- Millennials are known for being financially behind, but they'll probably end up being okay.
- A new survey by Insider and Morning Consult found that many millennials view their financial standing positively when compared to their peers.
- They're also doing better than previous generations in certain areas: They're more optimistic about money than Gen X and more open to talking about it than baby boomers.
By Hillary Hoffower
Nov. 30, 2019
The story isn't a new one: Millennials are struggling with financial problems previous generations didn't face.
They're dealing with a heavy trifecta formed by the ongoing fallout of the recession, rising living costs, and staggering student-loan debt. But perhaps not all is as bad as it seems.
Insider recently teamed up with Morning Consult to survey more than 2,000 Americans about their financial health, debt, and earnings for its new series, "The State of Our Money." More than 670 respondents were millennials, defined as ages 23 to 38 in 2019.
While several findings weren't positive — millennials are more likely than their parents to delay life events because of money and they're pretty stressed about their debt — other results painted a much brighter picture.
Millennials overall view their financial standing favorably when compared to their peers — and compared to Gen X, the preceding generation. They've also made strides in money compared to their parents: Millennial women are earning more than their mothers, and millennials overall are more open talking about money.
Here, six facts that show millennials will probably be okay, even if you think otherwise.
Millennials are more open about money than their parents
If there's one thing millennials have going for them that their parents don't, financially speaking, it's that they're talking about money.
Thirty percent of millennials share financial info with their friends, compared to just 9% of boomers; 25% of millennials share financial info with their siblings, but 12% of boomers do the same; and 12% of millennials talk to their colleagues about money, whereas only 2% of boomers do.
When it comes to sharing their finances with family, millennials are also more likely to do so — 46% talk to their parents about it, while 24% of boomers talk to their kids about it.
Millennial women are more likely than their mothers to out-earn their partners
Millennial women have progressed when it comes to income earnings. Only 18% of baby boomer women said they make more money than their partner or spouse, while 35% of millennial women reported making more money than their partner or spouse, Business Insider's Liz Knueven reported. That means millennial women are twice as likely as their mothers to earn more than their partners.
However, 25% of the 1,068 survey respondents people who identified as women said that they made more than their spouse or partner, while 75% of those who identified as men said the same. That goes to show the gender pay gap is still in effect; men make more money as they advance in their careers.
Note that the survey did not distinguish between respondents in same-sex and different-sex relationships.
Millennials may have credit-card debt, but they have less than the previous generation
While more than half (51.5%) of millennials said they have credit card debt, it's not out of the norm. In fact, it's less than the percentage of Gen Xers who have credit card debt: 54.5%.
And when you narrow the scope of the picture, you'll find that of those millennials who have credit-card debt, the majority don't owe a lot. More than half (54%) said they owed less than $5,000.
Most millennials think they have less debt than their peers
Nearly half of millennials (48%) think they have less debt than their peers (17% said they didn't know).
It's likely many are right. As we've seen, of those with credit card debt, the majority owe less than $5,000. And only about 28% of millennial respondents have a mortgage, so most millennials aren't carrying the debt of homeownership.
Around 28% of millennial respondents have undergrad student-loan debt, meaning the majority aren't faced with this burden. If millennials are reading anything about the student-debt situation, those who don't have it are likely to think they have less debt than the rest of their generation.
And more millennials than not think they're financially better off than their peers
More millennials are positive when comparing themselves to their peers — 46% think they're much better or somewhat better off than their peers. That's compared to 37% of millennials who think they're doing worse than their peers (the remaining 17% said they didn't know).
These perceptions might be because millennials are reading their own press about their generation's financial woes — like how they're suffering from stagnant wages, struggling to afford staples like housing, and dealing with staggering student-loan debt.
If millennials are overall thinking they're doing better than their peers, the situation on the ground may be better than we believe. Though things may be rough for the generation, the fundamentals may not be as bad as the story they're told.
Millennials are more positive about their finances than Gen X
The percentage of millennials who think they're financially worse off than their peers (37%) is also notable because it's lower than the percentage of Gen X who think they're financially worse off than their peers — 43%.
And when asked how they would rate their financial health, slightly more than 41% of Gen X said it's not very good or not good at all. That's worse than millennials, 37% of whom said the same.
While millennials may face some financial problems specific to their generation, they may not be doing as poorly as it seems — at least compared to Gen X.