How Parents, Romantic Partners Influence Student Spending

Researchers looked at college students in committed relationships and found that the students' financial behaviors were positively and directly influenced by the responsible financial behaviors of both their parents and their romantic partners, with students modeling their own behaviors after both parties.

Yet, romantic partners had a stronger influence than Mom and Dad when it came to students' attitudes about finances, which, in turn, indirectly influence students' financial behaviors.

Researchers say the study has implications for financial education programs targeting young adults, which often focus solely on individuals without considering the people in their lives who may be most influential.

"There is such a push to help young adults improve their financial decision-making capabilities," said lead study author and former UA faculty member Joyce Serido, now an associate professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. "How about offering education for couples or for parents and their kids, involving more couples and families in discussions about finances?"

The researchers' findings were based on the ongoing APLUS, or Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students, study, which began collecting data from first-year UA students in 2008 and continues to follow them into adulthood.

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