Memo to millennials: skip the daily latte and buy a lunchbox.
Millennials spend far more in bars, on coffee and at restaurants than older generations — while saving less, according to a new survey from Bankrate.com. The website conducted phone interviews with more than 1,000 American adults in early June.
The average millennial, which is what the survey calls Americans ages 18 to 36, dines in or gets take-out from restaurants five times per week, with 54 percent of younger millennials eating out at least three times weekly. More than half of younger millennials go to a bar on a weekly basis, and 29 percent buy a brewed coffee at least three times per week.
Their elders, on the other hand, are less vulnerable to the latte factor. Fifty-nine percent of Americans overall said they don't buy brewed coffee or tea in a typical week. And, in contrast to their bar-hopping progeny, 73 percent of the general population said they don't buy any alcoholic drinks each week, either at bars or restaurants.
As might be expected, Americans' patronage at restaurants, coffee shops and bars declines as they get older. Younger millennials — the 21-to-26 crowd – are the age group most likely to belly up to the bar: 51 percent of them typically go to a bar at least once per week, followed by 42 percent of all millennials, 24 percent of "Generation Xers" and 19 percent of baby boomers.
"As people get older, they kind of age out of these tendencies," said Sarah Berger, who writes on the millennial-focused Cashlorette blog on Bankrate.com.
"In the big picture, going to out to eat every now and then won't really impact your budget too much," Berger said, while still cautioning that "when it starts to spiral is when it becomes a big issue."
Even on small items such as a cup of coffee, bad spending habits can add up over time. The average adult reported spending $140 per month on unnecessary items, according to a study of 2,000 Americans from money management application Banktivity. Extended over 60 years, those monthly indulgences add up to more than $100,000.
"Small steps, such as preparing meals at home and brewing your own coffee, can add up to big savings over the course of a year," Berger said.
Millennials may be the most shortsighted with their spending habits, but saving money is a problem that transcends age. A 2015 study found, for instance, that 60 percent of Americans would have trouble covering an unexpected emergency room visit or a $500 car repair.