Young adult debt decreases during Great Recession

Adults younger than 35 reduced their debt by 29 percent

POSTED: 04:42 PM PST Feb 21, 2013    UPDATED: 09:26 PM PST Feb 21, 2013 
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UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

If you're a young adult, chances are you have less debt now than you did at the start of the Great Recession.

Eighteen to 35-year-olds are swiping their credit cards less and putting more money in the bank, making them more fiscally responsible than before the economic crisis hit.

The drop in debt didn't happen overnight but it is impressive. From 2007 to 2010, adults younger than 35 who are the head of a household, reduced their debt by 29 percent, which is about $6,500, according to a Pew Research study.

UCSB junior Izabella Ferayan used to have three credit cards.

"I cut up one of my credit cards, paid that one fully off. So, I'm down to two now, so hopefully that becomes one by summertime," she said.

The drop in personal debt isn't just from using less plastic. Fewer people are buying cars and houses that carry hefty monthly payments.

Aidan Hopkins, 30, has a relatively new car but it is paid off and he's putting money in the bank.

"You don't really know what the future's going to hold. I feel pretty comfortable with my job but I could lose that too, so it's probably good to have money saved up just in case," said Hopkins.

One thing that did increase is student loans.

In 2007, 34 percent of young households had student debt. That jumped to 40 percent in 2010, but that's not worrying some undergraduates.

"I haven't heard too much trouble with trying to pay off student loans because they just have such good plans for that and everything, and they really work with you and your income," said UCSB senior Sara O'Brien.

And more young adults are waiting to get married until they are debt-free.

"I'd be a little more hesitant to rush into marriage. I'd want to solidify where I was standing financially before I stepped into that," said UCSB freshman Chris Keane.

With a plan like that, he won't have to wait long.