A Millennial’s Guide To Spending And Saving With Modest Wages [Infographic]

According to a recent survey conducted by Bank of America regarding millennials and budgeting, striking evidence was found that budgeting entry-level paychecks should be a more frequent conversation. 80% of millennials think that they will eventually be as well or better off than their parents, but more than half are still living paycheck to paycheck — and 35% are getting help from their families.

On one end of the wealth spectrum, millennial women are out-earning men. A FutureCast survey of the 6.2 million “affluent millennial” households in the United States (those earning over $100,000) found that 64% of them were women. This is a huge flip in gender finance narratives from previous generations which typically showed men earning more than women, especially due to their dominance in the workforce.

Millennials are certainly changing trends around spending and saving. The FutureCast survey suggests the higher number of women than men graduating from college, as well as a slight increase in hourly earnings among women could be the reason for the 64% figure.

The spending power of millennials is undisputed, especially in the area of online shopping. 59% of affluent millennials buy online, rate and review products, and regularly post on brand websites, versus 47% of non-affluent millennials, showing how important the digital market is for this generation regardless of paycheck.

“As the [group] of young adults with the means to act on the shopping attitudes and preferences of the general millennial population, affluent millennials have the largest amount of influence today,” FutureCast president Jeff Fromm told WWD.

Millennials, or Generation Y, represent an estimated $2.45 trillion in spending power and have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest, most influential group in terms of consuming and employment. And while the rules have certainly been broken in a lot of ways, the economy hasn’t necessarily benefitted millennials the way it has previous generations, which is why it is less common to see Gen Y-ers buying houses or putting money into investments like their parents.

Stretching an entry-level paycheck in today’s world is a different game than past generations experienced. Even though Pew Research estimates real earnings for young adults with a college degree increased by $1,300 in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1984 and 2009, the cost of living has increased disproportionately meaning each dollar earned does, in fact, buy less than it did 20 years ago.

Much of the financial advice passed down from older generations seems less applicable to modern standards. Industries have changed, workplace standards have changed, and cost of living has changed. In fact, less and less millennials are saving for retirement, and one financial advisor suggests a couple of reasons why: higher costs of living due to monthly credit card payments, school loan repayments etc, as well as a lack of financial education.

“Our society has done a poor job at teaching people how to save. It isn’t taught in high school or as a general education course in college, and it can be a topic that people feel embarrassed or shy to talk about to each other,” Dave Alison, CFP and founding partner of Prosperity Capital Advisors in Ohio told Forbes.com.

But it may not just be a matter of trying to emulate previous generations and calling it a failure when that becomes impossible due to a changing economy and global world. A Merrill Edge report says millennials are saving, but with different goals in mind for their future.

“Millennials are the first generation to plan long-term for financial freedom instead of retirement,” says the report. Sixty-three percent of millennials are saving to live their “desired lifestyle,” as opposed to 45 percent of both baby boomers and Gen Xers.

So, what can millennials do if they are paying off debt, paying high rents, and living on modest wages? Let’s explore common industries millennials work in, and how to effectively divide a paycheck based on typical wages in the infographic below.

[Parts of this post were originally published on Investmentzen.com and republished here with permission.]

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