Eight in Ten Millennials Say Great Recession Taught Them to Save Now,Wells Fargo Survey Finds

Style Magazine Newswire | 6/19/2014, 10:38 a.m. | Updated on 6/19/2014, 10:38 a.m.
As millennial Americans have experienced the effects of the Great Recession of 2008, a strong majority (80%) say it has ...

As millennial Americans have experienced the effects of the Great Recession of 2008, a strong majority (80%) say it has taught them they have to save now to survive economic problems down the road.  Despite this generation's reported lesson, 45 percent are not saving for retirement, while slightly more than half (55%) are saving.  The savings picture varies by gender with 61 percent of men and 50 percent of women reporting that they are saving.  This difference in saving rates may hinge on the fact that the median annual household income reported by millennial men is $77,000 versus $56,000 for women.  For college-educated millennials, median annual household income is reported to be $83,000 for men and $63,000 for women.  About half of all millennials report they are satisfied with their savings at this point in their lives, but the gender discrepancy is pronounced, with 58 percent of men feeling satisfied, versus 41 percent of women.  These findings are part of the 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial Study, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Wells Fargo, released today at a Women’s Institute For A Secure Retirement (WISER®) forum in Washington, DC.  The survey was conducted among over 1,600 U.S. adults aged 22-33 (millennials), and among over 1,500 U.S. adults aged 49-59 (baby boomers).

The silver lining of the recession that started over five years ago is that a majority of millennials get that saving is a necessity and even equate it with surviving tough times.  But millennial women are starting out their working lives making far less than men and, as a consequence, are saving less and feeling less contentment at the start of their working lives, said Karen Wimbish, director of Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo.

The Pressure of Debt

Millennials are struggling under the pressure of debt, with 42 percent saying "it is their biggest financial concern currently.  Four in ten say their debt is "overwhelming" versus 23 percent of baby boomers.  Forty-five percent of millennial women feel overwhelmed by debt, versus 33 percent of millennial men.  Perhaps due to big debt obligations, over half of the millennials (56%) say they are living paycheck to paycheck, regardless of gender.

What Kind of Debt?

When asked to rank their number one financial concern after paying day-to-day bills, millennials cite paying off student loans (29%) as their top concern, whereas boomers cite saving for retirement (44%). When asked to estimate certain categories of debt as a percentage of monthly pay, millennials report their debt breaks down, on average, as follows:  credit card debt, 16 percent; mortgage debt, 15 percent; student loan debt, 12 percent; auto debt, 9 percent; and medical debt, 5 percent.  Among all millennials, 47 percent are allocating 50 percent or more of their paychecks to these types of debt.

“People have to closely examine what they are spending their money on and figure out the best way to comfortably manage debt and savings levels, said Wimbish.

Retirement and Saving

The progress in accumulating investable assets proves to be another area of difference between the genders, with college-educated millennial men reporting median household investable assets of $58,500 and college-educated millennial women reporting median household investable assets of $31,400.