Despite being on the receiving end of marketers' concentrated efforts to win them, Millennials continue to be cautious spenders. A survey conducted by Radius Global Market Research (Radius GMR) shows that while Millennials represent a significant share of consumers, their general pessimism about their financial futures is driving conservative purchase habits.
The majority of Generations X and Y (55% and 56%, respectively) worry about having enough money to pay the bills every month – and those who are parents worry even more, as a result of spending significantly more across the board.
These concerns are mirrored in their feelings about the country's financial future, as well. Nearly half of both Gen X and Gen Y consumers harbor a pessimistic outlook on the financial future of the U.S., with Millennial males being more pessimistic.
Add to this bleak outlook the fact that Millennials rank financial security as one of the top two factors considered in their decision to purchase, and it's no wonder this group is holding on so tightly to their wallets.
Root of the issue
Pulling up the chain to get to the source of this pessimism might reveal several reasons – stagnant wages chief among them.
“Other than in a relatively few high profile industries like tech, Millennials are not seeing significant job opportunities or wage increases,” says Jamie Myers, Radius GMR's Global Director of Client Services. “This should concern marketers looking for Millennials to drive their businesses into the future.”
Other reasons may include student loan debt and just plain bad timing. Coming of age during a time at which the economy went over a cliff can't possibly bolster high financial self-esteem.
How to help
For young people struggling with money issues, the experts at Investipedia and Nolo.com have a few pointers.
- Budget. Knowing where your money goes is an important first step. According to Investipedia.com, keeping recurring monthly expenses to a minimum will help save big bucks over time. Making small, manageable changes – such as cutting out that daily trip to the coffee shop – can have just as big of an impact as getting a raise.
- Exercise discipline. “Living on credit because your tastes exceed your income is a strategy that has doomed many before you,” says Nolo.com. Don't open new forms of consumer credit without closing old ones, lest you find yourself deeper and deeper in the hole.
- Start an emergency fund. “Pay yourself first,” as the old saying goes. Keeping at least a couple months' worth of expenses socked away (ideally in a separate bank account) is a good idea in the event of an unexpected expense, like a major car repair. According to Investipedia, saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly “expense” means you'll not only have an emergency fund, but money for retirement, vacation, or even a down payment on a house.