May 30, 2017
By Dave Rathmanner
When it comes to personal finance, millennials aren’t like their parents. In fact, they’re a generation that has very distinct views and behaviors when it comes to their finances. These beliefs sometimes lead them to make decisions that can seem counterproductive, but they also offer proof that millennials are progressive and more open than other generations to things like technological change and examining the social impact of their actions.
Here are some things that might surprise you about what millennials think about personal finance.
Millennials Like Financial Technology
Millennials love technological solutions and are often among the first and the most enthusiastic adopters of new personal finance technologies. In fact, according to the Consumer Banking PACE Index, millennials are three times more likely than their baby boomer counterparts to use their phones to bank and 30 percent less likely to go into a branch. When it comes to the devices that they prefer, 81 percent of millennials use a computer to access their accounts, 63 percent use their phone, and 33 percent use a tablet.
Millennials are also more likely to use personal finance apps like Mint that allow them to track their budget and accounts electronically or to use payment technologies like Apple Pay. Millennials are also active users of roboadvisers – which are the perfect investment gateways for this demographic because they have relatively low fees and allow them to start out with a small portfolio.
Millennials Hate Credit Cards
It might surprise you to know that a large percentage of millennials do not like credit cards. In fact, a 2016 study found that around 67% of millennials didn’t even own a credit card. It is possible that many millennials are debt adverse after having used debt to finance their education. Since they feel overwhelmed with the challenge of repaying their student debt, they prefer to avoid going into additional debt and so shun credit cards.
Some have seen their parents struggle with debt and that also has had an impact on their fear of credit cards. Others are not able to get a credit card because they might be unemployed or under employed and not able to qualify.
While it’s a good thing that millennials aren’t going into credit card debt, not having a credit card can create serious problems for millennials since they will be unable to build a good credit score. That sets them up to potentially be rejected for loans in the future or to have to pay extremely high interest fees which can add significantly to their borrowing costs.
Some lenders are already reacting to the needs and preferences of this group by using different underwriting criteria in order to ensure that they’re able to give loans out to qualified millennials, even if they have little or no credit history.
Millennials Are Tackling Student Debt
Many millennials feel a significant amount of stress over their student debt. Unlike previous generations, the majority of millennials graduated college with a significant amount of student loan debt – an average of over $28,000 for 2016 graduates. Upon graduation, many had a hard time finding well paying jobs and that has increased their feelings of stress. A large proportion of many millennials’ incomes is now going towards repaying their student loan debt.
That’s led may to fear that their student debt could get in the way of allowing them to live the life that they want. They fear that it will keep them from moving out on their own, getting married, having children, buying a home, or saving for retirement. Though, many millennials have been helped by the growing private consolidation industry which offers significant interest and monthly payment savings to qualified borrowers.
Millennials are therefore more likely to make career decisions that are related to their student loan debt. They might look for a high paying job rather than one that provides them with more personal satisfaction or they might take a job where the employer offers student loan repayment benefits.
It’s also lead many to focus their financial goals narrowly around student loan repayment and that means that they are likely to be behind on their retirement savings.
Millennials Are Concerned About Their Social Impact
Millennials are very concerned about the social impact of their personal finance decisions – 72 percent said they will pay more for ethical products. That makes them more likely to buy ethical alternatives to common products or buy organic produce. They want to know that their purchases are making a positive impact on the world.
Millennials are also very interested in social impact investing. In a recent survey on ethical investing, over 85 percent of millennials said that they were interested in engaging in this type of investing. That means that millennials would rather prioritize investing in companies that do good and are socially responsible than those that focus solely on creating the largest return for investors.
Dave Rathmanner is a millennial with a knack for all things personal finance. Dave enjoys helping millennials engage with their finances through technology and guides free of financial jargon. Dave supports the Oxford comma.
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