Chart: Millennials Making More Happen With Less
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Millennials Making More Happen With Less [Chart]

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Millennials Spending Habits [Chart]

Millennials Making More Happen With Less [Chart]

Recent survey sheds light on millennial spending habits

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Despite the Western world’s general shift towards healthier eating, it may surprise you to learn that McDonald’s shares traded at all-time highs just days ago.

How is this possible?

Part of the reason is that although millennials will tell you otherwise, the name of the game for courting many millennials is still convenience. Price points at a restaurant such as McDonald’s still have wide appeal to a cash-strapped generation.

Based on a recent survey by TD Bank, the convenience trend is still on track. Here’s what we learned on millennial spending habits from the results.

Getting More out of Less

A major finding of the survey was that although millennials “go out” twice as often as Generation X and three times as often as Baby Boomers, they spend less per month on purchases than their older cohorts.

Millennials made more purchases on retail goods and dining than other generations, but spent less money overall. In fact, the only category where Millennials spent more than Gen X and Boomers is on coffee and fast food – demonstrating a need for food on the run and frequent doses of caffeine.

The average millennial went out 13 times each month, spending $103 for an average of $7.90 per transaction. This compares with nine trips with $122 of spend ($17 per transaction) for the average consumer.

The same was the case for grabbing “coffee and food on-the-go”, where millennials said that they went on more trips than the average consumer. Millennials also spent a higher total than others, spending $80 over 11 trips (compared with $67 over eight for the average consumer).

Experiences vs. Material Items

While the survey paints a picture of millennial thriftiness, we also think that there is another lens that can be used to shed light on the results. In particular, we believe this shows that the value that millennials place on having experiences.

To many millennials, “going out” is as much about the experience as the material food itself. Whether it is connecting with old friends at a new thin-crust pizzeria or trying a locally-roasted single-origin coffee with a significant other, it’s often more about sharing an experience with good company. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner or involve a $100 bottle of wine purchase to count as quality time.

This could be a partial reason behind a higher frequency of trips out, even though less money gets spent overall.

Cash vs. Credit

A final point of interest from the survey lies in the difference in how millennials make discretionary purchases.

On average, Americans spend $4,700 per year with a credit card, and $2,400 with cash, a debit card and checks for discretionary purchases. Millennials tend to use cash, a debit card and checks more often ($5,200) and charge 22% less ($3,300) than the average consumer

Millennials, many of whom grew up during the Financial Crisis, are more averse to debt. This is corroborated by the results of a different survey showing that seven out of 10 millennials say they would prefer to use a debit card, rather than a credit card, for their purchases.

It’s also an attitude that we’ve covered in a previous chart of the week, where we showed that only 37% of millennials were confident in managing their credit, while 70% of millennials hold their savings and investments in cash.

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Mapped: The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities

Is owning a home still realistic? This map lays out the salary you’d need to buy a home in 50 different U.S. metro areas.

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This is the Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities

Depending on where you live, owning a home may seem like a far off dream or it could be fairly realistic. In New York City, for example, a person needs to be making at least six figures to buy a home, but in Cleveland you could do it with just over $45,000 a year.

This visual, using data from Home Sweet Home, maps out the annual salary you’d need for home ownership in 50 different U.S. cities.

Note: The map above refers to entire metro areas and uses Q1 2022 data on median home prices. The necessary salary was calculated by the source, looking at the base cost of principal, interest, property tax, and homeowner’s insurance.

Home Ownership Across the U.S.

San Jose is by far the most expensive city when it comes to purchasing a home. A person would need to earn over $330,000 annually to pay off the mortgage at a monthly rate of $7,718.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

RankMetro AreaMedian Home PriceSalary Needed
#1San Jose$1,875,000$330,758
#2San Francisco$1,380,000$249,685
#3San Diego$905,000$166,828
#4Los Angeles$792,500$149,127
#5Seattle$746,200$140,768
#6Boston$639,000$130,203
#7New York City$578,100$129,459
#8Denver$662,200$121,888
#9Austin$540,700$114,679
#10Washington, D.C.$553,000$110,327
#11Portland$570,500$109,267
#12Riverside/San Bernardino$560,000$106,192
#13Sacramento$545,000$105,934
#14Miami$530,000$103,744
#15Salt Lake City$556,900$100,970
#16Providence$406,700$88,477
#17Phoenix$474,500$86,295
#18Las Vegas$461,100$84,116
#19Raleigh$439,100$83,561
#20Dallas$365,400$81,165
#21Orlando$399,900$79,573
#22Chicago$325,400$76,463
#23Tampa$379,900$75,416
#24Houston$330,800$74,673
#25Minneapolis$355,800$74,145
#26Baltimore$350,900$73,803
#27Nashville$387,200$73,502
#28Jacksonville$365,900$73,465
#29Hartford$291,000$73,165
#30Charlotte$379,900$72,348
#31San Antonio$321,100$70,901
#32Atlanta$350,300$69,619
#33Philadelphia$297,900$69,569
#34Richmond$354,500$68,629
#35Milwaukee$298,800$65,922
#36Kansas City$287,400$60,507
#37Columbus$274,300$59,321
#38Virginia Beach$289,900$59,245
#39New Orleans$281,100$57,853
#40Birmingham$289,500$55,662
#41Indianapolis$271,600$53,586
#42Memphis$259,300$52,691
#43Cincinnati$244,300$51,840
#44Buffalo$202,300$51,525
#45Detroit$224,300$50,302
#46St Louis$216,700$48,988
#47Louisville$235,400$48,121
#48Cleveland$192,700$45,448
#49Oklahoma City$198,200$45,299
#50Pittsburgh$185,700$42,858

