Recession Has Prompted Millennials to Be Financially Conservative

They are willing to cut back on going out or taking vacations in order to save as much as 50% of their paychecks.

Having come of age when the Great Recession of 2008 broke, Millennials are taking a conservative and proactive approach to their finances, according to the latest Merrill Edge Report. Asked what they expect to rely on in 20 years, 66% said their savings account, outpacing their significant other (57%) and friends (56%).

In fact, 38% said they would be willing to save more than 50% of their paycheck if it could help them have more money in the long run. Asked what they expect to rely on for financial security, 71% of Millennials said their 401(k) account. By comparison, 54% of Baby Boomers said a pension and 50%, Social Security.

Asked what they would be willing to do to have more money in the long run, 54% of Millennials said cut back on going out, 42% said skip vacation for a year, 36% said delay buying a house, and 33% said postpone getting married or having children.

Eighty-five percent of Millennials said they want to play it safe with their day-to-day investments—more so than with other aspects of their life, such as their career (80%), romantic life (73%) and travel (55%). By comparison, 46% of Millennials’ parents characterize themselves as financially conservative, while 35% of their grandparents do.

Millennials say the Great Recession has colored their view of the world, including regarding buying real estate (78%), pursuing education (58%) and having children (53%). Eighty percent are worried they will experience another recession in their lifetime, and 30% think it will occur within the next five years.

Millennials are also stepping up to the plate when it comes to their finances, with 64% saying they feel responsible about making future financial decisions. By comparison, 54% of other generations feel this way. Another 64% said they consider the future, compared with 52% of other generations, and 54% believe they will be successful in making financial decisions, compared with 48% of other generations.

“As we observe how Americans look at their financial future, younger generations continue to rewrite the rules for the rest of us,” says Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge. “We’re excited to see this group take financial matters into their own hands by becoming increasingly self-motivated and financially savvy. By being more conservative with their money now, they’re looking to seize the financial future they desire in the long run.”