Each generation has its distinct challenges. That's especially true when it comes to money.
Financial Finesse, which runs financial wellness programs for employers, recently studied how millennials, Generation X and baby boomers handle their money. And you may be surprised by what they found.
Despite record student loan debt, high unemployment and low saving rates, millennials actually came out ahead of Gen X. In fact, there are stark differences in money habits between each of the generations.
Millennials: They do a better job of managing their day-to-day finances than Gen Xers, according to Financial Finesse's research, which is based on responses from workers who use its financial wellness programs at more than 600 major companies.
Seventy-two percent of millennials in this survey said they have a handle on their cash flow and spend less than they make each month (though this does conflict with other surveys that have found lower saving rates). That's compared to 68 percent of Gen Xers. Millennials also were more likely to say they pay their bills on time, avoid late fees and regularly pay off credit card balances in full than Generation X.
But millennials said they are being crushed by student debt. That's not surprising. The average student loan balance for those in their 20s is $25,500, up 60 percent from $15,900 in 2005, according to credit bureau TransUnion.
A higher debt load means less money left over for savings. "A lack of emergency funds is causing millennials to raid their retirement accounts for unexpected expenses," said Liz Davidson, CEO of Financial Finesse.
If those funds aren't replaced quickly, that can cost them dearly down the road. But millennials do have the advantage of having more years to build a retirement nest egg than their older peers.