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Securing housing

Affordability is a big roadblock for millennials hoping to buy a home.

Over the last few years, home prices — and even home insurance — have skyrocketed, and it can be intimidating to fill a house with children when the house costs so much in the first place. I mean, who wants crayon on their newly mortgaged walls?

High prices aside, many millennials are still embarking on their home ownership journey. According to the National Association of Realtors, 43% of 2022 homebuyers were millennials.

The median cost of a house for older millennials was $315,000 as of 2022; for younger millennials it was $250,000.

But a lot of millennials are relying on savings or gifts and loans from relatives and friends to make the downpayment for their home — which doesn’t leave much financial wiggle room for starting a family.

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Diversifying their wealth

Millennials have seen generations before them face economic uncertainty — not to mention the uncertainty they face themselves amidst high inflation and rocky stock markets.

When they picture their future, many millennials are looking toward securing their retirement financially rather than having kids and grandkids to grow old with. In turn, they’re focusing on diversifying their wealth and investing to hedge against inflation.

A report by MagnifyMoney found that real estate makes up a third of millennials' wealth. But they’re also investing in ETFs, mutual funds and cryptocurrency.

A recent study by Stilt found that 76.46% of crypto buyers are millennials — their average yearly spend being $8,596.00.

Older generations still own most of America’s wealth, but millennials are keen on catching up.

Paying off debt

Maxed out credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, auto loans and student loans — yes, millennials carry a hodgepodge of debt with them.

The Real Estate Witch Millennial Debt Survey found that 72% of millennials have non-mortgage debt, with the average person owing $117,000.

Almost half of indebted millennials carry student loan debt, a burden that is on average $40,247 according to an Experian Consumer Debt Study in 2021.

With such large sums haunting millennials’ bank accounts, allocating the proper funds to significant life milestones — like raising children — is a daunting, near-impossible task.

Family grocery hauls may not have set their boomer parents back much, but millennials don’t have the luxury of dinner on the table and a credit card balance of $0.

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Adopting pets

Some people are appalled by millennials who opt to cozy up on the couch with a furry friend at night instead of singing a baby to sleep, but their wallets are thanking them.

According to a 2022 report from pet care company Rover, one in 10 pet parents are choosing to bring home a dog versus having a child because the total cost is lower.

Of the surveyed respondents, this was most true for both millennials and Gen Z.

This isn’t to say pets don’t come with their costs, but when a study by SafeWise compared the first year expenses of adopting a dog or cat vs. having a baby, babies came out to be the most expensive by far.

In the first 12 months, a human child reportedly costs an average of $3,739, while a fur baby works out to significantly less — $1,082 for a dog and $991 for a cat.

Building their savings

Millennials are starting to prioritize saving their spare change money, and are motivated to improve their finances, but the pandemic put a lot of people behind financially and this generation is no exception.

Goldman Sachs’ 2022 Retirement Survey and Insights Report found that 34% of millennials said they felt like they’re behind on retirement savings*. It’s hard to envision kids in the picture when saving for your own future already feels fraught.

Furthering their education

Despite the mounds of debt accumulated from higher education, millennials continue to value — or even require — the prospects a degree can offer.

Depending on the program, school can take up as much of your time as a full-time job, not to mention the incurred costs of tuition, books and school supplies. This doesn't leave much space in one’s budget for feeding even a family of one, unless it’s instant ramen.

What keeps millennials on this path is the hope that, after all these incurred costs and late nights of studying, an education will end up earning them more money.

Georgetown University’s 2021 College Payoff report stated that people with college degrees tend to have better employment prospects and higher salaries.

The aforementioned report found that the lifetime earnings of a full-time worker with a high school diploma are $1.6 million, while workers with an associate’s degree earn $2 million. The median lifetime earnings for those who hold a bachelor’s degree is $2.8 million.

With 75% more earnings on the line, you can see why millennials shell out for post-secondary schooling.

Focusing on their careers

According to a collaborative study by Modern Fertility and SoFi, 51% of people are delaying having kids because they want to earn a higher salary first and 49% of people would delay kids an average of 3.3 years for a title bump.

