The recent economic downturn caused millions of consumers across the country to reconsider how they deal with credit and debt, and this may be particularly true of the young borrowers who gained their financial freedom when the crisis was at its height.
Today, millennials generally consider debt to be their biggest financial concern, with 54 percent of those polled suggesting that these issues are their most significant, according to the latest Wells Fargo Retirement Survey. In addition, 61 percent of these younger people say that they consider themselves to be savers, but slightly less than half are actually putting anything into their retirement accounts. Those that do not say they’re generally “overwhelmed” financially, with 87 percent of those polled indicating that they don’t have have enough money to start these efforts, and 81 percent preferring to pay down their outstanding balances first.
Slightly less than two-thirds of millennials say that they relied upon student loans to cover their college costs, and about half of those polled said that if they were to receive a $10,000 windfall, they would use that money to pay down these balances or outstanding credit card bills, the report said. Interestingly, slightly less than one-third of millennials say that they would have been better off working through their college years rather than going to school, though nearly four out of five think that it’s important for kids to learn financial literacy in high school. Slightly less believe financial literacy should also be taught in college, while seven in 10 believe parents should take on this role.
As a result, seven in 10 millennials say that they wish they had been taught the basics of investing, while three in five would have prefered to learn how to save for retirement, and about the same proportion also indicated they wanted to have better understood how loans work, the poll found. The vast majority — 78 percent — also say they learned at least something about personal finance from their parents.
Young people looking to get a better handle on their finances seem to be taking the right steps to do so, as many are now cutting credit card spending and other types of financing that can increase their monthly debt obligations and put them at greater risk for certain fiscal difficulties going forward.