Millennials are not good with their finances. It’s impossible to hide now.
The good people at Money Under 30 conducted a survey to figure out just how bad the problem actually is. Here’s what they found:
- Nearly 20% of millennials would need to ask help from friends or family to pay for an unexpected expense of just $500 (compared with just 6% of other Americans).
- 10% of millennials don’t even know if they contribute to retirement accounts (compared with 2% of other Americans).
- 35% of millennials don’t know their credit score (compared with 16% of other Americans).
- All in all, 56% of millennials are either somewhat unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their current financial situation (compared with 44% of other Americans).
Why is this happening?
Well, we’ve heard many sexy, over-the-top explanations. Millennials are entitled, spoiled, naïve, and eat too much avocado toast. But let’s see if we can dig a little deeper.
The (costly) price of education
Millennials are being affected by the economy in different ways than were previous generations. Take, for instance, student loans and job hunting, which are both vastly different than they were just decades ago.
The cost of tuition has skyrocketed over recent decades, and there has been a commensurate rise in student loans.
The survey teased this out – 16% of millennials listed paying off their student loans as their number one financial goal, compared with just 2.6% of other Americans.
Why are millennials struggling with their student loans? The answer is quite simple: tuition costs have skyrocketed.
According to the Department of Education, both public and private tuition costs have more than doubled since the 1985-1986 school year.
On top of that, degrees are no longer optional – they’re considered a basic requirement by nearly every employer looking to fill a white-collar position.
The millennial generation is also graduating without jobs in their chosen fields. Though the US economy is enjoying extremely low rates of unemployment, Millennials are still struggling to find jobs in their fields of expertise. 13% of millennials listed finding a job in their field as a top priority, compared with just 3% of other Americans.
Millennials not getting a fair shake
The older generations love to denigrate millennials. “When I was your age we walked to school, 5 miles, uphill both ways,” they mock.
Perhaps years from now, millennials will tell Generation Z a similar story. “When I was your age, I paid $100,000 dollars for the most basic degree employers required, to get a job in a field completely unrelated to what I studied, and worked my butt off the next decade to pay off my student loans.”
I asked the trusted founder of Money Under 30 for his thoughts on the survey:
“Americans’ real wages have hardly budged over the last 40 years, while entry-level paychecks may actually be losing ground to inflation,” said David Weliver, who himself had to deal with more than $80,000 in debt after college.
“The result is that even graduates with a reasonable amount of student loan debt have a difficult enough time making ends meet, let alone saving for retirement or to buy a home. It makes perfect sense that 56% of Millennials unsatisfied with their current financial situations. I’m surprised the figure isn’t even higher!”
It’s clear that the millennial generation is being affected by the economy in a way that is unique in the American experience. Yet that fact won’t save them when the reality of student loan debt hits them full in the face.
Millennials need to get their finance in order, and fast.