Contrary to what the mainstream media might have you believe, millennials aren’t just squandering their money on avocado toast and craft beer while plotting the demise of Applebee’s.
Millennials––or at least those aged 23 to 37––are becoming savvier when it comes to personal finance, at least according to Bank of America’s recent report. About 60 percent of millennials now say they feel financially secure––and they’re not just delusional. Roughly 47 percent of millennials have $15,000 or more in savings, while 16 percent have $100,000 or more. Of millennials who budget, about 73 percent stick to their budget most of the time.
Even compared to other generations, millennials aren’t doing as bad as crotchety commentators might have you think. Sixty-three percent of millennials save money––that number is about the same for Gen-Xers, and rises to about 75 percent for baby boomers. Thirty-five percent of millennials fear they’re not saving enough, and about 17 percent are shackled by student loan debt. Meanwhile, far more millennials have savings goals than their Gen-X and boomer counterparts.
But even millennials are stressed out about the negative press surrounding our generation. Almost three-quarters say our generation “overspends on unnecessary indulgences.” About 64 percent claim our generation is no good at managing money. But evidently, these worries aren’t fully founded.
Millennials are stereotyped as entitled, but perhaps that confidence pays off when asking for raises 46 percent of my generation say they have asked for a raise in the past two years, compared to 36 percent of Gen-Xers. Of course, this could partially be explained by the fact that millennials are earlier on in their careers, in a time of rapid growth. But millennials’ audacity has largely been received well: the report found that 80 percent of millennials who asked for a raise later received one.
The future of work might not look as bleak as past generations have feared. About one-quarter of millennials are part of the gig economy, and able to supplement their incomes accordingly, with greater flexibility than before.
Interestingly, the Bank of America report also found that millennials weigh cost as a major factor when deciding to have kids, to a greater extent than past generations. So perhaps our prolonged childlessness doesn’t fit well into the “selfish millennials” trope, but indicates a recognition of the need to plan for the expenses involved.
Basically, millennials still have to grapple with the harsh reality of debt, and graduating college in the Great Recession and post-Recession haze. But by and large, we’re not doing as poorly as other generations have feared. Our parents and grandparents can stop grumbling––we’re not blowing all our money on Fyre Festival and the perfectly-coiffed man bun (anymore). We’re finally prioritizing saving and investing and getting darn good results.
Liz Wolfe (@lizzywol) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is managing editor at Young Voices.
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