Oh, those millennials. Those entitled young ‘uns who can’t raise their heads from their digital devices for more than five minutes, who hop from one job to the next with abandon, who are lazy and narcissistic to boot.
And who have managed to top Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and what have you all in one important category: They have saved more money.
A study by the personal finance website Bankrate.com found that 62 percent of millennials (those born between 1986 and 2004) are saving more than 5 percent of their incomes, something only half of people older than 30 can say. While they have started early, however, they’re also starting small, compared to other generations: Bankrate found that only 25 percent have earmarked 10 percent of their incomes for savings; those 30 to 49 are saving more than 10 percent.
The Bankrate study came as the Commerce Department reported an increase in February’s personal saving rate to 5.4 percent from 5.3 percent in January – its highest level since the end of 2012.
One of the reasons millennials are savers relates to the environment in which they came of age. The Great Recession of 2008 (and beyond) was hugely influential during the formative financial years of many in this generation. The boom years of hot stock and housing markets fostered a consumption mentality among their elders. That’s not the case with the millennials, who know full well that markets can go decidedly down, as well. As a result, they’re inclined to save.
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Another factor is a heightened awareness of longer lifespans and questions over Social Security’s long-term viability. Both factors are leading millennials to save in recognition of their future retirement burden.
While millennials are leading the pack on savings rates, Americans as a whole are saving more of their income as the lessons of the Great Recession remain fresh even eight years later. Bankrate found that 28 percent of Americans overall are socking away more than 10 percent of their income, up from 24 percent.
It’s not just high earners who have gotten into the saving habit. Bankrate found that 27 percent of those with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 save more than 10 percent of their incomes; 24 percent in the $50,000 to $75,000 bracket do so.
The survey also unearthed some worrying news: More than one-fifth of Americans are saving nothing. While the importance of putting money away is understood, wage and salary gains have been modest, making saving difficult for many.
Bankrate noted that the ideal personal savings rate is 15 percent of an individual’s income.