It’s never fun to play the comparison game — especially when you’re a millennial strapped for cash.
A new survey by Insider and Morning Consult polled 2,096 Americans about their financial health, debt, and earnings for a new series, “The State of Our Money.” More than 670 respondents were millennials, defined as ages 23 to 38 in 2019.
The survey asked all respondents how they think their finances compare to others their age — and 37% of millennials think they’re doing worse than their peers. Of these respondents, 10% think they’re much worse off, while 27% think they’re somewhat worse off.
That might be because many millennials are suffering from stagnant wages, facing living costs outpacing income growth, struggling to afford staples like housing, and dealing with staggering student-loan debt. This combination can leave millennials with paltry savings and other forms of debt like credit-card debt.
If they identify with any of these financial woes but know of peers who aren’t, it makes sense they would feel financially worse off.
Even more millennials feel good about their money compared to their peers
But while things may be rough for the generation, perhaps the fundamentals aren’t as bad as the story they’re told in the press. More millennials are positive when it comes to the peer comparison — 46% think they’re much better or somewhat better off than their peers (the remaining 17% said they didn’t know). If millennials are overall thinking they’re doing better than their peers, the situation on the ground may be better than we believe.
It’s also worth noting that the Great Recession split the millennial generation down the middle — the older cohort bore the brunt of the financial crisis and entered a tough job market, which made it more difficult to save. Younger millennials experienced the recovery period and entered a better job market.
If millennial respondents interpreted the term “age” more broadly in the question, they could be comparing themselves to those in their generation a few years older or younger than them, which may influence perceived differences.
But these results are on par with what overall respondents in the survey said — 38% think they’re much or somewhat worse off than their peers, while 43% think they’re somewhat or much better off.
Millennials are just as likely to compare themselves to the Joneses as anyone else.
This article was originally published on Business Insider.
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