Millennials faced a special set of challenges as they came of age: 75 million of them entered adulthood while the U.S. economy was in or was just emerging from the 2008 financial crisis. Many felt firsthand the effects of the recession as they watched their parents and older family members take a financial hit. Surely, this experience changed the way the Millennials approach their own finances – and it just may have changed that approach for the better.
A new Schwab survey shows that Millennials are very much on track with their saving and investing habits, especially when it comes to their 401(k)s, often exhibiting more positive behaviors than their older counterparts.* This group recognizes the importance of saving for retirement, even though it may feel far away, and they know that a 401(k) is a critical tool in helping them save adequately. Their actions hold useful lessons for savers at all stages of their careers.
First of all, invest. The survey shows that Millennials are keeping on top of their personal finances, with 80 percent reporting that they have some money left over after paying their bills each month. They are also more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to invest any of those extra dollars in the stock market and in their 401(k) accounts. While I certainly understand the temptation to put any discretionary funds towards items and experiences in the present, I’d encourage you to think about treating your future self, too. The longer your money is invested in your 401(k), the more potential it has to grow over time.
Cut costs where you can. The survey shows that Millennials are cost-conscious as well: 51 percent say that fees influence their choice of 401(k) investments “a lot,” compared to 40 percent of Gen Xers and 38 percent of Boomers who say the same. This is a good reminder for anyone who invests to be mindful of the fees associated with your investments. Be on the lookout for any index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on your 401(k) plan’s menu, as these often have lower investment management fees than actively managed mutual funds. Therefore, investing in them can mean using less of your savings to pay fees and leaving more of your savings in your account.