Did you know that millennials are now the largest living generation in the United States? In 2015, they took over that distinction from the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers have had a remarkable impact on the economy, and continue to do so, but millennials are starting to have a larger impact.
Unfortunately, many millennials are having a harder time living the dream. To say the American dream is dead, would be an overstatement, but the reality is that it is harder than ever – but why?
A college education has almost become a necessity, but costs have been rising out of control; and thus, student loan debt is also out of control. Many students graduate with a degree, only to be faced with further obstacles. Pair this with an often-unrealistic job and salary expectation, and the hill can appear too daunting. A degree in the past might have landed someone a job over other applicants, but today it often only gets their foot in the door. Nothing is a given.
Once they land a job, they find the check doesn’t go as far as anticipated. The lower wages, combined with the rising health care costs, and the fact that most organizations need to be less generous on pension plans (due to rising costs), can make life difficult. The reality is salaries are not rising nearly as fast as cost to live.
These variables also make it difficult for them to buy a home. Between the rising costs of goods, services, homes, and the student debt they are trying to get out from under, it is easy for the years to slip away….without ever seriously thinking about saving for retirement.
Further, millennials are having kids much later, and thus many don’t think about the importance of saving until they have a little mouth to feed. Someone who becomes a new mother at the age of 40, will be almost 60 years old when their child graduates high school, and retirement age when the child finishes college. Realistically, this means the only option is to try and save for retirement WHILE the kids are growing up – a task that is nearly impossible.
In 1960, 62% were married and living in their own household by age 34. In 2014, it was 32% – 2014 Pew Research Center
But is it impossible? It will be, unless they attack retirement earlier than prior generations. The ones who have the greatest foresight will likely succeed. The best way to save for retirement has always been to save early and often; but the truth is, many haven’t saved this way in the past. Fortunately, they were able to make up some ground in the later years when the kids were out of the house. Unfortunately, due to kids leaving the nest at a much later time in life, a millennial may not leave enough years to make up much, if any, ground. They need to act now.
The best advice I can come up with for millennials (or any generation for that matter) is to sacrifice early, and save early and often. It is that simple, but it not’s easy. The good news is that they are a very intelligent generation with superior technology to help guide them.