NEW YORK (MainStreet) Adults in their mid-thirties and below make up about one-third of the U.S. population, 13% of whom say they are unemployed. But there are a significant number of Gen Y workers who are fully employed and financially satisfied, with a high degree of confidence in their job security: military Millennials.
Serving in the armed forces, or the Guard or Reserve, these young adults are doing a lot of the right things financially: putting aside money in an emergency fund and saving for retirement. Though admitting a degree of financial security, they are also struggling with some of the same money misfortunes as their civilian peers.
Military Millennials are more than twice as likely as their older Armed Forces comrades to have a household income under $50,000. And considering that they have access to free medical care, 16% have past due medical debts nearly twice as much as older military personnel perhaps due to ailments suffered prior to their military service.
And Gen Y members of the military, just like many of their civilian counterparts, are frequent users of "alternative banking services," such as payday lenders, rent-to-own retailers and pawn shops. Near four-in-ten (37%) active duty Millennials admit they've used such high cost non-bank borrowing services within the last five years.
And yet, in spite of these seeming setbacks, they are content in money matters. Fully 39% of active duty Millennials say they have a high level of financial satisfaction. In fact, a survey of 314 military members and 300 civilians conducted on behalf of the Navy Federal Credit Union earlier this year found that 79% of military Millennials were "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with their current financial situation. That compares to just 61% of their civilian counterparts.
The same poll revealed 60% of young adults serving their country reported that saving for retirement was "very" important, compared to only 30% of civilians. The FINRA poll verifies that conviction for setting aside money for the future: More than half (53%) of active service Gen Y said they were feeding an emergency fund -- and nearly three quarters are saving for retirement.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet