Home Christian News Lifeway Research: Young Adults, Including Christians, Have Complicated Relationship With Money

Lifeway Research: Young Adults, Including Christians, Have Complicated Relationship With Money

Photo by Alexander Mils (via Unsplash)

When it comes to making financial decisions, although some Christian young adults are influenced by their faith, many don’t manage their money in distinctly Christian ways.

An AdelFi study conducted by Lifeway Research found that having a Christian worldview impacts the way young adults (ages 25-40) manage their money, which is most evident in that Christians give nearly three times as much money as non-Christians. Furthermore, Christians are more than twice as likely as non-Christians to say faith influences their financial decisions. In particular, most Christians say they recognize the responsibility of good financial stewardship.

“AdelFi was interested in understanding what differences exist in how younger Christians handle their money compared to non-Christians,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “Christians are much more active in donating their finances and no less active in trying to do good with their spending.”

The average young adult does business with 2.4 financial institutions (loan accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, etc.) and has 1.9 credit cards. But 23% don’t have an active credit card. Young adults also have varying mentalities toward spending money. Overall, 45% of young adults say they track what they’ve spent money on, and 45% say they save for what they want to buy. Another 41% say they set a budget they follow. Fewer say they often buy things impulsively (28%) or get a loan or finance purchases when needed (16%).

Young adults are most likely to say their parents influence their financial decisions (47%). But they are also frequently influenced by their friends (30%), financial publications or websites (25%) and financial advisors (20%). While most young adults make financial decisions based on what they want today (76%), even more say they consider where they want to be in several years (83%) when making financial decisions.

Just over one-third of young adults (36%) agree their religious faith influences their financial decisions. Christians (44%) are more than twice as likely as non-Christians (20%) to agree that their faith influences their financial decisions. But exactly how one’s faith impacts the way they manage money varies.

Difference in Giving and Spending

The typical Christian young adult donates more than three times as much as non-Christians over the course of a year ($1,820 v. $556). This is aided by the fact that more Christians give to a local church (37%) and religious organizations (28%) than non-Christians do (8% and 11% respectively). Although most Christian young adults don’t give to a local church (63%), many still say tithing, giving at least 10%, to their local church is a biblical commandment for today (56%).

“One would expect Christians to give more than non-Christians to churches and religious organizations, but they are also more likely to donate to 3 out of 4 other types of recipients,” McConnell said. “While overall the financial generosity of Christian young adults is very noticeable, there remains a large group who don’t practice their belief in the need to give to a local church.”

Tithing alone doesn’t account for the difference in giving between Christian and non-Christian young adults as Christians are also more likely to give to other groups as well. In fact, Christian young adults gave twice as much as non-Christians to individuals or families in need in the past year ($603 v. $261). Christians are also more likely than non-Christians to give something to a GoFundMe crowdfunding effort (27% v. 20%) and non-religious charities or education organizations (29% v. 20%). There is not a meaningful difference in giving to social causes.

The Christian’s generosity goes beyond financial giving. Christian young adults (74%) are also more likely than non-Christians (68%) to agree it’s important to regularly give their time to volunteer to help good causes or individuals in need.

Overall, young adults in America don’t appear to be particularly generous. Even though Christians are more likely to have donated in the past year (70%) than non-Christians (55%), 83% of young adults gave a total of $1,000 or less in the past year. Although most survey participants (56%) were employed full-time, 36% of young adults didn’t give donations to any group or individual in need in the past year.

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Marissa is the managing editor for LifewayResearch.com.