Millennials Say This Is Their Biggest Financial Mistake

Millennials’ finances are often scrutinized, and they have faced an uphill battle as a generation. But what do they think has been their biggest financial mistake?

Millennials’ uphill financial battles have been well-documented. According to reporting by Politico, they’re “behind in almost every economic dimension,” and the ratio of how much they have invested in assets like 401(k) plans to their income is below Gen X and Boomers and is projected to remain that way. Of course, their massive student loan debt is partly to blame. When we looked at their biggest financial priorities last year, paying off their debt or student loans was at the top of their lists, followed by paying for or saving for college or graduate school. These top two priorities feed off one another and have pushed other goals, like buying a house, purchasing a car, and starting a family, further down the list. Graduating into the recession has also made them an incredibly cautious generation, with a risk-averse attitude that has held many back from investing. It’s a perfect cocktail of financial regrets.

Even those who have made the “right” moves are feeling anxious. According to Bank of the West, nearly 70% of Millennial homeowners regret buying their house, with about 40% saying they made the wrong financial choices when buying their house. What else does the generation wish they had done differently when it comes to money matters? In our recent survey on their personal finances, we asked 18-36-year-olds, “What is the biggest mistake you've made or regret you have regarding your finances?” Here are their 13 most common responses:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of Millennials’ financial regrets right now—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “Time I could be sleeping is time I spend on social media. It's now part of my waking up and going to sleep routine and, for those reasons, I'm feeling done with social media."—Male, 24, CA

MasterCard created an audio-only logo for Generation Voice Activated. The finance brand has debuted a sound they’ll play when people check out using their MasterCard. YPulse data shows that 29% of 18-36-year-olds own a smart speaker device, and that number is only expected to grow along with the use of other audio-activated devices. MasterCard wants to make their brand memorable without visual cues to tap into the $40 billion in revenue voice shopping is expected to generate by 2022. (Fast Company)

Brands are acting uncannily human on Twitter—is it working? Many brands (mainly the food and beverage kind) are “behav[ing] like real people with idiosyncratic personalities” on social media to connect with young consumers. This allows them to “stand out it in a crowded marketplace," explains one marketing professor. And Twitter users are engaging: from Sunny D to Steak-umm, brands are going viral for nihilist, and even depressing, first-person posts. (Vice)

Millennials are buying more greeting cards this Valentine’s Day. The National Retail Federation estimates the industry made as much as $933 million yesterday, compared to $894 million last year. Experts say that Millennials are behind the boost as they buy more expensive, albeit fewer, cards that often have personalized flourishes and functions (like audio). They’re also opting for IRL cards over e-cards because, as one enthusiast explains, "I like giving cards because you can hold it, unlike a text or email.” (NPR)

Brands went beyond romantic messaging for Valentine’s Day this year. Some catered to Millennials’ Treat Yo’Self mentality with collaborations like Tinder and Homesick’s “Single, Not Sorry” candle, while others celebrated Galentine’s Day. Target stocked themed decorations for those hosting girls-only get-togethers and Kay Jewelers set aside a site category for Galentine’s Day gifts. Finally, the NRF estimates that pet owners spent $886 million on their furry friends on Valentine’s Day, and retailers like PetSmart advertised accordingly. (ContentStandard)

More college grads are taking on retail jobs as stores up the ante for new hires. Yes, the trend is fueled by student debt and other financial factors, but also because stores that focus on experience expect more than ever from their customer service reps. Workers at Sweaty Betty, Everlane, and Warby Parker are reportedly trained with workshops, tests, and homework. But while, as one expert explains, “Customers are also coming in with much higher expectations of what level of service they’re going to receive,” retail wages aren’t keeping pace. (Refinery29)

Quote of the Day: “The best thing about social media is to connect with people across geographical boundaries and cultures. I love interacting with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”—Female, 22, PA

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