Millennials Face Financial Obstacles, But Have Confidence

(Photo: Mike Schmid, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Mike Schmid, Creative Commons)

A recently released survey from TD Bank suggests that college students today are set to face a larger number of economic hardships than previous generations, such as higher amounts of student loan debt, unemployment, and stagnant increases in wages.  Despite this, generation Z remains confident that they will be financially successful.

Over 1,100 Americans participated in the “TD Bank Financial Wellness Survey,” which asked questions pertaining to personal finance knowledge and financial milestones.  The results show that not only do millennials show an increased level of confidence that they will reach their financial goals than previous generations, but they are also competitive about it.  In all, 45% said it was important to be the first among their friends to feel successful in comparison to only 10% of baby boomers and 29% of generation Xers.

“Millennials have unfairly earned a reputation for being less financially responsible than previous generations,” said Andrea Johnson, Head of Financial Education, TD Bank. “While they may delay traditional milestones like marriage and children, they still aspire to achieve traditional hallmarks of the American dream, including owning a home, getting an education and being debt-free.”

Participants reported a number of responses when asked what would make them feel as if they had “made it.”  While most, 61%, reported being debt-free as being the most significant financial milestone, owning a home and saving for emergencies came in a close second at third, with 54% and 52% respectively.

Investment was lower on the list, with one-third of respondents considering it to be an important milestone.  Rounding out the bottom of the list included career growth at 30%, being able to put their children through college at 29%, and graduating from college at 28%.

“Financial success is not something that happens overnight—it takes time and planning,” Johnson said. “When consumers build a solid foundation with a realistic budget and savings plan, they can reach their goals.”

One-third of respondents noted living paycheck-to-paycheck as being an issue that is keeping them from financial success.  In addition, 17% reported credit card and student loan debt as being another obstacle.  While 68% of all Americans who currently carry debt feel it is keeping them from progressing toward their financial goals, 80% of millennials feel the same way.

An increasing number of Americans did report interest in taking a financial course.  Although two-thirds have never taken such a course, over 60% of that group said they wish that they had.  Millennials were found to be more likely to actually take a course, as around 70% of millennials and generation Xers combined said they wish that they had in comparison with only 50% of baby boomers.

While “don’t spend what you don’t have” was found to be the most popular piece of financial advice given throughout all generations, 27% of respondents older than 35 added that they would have liked to have told their 20-year-old selves to start saving then.

In addition, financial advisers were found to be decreasing in popularity.  Although one-third of baby boomers turn to them for advice, 26% of millennials noted they would prefer to use the Internet, and a full one-third of all respondents do not rely on anyone.

Johnson discussed the importance for all ages to seek financial advice from a number of sources, including family, online resources, and financial institutions.  She said doing so will help to create a plan that will in turn allow them to better fulfill their goals.