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For Gen M, pizza's on par with good credit

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The hard work put in by marketers and educators appears to have convinced students that it's important to keep their credit scores up. In fact, these groups have done such a good job that the folks at Pizza Hut and Domino's may object, based on recent data showing young adults find maintaining good credit to be as important as that centerpiece of college life -- pizza.  

Compare Student Credit CardsDuring May 2007, international strategy consultancy Celent charted the financial behavior of the young adults in the "Millennial generation," frequently described as those Americans born between 1982 and 2000, who have or will come of age in the new millennium.

With its online poll of 591 college students from 34 universities between the ages of 18 and 25, Celent uncovered the dual importance of having good credit and ample pizza. Although the need for pizza was a no-brainer, Celent found just how deeply young adults also feel about good credit.

To get an idea of what financial goals and concerns are at the forefront of young adults' minds, Gen M respondents were asked to rate the importance of a variety of financial objectives. The top result came back once again as maintaining good credit, which Celent interpreted as the result of combined marketing and educational efforts stressing the dangers of bad credit.

Penelope Trunk, career columnist for Yahoo Finance, explains that since Millennials value their time so highly, having bad credit is scary in the way it can restrict options. "It's a lifestyle choice to make sure they have good credit, because they understand how limiting their other choices are if they have bad credit," she says. Therefore, young adults view having good credit is as important as having a strong resume, she says.

Tied for top place among students' financial goals? Being able to afford pizza, or more specifically "meeting incidental living expenses." The study question listed books and pizza as examples of such expenses.

Apparently, Gen M would love to charge that pepperoni pie, but only if doing so means not going over their credit limit or being unable to make their credit card payments.

Still, Trunk wonders if "pizza" on the Celent survey was a stand-in for "beer" – something that costs students a large amount of their free cash as they pay for parties. She notes that young adults today have a passion for expensive beer, commenting Millenmials buy a wider range of imported alcohol than older generations. 

Comparing its results to those from a 2003 study, Celent found that college students continued to frequently make use of basic banking products.

Of those questioned, 69 percent of students reporting currently having or using a credit card and another 20 percent plan to have a credit card within two years.

Additionally, 89 percent of those surveyed said they have a debit card, an increase from 83 percent in the 2003 study.

Prepaid cards, however, appeared significantly less popular with Gen M. Of those polled, just 10 percent said they had or use a prepaid card currently and another 10 percent expected to have a prepaid card product in the next two years.

Published: July 17, 2007


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