Almost two-thirds of Millennials live paycheck to paycheck – and just 38% feel financially stable

Nearly two-thirds of Millennials are living paycheck to paycheck – and just 38 percent feel financially stable, according to a new survey.

Overall, 59 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, according to the survey of 1,000 U.S. adults by Charles Schwab.

However, the Millennial generation (people ages 23-38) was the most likely to struggle in between payday, at 62 percent, followed by Generation X (60 percent), Generation Z (55 percent) and Baby Boomers (53 percent). 

Similarly, Millennials were the least likely to feel financially stable, followed by Generation X (40 percent), Generation Z (45 percent) and Baby Boomers (47 percent).

‘Spending is certainly one factor,’ said Terri Kallsen, executive vice president for Schwab Investor Services.

‘But especially for younger Americans, we know there are factors beyond their control that make it difficult to save, including rising college debt, stagnant wages and the high cost of living, particularly in urban centers,’ she told

Part of the issue could also be that Millennials report spending an average of $478 a month on ‘nonessential’ purchases, including eating out, entertainment and luxury items.

While it’s less than Generation X’s nonessential spending ($587), it far surpasses the $359 a month that Baby Boomers drop on fun and vacations.

Social media and the influencers who dominate it could be driving some of these spending habits among Millennials, Kallsen said.

‘The burden to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ has been part of our culture for decades, but it appears that social media and the fear of missing out (FOMO) have increased the pressure to spend,’ she said.

‘Spending is not the enemy, but when we allow social pressure or other forces to lure us into spending beyond our means, it can impact long-term financial stability and become a larger problem,’ she added.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans wonder how their friends can afford expensive experiences that they’ve seen posted on social media – but the numbers are more pronounced among Millennials and Generation Z, with 72 percent and 74 percent, respectively, asking themselves that question.

Some 48 percent of Millennials and 41 percent of Generation Z admit that they’ve spent more than they can afford to be able to participate in experiences with their friends.

Nearly half (44 percent) of Americans typically carry a credit card balance each month, and only 38 percent have established an emergency fund.

The survey also found that Americans believe, on average, it takes $2.3 million in personal net worth to be considered ‘rich.’

That amounts to more than 20 times the actual median net worth of American households, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2017 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Despite that, more than half of Americans believe they will be wealthy at some point, and 40 percent anticipate achieving that goal within the next decade.


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