Millennials Are America's Most Disciplined Financial Planners

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Millennials are more likely to identify themselves as disciplined financial planners than Gen X-ers, according to a new study.

"Because Millenials went through the 2008 crisis at a formative part of their lives, they have a more cautious outlook," said Greg Oberland, executive vice president with Northwestern Mutual. "It's a return to careful decision-making with an emphasis on saving for the future."

A Northwestern Mutual report found that 59% of younger adults between the ages of 18 and 39 and 54% of senior adults that are 60 years of age and older identify themselves as disciplined financial planners compared to less than half of Gen-Xer adults aged 40 to 50 who believe they are disciplined.

"Gen X-ers are less proactive than other generations, because they may feel financial pressure from generations below and above with aging parents or older children," Oberland told MainStreet. "These years can be the busiest of a person's lifetime."

In some cases, feeling financially insecure can create more problems than poverty itself.

"The thoughts you think every day are like mini-computer programs," said Thomas Corley, financial planner, CPA and author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (Langdon Street Press 2010). "This programming directly affects your behavior both good or bad. When you think financially insecure thoughts, your subconscious through intuition nudges you away from opportunities to make money or fix financial problems."

The solution is discipline, which entails knowing exact goals, having developed specific plans to meet them and rarely deviating from those plans.

"The higher discipline level an individual practices, the greater security he or she feels in the present and in turn the greater likelihood of finding happiness in the future when it comes to being financially set," Oberland said.

But financial discipline isn't something you can achieve overnight. It requires planning.

"Lack of time is the number one roadblock to planning but it doesn't have to be," said Oberland. "There's powerful evidence to suggest that the small steps you take today can make a real difference tomorrow."

About 70% of highly disciplined planners feel very financially secure compared to 51% of disciplined planners, 34% of informal planners and 17% of non-planners.

"The links between discipline, financial security and happiness are quite distinct," Oberland said.

A simple list of daily tasks can help planners, informal and non planners to stay organized.

"Most of the self-made millionaires I've interviewed over the past 30 years are masters of time management," said Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think. "They are using time rather than allowing time to use them. They understand that no matter how successful they become, time is the one resource they cannot create or purchase."

In other words time is more valuable than money.

"No one can truly manage time yet everyone can manage activities," Siebold told MainStreet.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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