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66% of millennials think they will be 'wealthy'—here's how much they're worth today

Laura Valta | Twenty20

Despite wage stagnation and the soaring costs of college and housing, millennials are optimistic about their financial futures.

"More than other generations, millennials believe they can become wealthy someday," MagnifyMoney finds in a 2019 survey that asks 1,000 Americans about their views on wealth. Sixty-six percent of millennials (ages 22-37) think they'll become wealthy, compared to 49% of Gen Xers (ages 38-53) and 25% of baby boomers (ages 54-72).

The different perspectives make sense. "Baby boomers are in the phase of their life where they either have already retired or are nearing the end of their career," MagnifyMoney explains. "They know their potential for wealth building is slowing down."

As for what it means to "become wealthy," across all generations surveyed, the majority (55%) define wealth as being able to live comfortably without worrying about their finances. Millennials are more likely to quantify wealth: 20% define wealth as having $500,000 or more, while 18% of Gen Xers and 8% of baby boomers say a net worth of $500,000 means you're wealthy.

How much money do young people actually have?

The median net worth (assets minus liabilities) of millennial households was about $12,500 in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.

That's less than the amount boomers and Gen Xers had at the same age, Pew reports. Boomers had around $20,700 at the same age in 1983, while Gen X households had about $15,100 at the same age in 2001. (Pew's analysis of net worth is in 2017 dollars.)

That's partly because millennials aren't making more money. "The individual earnings for young workers have remained mostly flat over the past 50 years," reports Pew. "Millennials in 2018 had a median household income of roughly $71,400, similar to that of Gen X young adults ($70,700) in 2001."

Plus, life is getting more expensive, so those salaries aren't going as far as they used to to cover the necessities, let alone the rising costs of college, housing and child care.

Still, young people have a positive outlook on the future — and there's something to be said for that. Experts agree that your thoughts and feelings can play a part in how much money you earn. "The biggest difference between wealthy people and broke people is their mindset and how they feel about money," says Jen Sincero, best-selling author of "You Are a Badass," who went from earning around $28,000 a year to making seven figures.

If you want to build wealth, you have to start by telling yourself it's OK, Sincero writes in her 2017 follow-up, "You Are a Badass at Making Money." "One of the biggest obstacles to making lots of money is not a lack of good ideas or opportunities or time, or that we're too slovenly or stupid. It's that we refuse to give ourselves permission to become rich."

The biggest thing holding you back from building wealth is you.
Suze Orman
personal finance expert

As personal finance expert Suze Orman puts it, "the biggest thing holding you back from building wealth is you."

But you also need to be willing to put in the work, she tells CNBC Make It. "You have to have the desire to be able to make it against all odds. … Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and go out there and create the financial life that is waiting for you, if you're just willing to walk through the door."

Don't miss: How much millennials earn, compared to what their parents made at the same age

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