International Finance
January-February 2019 Magazine What Millennials Want

The Holy Grail of Millennial Finances

The Holy Grail of Millennial Finances
Yoni Dayan, chief editor at Money Under 30, tells us why millennials are facing the toughest financial future in modern history

Is there some sort of justification between what millennials earn and how much they spend?

There is some justification. The justification would be that millennials are younger. People save money when they cross the retiring phase and needing money becomes concrete. Millennials are 30-40 years away from crossing the line. The previous generation is 10 years away from retirement. So, it is that much easier to think of retirement as the closer you are to retiring…and that would be the justification.

What would be an ideal annual income for millennials?

I don’t think so there is an ideal figure. I’m a millennial and what my ideal income is: I would say a million dollars, or maybe more. I have seen surveys that talk about more than 100,000 dollars for men and 60,000 dollars a year for women. But I wouldn’t put much thought into those. I don’t know if there is an ideal income.

Recent “Millennials and Work” survey shows an average earning of at least $118,000 per annum. Despite these figures, what are the financial challenges they face unique to the American economy?

The challenges are many. First: student loan; Second: lack of jobs in their respective professions; Third: limited financial awareness in terms of not understanding their credit scores, retirement accounts, and the like. Overall, their rudimentary knowledge of basic financial profiles will weigh them down financially.

How would you define millennials’ spending pattern and credit scores?

Millennials are much less likely to have good credit. At every level, millennials are performers. The shocking thing to me is not that they have less credit, it is that they don’t know their credit scores. And this comes back to the idea of millennials not having enough understanding of their basic financial issues. So, credit scores is a big challenge.

On an average, what is the financial satisfaction rate for millennials? Why?

The Holy Grail of Millennial FinancesWhat I identify is that millennials are unsatisfied with their current financial situation, and also optimistic about the future. I would expect somebody unsatisfied currently to be pessimistic about their future, but it seems millennials as a whole almost are optimistic about their chances of improving the situation. It is almost a half glass full situation where it really fits the stereotypes of people who believe the future is going to be better.

Why do you think millennials are optimistic despite their financial challenges?

To them, the further they go into their career, the higher their earnings will be…and in the process they will be able to save much more. And I am hopeful that their optimism is warranted.

What does Money Under 30 survey have to say about millennials viewpoint on finances?

In our previous survey, we asked millennials how satisfied they are with their finances. It seems that 56% of millennials are either very unsatisfied or somewhat unsatisfied with their current financial situation. In comparison with other Americans, 44.6% said they are only very unsatisfied or somewhat unsatisfied.

Studies show millennials are three-times more likely to ask help from friends and family. What is the chief reason behind this?

That is from our study as well. We asked millennials: in an unexpected expense of 500 dollars, which is not so much money in the grand scheme of things, how would they cover the cost? The findings showed that millennials were three-times more likely than others to ask help from friends and family. It does paint a picture of millennials financially lagging behind. They are spending a lot during the holiday season; and they are willing to go into debt.

Would you factor in laziness, in part, for their financial dissatisfaction?

I wouldn’t say they have a feeling like they can coast; they are lazy or anything like that.  But I’m a millennial, for example, and I don’t feel that way about myself or my peers. I don’t feel that my generation is any lazier than any other generation. I mentioned the three issues that are affecting millennials: student loan debt; general lack of financial awareness; and inability to find jobs in their respective industries.

So millennials can’t directly control everything, but they can educate themselves by diversifying their knowledge. For example: a platform such as Money Under 30.

However, student loans are affecting millennials very uniquely in a way it is not affecting any other generation. The cost of tuition has doubled since the late 80s and they are a real burden for millennials. We have loan employment in the United States and yet millennials are not able to find jobs in their current fields. They working in jobs they are not experts in for the sake of other commitments. There are legitimate burdens for millennials and it has nothing to do with laziness or anything like that.

How can millennials manage their finances better, especially under challenging circumstances such as educational loan; tuition fee; or part-time job?

I would say start saving now. Often what happens with millennials is they think that “I don’t need to save now. I’m not making a lot of money now and I can afford to wait…and in 10 years when I make a lot of money, I can afford to save.”

But they are really missing out on the benefits of saving early. Saving early is huge. When you first get into the mentality of saving…it really forces you to consider your finances: if you’re really paying attention to or you’re going to miss out on other opportunities.. So there are very real reasons to save early, and there are compounded benefits for people who are willing to take that risk.

They can get into the investing side of the game early on and have a portfolio—such as 85% in stocks. We know the stock prices rise over time. If millennials don’t invest early they are going to miss out, and even if it is 100 dollars a month or less than that…you can open an account and start investing. The resources are available. They just need to start. Save early and educate them well.

There is no reason why they shouldn’t know their credit scores or why they should pause on their retirement accounts.

In the recent survey carried out: we asked millennials about their contribution toward retirement accounts. Nearly 10% of millennials said they don’t know. Many of them said they are not contributing but the fact that millennials don’t even know if they are contributing or not speaks of the massive lack of knowledge they have toward their own finances. So, the idea is to save early and become aware.

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