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Do Millennials Face More Financial Hardships?

Every generation believes that younger generations have it easier


Older generations are always quick to suggest that younger generations are lazier, more spoiled and have an easier time at just about everything.

Baby Boomers are quick to proclaim that Generation X, or Millennials or Generation Z have an easier time getting a job, saving for retirement, buying a house and are surrounded by luxuries unthinkable “back in the day.”

But there does seem to be more cynicism aimed at the Millennial generation when compared to Generation X or Generation Z. Let’s explore.

Millennials Get a Bad Rap

Just look at the title of the best-selling book describing Millennials titled: Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before or the Time magazine cover that screamed: Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.

In some respects, it seems that the word “Millennial” has become less of a term defining a demographic and more of a derogatory describing a group of entitled brats.

But rather than making condemning judgements toward a group of people, ask yourself this: how do Millennials actually feel about certain things, like retirement or the economy or getting a job? Well, that’s exactly what a survey conducted by GoBankingRates.com actually did – and the results might (or might not) surprise you.

How Do Millennials Actually Feel?

The survey polled Millennials (ages 23-38) with a series of questions asking how their financial outlook compared to those of earlier generations.

And the results clearly indicate that Millennials believe that today’s economic climate is making it very difficult to reach financial milestones that earlier generations were able to achieve “back in the day.”

Here are some findings taken directly from the survey:

  • 68% of millennials “agree” and “strongly agree” they have more, tougher financial obstacles than previous generations.
  • Roughly half of the millennials polled feel that their generation has faced the worst overall economic environment.
  • 47% of millennials surveyed have $0 saved for retirement.
  • 1 in 4 millennials are living rent-free with family or friends, and nearly half are renting a home.

Are Millennials Right?

The reality is that every generation has gone through periods of financial hardship and financial success.

Did you know that since 1926, there have been exactly 11 bull markets and 11 bear markets? Further:

  • The average bull market period lasted 6.5 years with an average cumulative total return of 333% and
  • The average bear market period lasted 1.3 years with an average cumulative loss of -38%.

Nonetheless, the Great Recession of 2008 likely left more of an imprint in the minds of Millennials vs. the current 10-year bull market. Why?

Because almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.

In fact, research published in The Review of General Psychology by Professor Baumeister notes that “losing money, being abandoned by friends and receiving criticism will have a greater impact than winning money, making friends or receiving praise.” Read that again.

Perception is Reality

Here’s the thing: we can attack Millennials for feeling entitled and try to back up our attacks with comparisons of the Great Recession of 2008 with the Great Depression of the 1930s. Or we can tell stories of the early 80s when 30-year mortgage rates were over 18%. Or when unemployment was about 10% in 2009. Or we can bring up stagflation in the early 80s.

But let’s remember this: “someone’s perception is their reality.”

Maybe we just meet people where they are instead?

If you’re a Millennial and are among the 47% that have saved $0 for retirement, let’s arrange some time where we can fix that. Let’s talk about today’s economic climate and how you feel. And let’s build a financial roadmap for the future you want.

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