BOSTON (MainStreet) -- Their retirements may be decades away, but 20-somethings are already doubtful they will have enough saved to sustain their golden years.
Only 18% of Americans ages 20-29 are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably when they are ready to retire, found a survey by The PNC Financial Services Group (Stock Quote: PNC).
The financial reality for the generation that "began their adult lives amid the recent Great Recession is harsh," the survey says. Nearly half of people in their 20s rate themselves "behind expectations" when it comes to their personal financial success, with only one-third having landed an established position in their chosen field and a mere 23% rating themselves as totally independent.
Just 5% of 20- and 21-year-olds said they'll never be, or have "no idea" when they'll be, financially independent, a number that quadruples to 20% for those ages 28-29.
The PNC Financial Independence Survey points out that Generation Y is projected to outnumber all population segments by 2017. Within that demographic, only 26% of those ages 22-23 feel optimistic about their personal financial future, and a mere 14% of those ages 28-29 feel that way.
The survey, based on 2,000 interviews, also found that 40% of 20-somethings rely on two or more sources of income, including part-time jobs (57%), full-time jobs (28%) and help from parents (21%).
But Todd Barnhart, senior vice president at PNC Bank, has tips to help Millennials feel more in control of their financial future:
- "Don't panic now, and plan for the future," he says. Time is on your side: You're still young, and it's important that you're thinking about your financial future, but don't beat yourself up for not meeting your own expectations. Try to think positively about your financial goals.
- Pay yourself first. Establish a regular savings program. A 401(k) plan through your employer is a great place to start.
- Avoid debt traps. Not all debt is bad, but consider interest rates seriously to be sure you don't accumulate high-interest debt that can keep you from using that money to save or invest.
- Budget and track spending. It sounds easy, and very basic, but this can be one of the most difficult things to do consistently. Make use of online money management tools that can help you better manage spending, payments and savings.
To learn more about the economic struggles facing young people today, check out MainStreet's Gen Y topic page.