Fri. Dec 1st, 2023

Nearly half of millennials feel like their financial pain will keep them from living their dream life

Despite Americans’ increased savings rates during the pandemic, many millennials still feel their finances aren’t up to snuff. 

Nearly half, or about 45%, of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) agree that they feel like they will never have the things they want in life because of their money situation. That’s according to Morning Consult’s Q1 2022 State of Consumer Banking and Payments report released Tuesday

And 38% of millennials frequently feel like they’re behind on their finances. That’s about 13 percentage points higher than the average U.S. adult who feels similarly. Meanwhile, only about 35% of American adults feel their finances will keep them from attaining their goals. 

That fairly grim outlook comes after Americans’ personal savings rate hit an all-time high of 33.8% in April 2020. And while that has dropped down to 6.9% in November, many Americans still have a fairly sizable savings stash—enough that 44% of U.S. adults report they could cover a $1,000 emergency expensewhich is higher than usual

Yet among millennials, financial health remains persistently below the national average, according to Morning Consult’s research. In fact, millennials’ average financial well-being score—developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to track financial security and freedom of choice across different population segments over time—registers as 47.05 compared to 50.81 out of 100 for the average American.

That’s a significant gap when you consider that a 1-point gain in a consumer’s month-over-month financial well-being score basically amounts to about a $15,000 boost in household earnings, a five-year age jump, or a 20-point credit score improvement, according to Morning Consult.

And it’s not just American millennials who feel left behind financially. Globally, Morning Consult found that among the regions and countries polled, only millennials in Spain and Latin American had higher-than-average financial well-being scores.

This, of course, is likely a reflection of the fact that millennials faced a global recession and pandemic during their prime working years. In the U.S., many millennials also dealt with skyrocketing home pricesstagnant wage growth and student loan debt at some point in, or even throughout, their 20’s and 30’s. 

But these headwinds didn’t affect all millennials the same way. Those who live in rural areas or earn lower incomes are struggling the most, according to Morning Consult. And millennial women’s well-being score lags more than three points behind their male counterparts. Meanwhile higher-income millennials—those earning $100,000 or more—are faring much better than the general population. 

Yet while many millennials’ outlook on their finances is far from rosy, there is some room to hope they’ll be able to achieve their goals. Last year researchers at the St. Louis Federal Reserve found that older millennials, those born in the 1980s, were actually catching up. Researchers found that the accumulated wealth among this age group in 2016 was about 34% below expectations. But by 2019, the typical family in this age group was only 11% behind expectations.

“They still have a ways to go to match the wealth accumulation of previous generations, but clearly this is a significant rebound, one that we were really happy to see,” co-author Lowell Ricketts said in an interview in November.


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