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Monday, 06 March 2017 23:58

Barbara Daroca: Millennials: the Cost-Conscious Generation

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“Young people just waste their money on trivialities such as flat-screen TVs and expensive clothes” - how often have you heard this? – or even thought it yourself!- about the generation born between the 1980s and the early 2000s?

Often characterised as short-sighted thinking, narcissistic and overly consumed by technology and social media, Millennials, or Generation Y, defy these stereotypes when it comes to their behaviour and attitudes towards saving and spending. Most of Millennials might be more cost-conscious and money savvier than you think. In fact, they seem to be even better at managing their money than Baby Boomers and Generation X – their parents! – and to have the same saving habits as their grandparents.

According to a survey from investment outfit T. Rowe Price that analysed the spending and saving habits of more than 3,000 adults over the age of 18 in the United States, 75% of working Millennials track their expenses carefully, compared to 64% of Baby Boomers and 67% of Millennials stick to a budget, compared to 55% of Boomers. They want to be empowered to build their own future so they are very receptive to financial advice and seek guidance to help them reach their goals. Other studies highlighted the same behaviour and attitudes amongst young working Europeans.

Coming in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Millennials are more engaged on their financial situations than their parents at the same age. They spend money more often but in smaller quantities than their elders. And, contrary to what you may believe, they are not focused on possessions. A recent Eventbrite/Harris poll found that 78% of Millennials would choose to pay for real-life experiences – such as concerts, festivals, special events or a nice vacation – over buying physical things – such as a car or a home. Moving away from materialism, members of Generation Y think that experiences help shape identity and create long-life memories. They are less likely to buy something just because it is convenient (e.g. fast food); they focus on value for money (e.g. a homemade or freshly prepared meal).

Young adults have been called a lot of names – Millennials, Generation Y, Internet generation, Echo Boomers, etc. - but one of them is certainly not appropriate: “The Laziest Generation”. Money-conscious with both feet firmly on the ground, Millennials are changing the relationship with money and the way of consumption, just as they do in the workplace. They are definitely different, and they might have a thing or two to teach us!

Barbara Daroca

Barbara Daroca is the Head of Corporate Services at ING Luxembourg.

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