Only 1% of Millennials Are Saving to Buy a Home


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — More than 50% of Millennials depend on the financial habits of friends to determine their own saving and spending moves, according to a new study.

"Many young adults are building financial foundations with the wrong blueprints," said Ernie Almonte, chair of the AICPA's National Financial Literacy Commission. "They need to make sure they're modeling the best behavior for their long-term financial stability."

The American Institute of CPAs and Ad Council survey found that 66% of Americans aged 25 to 34 years old want to keep up with their peers on where they live and 64% with what they wear. Nearly two-thirds experience pressure to keep up with the types of places they eat and the gadgets they carry.

Blame it on their desire for belonging, which extends beyond friends and into social media.

"They use technology and social media appropriately," said Jamie Kalamarides, senior vice president of Institutional Investment Solutions at Prudential Retirement. "Social networks and teams matter incredibly to Millennials."

The PNC's Financial Independence Survey found that of respondents claiming to hold debt, the younger set carried $17,100 compared to the $35,600 of older generations and nearly one third carried no debt whatsoever.

"Younger Millennials just entered adulthood when the economy shifted downward and it's clear they've become more cautious as a result by avoiding debt," said Cary Guffey, financial advisor with PNC Wealth Management.

Although they have good intentions, only 1% of Millennials claim to be saving to buy a home, 4% claim to save for starting a business, 9% for starting a family and just 6% for retirement.

Despite a low savings rate, the survey further found that younger Americans are doing more saving than their older peers. In fact, 59% of Millennials are saving a larger portion of their annual income for short and long term saving combined compared to 52% of older Americans.

Thank the 2006 Pension Protection Act, which introduced 401(k) default enrollment.

"Millennials are subject to default enrollment on their jobs where older generations didn't have the benefit of default enrollment earlier on," Kalamarides told MainStreet. "Plan sponsors that default people into enrollment are sweeping up all these younger workers very effectively."

Default enrollment authorizes employers to include workers in 401(k) enrollment unless they opt out.

"Since default enrollment, investment rates have increased from 70% to 95%," said Kalamarides. "But the biggest issue is enrolling millennials early enough."

In the past year, almost half of Millennials had to use a credit card to pay for necessities like food or utilities and more than a quarter missed a bill payment or were contacted by a bill collector. Despite 61% receiving financial help from their family, Millennials hold ambitious goals when it comes to major life events that require financing in their future.

About 74% think they'll own a home before age 35, two-thirds think they will retire before or in their early to mid-60s and 62% claim to have considered starting a business.

"Millennial goals are ambitious but not un-attainable when it comes to owned assets, careers and retirement," Guffey said.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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