Millennials’ financial habits and the generation’s impact on the economy is a highly debated topic. As a response to the many conflicting reports from research on millennials, Revere Bank conducted its own survey to determine millennial trends related to finances.
Revere Bank Millennials Research
Revere Bank conducted a survey that sampled 118 millennials (people ages 18 to 39, as of surveying). The survey was distributed in the fall of 2016. A group of approximately 22 of the surveyed millennials also participated in focus groups in August and September 2016, during which they discussed the survey questions in more detail. In total, four focus groups with five to seven attendees each were conducted. The sessions each lasted one to two hours and consisted of open discussion prompted from a list of questions based on the original online survey.
The respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to 39. Respondents ages 20 and younger made up 3 percent of respondents; 60 percent were in the 21-30 range and 37 percent were between the ages of 31 and 39. The participants were 46 percent female, 52 percent male and 2 percent other. Married participants represented 39 percent of the survey pool while 59 percent remain single and 2 percent responded other. Only 15 percent of respondents were enrolled in a two- or four-year program for undergraduate or graduate school.
When looking at millennials’ average income, our participants’ incomes ranged from less than $24,999 annually to more than $200,000, with half of respondents’ incomes falling within the $25,000 – $75,000 range (annually). When comparing males’ and females’ incomes there was a significant disparity – almost half (48 percent) of male respondents’ incomes were between $50,000-$99,000, while the majority (65 percent) of females’ incomes were between $25,000-$74,999.
Our study also looked into millennial home buying trends. A significant number of participants were homeowners (46 percent), but a large portion (34 percent) were renters. A smaller minority (11 percent) of respondents lived with their parents or other family.
Findings: Millennials Investing Trends
Millennials Future Financial Preparation
When planning for their financial future, several studies have found that millennials are starting to save more than older generations, as cited by the Washington Post. The Revere Bank study also found that nearly all (90 percent) of millennials are saving in at least one way. The majority of respondents (72 percent) participate in their employers’ 401(k) plans and an additional 30 percent contribute to a private 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan (respondents were allowed to choose multiple options in response to this question). Even those who aren’t saving know they should be – 14 percent of those who do not save now plan to do so. Only 10 percent of respondents claimed to save no money at all.
“[Retirement] is just one of those things that’s very far away for me,” said one focus group participant, explaining why saving for the future can be difficult for the individual. “I know it’s there and I’m trying to save for it, but I don’t know when I’ll get to retire.”
As the millennial generation matures, they will soon have the greatest investing power of any generation. However, the Revere Bank survey found millennials are more conservative about investing than might be expected. While a very large majority of respondents invest in traditionally “safe” ways (like employer-sponsored retirement plans), 40 percent do not invest at all on top of that. Another 36 percent invest in typically lower-risk ways (like mutual funds or other managed funds). Additional research has found that, despite knowing that retirement is decades away, millennials are investing in high-risk, high-return opportunities at a much smaller rate than previous generations. Only 33 percent of millennials own stock in at least one company, compared to the national average of 43 percent and the Gen X average of 51 percent, according to the Forbes article, How Millennials Will Change the Face of Finance and Investing, from September 2016.