The Yin and Yang of Millennials’ Money Habits

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August 31, 2016 by Lisa Brammer

The results of the 2016 TD Ameritrade Millennials and Money Survey have been posted. I read about them in an article by Business Wire and I found the outcomes interesting—quite the dichotomy.

Since Millennials are typically immersed in social media, it wasn’t surprising for me to find out that they feel a lot of pressure to keep up with, well, everyone. It has a lot to do with their YOLO mentality. (For those who are acronym challenged like me, it stands for you only live once.)

  • 64 percent of Millennials (opposed to 29 percent of my Baby Boomer generation) compared themselves to others.
  • Almost 25 percent feel the need to keep up with their friends spending habits.
  • 15 percent admitted to spending money in order to make a good impression.
  • 57 percent said they needed a substantial amount of money above the minimum needed for essentials (compared to 34 percent of Boomers).
  • 53 percent are willing to retire later to maintain their desired lifestyle.
  • Over half of Millennials reported they spent more/not saved as much in a month than they wanted (compared to 29 percent of Boomers). 56 percent said this happens very often/somewhat often.


On the flip side, the poll also shows that Millennials are actually better handling their money than I thought they were. Even though they are very competitive and care about what others think, “…Millennials came of age during a major financial crisis, which increases the propensity to save and financial conservatism,” said Matthew Sadowsky, director of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade, Inc.

  • 47 percent are anxious about debt.
  • 62 percent identify themselves as savers.
  • 80 percent have a budget.
  • 72 percent are saving for retirement.
  • Almost half (49 percent) are concerned about running out of money in retirement.


“Millennials were in a position to learn the value of financial preparation, having grown up in the aftermath of a recession. The qualities they have developed like budgeting discipline and a realistic outlook on retirement may well pave the way toward their financial future,” said Sadowsky.

As you would expect, Millennials and Baby Boomers think very differently on a plethora of subjects, but both generations come together and are in agreement that:

  • Saving, as opposed to spending, makes Americans feel secure and, as a result, happy.
  • The number one reason to save is to have the confidence you can meet your financial obligations whatever happens.

To me, the best part of the survey revealed that both generations, Millennials and Boomers alike, are optimistic about feeling financially secure in the future.

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