Research and Statistics

Study: Millennials outdoing parents, grandparents on smart money moves

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


When it comes to keeping spending and debt in check, millennials are outdoing both their parents’ and grandparents’ generations in a handful of smart money moves, according to new data released by the Society of Actuaries.

The association’s survey reveals that more than six in 10 U.S. millennials (age 20-38) said they are sticking to a budget (61 percent), compared to just 47 to 53 percent among Generation X (age 39-53), baby boomers (age 54-72) and the Silent Generation (age 73 and older).

Millennials were also far more likely to say they were sticking to a monthly savings plan (45 percent versus 33 percent of the next-highest group, Gen X), and were cutting back spending by forgoing vacations, eating out and other discretionary purchases. Forty-four percent of millennials said they are making such sacrifices, with Gen X’s second-place rank coming in at just 34 percent. Only about a quarter of boomers (27 percent) said they were cutting back.

See related: Millennials go mobile to manage their money – and check their credit scores

Millennials also showed more focus on managing debt and credit, with 41 percent (compared to 27 to 32 percent of other generations) reporting they are currently making efforts to get debts under control. About a third (34 percent) also indicated they are actively learning to use credit cards wisely.

Other questions in the survey revealed that almost 8 in 10 millennials (79 percent) said they have placed a high priority on being able to afford everyday bills, higher than other generations by 11 to 20 percent. In addition, more of them are focused on paying off card debt than any other generation, with 52 percent saying it is one of their highest priorities.

The Society of Actuaries’ survey was conducted online by Greenwald & Associates in July 2018, surveying 2,001 U.S. adults age 20 to 83. Results were released Oct. 3.

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