The aim of the study is to investigate how 2,084 U.S. college-educated young adults (61.9% female, and 69.5% non-Hispanic White) navigated the goal attainment process during the transition to adulthood. Using four-wave data collected across eight years, we examined how financial behaviors (self-regulating behaviors) predicted both depressive symptoms (affective goal attainment evaluations) and financial obstacles to goal attainment (cognitive goal attainment evaluations) via financial satisfaction (resources). Given the variability in developmental trajectories (i.e., initial levels and rates of over-time changes) among young adults, we conducted an exploratory mediational analysis with Latent Change Scores. The results revealed indirect-only mediation patterns, and 8 of 16 (50%) indirect effects via financial satisfaction were statistically significant. Collectively, we identified the salient roles of financial behaviors and financial satisfaction among young adults who pursued and attained life goals amid the financial difficulties during the 2007–2009 Great Recession. Our findings should be informative for promoting desired development among the current generation of young adults who were pursuing goals during the financial recession, primarily by indicating the necessity in implementing financial education and providing financial resources for young adults.
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