For approximately the last six months, Facebook has been gathering data on its 70 million working-age Millennial users (ages 21-34) in order to create a comprehensive look at how this generation feels about money [PDF]. The result, as shown in Facebook’s Millennials and Money report published last week, is that for most Millennials, their relation with money can be defined as “it’s complicated.”
1. MILLENNIALS ARE SURPRISINGLY FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE…
On the one hand, Facebook has determined that Millennials have their priorities in order when it comes to their finances. Using data collected from its audience insights platform, conversation analysis (this is what it sounds like: creeping on your posts and messages), and surveys, Facebook has found that Millennials’ top two financial priorities are paying down debt (this is the top priority for a reported 43 percent of users ) and saving for the future (38 percent). In fact, 46 percent of Millennial users define financial success as being debt free, rather than being able to retire or owning a home.
2. … BUT THEY DON’T REALLY “GET” CREDIT CARDS.
At the same time, however, Millennials seem to be confounded by credit cards—25 percent of Millennials consider credit cards as something that “worsens their financial standing” and 30 percent are “not sure how credit cards can be helpful.” (Spoiler alert: Credit is important.)
3. THEY DON’T HAVE SPECIFIC GOALS—OR INVESTMENTS.
The most troubling part about the report is that while Millennials seem to have laudable financial aspirations, they’re not really sure why it’s important to save money early. While 86 percent say that saving is important to them and put away money each month, 54 percent cited their reason for saving as “wanting to be responsible,” rather than a concrete goal such as starting an emergency fund, buying a home, or having money to retire. And Millennials, it may come as no surprise, have no idea how to invest: They are 1.6 times more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to have no investments whatsoever.
4. THEY CROWDSOURCE THEIR FINANCIAL ADVICE.
When it comes to gaining the knowledge they need to set a stable financial foundation, Millennials feel lost. With half (53 percent) saying that they have no one to turn to for financial guidance, Millennials instead turn to one another: Millennials drive 40 percent of the conversation about money on Facebook, crowdsourcing advice on matters from buying a home, to getting a loan, to running a small business.
5. MILLENNIALS ARE ATTACHED TO THEIR PHONES.
If aliens from another planet were to look in on life on Earth in the 21st century, they’d think our mobile devices were necessary for life. (And for Millennials, in many ways, they are.) According to Facebook, 77 percent of Millennials say their phone is “always with them.” This mobile inclination extends to their banking habits as well, with 49 percent preferring mobile banking.
For more details from Facebook’s Millennials and Money report, check out the infographic below (click to enlarge).