As a Generation X advisor who started a little slowly myself, I remember the questions (when I was in my 20s) about whether the “slacker generation” would ever get our lives together. I’m figuring it out, I think Gen X is figuring it out, and I’m not worried about the Millennials. I think we ought to stop judging them (or any generation) so harshly.
Every generation chooses their own path. Yes, the cost of living is increasing. Yes, millennials have piles of student loans. Yes, millennials got started in a difficult job environment. But, more millennials are going to live into their 90s. They may get started a little later with their savings, but they will still live long and vibrant lives. They are already redefining work (think of the gig economy) and the ownership of goods (think of the sharing economy). It isn’t a stretch to say that they will also redefine a retirement in order to make it work for them. They have time.
If the average age for retirement among boomers is 63 (62 for women and 64 for men), then it would be easy to imagine a scenario where millennials (who started saving a little later, got married a little later, and bought homes a little later) retire a little later (which means saving a little longer on the back end). They are more likely to pursue careers that are more meaningful… so maybe some won’t want to retire at all and this will skew the average retirement age even older for millennials.
Millennials were born into different circumstances, for sure. But they are equipped to figure it out. I don’t think we have to lay blame on anyone and I don’t think Millennials have to be any more concerned than the generations that have preceded them. If anything, we should all be more concerned about building our savings.
Millennials may be in the best position of all simply because they have the most time ahead of them to figure it out. The fact of the matter is that we are all responsible on an individual basis for the outcomes we have to face in retirement. Social security will be nice to have, but it won’t be “enough” for any of us.
Millennials are fine. We should trust them with their futures. And, maybe, we should look to our own.