What does your generation say about your spending habits?
Millennials have been in the firing line for a lot of things and have taken on numerous labels— narcissistic, ungrateful, vain, and consumer-driven, (you only have to watch one episode of Girls to know that.) The latter point on consumerism ties in to the speculations around their financial behaviour and moreso their attitude towards saving, or rather, not saving. There is little-to-no doubt, that Millennials are a marketer’s dream, every intricately-placed social ad or sponsored Twitter post for an event or clothing piece is there just waiting for some twenty-something to rinse their student loan on, before even contemplating their next meal — trendy ramen or pho (probably).
But are they really as careless with cash as we love to think? Certainly, they’ve seen some of the worst economic prospects and staggering rates of unemployment and salary rates, in fact research has revealed that just two years ago in New York Millennials were were earning on average 20% less than their precursors. How has this affected their spending habits then? Well, a recent survey conducted by a well-known UK payday loans broker revealed some anomalies in the trends…
The UK survey, conducted in April, asked circumstantial questions to its respondents to gain an understanding into how they react to financial situations. One of these questions revealed that a staggering 82% of 18-24 year olds would ‘politely decline a night out if they were skint’. This comparison was made with 35-44 year olds who, when asked the same question, were the most likely age group to dip into their overdrafts for a night out when skint. Surprisingly, it wasn’t actually Millennials that were taking out any short term loans for bad credit at Swift Money, but actually 54 years and over. Millennials then, in this case, have disproven claims of carelessness with cash in favour of a night out and lack of ‘FOMO’. Although making gains there then, they didn’t quite cement their title as top bargain hunters either — this title, not surprisingly, went to 24-34 year olds, who described their approach to purchasing as: ‘the cheaper the better’.
Stereotypes in this survey didn’t quite hold up, but, interestingly, the survey revealed that these preconceptions don’t look to be shifting any time soon. The survey respondents of all age groups were asked which generation they considered the most responsible with their money. The results weren’t all that unusual, with 82% of people saying Baby Boomers were the most responsible. Respondents were able to comment on how responsible they thought their own generation was, which led to 12% of 18-24 declaring their own generations at the very bottom of the scale: ‘not at all responsible’.
Despite disproving that all Millennials are frivolous spenders who are reckless with what little income they might have, it appears that we have an innate desire to link elder generations with a more responsible attitude to finance. This may have some relation to what Forbes journalist Kelley Long describes as younger people, especially Millennials’, delay in ‘adulting’, not too dissimilar to Kathleen Shaputis’ ‘Peter Pan’ generation claims. This claim is made on the research that Millennials are delaying in some more conservative ‘rites of passage’ such as marriage, childbearing and property purchasing, that we usually associate primarily with adulthood. This disregard for traditional structures of ‘adulthood’ may be the reason that, despite having a lot of knowledge and common sense themselves, younger people still see themselves as young and to some degree irresponsible. Traditionally these pairings go hand in hand because we tend to correlate our elders as responsible regardless of their actions.