Whether it’s growing up seeing the family struggle through the financial crisis, or how millennials are graduating college carrying more student loan debt than ever (probably both!), millennials (who are contributing to a 401k plan) as a group are so far showing better financial habits than baby boomers when it comes to saving in their 401k. T. Rowe Price recently released a fun quiz titled “Do You Act Your (Savings) Age?” based on a survey they conducted with more than 2,000 participants with 401ks* that uncovered differences between how the generations are going about building their path towards financial freedom.
I found it encouraging that millennials in this study are far more used to tracking their expenses than baby boomers (75% vs 64%) and thus, the younger generation is better able to stick to a budget (67% vs 55%). Of course, some of these differences can be accounted by their respective stages in life. This translates nicely to the millennials saving almost as much of their salary as baby boomers for their retirement. Though the 8% average (6% median) of salary the millennials are saving is still far too low for a comfortable retirement, it’s a great start and definitely much better than the baby boomers just saving an average of 9% (median 8%) of their income. Remember, baby boomers have a far higher salary because they’ve been climbing that corporate ladder for that much longer and theoretically should be able to save a ton more. And plus, baby boomers simply have less time to allow compounding to work its magic.
And the news gets even more encouraging, because more than half (60% to be exact) of millennials said they would increase their 401k contribution percentage if they get a raise versus only 40% of baby boomers.
Is Social Security Going to Help Me?
I wonder how much of this motivation to save is due to the fact that millennials think social security won’t be around for them. The survey points out that 60% of millennials believe Social Security will go bankrupt before they retire. Now I don’t want to kill the fire to save for the future by saying this, but there is actually little chance the government will let Social Security end – the entitlement program is just too popular with voters. Yes, the program needs a makeover, but people who’ve studied the numbers believe that the program can be put back on a self-sustaining path by making relatively minor adjustments. For the young folks who are reading this – don’t worry, those who really need the program to survive will still get benefits far into the future.
How About You?
Don’t you want to know if you are generally saving like your age group? Call me nosy, but I’m always curious to know how I stack up against my peer group. Whether you are a millennial, baby boomer or from Gen X, you can hop over to the quiz and answer a few questions to see if your habits are in line with your peers.
Don’t worry if you don’t fit in financially though, because that could actually mean you have better saving habits than your peers. At the end of the day, it’s self-discipline that will get you to the finish line.
And T Rowe Price wants to help. In addition to sponsoring this post to help spread the word of the quiz, they even threw in a few financial nuggets that are generation appropriate.. The advice is short and to the point, so it’s worth checking out.
*T. Rowe Price Retirement Saving & Spending Survey, 2015
Editor's Note: I've begun tracking my assets through Personal Capital. I'm only using the free service so far and I no longer have to log into all the different accounts just to pull the numbers. And with a single screen showing all my assets, it's much easier to figure out when I need to rebalance or where I stand on the path to financial independence.
They developed this pretty nifty 401K Fee Analyzer that will show you whether you are paying too much in fees, as well as an Investment Checkup tool to help determine whether your asset allocation fits your risk profile. The platform literally takes a few minutes to sign up and it's free to use by following this link here. For those trying to build wealth, Personal Capital is worth a look.