My Money and Me: Attaining Financial Independence in Emerging Adulthood Through a Conceptual Model of Identity Capital Theory

  • Sarah Martin Butterbaugh
  • D. Bruce RossEmail author
  • Alyssa Campbell


Emerging adulthood is a period of time from the late teens through late twenties, when individuals are facing major life transitions and decisions, with significant focus on becoming independent. This push for independence includes financial independence, a key characteristic of adulthood. The current article utilizes identity capital theory to guide and help explain the processes of obtaining financial independence in emerging adulthood. In contrast to older generations, current emerging adults are postponing many major life decisions considered to be adult behaviors, such as starting a career, getting married, and having children, which, in turn, ultimately extends the period of adult identity formation through independence, namely financial independence. Due to the importance of becoming financially independent, research should focus on examining the processes emerging adults take in gaining a sense of financial well-being and independence, and how clinicians can aid in this process. This conceptual model was created in the interest of identifying implications for therapy and identifying the mechanisms to promote independence in identify formation within an inclusive therapeutic practice.


Emerging adulthood Financial independence Identity capital theory Financial well-being Conceptual model 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There were no conflicts of interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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