Is the next generation prepared to overcome financial hardship?

Many young adults are encountering major financial obstacles — but see a bright future ahead.

The Principal® Foundation YouthCan Initiative Research

The Principal® Foundation conducted a study to uncover the financial struggles and headwinds facing young people, ages 15 to 36, in the United States. With a special view on low- to moderate-income individuals, this survey of 2,400 young respondents will help the next generation earn and save for their financial futures.

Learn more about the Principal Foundation.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Financial crises can strike early.

Financial crises can strike early.

54% of young people say they’ve already hit financial rock bottom.

Leading factors include depression, job loss and student loan debt.

Debt can be overwhelming.

Young people can find themselves overcome by debt before age 30.

1 in 5 young people feel overwhelmed by debt.

For many, a good credit score is more important than saving. They are picking up significant debt through credit cards, student loans, and car loans.

Young people are hopeful for their future, despite challenges.

Young people are hopeful for their future, despite challenges.

4 of 5 young people are optimistic about their long-term financial future.

Young people have goals in mind. They hope to improve their finances by paying off debt, increasing savings, and working side hustles.

Young people say that they believe with hard work, they can reach their financial goals.

Reach young people before troubles arise.

Feeling of optimism and resiliency drop significantly as low-to moderate-income young people age.

With practical, just-in-time solutions, we can help young people to overcome barriers to lifelong financial security. The first step is understanding—the next is action. Will you join the effort?

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Explore the research findings, hear from real young people, and take action.

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About the Principal® Foundation

Principal Foundation imagines a future where all people — especially youth — can learn, earn, and save for what matters most to them. We are committed to empowering youth toward a more financially secure future. Our #YouthCan initiative is working to help 50,000 young people around the world to earn more and save more.

We work on a global scale to create new opportunities to help people build financial security and encourage our employees to lead through heartfelt service. Rooted in our values, our grant-making, volunteerism, and match giving programs create a supportive culture for philanthropy and service. More than 450 organizations benefited from our local work last year alone.


The Principal Financial Group Foundation, Inc. (the “Principal Foundation”) is a distinct, not for profit, undertaking separate from the Principal Financial Group, Inc. (“Principal”). The major focus of the Principal Foundation is to build financial security in the communities where Principal operates. Principal Foundation has $200M assets under management and directs its returns to helping people learn, earn, and save. While the Principal Foundation receives funding from Principal, the Principal Foundation is an independent organization. The Principal Foundation does not practice any form of investment advisory services and is not authorized to do so. The Principal Foundation YouthCan Initiative is a venture of the Principal Foundation and is aligned with the goals and objectives of the Principal Foundation. ©2019- 2020 Principal Foundation.