Millennials Are Poised to Be the Wealthiest Generation Yet: Here’s Why

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If you take a look around, there are some mixed reviews of Millennial financial habits all over the web. Some studies suggest that Millennials aren’t saving a dime, while others counter that Millennials are getting surprisingly good at saving.

Personally, I’m sick of hearing my generation (Millennials, or “Gen Y-ers”) get bashed for our lousy money habits. These naysayers are unable to see our accomplishments and potential as a generation, and that we may actually be ahead of the curve as far as money matters are concerned.

Despite the challenges that uniquely devastated Millennial personal finance and entry into the workplace, it’s my expectation that we are poised to be a powerhouse generation in terms of wealth creation over the long term.

I believe in my generation because I believe that we have three distinct advantages over prior generations that are conducive to long-term wealth accumulation:

  1. A relatively powerful incentive to accumulate wealth rapidly
  2. A thorough, painful, but early financial education
  3. An instinctive grasp of 21st century business technology

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Advantage #1: The Millennial Incentive

I believe that the single most important value for Millennials like myself is freedom — specifically, freedom with respect to when, how, and how much to work.

Millennials aren’t interested in the corporate life. In fact, I’d venture to say that a lot of us aren’t interested in “getting rich” or “climbing the corporate ladder,” as was the dream of many in the previous generation. Instead, we want to focus on wishy-washy, lazy, entitled life. We call it “work-life balance.”

We value our time far more than our money. We want to experience life. That’s reflected in the changing job market, and in our earnings as a generation. Yes, money is obviously still the most important decision to us as a generation in terms of where to work, but flexibility is a close second place. Close enough where a $5,000 salary difference won’t quite cut it for that company that offers just two weeks’ vacation.

Any personal finance nerd will tell you that it’s never about the money. It’s about the freedom. It’s about F.U. Money. Millennials desperately want that freedom, and because that desire is bred so strongly in us as a generation, we have the mindset requisite of great investors.

We don’t want that money for spending on fancy new cars or big new houses; we want it so that we can experience a sunny summer Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon lounging in the park, not in some dusty cubicle cranking out spreadsheets. That’s what we’ll purchase. The cost of that isn’t an expense, it’s in fewer hours worked and resulting lower wages — what we finance nerds call opportunity cost.

Related: Not Too Late: A 20-Something’s Plea to Generation Yers for Financial Change

Previous generations were content and even eager to work the same job for a 40-year career, getting up at 8 a.m. every day and returning home at 5:00 so as to earn the maximum salary possible. Millennials won’t put up with that. Not for 40 years. Not when the opportunities and experiences available to us grow exponentially with each passing year and new technological advance.

I refuse to submit to that fate. I’m afraid of that fate; I think that it’s where dreams go to die. That fate didn’t and doesn’t sound so bad to our parents or the Gen Xers who directly preceded us. But it terrifies and motivates us Millennials.

One of the few ways to lay that fear to rest is by taking control of our finances through the accumulation of personal wealth and passive cash flow. There’s a reason why books like Rich Dad, Poor DadThe 4-Hour Workweek, etc. have exploded in popularity over the last decade. There’s a reason why BiggerPockets has grown so quickly.

We are doing our damndest as a generation to escape the cubicle fate. We want to bury the possibility of the cubicle forever, sustainably, by accumulating enough assets so as to never have to work again. That’s the ultimate reason to build wealth, and that’s the value that is so incredibly important to Millennials — far more so than it was to prior generations.

Advantage #2: The Millennial Education

We Millennials have the distinct “advantage” of entering the workforce in the worst economic circumstances this country has seen since the Great Depression.

To top that off, the single largest financial burden for many Millennials is their student debt. These immense personal debts, with no tangible assets to back them up, force Millennials to set aside vast portions of their paychecks towards loan repayment. The media shallowly ignores this burden with phrases like “Millennials aren’t saving a dime.” That’s atrocious commentary in my opinion.

Many of my peers signed up for their $100,000 in student loan debt at the ripe old age of 17 or 18. I’m sure we can all agree that that’s the right age to take out a loan in that amount, and that they were fully educated with years of study on the financial consequences of that decision…

In spite of being (in my opinion) shamefully taken advantage of by the American collegiate education system, my now 20-something peers are paying down their debts by behaving well financially. Folks are setting aside large chunks of their income towards debt reduction, and they are accomplishing the amazing transition from negative net worth to zero net worth. That’s far more of an achievement than starting from zero and accumulating wealth having started in the black.

