respondents to achieve.

Results sought to uncover the reasons why people are delaying traditional life milestones in favor of financial security, and found this change is tied to emotion.

Forty-eight percent said they have personal insecurities — from financial insecurities to where they are in their careers.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Life Happens, a nonprofit dedicated to educating U.S. consumers about the importance of life insurance for sound financial planning.

Results revealed 47% are saddled with the responsibility of paying off student loans, while a quarter are putting their career first.

Even marriage is no longer a priority for many. Fifty-eight percent of those studied said the importance of marriage has waned as they’ve grown older.

Money is another huge factor in why people are delaying traditional life milestones. Significantly, of those who’ve delayed a traditional life milestone, 74% have reported being more financially stable as a result of putting traditional life goals off.

“While traditional milestones are no longer making or breaking what’s important in life, our study shows our hearts are still an important driver to achieving financial peace of mind, no matter your life path,” said Faisa Stafford, President and CEO of Life Happens. “A whopping 72% say financial security is an important act of love — with men more likely to agree that financial security is a genuine act of love compared with women — 80% versus 64%.”

The pressure from others to reach certain life milestones by a specific age is something that is weighing on Americans.

Sixty-three percent of respondents revealed they feel judged by others when they say they haven’t reached a certain life milestone.

Gen Zers feel they are judged most harshly for not getting married (77%) while both millennials and Gen Xers believe they’re judged by others for not having retirement plans in place (46% and 48%, respectively).

However, just because Americans are delaying key life milestones, it doesn’t mean they aren’t worried about the repercussions. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed say they worry about putting off certain life milestones.

Retirement is the one Americans worry about the most (43%) followed by buying a home (39%), having children (35%), getting married (32%) and long-term financial planning, like life insurance (28%).

“Significantly, our study shows that 54% of people have had to deal with unexpected life events, which have impacted their long-term financial planning, bringing to the surface the reality that our life’s path can change in a second,” said Stafford. “Regardless, life’s path consists of milestone moments that usually require a promise — to love, cherish, guard and protect.

“During this season of love, we’d like to remind consumers of the value of life insurance — not for you, but the ones you love; a critical tool to allow consumers to keep their promise and financially protect their loved ones, whatever happens in life.”

Life Happens has a free Life Insurance Needs Calculator to help evaluate your own life insurance needs.


  1. Saving for retirement 54%
  2. Getting married 53%
  3. Having children 50%
  4. Buying a home 44%
  5. Getting engaged 38%
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  1. Personal insecurities 48%
  2. Lack of financial stability 47%
  3. Partner/spouse has alternative priorities 47%
  4. Paying off student loans 47%
  5. Friends are also delaying these things 34%

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