Last year, we published an article that pushed back on the media’s “lazy millennial” theme. It was called “Millennials Aren’t Bad with Money After All.” We noted that millennials are actually excellent at saving money despite large student loan debt. One year later, we wanted to check in and find out how millennials, as a group, are doing with regards to saving. The answer is “great.”
Millennials continue to save and manage money well compared to other generations. The statistics include:
- 62% of millennials save more than 5% of their income; only 50% of adults over 30 save more than 5%.
- More people in the $30-$50K per year income bracket save more than 10% of their income than people in the $50K-$75K income bracket.
- 88% of millennials report living within their means.
Why Millennials Save
If you read personal finance stories, you find two big reasons millennials are better savers. First, the retirement options now are less attractive than they were for Baby Boomers and even early Gen Xers. There really were more pensions (defined as you worked a certain number of years and earned a certain amount of benefits) in the past. One shocking comparison puts it all into perspective:
In 1985, 90% of Fortune 100 companies offered a pension; by 2012, that number fell to 11%. (http://www.workforce.com/articles/fewer-employers-offering-defined-benefit-pension-plans-to-new-salaried-employees)
When you combine this fact with the opinion of a solid majority (60%) of millennials that Social Security will go bankrupt before they retire, you have a recipe for more savings. After all, no one wants to eat cat food in old age.
The Great Recession is another cause for the higher savings rate. Millennials saw older Americans experience major declines in home equity and stock market wealth. At the same time, unemployment and underemployment also increased sharply. Millennials want a bigger financial cushion in case they have to deal with large financial problems.
What This All Means
Millennials are, as a group, good savers who want to save more money. This finding points to a major business opportunity. If you are in the financial services field, make sure you market your products to millennials. Do not buy into stereotypes that only middle-aged and older adults are interested in financial products. Skipping over millennials means overlooking a lot of potential customers.
The fact that millennials are better savers might have serious political ramifications as well. If a large number of millennials continue to believe that Social Security will not be there for them, it is hard to imagine they will be satisfied with large amounts of taxes being taken out of their paychecks. High student loan debt and low wages are major impediments to millennials achieving their savings goals. With millennials becoming a greater share of the voting population, politicians will need to address these real concerns in order to win elections. The impressive performances of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, which virtually no political pundits saw coming, might be the first rumblings of major policy battles ahead.
Millennials, overall, have great savings habits. Make sure you do everything you can to capitalize on this positive trend.