Millennials' Other Financial Goals Compete with Retirement Savings

Millennials are doing a good job of putting aside savings, but retirement is not the top reason.


The large majority (82%) of Millennials (ages 18 to 34) deposit money toward their investment goals on a regular, scheduled basis throughout the year—far more consistently than their older counterparts, according to financial services firm Scottrade, Inc.’s 2016 American Investor Report.

However, saving for education and home ownership are competing priorities for Millennials when it comes to retirement planning. For example, 60% of Millennials say a mortgage is a top financial priority. And, about one in three Millennials (30%) say educational expenses are the financial priority they feel least prepared to cover and would most delay their retirement plans (34%).

Generally speaking, Millennials tend to invest for a variety of reasons. The No. 1 reason Millennials invest is to have an emergency/“rainy day” fund (43%). But, when asked how long their current emergency fund would last if they lost their job, most Millennials would be ill-prepared.

Two in three Millennials (65%) say they would make it less than six months (compared with 34% of Gen Xers, 16% of Baby Boomers and 7% of senior citizens). They are also much more likely than other generations to invest so they can afford a new home, a new car or another large purchase.

NEXT: Findings about investors overall

The survey found retirement is the top financial priority for investors. More than two-thirds of investors overall (69%) say saving for retirement is a top priority and the large majority feels well prepared for their golden years (84%). Four in ten Millennials (42%) cite retirement as a financial priority, compared with more than seven in ten of those 35 and older.

When it comes to retirement planning, health care tops a number of lists. Most investors emphasize affording health care costs as a financial priority (54%), but at the same time believe it is one of the major areas where they are least ready to absorb the financial drain (40% are least prepared to cover long-term caregiving, 33% are least prepared for health care expenses). An unplanned illness—and the need to continue health benefits—is the No. 1 reason investors would potentially push back their retirement plans.

Two-thirds of those surveyed use a financial adviser (67%), and six in ten of those discuss their portfolio with their adviser at least twice a year. Retirement is the primary life event to seek professional financial advice, whether it is during retirement (57%), nearing retirement (41%) or just starting to save for retirement (35%).

The 2016 American Investor Report is based on research conducted online among 1,001 U.S. investors.