Half of US Millennials agree money can buy happiness

June 22, 2017

Whether or not money can buy you love is still up for debate. When it comes to happiness, however, Millennials have weighed in. According to new research from Mintel, over half (53 percent) of US Millennials (aged 23-40) agree that the more money you have, the happier you are, compared to 38 percent of Americans overall.

55% of Millennials say they would rather spend their money on experiences than things
Living the ideal lifestyle comes at a cost that Millennials appear willing to pay as 38 percent believe that earning money is more important than having personal time, jumping to 42 percent of Younger Millennials (aged 23-30). With the free time they do have, America’s younger generation seems to value activities over material goods as the majority (55 percent) of Millennials say they would rather spend their money on experiences than things.

When it comes to their financial well-being overall, today, nearly three quarters of Millennials consider their personal financial situation to be ‘healthy’* (35 percent) or ‘okay’** (38 percent), on par with the rest of America. This younger generation is also optimistic about the future, with 51 percent of Millennials agreeing that they are confident in their financial future and just one quarter (24 percent) considering saving for retirement to be a financial challenge (compared to 29 percent overall).

Despite this positive outlook, Mintel research reveals that there’s room for improvement with regard to money management. Only half (51 percent) of Millennials say they are confident in their financial services knowledge, and are most likely to turn to family or friends (34 percent) for financial information. Lower on the list comes financial professionals (17 percent), just after using social media (20 percent) as a source for financial information.

“We’re seeing a trend with Millennials limiting the number of things they own and, at the same time, increasing the quality of what they spend their money on,” said Jennifer White Boehm, Associate Director of Financial Services at Mintel. “Financial education will be helpful as these consumers age, enter new life stages and take on more responsibility. Given that Millennials are more likely to listen to friends and family, with some turning to social media for answers, financial services companies should aspire to offer information and advice as a trusted advisor, not just their primary financial institution. This highlights opportunities for brands to step in with practical, educational materials to help Millennials manage their money.”

With the future looking bright, it seems the present is what Millennials are most worried about, especially when it comes to expecting the unexpected. More than any other generation***, Millennials consider saving for emergencies (32 percent) to be the biggest financial challenge they are facing. Other top financial challenges where Millennials over index include paying day-to-day bills (28 percent) and paying off credit card debt (28 percent).

“As Millennials continue on their financial journey, reaching this group will require going beyond generational marketing in order to target these consumers within their specific life stages. Spending and saving habits are vastly different even among younger and older Millennials, with daily expenses, saving for emergencies and other key financial challenges reflective of their age topping the list of financial concerns,” continued Boehm.

With the steady rise in online and mobile banking, FinTech innovations are a welcome change by younger generations as three quarters (74 percent) of Millennials agree that improvements in technology make managing finances more convenient (compared to 69 percent of Americans overall). What’s more, a strong minority would be interested in using artificial intelligence (AI) to conduct financial services transactions (14 percent) and using AI/chatbots when resolving customer service questions (13 percent) (compared to nine percent and seven percent of consumers overall). That said, old habits die hard as one in four (24 percent) Millennials and one in three (32 percent) Americans overall still prefer to visit their local branch to conduct banking transactions.

“Technology adoption within the financial services industry has escalated in recent years, but consumers still show a reliance on ‘traditional’ methods such as calling their financial services institution or visiting their local branch. The Millennial stereotype that this generation prefers ‘craft’ or ‘small-batch’ products persists even in financial services, creating an opportunity for non-traditional and smaller brands to step in and fill a need with these younger consumers,” concluded Boehm.

*Mintel defines ‘healthy’ as having money left at the end of the month for some luxuries or to add to savings
**Mintel defines ‘okay’ as getting by, but there’s not a lot left by the time basics are taken care of
***Compared to iGeneration (26 percent), Generation X (28 percent), Baby Boomers (23 percent) and World War II/Swing generation (17 percent)

Press copies of Mintel’s Millennials and Finance US 2017 report and interviews with Jennifer White Boehm, Associate Director of Financial Services, are available on request from the press office.

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