Money

Younger people are actually better with money than Boomers and Generation X

MASTER OF NONE -- "Parents" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Aziz Ansari as Dev -- (Photo by: KC Bailey/Universal Television)
KC Bailey, Universal Television | 2016 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
MASTER OF NONE -- "Parents" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Aziz Ansari as Dev -- (Photo by: KC Bailey/Universal Television)

Millennials are better with money than many older people give them credit for being, a national survey says.

Charles Schwab tracked how 1,000 Americans, aged 21-to-75, manage and use their wealth. Their survey assessed four main categories: Goal setting and financial planning; saving and investing; staying financially on track; and having confidence in reaching financial goals.

Overall, Americans received an average score of 49 on a zero to 100 index, which, you could argue, is a failing grade. Baby boomers scored a 49 (average) and Generation X came in at 45 (slightly lower than average).

Millennials scored a 51 overall and ranked higher than the national average in three of the four categories.

About 34 percent of them said they are likely to have a written financial plan. That's in comparison to 21 percent for Generation X and 18 percent for baby boomers.

And, according to the accompanying press release, that's a good thing, since "those who put pen to paper with financial plans are more confident, engaged with their wealth and demonstrate more positive saving and investing behaviors than average Americans, scoring above the national overall index average of 49 with a score of 79.

"They also score above the national average across all four sub factors."

Millennials also score higher in overall financial engagement than older people. They are more likely to be aware of their brokerage account fees, and more than half of them re-balance their portfolios annually.

Lastly, millennials say they're making progress toward their financial goals. In their 20s, 35 percent have a household budget. In their 30s, 47 percent have one.

In their 20s, 39 percent say their finances are better than they were five years ago. In their 30s, an impressive 57 percent say the same.

But, despite their high scores and financial foresight, "the [index] reveals a gap in [millennials'] more immediate money habits," the release says.

For example, 60 percent say they overspend on coffee; 76 say they buy the latest electronic gadget, like the iPhone X; and 70 percent admit to buying clothes they don't need.

They also show room for improvement in other areas, since most don't have a monthly savings goal, less than 33 percent have an emergency savings fund and about 66 percent don't always pay their student loan or mortgages on time.

Terri Kallsen, executive vice president and head of Schwab Investor Services, is more heartened than worried.

"Wealth is often thought of as a lofty, unattainable number that doesn't apply to most of us," Kallsen says in the release, "but that's an old-fashioned notion that needs to be retired. It doesn't matter whether you have a lot or a little — what matters is that you think about the money you have as your wealth, and that you pay attention to it.

"Being engaged is the only way to reach your personal goals."

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