A recipe for the millennials’ American Dream

Paul Appleton
Posted by Paul Appleton
Consumer Banking

As we dig deeper into our 2017 Millennials Study, I’m still fascinated by some of the differences between the generations, such as distinct perceptions of the American Dream.

Young couple pausing from their meal at a kitchen table to take a selfie.For many generations, the classic American Dream consisted of owning a home, paying off debt, and retiring comfortably. But does it look similar for the millennial generation (ages 21-34)?

I’d say the millennials’ version has some unique variations, based on our research. It’s as if this generation took some of the classic elements and added several twists, building a whole new recipe.

The millennials we surveyed still aspire to own homes (60%), be rid of debt (55%), and save enough to retire comfortably (51%). Throw in pursuing a passion (47%), building a satisfying career (46%), and traveling the world (41%), and you have the key ingredients for the millennials’ version of the American Dream.

Variations with new ingredients

The American Dream is customizable. According to our survey, many millennials would also incorporate some of the following complementary items to the recipe:

  • Obtaining a good education
  • Having children
  • Getting married
  • Building wealth
  • Becoming successful without the help of others
  • Making a difference
  • Earning a big paycheck
  • Being better off than the previous generation

What a complex mixture. Our survey respondents are clearly ambitious — many are willing to work a second job (76%) to achieve their dreams. Most are confident they will attain their American Dreams.

However, only half of the respondents said they have plans to finance those dreams. The good news is that millennials are eager to learn, according to our research. They were more likely than older generations to say that budgeting help and financial education would assist them in reaching their goals.

Making the dream more of a reality

If you’re a millennial looking to realize a similar version of the American Dream, here are three tips to keep in mind.

Set a budget: A helpful first step may be to make a budget. Consider taking advantage of free personal financial management tools and apps to track spending and form good habits.

Automate the savings: Try directing a portion of your paycheck to a savings or investment account automatically. Once you make the commitment, this can be easy way to save regularly without having to think about it.

Think long-term: Incorporate long-term goals when thinking about budgeting for today. Make investing for retirement a line item next to rent/mortgage payments, transportation costs, entertainment and other monthly expenses.

Taking these few steps may help you navigate a path toward achieving your American Dream.

Check out our infographic on the “millennials’ recipe” for the American Dream. For more on the survey results, see this full report summary.

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