Millennials Are Financially Confident, But Without a Plan

Millennials have a vision of the American Dream, but they may not have a plan to actually reach it.

The overwhelming majority of Millennials — 85% — say they are confident they will attain their American Dream, but less than half of them — 49% — have a plan in place to get there financially, according to a new study from Bank of the West. That "dream" includes the traditional thoughts of owning a home, paying off debt and someday retiring from a fulfilling career.

Marc Roche, co-founder of Annuities HQ, which helps with retirement planning, said the fact Millennials want the American Dream is not surprising — and although it may include the traditional aspects, it also may not be the same as what Baby Boomers pursued.

"It's less that they're not pursuing an American Dream and more that the American Dream looks different for a Millennial," Roche said.

"Yes, they still want to purchase a home and provide a good life for their families, but there isn't as much of a push to settle down as there has been in previous generations," he said. "Today's Millennials want to travel, build their own business, or establish their careers before following through on what have been milestones for previous generations."

The lack of financial planning also may not be entirely because Millennials are pushing back certain things to later in life, said Magdalena Johndrow, a financial advisor with Farmington River Financial Group in Conn. Many Millennials do want to save for retirement and other life goals, but most financial advisors will not speak with them due to high net worth minimums, she said.

"Furthermore, the average financial advisor is 55 years old, and what affected clients in his or her generation is different than what affects Millennials, especially with regards to student debt," Johndrow said. "Many Millennials are unsure of how to approach their finances — do they first aggressively pay off their student loans, do they instead save for retirement, or a combination of both?"

She said research shows Millennials want significantly more transparency, in general, and especially when it comes to their professional advisors.

"Perhaps that is the first step for financial advisors in working with Millennials and helping them achieve their goals," she added.

Joel Oquendo, a Millennial who's now 25, agreed his generation isn't delusional.

"We Millennials don't save the way it's been normally done because we believe our earning potential will increase as we age because of the access to information we have in our pockets," said Oquendo, who left a nine-to-five engineering job when he founded it was not for him.

"We can learn skills that can make us six figures, get us promotions and give us the confidence to quit our jobs at any point because of the Internet" he added. "Gone are the days where we need a safety net from a retirement account."

However, Michael DeVine, owner of Michael DeVine Counseling & DeVine Consulting, said while Millennials are redefining the America Dream, they are delusional or unrealistic in their unwillingness to compromise or do the dirty work to get to their dream.

"Most of their plans require being part of the system or to jump through hoops to put themselves in a position to achieve their dream," he said. "Millennials are so impatient and want instant gratification that they will cut off their face to spite their nose."

DeVine said that is why he preaches what he considers to be the golden rule — learn how to be okay not being okay.

"If Millennials can learn how to not be okay in a situation, being patient, and make the right moves ... then they can achieve their American Dream," he concludes. "Whether they can as a whole is a different story."

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