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They learned from watching their parents’ finances tank during the Great Recession.

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Millennials catch a lot of flack for being sensitive little snowflakes, mooching off their parents. But ironically, they’re out-saving them.

Thirty-five percent of millennials say they saved more money in 2017 than in 2016. That’s more than Generation X (25 percent) and baby boomers (22 percent), says a survey from Discover. [1]

There are plenty of misconceptions that millennials blow their money on trivial purchases, but here’s how millennials actually handle their money…

Millennials are financial planning

The largest generation in the workforce is also the wisest when it comes to planning their future finances.

Thirty-one percent of millennials have a written financial plan, compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers, and 22 percent of baby boomers, says a study from investment firm Charles Schwab. [2]

Millennials aren’t just planning their finances more, they’re putting those plans into action. Nearly three-quarters review and rebalance their investment portfolios, more than Gen Xers (66 percent), and baby boomers (64 percent).

Further, 36 percent of millennials have savings goals, but only 25 percent of Gen Xers, and 17 percent of baby boomers have them. However, the number of millennials (22 percent), and baby boomers (25 percent) who work with a financial adviser is similar. Both are higher than Gen X (16 percent).

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Millennials are afraid of debt

Millennials seem to be better at budgeting to pay their credit cards off every month.

More than half (52 percent) of millennials paid their credit card balances in full every month compared to 35 percent of all Americans with credit cards, according to a study from LendEDU. [3]

This could be because millennials have a noticeable fear of debt that stems from the financial crisis of 2008. They even bring this fear into their relationships.

Millennials are the generation most likely to fight over debt in their relationships, says a study from the American Institute of CPAs. [4] Although everyone fights over money, and it’s the leading cause of breakups in relationships — millennials feel it the worst.

Sixty-eight percent of millennials say their debt causes tension in their relationships, while 59 percent of Gen X, and only 48 percent of baby boomers say the same.

Millennials biggest financial concern is carrying too much debt, according to BMO Wealth Management, and it makes sense. [5] They have the most student loan debt ever — 34 percent hold more than $30,000.

But while they’re tackling that debt, 63 percent are also focusing on saving for retirement and investing in other places as well, Debt.com has reported.

How millennials spend their money

Just because most millennials are focused on saving for retirement and paying their debts, it doesn’t mean they don’t splurge on lattes and avocado toast.

Here are some ways millennials say they spend their money, according to Charles Schwab. [6]

  • At a popular restaurant: 79 percent
  • On coffee that costs more than $4: 60 percent
  • To see live music, sports, or other events: 73 percent

When it comes to millennials’ money, experiences trump stuff. Or at least that’s what a Harris poll found: 78 percent of millennials would spend their money on an experience over things. [7]

When they aren’t splurging on music festivals and trips abroad, millennials spend a ton of their money on rent costs. Rent sucks up around 45 percent of millennials’ income during the first decade of being in the workforce. This amounts to $93,000 by the time they hit 30, according to RentCafe. [8] That’s more than any generation before them.

Millennials want to work for socially impactful companies

Profit and salary are nice, but are you helping people?

That’s what millennials are asking prospective companies as they head into the workforce. The 2018 Millennial Survey Report from Deloitte found that 52 percent of young people think businesses are unethical and 53 percent believe they aren’t helping improve society. [9] Now more than ever, younger employees want to work for companies that make a difference.

Now in its seventh year, the survey features Gen Z for the first time — the generation following millennials into the workforce, or those born between 1995 and 1999. Among the findings:

  • Millennials don’t trust businesses. Young people believe there is more to a successful business than financial performance.
  • Diversity is a priority. While pay and benefits rank at the top, flexibility and companies with diverse senior management rated highly.
  • Loyalty isn’t important. As millennials and Gen Z dominate the workforce, they want their employers to prove they are worthy.

Millennials and money: Men vs. Women

When it comes to reaching certain financial goals, millennial men have the edge over women. Using its Positive Finance Indicator, which Wells Fargo says connects happiness and money, male millennials are leading the way. Here’s what men and women say about their financial goals…

Millennial men say

  • Have enough to save for future needs: 68 percent
  • Are saving enough for retirement: 68 percent
  • Able to pay their monthly expenses: 87 percent

Millennial women say

  • Have enough to save for future needs: 51 percent
  • Are saving enough for retirement: 50 percent
  • Able to pay their monthly expenses: 84 percent

Despite this, millennial women seem to be more responsible with their personal finances than men, according to a study from GOBankingRates. [10]

  • 25 percent of women want to save more compared to 22 percent of men
  • 8 percent of women want to improve their credit score compared to 6 percent of men
  • Men (6 percent) want to make a large purchase compared to 5 percent of women

Millennial women are less comfortable with investing than men. A survey from finance app, invstr reported 16 percent of males say they’re very comfortable investing in the stock market, which is almost double that of females at 8 percent. [11]

Turns out going through hard times makes you pay attention more. It shows in the way millennials approach their finances…

“Millennials are very financially aware, probably more so than any other generation before them because many of them came of age during the financial crisis and its aftermath,” says Kerim Derhalli, CEO of invstr. “It’s important that they’re empowered to make smart financial decisions that prepare them for the future.”

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About the Author

Cameren Boatner

Cameren Boatner

Cameren Boatner is a contributing editor of Debt.com. She is currently working toward her bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from FAU, where she serves as editor of the student-run newspaper.

Published by Debt.com, LLC