How do Millennial Finances Compare to Previous Generations?

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By: Erica Quinn

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or avoid the internet entirely, which is pretty much the same thing, you’ve heard the negative press that millennials have been getting lately. Criticized for so often living with their parents and not having substantial investment and savings portfolios, the assumption has evolved that millennials are too lazy and entitled to make any real money. The reality is, millennials across the country represent a generation of hard-working, highly educated individuals, constantly seeking ways to save money while still enjoying a bit of life.

Millennials, statistically, have proven to be the most well educated, most workforce engaged, highest percentage savers of any generation in US history. The data shows this conclusively. So where do those stereotypes come from? The unusual, if not unique, economic situation millennials face means that they spend more than any previous generation for higher education, despite at least a 4-year degree being essential for even most entry-level professional jobs. They face substantially lower relative salaries as well, with a degree-holding millennial today earning comparably the same as a non-degree holder in 1980.

On the cost side of the equation, housing costs and interest rates have risen higher, and savings returns lower, than they’ve ever been. In many markets, even a dual-income millennial couple, both working full time, cannot afford even a basic house in which to attempt raising a family, to say nothing of put anything aside for retirement.

The young professionals put away a higher percentage of their modest incomes than any previous generation, and yet have an average of 1/3 the amount saved by their parents at the same age. Despite being the most well educated generation, their income to cost of living runs far lower than their Gen X and baby Boomer predecessors, leaving many scrounging for creative ways to earn some extra money, just to get out of mom and dad’s basement.

Check out the infographic below for a direct comparison of millennial finances as compared to previous generations.


How Do Millennial Finances Compare To Previous Generations



Erica Quinn is a data journalist and content strategist based in San Francisco, California. She currently focuses on personal finance, mortgage, and fintech content. Her work has appeared on Fox, Nasdaq, MSN, Motley Fool, and more.

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