Personal Finance

Millennials, at 75M Strong, You CAN Change the U.S. Economy: Here’s Your Wake-Up Call

Expertise: Personal Finance, Personal Development
32 Articles Written

According to most experts, a Millennial is someone born between 1980 and 2000. This means anyone roughly between the ages of 16-36 is a Millennial. I fall right smack in the middle of that range. This means my peers, whether older or younger, tend to be Millennials as well.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

Being a Millennial, growing up as a Millennial, and having 10 years of Millennials born before me and after me, I have a unique perspective on the life of a Millennial. What I see is we have a generation that carries so much power, but as a whole, we have no idea. According to monthly estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials are now the largest generation in the United States, with 75.4 million people and an expected 81 million by 2036.

With these numbers, the influence we as a generation have is massive. As Baby Boomers retire, pass away, and downsize, we will need to step up to the wheel as the drivers on the U.S. economy. I write this article because I believe that hypothetical car is at a fork in the road. Now that we sit in front of this fork, we get to decide what our future looks like.

A Lack of Financial Education—And the Problems That Causes

Although there will be many decisions to be made, I believe most will come back to money. When I say money, I am not referring directly to what the Federal Government is doing with our money or the macro viewpoints of capitalism. Rather, I’m talking about money on an individual level. After all, the U.S. economy is ultimately built on each and every person—and that person’s value contributed to society. This means even the macro economic issues we face (and pay so close attention to) can be filtered down to a person-by-person level.

Think of any major issue that has faced our society, and it can be traced back to money. This has led to people saying things like, “Money is the root of all evil.” Actually, I mostly agree with that—with one major twist. It’s not money itself; it’s the lack of financial education that’s the root of all evil.


In 2008, we were all shook by the predatory lending of some banks that led to the mortgage default rates sky rocketing, bringing down the mortgage-backed securities and ultimately sending the economy into the great recession. We point at the bankers with blame, and what is the solution? We add some extra paperwork to loans that have disclosures such as, "You are responsible for paying your loan back." And we make the font a little bigger where it shows your interest rate. I am not saying that there was not corruption. What I am saying is if we as a society had greater financial education and literacy, we wouldn't have let it happen.

Another major issue we see over history is social equality. Social equality is fighting for equal opportunity. Equal opportunities for what? For good paying jobs, for good schools for children, for safe homes, for the best life possible for families. All of these can and are achieved through financial education. The reason for the poverty gap is financial education or lack thereof.

Related: Don’t Believe the Hype: Why Real Estate Investors Shouldn’t Underestimate Millennials

Making a Decision to Take Control

So, is it as simple as educating each and every person about money so we can have a highly informed society collaborating to bring the economy to unchartered prosperity with less volatility? Yes, it is that easy to say, but no, it is not that easy to do. For this exact reason, I write to my generation of Millennials.

At 75 million strong, we sit at the fork in the road right now. Not in a few years, not when our parents pass away, but now. At this fork, we have to decide whether we will each take responsibility for our own financial education. Or will we grab the wheel blindly and hope for the best, hope our government will teach us or take care of us?

If we take the hard road, step up the plate to truly learn and share financial education, then we will be the first generation as a whole to pass down this knowledge to our children. If we as a whole choose personal responsibility for our financial education, we will begin to see what we the people hold important. We make up our government; it will not change unless we change. If we as the largest generation in America can be the first to take on the role of teaching ourselves and each other finance, maybe one day we will see it taught and reinforced in our school systems.

I say we are coming to a fork in the road, but really, it’s more like a “T” in the road. Currently, as a whole, we are financially ignorant. We can stay on the blind road, or we have to take a hard turn to reach unchartered economic prosperity.

81% of Millennials Have Long-Term Debt

PWC, an international accounting firm, committed $190 million to helping students develop critical financial skills and providing educators with the resources and training to teach those skills. In a recent survey from, they highlight some of the alarming stats Millennials face in regard to financial education.

