Debt Is Millennials’ Biggest Issue

Millennials are overwhelmed with student loan debt as well as other financial burdens, and many dread the thought of even discussing their finances.

The biggest issue keeping Millennials up at night is debt, according to the latest survey by Lincoln Financial Group. The firm found that this is an issue for 48% of respondents in that age group; meanwhile, 44% of Generation Xers and 58% of Baby Boomers reported their biggest financial issue was healthcare expenses.

According to the research, student loan debt (54%) is Millennials’ top concern. Seventy percent of those who are currently paying off their student loans say they are not managing the process very well.

The study went on to show that the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed are facing a number of other challenges when it comes to planning their financial future: Only 33% have a retirement account versus 48% of the general population. Immediate payments make it hard for 74% to put money into retirement. Four out of five say they are saving for other things like a new car or house instead of retirement. More than half (60%) say they dread looking at or talking about their personal finances. Only 31% of Millennials have life insurance, versus 49% of the general population.

“It’s not a surprise our survey found that nearly three quarters of Millennials are finding it hard to balance living in the moment with planning for the future,” says Jamie Ohl, president, retirement plan services for Lincoln Financial Group. “They are at a point in their lives where they are experiencing many major milestones— but it’s important they prioritize their future and create a strategy that can help them achieve their current and future financial goals.”

To reverse this trend, Lincoln Financial is dedicating a portion of its website to helping Millennials and all generations better manage their finances with articles and various tools about money management and saving for retirement.

Advisers can step in too. The survey found that technology is important to this generation, but personal touch is still key. When selecting a financial product, Millennials are most influenced by recommendations from friends on social networks (49% versus 32% of the general population). Millennials turn to their parents first for financial information (55%), followed by online search (39%). The next time they buy a financial product like an annuity or life insurance, they would prefer to do so online (41% versus 29% of the general population).

Although the survey findings showed that just 16% of Millennials used a financial adviser when they made their last financial product purchase, those who have a relationship with a financial professional are satisfied with the guidance they receive (95%).

“A trusted financial professional is another valuable resource to help Millennials plan for the near future and their retirement,” says Ohl. “Beyond that, advisers are positioned to help all consumers not only understand their options, but also work with them to develop a plan that is tailored to their specific situation.”

Results for the 2016 M.O.O.D. (Measuring Optimism, Outlook and Direction) of America poll are based on three national surveys conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies on behalf of Lincoln Financial Group in March and April 2016.

The M.O.O.D. of America survey was conducted among 2,267 adults 18 years of age and older across the United States.