Millennials are struggling under the pressure of debt, with 42 percent saying "it is their biggest financial concern currently.” Four in ten say their debt is "overwhelming" versus 23 percent of baby boomers. Forty-five percent of millennial women feel “overwhelmed” by debt, versus 33 percent of millennial men. Perhaps due to big debt obligations, over half of the millennials (56%) say they are “living paycheck to paycheck,” regardless of gender.
When asked to rank their number one financial concern after paying day-to-day bills, millennials cite paying off student loans (29%) as their top concern, whereas boomers cite saving for retirement (44%). When asked to estimate certain categories of debt as a percentage of monthly pay, millennials report their debt breaks down, on average, as follows: credit card debt, 16 percent; mortgage debt, 15 percent; student loan debt, 12 percent; auto debt, 9 percent; and medical debt, 5 percent. Among all millennials, 47 percent are allocating 50 percent or more of their paychecks to these types of debt.
The progress in accumulating investable assets proves to be another area of difference between the genders, with college-educated millennial men reporting median household investable assets of $58,500 and college-educated millennial women reporting median household investable assets of $31,400.
Since debt is a top financial concern for most millennials, the most important financial advice they would impart to someone starting out is: “Don’t spend more than you earn” (33%), followed by “Get educated about your personal finances” (17%), and “Start saving for retirement now” (16%). This contrasts with boomers, 43 percent of whom would tell those starting out today to start saving for retirement now.
When millennials were asked whom they trust for credible information to help them make financial decisions, a majority cited “family” (57%), followed by “financial institutions” (54%) and “personal finance experts/personalities” (50%). Boomers cite “personal finance experts/personalities” as their first choice (57%), followed by “financial institutions” (45%) and then followed by “family” (40%) as their last choice for financial advice.
The 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Wells Fargo Wealth, Brokerage, and Retirement (WBR) team between April 15 and May 2, 2014. Survey respondents included 1,639 millennials between the ages of 22 and 33, as well as 1,529 baby boomers between the ages of 49 and 59. Oversample completes were collected for millennials and baby boomers in the Charlotte (134 millennials, 151 boomers), Minneapolis (156 millennials, 157 boomers), Atlanta (157 millennials, 160 boomers) and NYC (150 millennials, 158 boomers) markets. Results were weighted, as needed, to represent the most recent U.S. Census data based on: age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income.