Have Inadequate Financial Knowledge

When tested on financial concepts, only 24% demonstrated basic financial knowledge.

Aren’t Happy With Their Current Financial Situation

When ranking satisfaction on a scale of 1-10, 34% were very unsatisfied.

Worry About Student Loans

When asked about their ability to repay their student loan debt, more than 54% of Millennials expressed concern.


Debt Crosses Economic and Educational Lines

Among college-educated Millennials, a staggering 81% have at least one long-term debt.

Are Financially Fragile

Nearly 30% of Millennials are overdrawing their checking accounts.

Are Heavy Users of Alternative Financial Services (AFS)

In the past five years, 42% of Millennials used an AFS product, such as payday loans, pawn shops, auto title loans, tax refund advances, and rent-to-own products.

Related: 10 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Sabotage Ambitious Millennials

These stats only reinforce that if we do not grab the wheel, take responsibility, and begin to see the importance of financial education, we can and will suffocate the U.S. economy with our ignorance. This is not small feat. With 75 million+ people, it will take unity, perseverance, and time. Luckily, as the young adult generation, we have time to make it happen. What we don’t have time for is the decision on whether we will or will not make it happen. We sit at the fork in the road now. We need to choose which road to take today, and we will travel on that road for the rest of our lives.

As I am writing this article for BiggerPockets, a financial education platform, I believe it will reach many people who already are or are seeking to be financially educated. What many of you financially educated people reading this may not realize is your peers look to you, look to your success, and wonder how you did it. Because of this, I ask you to share this article on social media where your peers can see it. In this beautiful world of technology, we are able to spread information like wildfire. If we can begin to inform our generation of the importance of financial education, they can begin to seek it out.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out newer readers to our blog.]

If you’re a Millennial, do you agree with this assessment? What do you think is the key to improving the U.S. economy and our citizens’ daily lives?

Let me know what you think with a comment!

