The myth of the Millennial – A generation that’s doing better than you think

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I hate admitting it out loud, but, yes, I am in fact part of the Millennial generation – albeit on the older side of the age bracket: I grew up with the dulcet tones of dial-up internet and thought that hoarding Beanie Babies was a solid retirement plan.

It’s no wonder, though, why my natural instinct is to try and distance myself from this so-called “me” generation, as the endless millennial stereotypes are quite unforgiving: lazy, entitled, poor work ethic, and not to mention the poor money management skills due to our extravagant avocado-toast budget.

But, even though my Beanie Baby retirement plan didn’t transpire as I had hoped, it turns out, according to a recent survey conducted by Bank of America, that Millennials need to give themselves a bit more credit: They are doggedly, and quite successfully, saving and planning for their futures.

Bank of America surveyed 1,500 people between the ages of 18-71 to learn their habits and views on personal finance. For this survey, they defined Millennials as between the ages of 23-37, and divided the group into younger Millennials (ages 23-27) and older Millennials (ages 28-37).

And, to the surprise of most, the survey showed that Millennials are just as good, if not better, at saving money than past generations.

47%, nearly half, of Millennials have $15,000 or more in savings. The real kicker? 16%, that is, 1 in 6 Millennials, have a savings of $100,000 or more.

These statistics are truly inspiring and encouraging for a generation, with myself included, that joined the workforce during one of the greatest economic recessions since the Great Depression. I think I have to agree with Andrew Plepler, Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance at Bank of America, when he expresses, “Millennials deserve more credit – both from themselves and from others – for their mindfulness when it comes to money and their lives.”

The survey goes on to validate the notion that Millennials do indeed show a high degree of responsibility and regard for their personal finances and future retirement.  

Millennial Stats

  • 63% are saving with 67% sticking to their savings goal each month

  • 54% are budgeting with 73% sticking to their budget every month

  • 57% have a savings goal

  • 59% feel financially secure

These statistics are even more impressive when taking into account the shifting job market. For Millennials, the idea of a secure factory-type job has gone very much by the wayside and has been substituted with the ‘gig economy’. The gig economy is defined as taking on short-term or freelance work. As this job-hopping approach makes it even more difficult to set up a retirement plan, you certainly cannot label Millennials as lazy. It takes a tremendous amount of drive and work ethic to thrive in the fickleness of the gig economy. Indeed, even of those Millennials with a steady job, 47% still expect to need a second source of income at some point in the future.

Millennials certainly have money on the minds: While these statistics support the idea that the generation is taking effective action to secure a comfortable future for themselves and their families, the problem of, according to the survey, “despite their relatively strong money habits, Millennials still say their finances are causing them stress,” remains. And who could blame them with the prevailing negative millennial stereotypes drilled into society’s general consciousness?  

Plepler reflects, “The interesting part is that Millennials believe the stereotypes about themselves. Despite their good habits, three-quarters say their generation overspends, and the majority believe that their generation is bad at managing money.”

It’s safe to say that the general perception of the Millennial generation can, and should, start to shift positive based on these findings. Then, perhaps, even I’ll stop apologizing for the generation I was born in to.

Though I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for the Beanie Babies.

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Lauren is a filmmaker and writer. She loves capturing and sharing Minnesotans’ unique stories. And when not behind the camera, she’s always on an adventure traveling, exploring new bike trails, and subjecting her friends to taste testing her latest baking experiments.