Saving for retirement: the millennial way

When I read articles like this, I focus on words like “they want.”

And then I look at all the challenges millennials face and I think to myself … hasn’t every generation faced challenges of its own, many far worse than those faced by Millennials.

What they face is life and as far as student loans go, the real focus should be on the fact they got to go to college. What really comes through in this type of article – IMO – is shunning responsibility, entitlement and a shocking inability to anticipate and deal with the ever present vicissitudes of life.

Millennials have come to realize the future is uncertain. Financial markets have followed a similar pattern. Stock and bond prices rose with relative ease in the two decades leading up to the turn of the 21st century, providing a glidepath for baby boomers to invest and see their retirement balances grow uninterrupted for almost 20 years.

The two decades of the new century have been quite different, with two bear markets that approached or exceeded a 50% drawdown, plus another that almost reached 35%. As in life, millennials learned there are no guarantees in the financial markets either. Perhaps it is because of these traumatic events that disrupted early career plans, millennials’ views of the workplace (and their future in it) are unlike those of previous generations. Millennials know what they want and are not afraid to ask for it.

They want a life-work balance. They want their work to be meaningful. They want flexible hours. They want cool workspaces. They want to bring their pets to work. They embrace technology and use it to do their job better and more efficiently.

As millennials try to live by their values, they are still faced with student loan payments, housing/rental costs and other general living expenses. As a result, this group has been slow to start saving for retirement, but they still have a chance to reach their goals if they think long-term and take advantage of the retirement options available to them. Millennials view retirement as a “state of mind.”

Rather than a specific dollar figure, millennials look to retirement as place that provides them flexibility in their lives and allows them to seek out the new experiences this generation craves.

Source: Saving for retirement: the millennial way


  1. The portfolio manager guy recommends:
    – Emergency savings – accumulate 6 months
    – Maximize retirement contributions to 401k and IRAs
    – Pay down debt
    – Think long term

    My bet is that most millennials with noteworthy financial capability / disposable income already know that stuff. But, the above does nothing for the 50+% of adults under age 40 who live paycheck to paycheck, who have debts to pay, who may not be saving but not because they don’t want to, but because they believe they cannot afford to. Their “wants” are likely to be deferred, their “needs” are mostly short term – not because they are more important, only more urgent.

    I wonder if the author has even given this any thought – how to get those who are financially fragile and lving paycheck to paycheck to focus not so much on saving for retirement, but perhaps saving along the way to retirement.

    This is one more time where the author replaces others’ priorities with their own, a lack of empathy, what behavioral economists might call “egocentric bias”. The goal should not be save for retirement, but save along the way to retirement …


  2. “What really comes through in this type of article – IMO – is shunning responsibility, entitlement and a shocking inability to anticipate and deal with the ever present vicissitudes of life.”
    That sounds much like the ‘you are a group of irresponsible, apathetic, entitled, ….’ lecture given by a member of the Silent Generation to our Baby Boomer class back in high school. I guess the Silent Generation is still very vocal. I found it insulting back then and still do now to group everyone based on an age group or other broad characteristic as all the same, especially if one is not a member of that same group.


    1. There are always exceptions within any group, but the overall assessment has been demonstrated many times in different ways.


  3. I’ve always been suspicious of articles attempting to explain a large group with the same broad strokes. This one was a throwaway that doesn’t require serious consideration.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Please be careful tarring all millenials with the same brush. Both of my sons are millenials and they are hard working saving their money for retirement. One was born in 1986, the other 1989. Both own houses (with mortgages) but are very careful with their money. I don’t see them at Starbucks very often for a latte.

    Both are also against having student loans forgiven. My wife had taken out student loans. They were a pain in the lower extremities but we paid them off over time. Do I wish she hadn’t taken them out? Yep. But she did and it needed to be repaid.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Millennials know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it” but are afraid to work for it.
    I look at my life and it was nothing like living through the Great Depression followed by WWII. I was too young for Vietnam or the oil embargo of the 1970s to directly affect me because my parents had the responsibility of raising me. I live the inflation of 1980s. The bust followed 9/11 and the housing bust and a other few minor crises along the way. But retirement was something that I work toward. It not a state of mind but a lifestyle for your means and health at the time.
    It used to be that nobody was going to give you anything, you had to work for it and earn it. I guess politicans have convinced a generation that all they have to do is ask for it if they vote for them.
    I wonder how the millennials would do sitting in a bombed out factory in the Ukraine? How would they survive?

    Liked by 1 person

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