Money questions millennials ask

Money Problems Make Young People “Work Martyrs”

Millennials are so worried about their current finances that they will never stop working.

Half of young people admit that day-to-day expenses give them financial anxiety, according to a new survey from Northwestern Mutual. This could explain why many never take their time off, as another new survey from Project: Time Off — a pro-vacation initiative — reports 43 percent of millennials are skipping vacations to work more, compared to 29 percent of all workers.

“The early stages of a career can be rewarding in many ways, but not necessarily financially,” says Rebekah Barsch, VP of planning for Northwestern Mutual. “With the right financial plan in place, millennials can alleviate some of the pressure and feel confident about pursuing their career aspirations rather than just a paycheck.”

According to the Northwestern Mutual study, 1 in 20 millennials are worried about money on an hourly basis and most often stress about day-to-day finances, unexpected expenses, and student loan debt.

It’s young people that are more likely to choose a career they love over a higher-paying, less self-gratifying job, but the lack of money is actually a big problem for them at work. “Among those millennials experiencing financial anxiety, 8 in 10 millennials say that eliminating financial stress would positively impact their careers compared to two thirds of the general population,” the study says.

However, the same young people that are stressed right now about money are actually optimistic about their futures. Millennials are the least-likeliest generation to believe they will have financial stress later on in life: 66 percent compared to 76 percent of Gen Xers and 80 percent of baby boomers.

And despite anxiety right now, 86 percent of millennials are confident they will achieve their financial goals and 40 percent believe the economy will improve this year. The general population is much less optimistic, with less than one-third believing the economy will turn around soon. A positive outlook for the future could be because of their financial awareness right now: more than half of millennials (58 percent) consider themselves disciplined financial planners, the study says.

Less money means more work

More financial anxiety could be playing an important role in why so many young people are always working. Project: Time Off says millennials are most likely to give up paid time off.

“[They] stay at work because they feel more fear and greater guilt about taking time away from the office than any other generation,” the report says.

According to the report, millennials are “work martyrs” — employees who don’t take vacations to prove they are completely dedicated to their jobs. They believe they’ll be showing employers that they’re easily replaceable if they leave and many times, feel guilty for taking time off even when they’re encouraged to do so.

“Millennials are developing vacation attitudes that will define and negatively affect America’s work culture,” says Project: Time Off senior director and report author Katie Denis. “The circumstances of the millennial experience — the Great Recession and its aftershocks, growing student debt, and an always-connected lifestyle — have created a perfect storm for their work martyr behavior.”

Many times, young people will skip out on vacation because they want to prove they are a valuable part of a company and want to be considered for future raises, promotions, or other responsibilities. Even more millennials — 48 percent — think their bosses like the always-working employee. As young people continue to enter the workforce and take on management roles, the number of work martyrs is only going up.

“Time off is essential to employee productivity, creativity, and overall performance,” Denis says. “Businesses need to recognize the power of time off and work toward creating a positive vacation culture.”

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