Perhaps surprisingly, Boston residents need slightly higher earnings than New Yorkers to buy a home. The same is also true in Seattle and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, some of the cheapest cities to start buying up real estate in are Oklahoma City and Cleveland.

As of April, the rate of home ownership in the U.S. is 65%. This number represents the share of homes that are occupied by the owner, rather than rented out or vacant.

The American Dream Home

As of the time of this data (Q1 2022), the national yearly fixed mortgage rate sat at 4% and median home price at $368,200. This put the salary needed to buy a home at almost $76,000⁠—the median national household income falls almost $9,000 below that.

But what kind of homes are people looking to purchase? Depending on where you live the type of home and square footage you can get will be very different.

In New York City, for example, there are fairly few stand-alone, single-family houses in the traditional sense⁠—only around 4,000 are ever on the market. People in the Big Apple tend to buy condominiums or multi-family units.

Additionally, if you’re looking for luxury, not even seven figures will get you much in the big cities. In Miami, a million dollars will only buy you 833 square feet of prime real estate.

One thing is for sure: the typical American dream home of the big house with a yard and white picket fence is more attainable in smaller metro areas with ample suburbs.

Buying vs. Renting

The U.S. median household income is $67,500, meaning that today the typical family could only afford a home in about 15 of the 50 metro areas highlighted above, including New Orleans, Buffalo, and Indianapolis.

With the income gap widening in the U.S., the rental market remains a more attractive option for many, especially as prices are finally tapering off. The national median rent price was down nearly 3% from June to July for two-bedroom apartments.

At the end of the day, buying a home can be an important investment and may provide a sense of security, but it will be much easier to do in certain types of cities.

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Personal Finance

What Does It Take To Be Wealthy in America?

This infographic visualizes several net worth milestones to give you a better idea of where you stand today.

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What Does it Take to be Wealthy in America?

The goalposts of wealth are always shifting due to inflation and other factors.

For example, someone with a net worth of $1 million several decades ago would have been considered very wealthy. According to recent survey results, however, $1 million is only enough to feel “financially comfortable” today.

In this infographic, we’ve visualized several money milestones to give you a better idea of what it really takes to be wealthy in America.

Net Worth Milestones

This table lists the data used in the above infographic.

It covers data on what it takes to get into the top one percent for wealth in key states, along with broader survey results about what net worth thresholds must be crossed in order to be considered “comfortable financially” or even “wealthy”.

MilestoneSourceAs of DateNet Worth (USD)
What it takes to be in California’s top 1%Windfall2020$6.8M
What it takes to be in America’s top 1%Knight Frank2021$4.4M
What it takes to be in New York’s top 1%Windfall2020$4.2M
What it takes to be wealthy in AmericaCharles Schwab survey2022$2.2M
What it takes to be in the UK’s top 1%Knight Frank2021$1.8M
What it takes to be financially comfortable in AmericaCharles Schwab survey2022$774,000
What it takes to be in Mississippi’s top 1%Windfall2020$766,000
The average American’s net worth (median)Federal Reserve2019$122,000

According to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Survey, a net worth of $774,000 is needed to feel “financially comfortable”, while $2.2 million is needed to be considered “wealthy”.

Both of these milestones are far greater than the average (median) American’s wealth, which according to the Federal Reserve, was $122,000 in 2019.

Joining the One Percent

Research by Knight Frank determined that in order to be a member of America’s one percent, one would need a net worth of $4.4 million. This is very high compared to other developed countries such as Japan ($1.5 million), the UK ($1.8 million), and Australia ($2.8 million).

The difference is partly due to America’s large population of ultra high net worth individuals, which includes the country’s 724 billionaires. See below for a list of the top five countries by number of billionaires.

CountryNumber of Billionaires
🇺🇸 U.S.724
🇨🇳 China (inc. Hong Kong & Macau)698
🇮🇳 India140
🇩🇪 Germany136
🇷🇺 Russia117

Source: World Population Review (As of 2021)

Focusing again on the U.S., we can also see large discrepancies at the individual state level. Entry into California’s one percent requires a net worth of $6.8 million, which is 62% higher than the national average.

California is famously home to many of the world’s richest people, including Google co-founder Larry Page, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Being a one percenter in Mississippi, on the other hand, requires $766,000. That’s 83% lower than the national average, and just a tad lower than the amount needed to be “financially comfortable” by the average American. This is partially due to Mississippi’s poverty rate of 19.6%, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is the highest in the country.

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