Blaming everything wrong with America on Millennials has become so popular that you expect to see it added as an Olympic event in 2020. But instead of turning the tables and blaming Baby Boomers or Generation X, let’s focus on one of the areas where Millennials are light-years ahead of previous generations: investing.
We may not have the most substantial balance in our bank accounts (yet), but we are some of the very best investors out there. Here are seven reasons why:
1. MILLENNIALS ARE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS
Millennials are way more interested in socially conscious and ethical investing more than any previous generation, and for a good reason. Technology has made the world smaller now than ever before, which means investors can do independent research on the companies they want to invest. Additionally, they are generally more aware of and care more about global issues like climate change, and their investment habits reflect that awareness. If you’re interested in sustainable investing, Stockpile offers a few ETFs that invest in sustainable companies like iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN).
2. MILLENNIALS ARE REALISTS
Millennials are the first generation who genuinely believe a safety net will not be there for them when they retire, and honestly, they’re not just paranoid. A staggering 50 percent of Millennials think that Social Security will be gone before they reach their retirement age.
Even worse, there is very little evidence that things are going to get any better anytime soon. Issues like the wage gap and income equality aren’t just conceptual to Millennials, and many of them are rapidly realizing that depending on the government or an employer to take care of them is a dicey proposition at best. By investing early, Millennials are taking control of their collective fate.
3. MILLENNIALS SAW THE LAST FINANCIAL CRISIS FIRSTHAND
Most millennials had a front-row seat for the last financial crisis in 2008. Watching your parents not only struggle to make ends meet but watching them worry about providing for their families is sure to leave an indelible impression in ways not seen by previous generations. Knowing that your parents’ retirement savings could be slashed in half as the result of one bad day on Wall Street is hard to fathom, but it’s even harder to witness firsthand.
Millennials are more inclined to try and protect themselves from such dramatic financial insecurity by making smart investments early in their careers. This trend is undoubtedly strengthened by parents who struggled financially encouraging their kids to take investing seriously at an earlier age than they did.
4. MILLENNIALS DON’T TRUST THE SYSTEM
If you witnessed the financial crisis and you understand concepts like income inequality, it is nearly impossible to believe the system is looking out for you. Add in a few Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, and the level of distrust only deepens.
When talking about “the system,” we are referring to Wall Street and other financial institutions, large corporate interests like Big Pharma and Monsanto, and government at all levels. The level of distrust in our fundamental institutions has been steadily eroding for some time now, and may never be lower than they are today. This generation gets what “too big to fail” means, which is a scary proposition.
All of these negative forces point to millennials deciding to protect themselves from whatever injustices the system throws their way. By directly controlling their investments, millennials are demonstrating independence and self-sufficiency.
5. MILLENNIALS JOINED A GRUELING WORKFORCE
Millennials went out into the workforce at the worst time – when jobs were more scarce than they had been since the Great Depression. Instead of competing against classmates and contemporaries for career opportunities, millennials found themselves fighting with experienced workers looking to hang on to any job they could get.
It may be easy for a Baby Boomer to criticize someone with a masters’ degree working in a coffee shop to help make ends meet, but the sad reality is that many millennials are being forced to work multiple jobs to maintain a basic standard of living. Working for your money makes you realize that you’d rather have your money work for you, which leads millennials to invest at an earlier age than previous generations.
6. MILLENNIALS HAVE STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Student loans are a serious problem that are impacting millennials nationwide. Millennials are carrying a total of $1 trillion in student debt, and the pressure to repay can be overwhelming for many people in the early stages of their careers.
Additionally, the student loan industry is legally authorized to be much more aggressive than other creditors. Depending on the type of loans you have, failure to make payments could result in garnishing your wages, placing liens on your personal property and real estate, freezing and garnishing your bank accounts, and taking your tax return. And oh yeah, your credit will be trashed.
With the stakes, this high, millennials not only realize the importance of repaying their student loans, but they make it a priority. Making financial sacrifices to stay fiscally solvent is an excellent habit for anyone when it comes to saving and investing money.
7. WE USE TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE INVESTING EASIER
Typically, young professionals are incredibly busy, which means they have a limited amount of time to devote to building a portfolio. Furthermore, most beginning investors lack the funds to buy whole shares of the companies they use every day like Amazon or Facebook. The inability to invest in famous blue-chip companies can quickly deter would-be investors, resulting in less overall investment activity among millennials.
Fortunately, there are now services like Stockpile that allow you to purchase fractional shares of stock with no strings attached. For example, if your goal is to invest $50 per week, you can easily buy one-tenth of a share of stock of a company trading at $500 per share. Built as a native smartphone app, Stockpile is straightforward, convenient, and doesn’t tag you with crazy fees.
Managing and growing your portfolio is also easier; go to the Stockpile app and let the earnings and dividends rollover to increase your position over time. These platforms are perfect for millennials as a generation who trusts and understands the benefits of technology. And with the ability to manage your investments anytime or anywhere, it’s easy to see why millennials may have the last laugh when it comes to investing.