Credit scores for young adults are not quite as dismal as headlines decrying an expensive love for avocado toast might have you believe.
Canadians between the ages of 18 and 25 bucked national trends, improving their average credit score by 11 points in the last decade, according to a report from Equifax Canada.
Credit scores, which tend to range from 300 to 900, are considered “good” when they top 660. The 18 to 25 category, which includes younger millennials and generation Z’s older members, shared an average credit score of 692. Average credit scores for every other age group — including the older millennial crowd — dropped.
“A lot of the stuff in headlines today you read as negative and here’s a pretty impressive stat,” says Julie Kuzmic, director of consumer advocacy, Equifax Canada.
“It’s a standout.”
Equifax Canada doesn’t know exactly why, but Kuzmic has some ideas. They might actually be more credit literate, she says, meaning they might be taking advantage of companies that offer free credit scores and lessons about how to boost your own.
“It used to be far more of a mystery,” Kuzmic says.
Indeed, per a survey Equifax did earlier this year, 82 per cent of those surveyed across all age groups said they were in the know about what factors, including paying off their credit cards on time, impacted their credit score.
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On a less positive note, Kuzmic says their good credit scores could also be an indication that they’re young and life has yet to put them through the financial wringer. Life includes a lot of unplanned events: job loss, divorce, mortgages and broken furnaces, sick kids and expensive hockey equipment.
“Sometimes people get behind in bills because they have no other choice,” she says. “Looking at older people, it follows that there are more [of them] who are going to have had negative life events that set them off track.”
Fear of going off track is also likely part of the reason the younger crowd has better average credit scores, says Shannon Lee Simmons, founder of the New School of Finance. Ten years ago, young people were graduating into the 2008 financial crash. No one expected that, she says, but today’s younger adults are tapped into that worry.
“They’re more checked into the fact that they’re going to have to work hard, that debt is scary.”
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If the 18- to 24-year-olds want to keep their finances in check, Simmons says, it’s important they keep living within their means, be vigilant about expenses and stay as financially flexible as possible.
“Where I see it fall apart for people is they’ve bitten off more than they could chew,” she says. “If you’re not overextended in the first place then you can handle those kinds of things that life is going to throw at you.”
Equifax Canada surveyed 1,527 Canadians online between Aug. 3 and Aug. 7, 2018, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for the survey was +/-2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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