A new study shows that nearly half of millennials in the USA have $0 in savings. The same report shows that the number of millennials who have significant savings put away has increased. What’s going on? Who is to blame? Grab your pitchforks, people. Let’s do this.
If you’re active on LinkedIn or other financially-focused websites, you’ve probably seen this Bank of America report released today.
In short, almost 50% of the “millennial generation” have nothing in a savings account. While a growing number of the same demographic have large amounts of savings. The group in the middle is disappearing. So if you’re a millennial, statistically you either have a lot put put away, or nothing at all.
What does this mean?
It means that the generalization that millennials are bad at saving is more true than before, but also more false. Sorry to say, but stereotypes exist for a reason. The generalization of twitch-streamers, YouTube millionaires, adults living in mom’s basement, and avocado toast with a Starbucks latte seems to have some basis in fact.
A few charts to highlight the study:
Now, the discussion regarding causation and correlation is one we don’t have time (or the word count limit) to address here. But the fact that two different banks found the same data in reputable studies shows that something is happening.
Granted this study doesn’t compare the numbers with other generations. Or even other generations at the same point in their timeline. That data is easy to find, and I assume that it would be very different than these data.
So, the question:
Who do we blame for this growing disparity?
Nobody. Sometimes life just sucks, that’s guaranteed. Are some millennials just terrible at cash management, putting away savings, or self control? Definitely. Are some the victims of some financial disasters? Of course. Maybe it’s just a reflection of the changing lifestyles of the generation. The fact that the number of those who have significant savings is also increasing shows that nobody is out to “get” the millennials. That there is no grand conspiracy to keep them poor forever.
I attended a devotional at which Mitt Romney spoke in 2014, at one point he mentioned: “The self-help guides that I read said I was doomed, because they claimed that in order to have a successful life, you had to have a clear goal in mind and then work relentlessly toward that goal. But that isn’t how life worked out for me. As a matter of fact, almost nothing I have done in my career was planned in advance.”
(Cue the comments about “taking advice from a millionaire on how poor millenials should save money is stupid. 1% this and 99% that.” That’s not the point of the quote and you know it. Stay focused, people!)
Maybe we should stop looking for people to blame, and instead focus on ourselves and how to make our lives, and the lives of those around us, happier, better, and more prepared for the hard times in life. Life is unpredictable and we’re all in this together.