Jered Sturm is the co-founder of SNS Capital Group LLC. Starting in the industry 15 years ago as a maintenance technician for residential rental properties, Jered built on that experience to start ...
Read more
    Elizabeth Walker from Brockton, Massachusetts
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Excellent article! Speaking as a millennial, our families and educators play a major role in how we view money and success. For us, our school system teaches us that learning Latin is more important than a class on personal finance. Then you go to a prestigious college because you are told your entire life that this is the way to success and financial freedom through a career, only to realize that you graduated with a 4.0 GPA, have accumulated close to $100k in student loan debt, and now work at a job paying $35k/yr. The problem is that baby boomers taught millennials the rules of the game, but the game changed.
    Randy E.
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Interesting twist, Elizabeth, on “the rules of the game.” The rules of the game relative to money and success haven’t changed at all, but unfortunately, the boomer generation really didn’t pass down the right lessons; more importantly, based on retirement trends, boomers didn’t follow the rules themselves. Baby boomers certainly haven’t been immune to poor behavior and/or decisions that derailed their financial success. As a boomer, I’ve witnessed many of my friends suffering financially from years of bad behavior and bad decisions; however, many have worked hard, applied critical thinking skills and delayed gratification to reach their goals – specifically when it comes to REI. My wife and I used to watch our friends 30-years ago buying new cars, going on elaborate vacations and living life large. We, on the other hand, bought used cars, went on staycations, and saved money for our first rental property. Today, we travel the country in our RV enjoying our time together. I see millennials making the same mistakes as some hapless boomers, but only on a much grander scale. I’m not sure they will be living a fruitful retirement based on their behavior today. I hope and pray that I’m wrong, but my experience tells me that it will be a tough road ahead for the “me generation.”
    Darwin Crawford Rental Property Investor from Scottsdale, AZ
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Love this article. As a “senior millenial” (34) I got to experience the recession kicking me in the teeth on my first business, and my financial life was a disaster for 3 years after. Fought through it, educated myself, did a lot of work my peers thought was “below them”, and am finally feeling like I’m out of the hole. I come from a professional mid-upper class family, but had ZERO financial education, and a stack of lousy habits that I had to overcome. Sure, I got a private school education, read a lot of good books, and all that, but the tough lessons had to be knocked into my skull by life. To this day, neither of my parents taught me a thing about budgets, credit scores, saving, etc. Had to pick that up on my own. So Jared, I’m with you. We need more financial education, and while I see both sides of the coin on millenials, I personally think that you are right. We have quite a few young kids (18-22yo) in my office, and the best performers go out and buy a new car about 15 minutes after cashing their bonus checks, and they all have nicer watches that me. My peers joke that its great for business, as they have to come back and kill themselves at the office just to make the payments… One of the best books that I have read recently on this subject, (well, two of them) are “Hillbilly Elegy” and “the Unwinding”. Very insightful as to what the millenial generation has to deal with. I agree that there are some major hurdles, but as someone who was given a chance, got his butt kicked from 2008-2012 and is now somewhat back on top, I can tell you that with the education Jared is talking about, its completely possible.
    Randy Evanchyk
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Inspiring comments, Darwin. ” A good person or idea cannot go unnoticed for long, just as cream poured in coffee or tea eventually rises to the top.”
    Marlowe Quart Investor from San Diego, California
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I guess this is an old article but I have to post. Im a millenial and the “entitlement generation” stuff that the media spouts infuriates me. Guess who inflated the shit out of our economic system just so they could leverage our future in order to buy more big screen tvs, SUVs, and mcmansions in the 90s and 2000’s, destroying the planet in the process? Hint it wasnt the millenials. I agree 100% about financial education but I think whats missing from the picture is the why. Every blogger I have found on the net gives vacation forever as their reason why you should work hard for a couple years and be productive, and thats just not very inspiring. How about being able to finance a hospital or new medical technology? What will make us millenials burn the midnight oil? Probably not just the possibility to sit on a beach for the rest of our lives..
    Grant Fosheim Rental Property Investor from Everett, WA
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Do what is hard and life is easy. Do what is easy and life is hard.
    Perla Estrada
    Replied about 3 years ago
    I completely agree that financial education is key. Even more important is continually self educating from even alternative paths is top priority. I am a millennial with experience of 22 jobs (last i counted) from retail to home construction since the age of 15. And some of us may seem entitled and there are those of us who always knew that our education didn’t stop at high school nor college. I’ve lived in my car while still holding down a full time job, thanks to a lack of proper financial education as well as not foreseeing that my then girlfriend and I would part ways. We learn best when out of necessity. Since then I’ve gone back on my mothers need to take me with her to all of her appointments ranging from financial assistance to food pantries to going through the phone book and calling any and every number to get quotes, find help, find opportunities…because my mother speaks english as a secondary language she’s always had me to help communicate. Because of my experience of being that help since I was 10 my mother always constantly told me “u can’t wait for others to help u can’t wish for it. U gotta go out there and get the help u need, give thanks and give back however u can.” Now I’ve started a business on my own, because I educated myself through my smartphone while working as a 3rd shift cashier at a gas station for 11/hr. With little capital to start thanks to one tip I’ve learned which is adjusting my allowance withholding so that i get most of my paycheck money and used that portion of the money that I’ve been setting aside for taxes to start my biz. My business is more like a hobby but my hobby gets me paid. And now I’m looking into real estate to increase my net worth while developing a wealthy lifestyle. So yes, thanks to my smartphone which i conduct business through as well as continue my education and is also my entertainment source since i dont have an internet connection at home thus saving money and paying one bill the cell phone plan which is under 200/month; I a millennial started and conduct a business part time on my phone while working as a full time lab cleaner recently promoted to lead cleaner with a second raise this year and am starting another business again this time real estate because it is our duty to help ourselves so that we are empowered so that we are more enabled to change our future and therefore help be that change that our humanity needs. Entitled or not just like light and dark some of us are the spectators and some of us are the players; don’t underestimate us millenials.