The picture that’s painted of millennials is often one of a generation that is going to have a hard go of it financially. Young people who fall into this category are famously mistrustful of big banks and stock markets, having grown up on corruption and crashes. And now that millennials are also facing the pandemic-fueled recessions of 2020, a recent article declared that they were “the unluckiest generation” in history in the U.S. A bit of a negative picture, right? There’s certainly something to it, but what these characterizations tend to miss is that many in the millennial generation have learned to cope with their relative financial misfortune in effective and informative ways. Put simply, millennials have learned to cut costs in some areas where their parents might not have, and this has produced some valuable lessons we might all benefit from paying attention to. Below are five particular ways in which millennials are saving money.
It’s a fairly common refrain that millennials moved back home after college, or took up residence in “their parents’ basement,” etc. This is certainly the case sometimes, but millennials are also living with each other more than people in previous generations, and saving a great deal of money doing so. Studies have shown that the number of adults with roommates has increased significantly since the 1990s. As of 2018, roughly 32% of U.S. adults lived in a “shared household,” while the percentage of adult children living back with their parents has actually declined since the mid-’90s. Plenty of so-called shared households still describe family arrangements or people living with significant others, but it’s clear that many millennials are sticking with adult roommates to maintain lower rent costs and save money.
When we identified ways to overhaul finances in 2020, one of the simplest tips was to sell unwanted gifts. It may sound a little harsh, but the simple fact is that most people receive an unwanted gift now and then, and it’s better to sell such a thing than to just let it sit around and gather dust. Many millennials take things a step further though, and routinely sell things they’re done with or never used. This may be a function of the generation’s comfort with internet sites and apps that make it easy to sell things, but it helps them to save up more money regardless.
Millennials also tend to take public transpiration when given the opportunity. In fact, beyond buses and trains, they even opt for bicycles or ride-sharing services fairly often. These tendencies are largely related to the generation’s concerns about the environment. Many young people would rather not purchase gas or use cars if they can help it. In upholding that principle though, many of them wind up saving on transportation costs.
The generation has also become somewhat famous for questioning the tradition of wedding rings. Millennials recognize that these rings in their traditional form represent extraordinary expenses early in life. And it’s not all about diamond engagement rings, either; some millennials do away with golden wedding bands altogether as well. If anything, 2020 has helped to show why this is a worthwhile consideration. As markets around the world have collapsed and various commodities have fallen on hard times, gold prices have been an exception and indicate enduring strength for everyone’s favorite shiny object. Gold is more expensive now than it was at the beginning of the year. Millennials handle this in different ways. Some opt for affordable wedding bands made of silicone, which are better for active wear (and which won’t be devastating if lost). Others simply skip the rings, or vow to purchase them later when they’re more financially secure. Whatever the case though, this is one way many in the generation have saved thousands in their 20s and 30s.
This idea goes hand-in-hand with the one about rings. Basically, it’s that millennials often prioritize experiences over things. Rather than spend money on engagement rings, they’ll spend an extra day on honeymoon; instead of buying a new car, they’ll sign up for an activity together. These are just a few examples, but the broader trend is clear: Surveys indicate that 78% of millennials would rather spend on an experience than on “something desirable.” This doesn’t always mean that there are significant net savings. In plenty of cases, an experience can cost more than a “thing.” However, this general attitude does lead millennials to be more conscious of where they spend their money, and can lead to less unnecessary purchasing even where there aren’t direct alternatives. It may still be a generation facing financial difficulties, but the way millennials have dealt with this, and the ways in which circumstances have shaped their financial attitudes, can provide us all with a few handy savings tips.