THE BLOG
08/30/2016 04:30 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2017

The Financial Future Doesn't Look So Bleak For Millennials After All

Explaining to my dad that my favorite fashion blogger makes more money than his banker daughter was exhausting. When I went on to explain that she reportedly made $8 Million last year by posting pictures of her outfits and travels, he did not believe me. Chiara Ferragni's extraordinary income is only one example of how Millennial's are working hard, doing things differently, and finding their own, unique paths to success. They are marketing to their own generation, and using social media and technology to drive their businesses. For a generation that gets a lot of flak from the rest of the population, Millennials actually have more drive, higher levels of education and better budgeting skills then the generations before them.

Millennials are driven to succeed by factors that never before existed. They are driven by social pressure, social media, and the desire to engage in meaningful experiences. 64% of Millennials compare their situation to others due to social media. That means 64% of Millennials are looking at their phones thinking, how can I make as much as this guy in order to have a better life. Nearly 7 in 10 Millennials admits to experiencing FOMO (for those non-millennial readers, it stands for "fear of missing out".) This might seem negative, but a little competition should drive people forward. Millennials long to engage in meaningful experiences creating an increased drive to earn money while enjoying life. 78% of Millennials would choose to spend money on experiences rather than things, and 77% say their best memories come from experiences. They have more to live for, and need to earn more money than ever before in order to keep up with their peers and fulfill their desires.

Millennials are also uncomfortable and unhappy with the idea of not being able to afford something that they want. Unlike the Baby Boomer generation, where the majority of boomers were comfortable with only a little more money than the minimum they need for essentials, only 34% of Millennials say they would be happy with that. Rather than accepting that they cannot afford something, Millennials are far more likely than other generations to set a savings target and buy what they want when this target is reached. Only 37% of Millennials say they will accept that they cannot afford something when challenged with an unaffordable, yet desirable item.

There is no question that Millennials were dealt a bad hand, leaving them with lower salaries than previous generations at the same age. This, however, does not mean that anyone should be concerned about the future of this generation. They learned incredible lessons while witnessing one of the worst financial meltdowns in history. They saw the aftermath of a recession and witnessed a "worst case scenario". They lost their jobs, saw their colleagues lose their retirement savings, and witnessed their parents panicking about their once-steady future. They saw Madoff rob thousands of people, businesses and charities, and learned to question every law, organization and person that handles their money. More than half of Millennials don't believe social security will even exist in their retirement, and are planning their savings accordingly. The skills learned in such a devastating scenario are invaluable. Skills like budgeting, and having a realistic outlook on retirement. Unlike the stereotypes that haunt them, this generation is quite financially responsible; certainly more than their parents and grandparents' generations. 72% of Millennials are already saving for retirement, and 80% of them use a budget (compared to 61% of baby boomers). When given the choice between saving or spending, Millennials are more likely to choose the saving option, with 61% saying that saving money makes them happy.

Millennials graduated into the great recession of 2008, with the oldest Millennials now being 27 at that time. They spent their formative career years in a period of high unemployment or incredibly low paying jobs. Student debt remains above $1 Trillion outstanding, and 39% of Millennials are still paying off student loans. The safe and reliable jobs were no longer the key to a steady income and moderately wealthy future. Millennials have been forced to think outside the box, and to find their own unique skill set that could compete with the experience of older generations, while setting them up with the lifestyle that they desire.

Millennials were the first generation to grow up with an incredible level of technological advancement, putting them in a position to be both creators and consumers of next level technology. They are learning to think differently, in order to create careers that are relevant, meaningful and influential. They are hard workers that are not looking for a handout. Over half of Millennials are willing to retire later in order to make their retirement savings last longer.

Millennials are not lazy, entitled job hoppers. They are highly educated, hard working, and value saving money. They are the most educated generation in U.S. history, with 61% having attended college (versus 42% of baby boomers). Those with a bachelor's degree are six times more likely to achieve the top income tax bracket.. Over 50% of Millennials have aspirations to be entrepreneurs. For now, as they build their skills and their wealth, they might be the best employees to hire. Contrary to the stereotype that Millennials are avid job hoppers, they actually tend to stay with their employer for longer periods of time than baby boomers.

One advantage that Millennials have in the workplace, is their passion for community engagement, contributing to society, and valuing being creative in the workplace. People that are passionate about their career and feel they are doing meaningful work tend to be more productive, and stay in their jobs longer. 64% of them say it is a priority to make the world a better place, and 83% of Millennials want a job where creativity is valued. The future of employers lies in their ability to see this as a positive, and encourage this generation to use their creativity and desire to improve their communities and their world as a way to create and grow businesses.

The future of Generation Y really does not look so bad. In fact, this generation is looking like they will shine brighter and more innovative than their predecessors, and that their bad reputation has really been just a giant miscommunication and inability for other generations to understand them. The truth is, our parents' generation may never understand why two young men decided to solve Anthony Wiener's sexting issue by creating an app that automatically makes a picture or message inaccessible after a few seconds. That creation, however, now has a $20 Billion valuation. They may not find stability in the idea of blogs, streaming, or creative industries, but Millennials seem to be taking on those jobs just fine. The combination of education, hard work, and real life experience gained during a financial crisis has prepared Millennials to take on an increasingly difficult world with consumer demands that are constantly changing. There will always be room in the workplace for the experience of older generations, but we shouldn't be so tough on a generation that shows so much promise.


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