Adulting: Millennials find the money struggle is more than real
Thursday, June 08, 2017
Failure to launch or an economic reality? According to a recent U.S. Census report, millennials are finding their transition into adulthood is not as seamless as their predecessors. The report indicates that not only are more millennials living with parents than spouses, but their incomes are significantly less as well.
In fact, their finances are actually at the center of most of their stress.
A new study shows that millennials are far more likely to spend more time at work worried about their finances than their older colleagues. About 67 percent of millennials say financial stress overtakes their ability to focus and be productive at work, according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits.
Several factors could point to why money matters differently for this generation with some of it being out of their control and some of it self-inflicted.
There have been more than enough headlines describing the behavior of this generation — ranging everywhere from irresponsible to irrepressible. They can splurge on cross-country musical festivals, but don't see the value in redeeming their credit card points. FOMO (fear of missing out) plays a large hand in why they spend and save the way they do.
But it is also no secret that this generation has taken on more student loan debt than the majority of the generations that preceded them. The average student loan balance was $10,205, but was even higher ($11,475) for those still in school.
According to the Institute for College Access & Success, a study of 1,055 out of 2,010 public and nonprofit colleges showed the average debt load of students graduating in 2015 to range from $3,000 to $53,000. At the high end, 200 of the schools reported average debt of more than $35,000.
Lower wages also contribute to the financial stress this generation is enduring.
In the years following the recession, wage growth stagnated around 2 percent while the unemployment rate declined at a more rapid pace, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It hasn't been up until the last year that they improved, particularly a surge last fall to near 4 percent, before cooling over the following months.
Crushing student loan debt and stagnant wages can definitely hinder the ability to purchase a new car or buy a new home, and can definitely cause concern when trying to make ends meet. But what millennials value as important might be more of the reason why moving out of their parents' basements doesn't rank too high on their priority list.
Recently, an Australian real estate tycoon named Tim Gurner made headlines calling out millennials for their poor spending habits. Gurner, 35, now has a half-billion dollars to his name.
"When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each," he said.
YOLO (you only live once) was originally just a fun catchphrase for this generation, however, some of their spending habits might happen to back up this claim. A recent survey sponsored by the investing app Acorns found that on average almost half of adult Americans under 35 spend more money on a cup of Joe than on savings for retirement.
It is apparent they are making it rain in areas of life that instantly gratify — and that might be why saving for the future is not something they find as appealing. A new report from Merrill Edge illustrates some glaring contrasts between generations and their respective views on financial planning.
According to the report, while a majority of millennials think of saving as a path toward financial freedom, older generations save in order to establish a nest egg for retirement. Although 55 percent of baby boomer and Generation X respondents said they are saving to exit the workforce one day, only 37 percent of millennials could say the same.
No matter what you make of millennial money troubles (or lack thereof), one thing is for certain: millennials don't live to work — but rather work to live. While boomers and Gen Xers focused much of their stress on what will their lives would look like later, millennials are interested in figuring out what it should look like now.
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