Today, I was lucky enough to be invited to hear executive's from Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) discuss the results of their recent study about millennials and their money. As defined in this study, millennials are currently aged 19-35, and the results were broken down between "general population" millennials and military millennials.
Not only did I learn some interesting facts, I realized that I might have some serious misconceptions. There were also a lot of contradictions in the results.
On the surface, the results seemed positive:
Millennials generally feel that they will be able to meet their five year financial goals and they are on track with their current financial plan for retirement.
Millenials are focused on building up savings or an emergency fund, paying down debt, and saving for retirement - all great goals!
Military millennials are more optimistic than their "general population" peers, with higher rates of confident and positive plans.
Digging down a little bit, there are very concerning findings:
Among the military millennials surveyed, the following negative behaviors occurred at these rates:
- Self-identification as "living paycheck to paycheck:" 37%
- Made only minimum payment on credit card during the last year: 39%
- Missed a credit card payment within the last year: 21%
- Used a payday loan within the last year: 22%
- Missed at least one mortgage payment within the last 2 years: 16%
I'm finding it hard to reconcile the number of negative behaviors with the reported optimism, but I have come up with a few possible theories. First, we all do things that are in contradiction to our stated beliefs, it's just human nature. Second, I wonder if it is possible that the survey respondents think that it is OK to have these negative behaviors. They freak me out, but am I over-reacting? The third thing that I thought is that none of these sounds like the people who I typically talk with, but now I am starting to wonder: do people only come talk to me when they're in trouble, so do I see more people who have made mistakes or are in bad situations, not reflecting the typical millennial? This is an epiphany!
If you're a military millennial, how do these results sound accurate to you? Do they reflect your thoughts and actions? Does anything surprise you? I'm really curious to learn more.
Many thanks to the team at Navy Federal Credit Union for inviting me to learn more about the results of this survey, and check back on Tuesday to learn more about now Navy Federal is using this information to help us all!