vacation of the future

More Millennial Optimism: Will They Be The Greatest (Financial) Generation?

The research keeps coming in: Millennials want to be smarter about money than their parents. In fact, they resemble their grandparents more than their parents when it comes to money: They’re thrifty, conservative, and skeptical of debt.

Where’s the proof? I wrote last month about several studies, and now more evidence is stuck in the middle of an otherwise depressing study from Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 investment firm. Its conclusion…

45 percent of non-retired Americans are not currently saving for retirement. Of those who are not yet saving, only 36 percent plan to do so in the future and almost 10 percent say they never plan on saving for retirement.

While I completely understand the struggles of average Americans to save for retirement, I can’t fathom anyone saying they “never” plan to do that. Here’s something else I don’t understand…

Almost all (90 percent) of the study’s youngest respondents indicated that they either plan to or began saving in their 30s or earlier. However, when looking at respondents ages 35 to 44, only 64 percent actually began saving in their 30s or earlier.

Why would younger Americans be more willing to save for retirement than slightly older ones? The Edward Jones survey offers no answer, but another survey did. This month, Northwestern Mutual released its 2015 Planning and Progress Study, which asks Americans of all ages how they think about money — especially saving and investing it.

This year, the focus was on those 18-34, the so-called Gen Y that we know as Millennials. Among the results that bode well for their financial security…

  • 64 percent describe themselves as “more inclined to save than spend.”
  • 53 percent “have set financial goals” — but only 38 percent of Americans age 35 and older have done the same.
  • “Almost half of Millennials have spoken to their partner, friends, family or an advisor about retirement, taking a step toward successful planning.”

Adds Rebekah Barsch, executive officer and vice president of planning and sales at Northwestern Mutual…

“Members of Generation Y have some exceptionally good instincts when it comes to planning.  They’re inclined to set goals and are pretty hard on themselves about how they’re doing against them. They’re savers and they recognize that requires discipline.  At the same time, they’re enthusiastic about their futures, and have positive expectations about what’s in store for them as they get older.”

So the future looks bright. I fear, however, for the present. As my generation begins to retire, will we be a drain on our children? I can’t think of a worse fate for both generations.

Howard Dvorkin is a CPA and chairman of, an educational resource for those who want to conquer all forms of debt in their lives.

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