Why Most Millennials Don’t Think They’ll Become Millionaires


Commentary, Keisa Reynolds | Photo • pictures of money/Flickr Creative Commons

Over 60 percent of millennials say they do not anticipate becoming millionaires in their lifetime according to a study by Wells Fargo. Two-thirds of the group surveyed had a median income of $27,900, which might make it difficult to think about a hefty savings account down the line.

The topic of savings accounts doesn’t come up often among my friends. Thinking about the future is scary, especially when you can’t think about planning for it.

To many of us, $1 million in savings sounds like a myth. I am sure most of my fellow millennials can barely imagine earning $1 million throughout our lifetimes, much less having that amount tucked into a savings account. Remember, over half of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account.

Millennials are earning less than previous generations. According to New York Times, the averaged income ($33,800) is the lowest it has been since 1980.

Time reported a recent survey showed that one in three Americans does not have any money for retirement. This does not inspire confidence in millennials’ ability to have our own retirement savings.

Yet more than half of millennials (59 percent) have started saving for retirement. The median income is $53,000 for millennials who believe they will accumulate $1 million in savings by retirement, and it is likely their median income will significantly increase over time.

I am one of few people I know who is working in a field related to what I studied in college–although my field isn’t known for its high salaries. Most days, I forget my savings account exists until the automatic monthly payment is taken out of my checking account. Putting away more than the minimum is not often possible, though I make the attempt every month. Despite my miniscule savings, my position can be considered better than many of my peers who can’t afford to move out of their family’s home, or have high student loans or personal debt.

Saving $1 million is on the list of things millennials aren’t doing. We also are not purchasing homes, we are waiting to get married, and we are having children at older ages. Financial insecurity is a major factor in people’s decisions to wait or avoid those commitments altogether. Student loan debt brings financial hardship for many of us. The average student loan debt for millennials is $29,400, and for many people, their debt does not seem manageable. Those with debt are more likely to hold jobs that are not in their field of choice, because despite the job market, they still have bills and debt to cover.

It’s no wonder so many millennials can’t imagine putting away money: it hardly seems we are making any. But that only makes it more important that we save for the future. Many millennials are already taking steps to save what they can, even if it means making sacrifices. Millennials know a lot about preparing for the future, perhaps in an attempt to control it; after all, some say ours was doomed from the start.

We may not be millionaires yet, but hopefully we’ll get there. Or at least we’ll get rid of this debt along the way.


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