A quarter of millennials say they’ve saved $100,000

A quarter of millennials say they’ve saved $100,000

01/30/2020

The most fortunate young Americans are ahead of their older peers when they were their age.

A sizeable number have seen a savings bump in recent years. One-quarter of millennials have $100,000 or more in savings, up from 16 percent two years ago, according to Bank of America’s “Better Money Habits” report, which surveyed nearly 2,000 millennials aged 24 to 41. The bank asked about the total amount of savings, including bank savings/checking accounts, IRA, 401(k) and other retirement or investment accounts. A 10-year bull market has helped.

Many millennials also arrived onto the jobs market during or in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession. The good news: the jobs environment is getting rosier, at least judging by the latest jobs figures. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5 percent in December and remained near a 50-year low. The labor force participation rate was 63.2 percent in December, unchanged from the previous month, helped by an increase in women aged 25 to 34 looking for work and/or getting jobs.

That’s an encouraging improvement for this struggling generation, according to the survey. Millennials are saddled with record student-loan debt of $1.5 trillion and many have a hard time affording a first house. In 2015, only 8 percent of millennials said they had $100,000 or more stashed away for a rainy day. Millennials are also just as likely to budget than both Generation X-ers and baby boomers, the study also found.

However, despite their savings, more than half of all millennials say they feel behind financially compared to where they thought they would be and another 33 percent feel financially behind their peers. On average, the millennials in the survey said they started saving for retirement at age 24, earlier than both Generation X (30 years old) and baby boomers (33 years old). What’s more, to truly feel financially secure more than a quarter (26 percent) say they need $1 million or more.

“Older millennials are more secure when it comes to their savings, but many others across this broad age-range still struggle to save at all,” said Andrew Plepler, global head of Environmental, Social and Governance at Bank of America.

“Debt remains a pressing challenge with competing pressures making it hard for people to feel financially secure.” He added, “Millennials are facing a difficult financial balancing act.”

This age group has competition from younger cohorts, however. A separate study from credit bureau TransUnion looked at the credit profile of Generation Z, those born in or after 1995.

Among those Gen Zers who have already reached adulthood in the US, 66 percent have some sort of loan product. There’s evidence that members of Generation Z, who came of age after the Great Recession, are also having an easier time paying off their debt than millennials did at their age.

Millennials, previous studies suggest, have fewer responsibilities than their older counterparts. They are more likely to rent than own property and, unlike their parents and older siblings, are less likely to have kids. They spend more than an average of $2,300 per year than older generations on five key items: groceries, gas, restaurants, coffee and cell phone bills, according to personal-finance site Bankrate. And they spend $233 per month on meals versus $182 for older generations.

They also have bigger problems. They shoulder more student-loan debt than any other generation and face house prices that are far higher than their parents did at their age in a post-recession environment of stagnant wages. Student-loan debt has reached $1.3 trillion as the cost of college has soared. And spending no more than 30 percent of their income on rent or a mortgage, a golden rule for decades, is now almost impossible for many young Americans.

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