Jonathan Walker
Jonathan Walker

Elevate survey puts millennials’ approaches to finance in new light

Results of a survey conducted by Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class suggest that while many millennials are struggling with aspects of financial management, they are gaining ground. The survey of 1,217 Americans was conducted last December.

Compared to their prime counterparts, non-prime millennials have fewer advantages when it comes to financial management. Primes reports having more help from their parents, leaving 72 per cent of non-primes to use the trial and error method, 31 per cent learning through the “school of hard knocks” and 44 per cent conducting personal research, Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class executive director Jonathan Walker said.

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan Walker

Mr. Walker added that changes in financial tools have cost this generation an opportunity to learn about financial management that previous ones enjoyed.

“In the past, people had to sit down at the table and balance their checkbook. People don’t do that any more.”

Half of non-prime millennials report feeling significant stress, only 22 per cent are highly satisfied with their financial condition, and one in four feel they have little control over the things that happen to them, a frequency higher than for older non-primes Mr. Walker added. Coming of age during a recession caused by risky institutional financial behavior is another factor.

And they’re stressed for good reason, Mr.Walker explained. Just more than half (51 per cent) have fluctuating monthly incomes. One in fivefold more than one job, as traditional full-time jobs with benefits become less common.

“The challenges facing non-prime millennials aren’t just disciple and education,” Mr. Walker said. “Three out of four have hourly employment, so the challenges they face are structural.”

Yet more millennials report feeling optimistic about their financial futures than Generation X and baby boomers do. Some of that is due to the optimism of youth and the fact time is on their side. Mr. Walker points to the fact that a healthy percentage are doing research to show they have the tools to thrive.

“Non-prime millennials are just as likely to engage in personal research to understand what they need to do as millennials. We often give the millennial a bad rap in that they are not engaged, but what we are finding out is this is not fundamentally not true.”

Learn more about the study here.