Why does it matter? Having kids is costly, yes. But not being certain that your career will remain safe if you have them is a solid reason to be deterred.

When Refinery29 spoke to Joeli Brearly, author of The Motherhood Penalty and founder of the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, she shared her experience being fired from her job when she told her employers she was pregnant. She also emphasized the extent of maternity discrimination that goes on behind closed doors and impacts people’s ability to grow in their careers.

Traveling the world

The world is a vast and beautiful place, but it’s also facing constant destruction.

In their book The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac write about what may happen to the planet should action not be taken to repair the current damage, stating that, “We are headed to a world that will be more than 3 degrees warmer by 2100.”

Knowing this, it’s no wonder millennials want to experience a slice of the earth while they can.

Expedia’s 2022 Travel Insights Report stated that millennials are more likely than both Gen X and boomers to travel for the sake of exploring new locations and experiences.

Neither travel nor raising children are cheap feats, leaving millennials deciding between ocean swims and pureeing peas for toddlers. And the ocean is winning this one.

Starting side hustles

Being a parent is a job in itself, and that, combined with a career, leaves little to no time for much else.

But the kicker here is that many millennials are already working multiple jobs to get by without dependents.

According to a 2022 survey by LendingTree, 55% of millennials have a side hustle and 73% of surveyed millennial side-hustlers say they rely on their extra gig to fill financial gaps. The amount of time it’d take to care for children is virtually impossible to fit into this schedule. Not to mention the financials of adding more mouths to feed to that weekly budget.

With the increasing costs of survival in this economy, it’s hard enough for millennials to maintain their financial footing, let alone that of potential dependents.

Shouldering healthcare costs

Millennials are paying enough for basic healthcare, so the hospital bills that come along with prenatal and postpartum care and giving birth are an excess few can manage.

A poll by Healthcare.com found that almost 52% of millennials with medical debt said it’s harmed their credit score and 23% of millennials have had to skip mortgage or rent payments because of their debt.

Combining this with the upfront medical expenses of childbirth is daunting. According to Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, the average total costs associated with pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care come to around $18,865 — and that doesn’t factor in the potential of having twins (or more).

Investing in their mental health

This might seem like a wild concept to some — cue millennials peering over at their parents — but caring for your mental health is valuable. And while that value translates to many aspects of your life, it does cost you, too.

A 2021 study by ValuePenguin found that 37% of millennials saw a therapist during the pandemic, compared to just 16% of boomers and 28% of Gen X.

While some insurance plans cover a portion of therapy, in general it can be pricey. Online therapy and counseling directory Good Therapy said that the average cost of a therapy session ranges from $100 to $200.

Not only does professional mental health care cost money, but it takes dedication and energy, which can be hard to come by when you have little time for yourself.

By investing in their mental wellbeing, millennials are laying solid groundwork for their futures — whether it holds children or not.

Living an eco-conscious lifestyle

An environmentally friendly lifestyle is one that prioritizes choices that will limit negative effects on the planet.

According to Pew Research Center, 71% of millennials said that climate should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations, compared to 57% of boomers and older generations.

Sustainable products typically require higher-quality materials, which means consumers must shell out more cash up front to protect the environment in the long run.

Outside of the costs of conscious consumption, research by IOP Science concluded that having one fewer child would provide the same reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as 684 teenagers adopting comprehensive recycling habits for the rest of their lives.

Supporting others

The influx of social media platforms has made the news more accessible and immediate than ever before. And along with this come stories of need all over the world … and payment platforms — like Venmo, GoFundMe or Paypal — that let you give money almost immediately.

According to payment app Zelle’s September 2020 Consumer Payment Behaviors Report, nearly three out of four millennials have sent some kind of financial aid to family or friends or donated to a nonprofit organization since the COVID-19 pandemic began — more than any other generation.

With such readily available access to charitable giving, and an inclination for social issues, it comes as no surprise that giving is such a significant part of their financial priorities.


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Em Norton Staff Writer

Em Norton is a Staff Writer for Moneywise. Em holds a B.A. in Professional Writing from York University and has been writing professionally since 2019. Em's work has previously been published by Room Magazine, IN Magazine, Our Canada and more.


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