With their loans paid down, America will suddenly find a large group of educated Millennials who already prioritize freedom and who have just recovered from a decade long struggle with crippling debt. Guess who’s unlikely to go take out a $30,000 car loan, or buy the fancy house on the hill for $1 million? Guess who never, ever wants to be in that position again? And guess who has developed a healthy decade long habit of setting aside large chunks of income to build net worth (in the form of debt payments)?


Millennials learned painful financial lessons back to back to back. The Financial Crisis. Student Debt. The Great Recession. But we learned those lessons early. We learned them in our 20s, unlike prior generations whose most painful lesson was the tech bubble in the early 2000s, a far less serious slap on the wrist than the more important crash of the late 2000s through the present. We’ve got plenty of time to pay down our debts, to remember how horrible bad debt truly is, and we are prepared for the worst economically; it’s all we’ve ever known.

Advantage #3: The Millennial Business Economy

I have almost no memory of a world without internet. That’s unique to my generation in today’s business world. Financial and business concepts that seem normal to the previous generations are laughably antiquated to Millennials.

I travel via Uber, schedule appointments online, exchange money instantly via my cell phone, learn about any topic that I’m interested in instantly and for free, and I communicate accurately, efficiently, and deeply with my peers through photos, text messages, and other mobile applications.

I don’t read maps, look up words in a dictionary, change my own oil, sew, or drive a stick shift. Some people call this a “struggle with life skills 101,” but I truly couldn’t care less what they think. I see those skills as just as outdated as tending the horses, plowing a field, or hunting game. I’ll keep acing “21st Century 101,” thanks.

The world is changing, and for me, that’s the standard. It’s obvious that mobile banking has already won, but yesterday’s generation just can’t keep up quite as fast as we can. Many older folks are unaware of the ability to instantly pay others via apps like Venmo. Parents, aunts and uncles aren’t using Uber instead of taxis yet, despite the obvious advantages.

It’s simply amazing how far behind powerful businesses, like my mortgage orgination company, are. Dude, paper mail isn’t days slower, it’s decades behind. And so are the companies and businesses that still use it as a primary means of communication.

Related: The Most (and Least) Affordable Counties for Millenials to Buy and Rent

I’m not saying that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers aren’t able to adapt. It’s that they aren’t demanding and expecting rapid progress in these areas of business. The older generations see mobile banking as a great new feature to be adopted as a new business tool. Millennials like myself can’t understand why our money has to wait three business days to “settle” in our bank account. What the hell is that about? Are you kidding me? Banks that “settle” funds are already behind. By years.

This mindset is a powerful advantage. We aren’t just happy to have an added convenience. We’re frustrated by the fact that things aren’t already better than they are and seek out the better product constantly. It’s a subtle, yet extraordinarily powerful difference in mindset over time. I think it’s simply better business. And I think that this mentality is to our advantage.


Millennials are not perfect with money. We struggle in a lot of ways and have buried ourselves in a deep hole financially as a generation. We’ve had a rough start to our adult working lives as far as the economy and our personal net worth are concerned.

But that rough start makes us stronger. It makes us more flexible, and it makes us more conservative financially. Add to that tough start our powerful, deep motivations to accumulate wealth, and you have a generation that is uniquely positioned to change the world. And let’s not forget about our innate ability to understand the changing business landscape.

The opportunities for my generation of Millennials are huge. I think that they are even greater than they were for the generations that preceded us. Far from being financially backwards, irresponsible, and lazy, I think that Millennials are an extremely adaptive group, focused on freedom above all else. And I think that the hole that we’ve dug ourselves into is simply a deep, rock solid foundation for enormous financial success over the long run.

My money is on my generation. But only time will tell.

What do you think? Are Millennials in a great position to build substantial wealth, or will their financial problems continue to plague them?

Let me know your agreements or disagreements with my assessment below!

About Author

Scott Trench

A longtime fan of BiggerPockets and a Real Estate Investor managing his first property, Scott is the company’s Director of Operations. BiggerPockets is a BIG website, and Scott’s background in finance and big data analysis will be instrumental in the next phases of company growth and in helping to bring the resources of BiggerPockets to more investors worldwide. Scott is passionate about helping others build wealth and serving his community in whatever ways he can. In his spare time, Scott enjoys skiing, biking, and cooking, and he is a lifelong rugger.


