Time to Stop Thinking of Millennials as Slackers

Are the stereotypes commonly applied to Millennials — non-conformist, selfish, entitled, expect everything to be done for them, etc. — for real? A new report says no, at least with respect to their retirement savings and spending habits.

According to the latest Merrill Edge® Report, Millennials’ “do-it-myself” mindset apparently is evident in their willingness to save a significant portion of their paycheck, as 38% of Millennials say they are willing to save more than 50% of their own paycheck to have more money in the long run.

Millennials supposedly also place greater trust in their own stewardship than they do in their personal relationships. When asked what they will be able to rely on in 20 years, their top response was their savings account (66%), compared to 57% who said their significant other and 56% who said friends.

In contrast, the report found that older generations are more likely to depend on outside sources for their financial security, such as employer- or government-funded accounts. Seventy-one percent of Gen Xers said they plan to rely largely on a 401(k) account, while Baby Boomers are more likely to rely on pensions (54%) and Social Security (50%).

The survey of more than 1,000 mass affluent Americans reveals that after witnessing the effects the Great Recession had on older generations, 85% of Millennials responded that they are more likely to “play it safe” with their day-to-day investments. Moreover, the report found that Millennials are most likely to see themselves as more financially conservative compared to others, including their parents (46%) and grandparents (35%).

Technology and Confidence

Not surprisingly, the report notes that apps and mobile devices are quickly changing the way Americans manage their day-to-day finances. According to the findings, 44% of Americans manage their everyday banking on a mobile device at least once a week and 57% manage their day-to-day finances online every week, while only 10% do so in person. Moreover, 20% of Americans monitor their investments and the market through their mobile devices each week.

The ability for Americans to monitor their investments while mobile also appears to be helping them feel more confident about their investment approach than they did 10 years ago, with 47% of respondents saying they feel more vigilant and 45% saying they feel more confident and secure.

“We’ve learned a lot since the Great Recession and its monumental aftereffects in the way Americans think about their finances,” says David Poole, head of Merrill Edge Advisory and Client Services. “What’s most important is that Americans, especially the younger generation, are feeling optimistic about what’s ahead, so their conservative approach may pay dividends in the long run.”

Merrill Edge’s online survey was conducted by Convergys Sept. 6-24, 2017, consisting of 1,010 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S., defined as those age 18 to 34 (Millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000, those age 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000, or those age 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000.

Add Your Comments


  1. David J. Kupstas
    Posted December 14, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I am Generation X, and they said we were slackers coming out of college. They probably say that about every generation that comes along. So I don’t think all these things they say about millennials are true. I still love to take shots at them whenever possible, though.

  2. David J. Kupstas
    Posted December 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    The smiley face icon I put at the end of that last comment didn’t come through. 🙂

  3. Ted Godbout
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I’m a Gen-Xer, too, and I do remember folks saying the same thing about us. It’s the same with every generation coming of age.


  4. Nevin E. Adams, JD
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Except, apparently, for the NEXT generation…demographers seem to think they have their sh*t together… http://www.napa-net.org/news/managing-a-practice/industry-trends-and-research/millennials-move-over-gen-z-has-arrived/

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Send this to a friend