Millenials Competitive About ‘Making It’ Financially

Millennials may face greater economic hurdles than their predecessors, including unprecedented student loan debt, unemployment and stagnant wage growth, but they remain confident that they will make it financially, according to a new survey from Cherry Hill-based TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®.

The TD Bank Financial Wellness Survey polled more than 1,100 Americans on their personal finance knowledge and financial milestones. Not only are millennials more confident than previous generations that they can attain their financial goals, they’re also competitive about it. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said it’s important to feel like they’ve made it before their friends, versus just 10 percent of baby boomers and 29 percent of gen Xers.

“Millennials have unfairly earned a reputation for being less financially responsible than previous generations,” said Andrea Johnson, Head of Financial Education, TD Bank. “While they may delay traditional milestones like marriage and children, they still aspire to achieve traditional hallmarks of the American dream, including owning a home, getting an education and being debt-free.”

What makes Americans feel like they’ve made it?

Above all, Americans long to be debt free. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed (61 percent) considered becoming debt-free the most significant financial milestone. Trailing behind was owning a home (54 percent) and saving enough for emergencies (52 percent).

Only one-third of respondents consider investing an important milestone. This was followed by growing their career (30 percent), putting their children through college (29 percent) and graduating from college or university (28 percent).

“Financial success is not something that happens overnight—it takes time and planning,” Johnson said. “When consumers build a solid foundation with a realistic budget and savings plan, they can reach their goals.”

Why don’t Americans feel like they’ve achieved goals?

Living paycheck to paycheck is the number one barrier to success, according to one-third of TD Bank survey respondents. Credit card and student loan debt (17 percent) also present major obstacles. Among Americans who currently have or had debt, 68 percent say it impacted their progress toward achieving their financial goals. For millennials, that number swelled to 80 percent.

Americans want to learn more about managing their finances. While two-thirds have never attended a personal finance class, more than 60 percent from this group wish they had. Millennials are the most inclined to take a class on personal finance, with approximately 70 percent of combined millennials and gen Xers saying they wish they had, compared to half of boomers.

What advice do the generations share on attaining financial goals?

“Don’t spend what you don’t have” ranked as the best financial advice among all generations. For those older than 35, 27 percent said they would tell their 20-year-old selves to “start saving in your 20s.”

While a third of boomers turn to a financial advisor for advice, 26 percent of millennials rely on the Internet and one-third of all respondents don’t rely on anyone.

“Whether you are a gen Zer opening your first savings account or a boomer getting your finances lined up for retirement, everyone benefits from a sound financial education,” said Andrea Johnson. “Consumers should continue to seek advice across a variety of sources, such as family, online resources and financial institutions to help them create a plan to reach their goals.”

Survey Methodology
The study was conducted among a nationally representative group of Americans from March 18 to March 24, 2016. The total sample size was 1,109 respondents (ages 17 to 55+) with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent. MARU Group, an independent global research company, conducted the survey.

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