How My Perspective on Millennials Has Changed

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Photo of a diverse group of millennials with their heads in their devices on a couchIn today's post, I want to tell you how my perspective on Millennials has changed.

And it has – pretty dramatically.

Why?

It's pretty simple.

I've come to know many through the blogging community.

And let's face it. Most of what we hear about Millennials is via mainstream media.

You know the mantra – lazy,  living in mom and dad's basement binging on Netflix, won't work.

Does that sound familiar? To be honest with you, I bought into that line for a long time.

And I'm sure some of that goes on.

However, like any group, we should never lump everybody in a category.

So, today, I want to tell you why I have hope in the future generation and how my perspective has changed on this group.

Why Millennials matter

Why do Millennials matter? The answer to this is pretty simple. Millennials are our future.

A Pew Research study shows that as of 2016, the latest date with population estimates, there were 71 million Millennials  (age 20-35 in 2016).

Compare that to the 74 million Boomers (age 52-70 in 2016).

Pew projects that Millennials will outnumber Boomers in 2019. They say the Boomer population will decline to 72 million while Millennials will rise to 73 million.

With the current US population in 2017 of 325.7 million, Millennials make up 23 percent of the population.

They are a growing force.

And let me get this out of the way up front.

The US Census Bureau says that over a third (34% to be accurate) of Millennials still live with their parents. And that's what we hear most on the news and from Boomers.

But that leaves two thirds (66%) who don't live with their parents and are, presumably, on their own.

So can we give them a break here, please?

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Millennials and student loan debt

How bad is the student loan problem for Millennials?

According to an article published by Bentley University, Millennial's student debt makes up 69% of the debt on their balance sheet.

The writer also concludes that seven out of ten college grads come out with student loan debt. The cumulative total of this debt in America is over $1.2 trillion.

That's Trillion with a T!

This MarketWatch article says the number grew to $1.521 trillion in the first quarter of 2018!

Is this a crisis? Many would say yes. I'll leave it to you to decide.

I will say, though, that student debt is a massive problem for Millennials.

Debt burdens can harm anyone's ability to save and invest. And some of these loans have high rates of interest.

Since most loans defer payment until after graduation, many of them have their first real incomes taken by taxes and loan payments.

Student Loan Hero says “the average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400*, up six percent from the previous year.”

They say that the average student loan payment after graduation is $351.

That's a painful way to start.

Tackling student loans

The Millennials I know don't sit back and whine about their debt. They put a plan in place to pay it off quickly.

In addition to working full-time in their chosen careers, they pursue side hustles after hours.

Some start personal finance and lifestyle blogs.

Others start online businesses selling on Amazon, creating online courses, membership sites, and the like.

Often, the blogs I've discovered have an overriding purpose and theme – how I paid off $______ of debt in _____ months or years.

With undergrad degrees in hand, they get to work. Many pursued and achieved advanced degrees.

The bloggers I know put thought into the types of degrees they pursued based on the potential for landing a good job.

And those who didn't, use their experience and write on their blogs about what they've learned to help others avoid the same mistakes.

Does that sound like basement dwelling, Netflix binging to you?

These are some smart, resourceful, and productive folks.

And frankly, they've seen how we Boomers have messed things up and aren't interested in making the same mistakes.

The Millennials I've met are passionate

As a Boomer trying to make his way in the blogging world, I've been impressed with the passion of my Millennial friends.

They aren't afraid to work. Nor do they shy away from making mistakes.

They understand that life happens. When it does, they pick themselves up, learn from it and move on to the next thing.

They have passion about becoming financially independent.

They realize achieving financial independence gives them choices in life.

Some choose to leave their corporate jobs and retire early. Others prefer to stay in their careers and sock away as much money as they can.

Millennials are frugal

Frugality is a big part of the lifestyle. At times, the frugality moves to obsession IMO.

But I must say those are rare cases. Most understand frugality is the quickest way to financial independence.

They also understand they need to balance frugality with maintaining a current healthy lifestyle.

Is the characterization of young people attached to their electronic devices and spending hours on social media accurate?

In my experience, yes.

Which begs the question – how much time do you spend on your iPhone or Android? When it buzzes or beeps with an email or text message, do you immediately pick it up and see who it is?

Come on now. Be honest.

My wife and I were having breakfast after church a couple of Sundays ago.

Sitting next to us was an Octogenarian couple. The wife had her head buried in her cell phone the entire time we were there.

She paused for short bursts to have a few bites. But I'm telling you, she couldn't put the phone down.

So let's not be too quick to judge this group for their electronic activity.

The Millenials I know are hard working

You heard that right.

And this work ethic crosses all lifestyles.

Some are married with no kids. Others are single.

Others are married and raising children. Some have large families.

I've found three common traits that I believe contribute to their success:

  1. Millennials are relentless in getting out of debt. They understand how debt straps lifestyle. They know to eliminate debt takes sacrifice and discipline, and are willing to do whatever it takes.
  2. Millennials fiercely manage their expenses. They don't chase the American Dream of the big house in the suburbs. No, they would rather live simply and bank their cash. They don't worry about what others have nor do they try to keep up with the latest new thing. They keep their heads down and focus on their goals. That's right. They have goals and work toward achieving them.
  3. Millennials save much more than most of us. I've seen a married couple where each spouse works decide to bank one of the two salaries. They max out their retirement plans. They have substantial emergency funds. One of my blogger friends has four years of expenses in a liquid account.

Final thoughts

I have a lot more I could say about Millennials.

If you've been one who has bought into the negative stereotype of this group, I hope you will reconsider.

Take the time to read some of their blogs. Don't believe the headlines and stories you hear in the media.

Like any group, of course, there are those who fit the stereotype. If you're willing to look beyond the headlines as I have, I'm confident you will change your mind as well.

I invite you to check out this blogger directory from Rockstar Finance.

Rockstar is a website that curates the best blogs from around the internet. They have a daily featured post section that highlights what they feel are the best of the day.

I've had the privilege of having one of my articles featured on Rockstar and another mentioned as a notable.

Rockstar is where I've met most of the Millennial bloggers.

It's an excellent resource for things related to personal finance and lifestyle. I encourage you to check it out.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate you being open to hear another viewpoint.

Now it's your turn. Have you bought into the stereotypical view of Millennials? Does this post help change your mind? Tell me about your experience interacting with Millennials. Let me know in the comments below. 

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Fred Leamnson
 

I started “Money with a Purpose” to help people “keep it real” when it comes to their money. Many advisors will tell you the only way to success is through planning. I completely agree. And there’s more. You must also align your plan with who you are and what you value. Doing this is THE key to making your money work for you. I started this blog to share with you what that looks like.

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