Millennials go out more but spend less, survey finds

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The generation uses credit cards 22% less than the average consumer

Millennials are buying more, but somehow spending less than the average consumer.

Despite “going out” twice as often as Generation X and three times as often as Boomers, a survey finds that members of the millennial generation still spend less each month overall.

According to TD Bank’s Consumer Spending Index, the average American consumer spends more than $1,000 each month on discretionary items and approximately $1,600 per month on bills, adding up to around $32,000 each year. But millennials spend $26,000 per year.

So how do they manage to spend less when they're going out more? In short, it may be a combination of thrifty lifestyles and credit-wary attitudes.

Dining out more

It’s no secret that members of the millennial generation are big fans of getting their caffeine fix. They also seem to love dining out more compared to older generations. But even though they go out for food more often, they appear to be forking over smaller sums of money than other generations.

One exception, however, is in the coffee and fast food arena; millennials spend more than average in this category. Coffee and food to-go takes an $80/month bite out of the wallets of millennials, while other generations are spending $67/month on the same expenses.

However, millennials are still spending less overall in spite the fact that they’re dining out more often (around 13 times each month). Millennials spend $103 per month on meals out. Generation X and Boomers are spending more in this category, at $123/month and $139/month, respectively.

Going easy on credit

Millennials also aren’t spending as much on credit cards. Instead, they’re splitting their spending evenly between credit and debit cards -- much more than other generations.

While the average consumer racks up $4,700 on credit cards each year, millennials are spending about $3,300/year in credit. The group is more likely to use cash, a debit card, or a check to pay for purchases. Such forms of payment account for 50% of their overall monthly spending.

But while opting for debit over credit does have advantages, experts say millennials may be missing out on some of the perks of using credit cards. Certain benefits of using a credit card, such as cash back rewards, could be particularly useful in the lives of this on-the-go generation.

"For those who dine out, shop, and go out frequently, strategically using credit for those purchases can impact your overall budget," said Julie Pukas, head of U.S. Bankcard and Merchant Solutions at TD Bank, in a statement. Without balanced spending on credit, Pukas says, millennial consumers could be missing out on rewards that could help them spend even less overall.

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