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.
Visualizing How the Pandemic is Impacting American Wallets
57% of U.S. consumers’ incomes have taken a hit during the pandemic. How do such financial anxieties affect the ability to pay bills on time?
A Snapshot of U.S. Personal Finances During the Pandemic
If you’ve felt that you’ve needed to penny-pinch more during the pandemic, you’re not alone.
In the past seven months, 42% of U.S. consumers have missed paying one or more bills, while over a third (39%) believe they will need to skip payments in the future.
This visualization breaks down the state of U.S. consumers’ personal finances during the COVID-19 era, and projects into future concerns around savings.
Pandemic Personal Finances: Key Takeaways
Based on data from the doxoINSIGHTS Bills Pay Impact Report across 1,568 sampled households, three themes emerge:
- 57% of consumers’ incomes have taken a hit in the past seven months
- 70% have delayed discretionary spending on big purchases
- 75% continue to be very worried about their future financial health
How do these anxieties translate into day-to-day consequences?
Pandemic Postpones Bill Payments
Unsurprisingly, worrying about personal finances also means that more Americans are deferring their bill payments during the pandemic. However, these vary depending on the type of bill, total amount, and immediate urgency.
Over a quarter (27%) of U.S. consumers report having missed a bill on their auto loans, followed by 26% for utilities and 25% on cable or internet costs.
The average cost of the above three bill types is $258—but that’s still a fraction of the two most expensive bills, mortgage or rent, which come in at $1,268 and $1,023 respectively.
|Bill Type||$ Value||% Missed|
While 20% of Americans say they’ve missed a rent payment over the past few months, what’s even more alarming is that 28% of U.S. consumers believe they will most likely skip paying rent in the future.
|Bill Type||% Likely to Skip in Future|
Another clear trend is that many Americans are prioritizing insurance payments, particularly health insurance. This is good news during a global pandemic—only 10% have missed paying this bill type, although 15% expect to skip it in the coming months.
According to the report, some U.S. consumers seem to prioritize the bill types which come with strings attached, from late-payment penalties to accrued interest.
While missing a single payment might seem harmless, a pattern of missed payments over time have the potential to negatively impact your credit score.
Enough Savings To Stay Afloat?
Finally, Americans are wary about how much they have stashed away in the bank to weather the tumultuous months ahead.
While unemployment figures are recovering from historic troughs, the fear of losing one’s job remains prevalent. How many months’ worth of savings do U.S. consumers think they have if this were to happen?
|# Months||% Responses|
|7+ months 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰||23%|
|4-6 months 💰💰💰💰💰💰||15%|
|1-3 months 💰💰💰||27%|
|<1 month 💰||35%|
No one knows how long the COVID-19 chaos will last. In order to adapt to this economic uncertainty, consumer priorities are shifting along with their tightened budgets.
Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country
As the global population ages, pension reform is more important than ever. Here’s a breakdown of how key countries rank in terms of pension plans.
Ranked: Countries with the Best and Worst Pension Plans
The global population is aging—by 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65.
As our aging population nears retirement and gets closer to cashing in their pensions, countries need to ensure their pension systems can withstand the extra strain.
This graphic uses data from the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) to showcase which countries are best equipped to support their older citizens, and which ones aren’t.
Each country’s pension system has been shaped by its own economic and historical context. This makes it difficult to draw precise comparisons between countries—yet there are certain universal elements that typically lead to adequate and stable support for older citizens.
MMGPI organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:
- Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
- Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from government, and the level of government debt.
- Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.
These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 37 different countries, representing over 63% of the world’s population.
Here’s how each country ranked:
The Importance of Sustainability
While all three sub-indexes are important to consider when ranking a country’s pension system, sustainability is particularly significant in the modern context. This is because our global population is increasingly skewing older, meaning an influx of people will soon be cashing in their retirement funds. As a consequence, countries need to ensure their pension systems are sustainable over the long-term.
There are several factors that affect a pension system’s sustainability, including a region’s private pension system, the state pension age, and the balance between workers and retirees.
The country with the most sustainable pension system is Denmark. Not only does the country have a strong basic pension plan—it also has a mandatory occupational scheme, which means employers are obligated by law to provide pension plans for their employees.
Adequacy versus Sustainability
Several countries scored high on adequacy but ranked low when it came to sustainability. Here’s a comparison of both measures, and how each country scored:
Ireland took first place for adequacy, but scored relatively low on the sustainability front at 27th place. This can be partly explained by Ireland’s low level of occupational coverage. The country also has a rapidly aging population, which skews the ratio of workers to retirees. By 2050, Ireland’s worker to retiree ratio is estimated to go from 5:1 to 2:1.
Similar to Ireland, Spain ranks high in adequacy but places extremely low in sustainability.
There are several possible explanations for this—while occupational pension schemes exist, they are optional and participation is low. Spain also has a low fertility rate, which means their worker-to-retiree ratio is expected to decrease.
Steps Towards a Better System
All countries have room for improvement—even the highest-ranking ones. Some general recommendations from MMGPI on how to build a better pension system include:
- Increasing the age of retirement: Helps maintain a more balanced worker-to-retiree ratio.
- Enforcing mandatory occupational schemes: Makes employers obligated to provide pension plans for their employees.
- Limiting access to benefits: Prevents people from dipping into their savings preemptively, thus preserving funds until retirement.
- Establishing strong pension assets to fund future liabilities: Ideally, these assets are more than 100% of a country’s GDP.
Pension systems across the globe are under an increasing amount of pressure. It’s time for countries to take a hard look at their pension systems to make sure they’re ready to support their aging population.
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