Baby boomers, approaching retirement with their own concerns about finances, may be losing even more sleep over the potential money woes of their millennial children. After all, those millennials came of age during a weak job market and some racked up a staggering amount of student-loan debt. As a result, their financial futures appear to be questionable at best.
But appearances may be deceiving. Perhaps the "kids" will be alright and prove to be more financially savvy than their baby boomer parents realize.
"Many millennials have traits and experiences that could serve them well when it comes to planning their finances," says Dennis Notchick, an Investment Advisor and Certified Financial Planner with Safeguard Investment Advisory Group.
"Just to give you one example, many millennials are good about creating budgets. That's a good habit to have because keeping track of your monthly expenses helps you do a better job of planning and saving," says Notchick.
Millennials have become the largest segment of the adult population, exceeding even the boomers. A Deloitte study reports they are expected to grow their wealth significantly in the next several years, at least in part because they are heading into their prime-earning years. (The oldest millennials are in their mid-30s.)
"The fact they grew up in a time of fast-developing technology and are quick to adapt to the changes also gives them an advantage," Notchick says. In the financial-investing world, new technology provides for an instant snapshot of an investment or an entire estate on an app, and that's a domain they are comfortable working within.
Based on his experience, Notchick says many millennials may fare well in financial planning. Here's why:
- Millennials are proactive when they need advice. They brim with confidence when it comes to money, with 84 percent saying they are confident about their ability to handle their finances, according to a Bank of America/USA Today survey. So, on the surface it wouldn't appear that they would be in the market for advice, but as confident as they are, they realize there are some things they can't learn through a Google search. Millennials are also willing to listen to their boomer parents (surprise!). One study on millennials and money showed that 65 percent of millennials believe their parents provided a good example of how to have a successful financial future.
- Millennials change with the times. Millennials adapt easily to change and new ideas, whereas most boomers are slower to adapt as the world, and the markets, evolve. "What worked in the past may not work in the future, and the markets we are in right now are not the markets of the 80s and 90s," Notchick says. On the other hand, boomers do have the advantage of experience, right or wrong, and one thing their experience has taught them is that it's always important to keep learning.
- Millennials understand the need to save for retirement. The same study on millennials and money revealed that, despite their youth, 60 percent have already begun to save for retirement. That compares to 61 percent of Gen Xers and 67 percent of boomers.
- Millennials take a different route with retirement savings. "While boomers were encouraged to contribute to a 401(k) or an IRA, millennials are increasingly looking toward Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k)s, S Corporations and a certain type of life insurance," Notchick says. They see the giant tax liability that awaits retirees who used those traditional tax-deferred accounts, and they want to avoid it. They prefer to pay their taxes now so they can withdraw the money tax free in retirement.
"Because of the size of their generation, millennials are going to have a major impact on the economy and on investing in the coming years," Notchick says. "Don't sell them short because many of them are very much up to the challenge."