Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tim Bishop, who is a fellow NextHome Integrity Group agent. He is a great guy and even better agent. Don’t hesitate to reach out to him. Contact information is at the end of the post.
It’s 2019 and I’m 31. Why am I telling you this? It’s because I think we might be misunderstanding the state of the average millennial’s financial situation. Since I’m one of them, I have some street cred (that’s millennial talk for first-hand experience).
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say… most older folks don’t have a positive view of my generation. We are viewed as mom’s basement dwelling, lazy, afraid of commitment, vapid, and selfish. Are some of us like that?… Yes. Personally, I haven’t found those characteristics to be as common as you would think. You might say that I don’t have an accurate picture of the state of my generation since my experience is anecdotal. I don’t associate with a representative sample of every subgroup of this generation, mostly because, that’s not practical. Most of the people I know, come from places like my church or my neighborhood. Some of them are professional peers, clients, and others are on boards and commissions with me. I’ve self-selected a group that’s just like me and I’ve probably avoided all the others. I think it’s a pretty natural way to associate but it does nothing to prove that we’re doing fine as a generation. So I’ll go a little further.
There’s some evidence that we aren’t as bad off as you think we are. A good indicator might be their finances. From what I can tell, it’s not all bad news… when compared to other age groups we hold our own. For example, nearly 31% have a written financial plan. Boomers and gen-x have written plans 20-22% of the time. We’re are also more likely than older generations to work with an investment advisor and frequently rebalance our portfolio. That indicates that we’re trying, but not much else. It’d be nice to know what kind of portfolios we’re rebalancing. Are we paying the investment advisors to advise us on our 3k portfolio so we can post about it on social media? Probably not, in fact, Bank of America did a survey and found that 1 in 6 millennials had 100k in financial assets. Around half had 15k in the bank. Those are not the only indicators, and some don’t paint the same picture, but they compare well to other generations at the same point in time. We aren’t perfect, millennials on average have too much debt, especially student loan debt… but despite our reputation, we aren’t a significantly worse off than the previous few generations.
As far as some of the stereotypes go. I will admit, I know many examples that could be used to support them. Some of them stayed home until they were 30 or even older. Some of them are discouraged from ever owning a home because they went through a big housing market crash. They might be less likely to commit for one reason or another in their personal lives. We all definitely spend way too much time online but I’d like to point out that Gen-x spends even more time online than we do. I don’t know what the numbers or statistics are for the quirks as compared to other generations but I believe they’re overblown.
Personally, I think that we’re going to be just fine. Our outcomes won’t show the exact same rates of homeownership, or the same rates marriage and hopefully not divorce. We’re going to keep saving money and buying houses, probably making other moves financially too. We have problems, and debt. But we also have the entire collection of all human knowledge in our hand 24/7 (smartphones) so we’re probably ok. Don’t judge us too harshly, after all, your generation raised us.