  1. Sean Moen

    Dude Scott – you nailed it bro! “They” mentioned millennials are impatient and want it now. I say who doesn’t want there bank to transact instantly! Nailed it completely and, as a participant in the generation, I am actively engaging my kids in these activities as well. Watching how the millennials’ kids and how they handle education, finance and work will be immensely interesting based on what you said. Keep it up Scott!

  2. Matt R.

    Great read Scott. We had Millennials before and they were called Hippies. Same thing this time just a different name for marketing purposes. It sells books I guess. Go for it Millennials, try to start a business or career online or off working four hours a week. Let me know how that works out:)

    Everyone’s money is on the next GEN and the next and so on. Nothing new there. I am not sure how different Millennials will be from the rest. The times are changing with career options but still there will be 40 year careers in many professions. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, truck drivers and the rest will all happen again. This time there are more and better options is the biggest difference. Some will take advantage of that – thus potentially creating more wealth opportunities that never existed before but again no big change there. However, I see anyone trying to start out with a 4 hour work week not getting very far just like before. There are no easy streets and to get anywhere in any line of work you will have to pay your dues just like grandpa did – Millennial or not.

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks for the support Matt. I think that a lot of non-millennials see our infatuation with the 4-hour work week and see “lazy lack of success”. Millennials interpret that book as “working smarter, not harder”. I can pay my dues by performing the same job over and over and over again in very similar form just like grandpa did, OR I can automate that job, and move on to the next thing.

      • Matt R.

        For sure Scott. I have not read the book. I get it still. Todays world you can make things happen remotely and or automatically. At a certain point in theory this could happen and produce worthy returns with just working 4 hours a week. The folks I see promoting this concept usually have something to sell you to enable this fantasy. That is what they are doing with their “4 hours” a week. Is it realistic to start and build something remarkable with 4 hours a week work? Not likely. Just ask your boss:)

        • Scott Trench

          I believe that this is a great point. I’m sure that there are always those looking for the easy way out and that they will forever see their efforts fail. The “4-hour workweek” is not something to be achieved in just a few months, resulting in a lifetime of lounging by the beach. It’s a mindset of working smarter and efficiently optimizing, that is an ongoing process resulting in both more work AND more opportunities to direct your time.

          I think, too, that the differences that are subtle now – like preference for vacation over salary – are likely to compound with the coming years as Millennials creatively find ways to take advantage of their free time, but still produce meaningful work.

    • Scott Trench

      Maybe I like to lay in the sun at 2 pm, and work from 6PM to 2AM, like I did in college. Maybe I prefer that flexibility. Maybe in today’s workplace, when and how I work, and how I handle money matters more than how hard I work. Maybe some folks work their tails off for 60 hours a week over 45 years, and end up with less than $100,000 for their retirement.

      Maybe just by spending less, driving less, and prioritizing happiness over things, those folks would have spent more time in the sun, less time at work, and have more money to boot.

      We’ll have to just wait and see.

    • Jesse T.

      I think renting in general – bikes in urban areas, car shares, high fashion, etc. will be on the increase due to the technology to easily enable it.
      That said I am not sure that home ownership will decrease significantly. It will be below the peak during the real estate bubble, but that is a good thing.
      I think the biggest factor is that low wages, high rents and student loans are delaying it for the younger potential home-buyers. There is generally a big cultural bias towards owning in this country. Also the IRS has a very strong bias towards homeowners(actually property owners in general).

      • Scott Trench

        This is a great point Jesse – millennials may be less inclined to be tied down to a home, but the immense financial benefits that come with long term homeownership over renting are too vast to be outweighed by a slight preference towards urban living.

    • Scott Trench


      This is a great point. I think that Millennials are simply less interested in material possessions. The car is a great example of this – for our parents having a nice car in high school and as a young adult was a huge stepping stone. For me, having a car was nice, but I was just as happy without it in college and see mine as more of a burden now than an asset.

      I think that housing is next on that list. It’s by no means going to die out overnight, but I do think that as a generation, fewer of my millennial peers will be interested in the ‘burbs. I think that perhaps condo ownership and urban living that affords flexibility will be important. Again, this will be very gradual though.

  3. Jesse T.

    I think a lot of what is currently said(especially the negatives) about Millennials is more a function of age and stage in life than vast differences between the “generations”. I think a lot of the things said about the Generation Xers were similarly related to life stage more than the generation.

    That said, I think the millennials have had an economic experience that I think will have an impact through out their lives. I do think there will be a larger than expected portion who will be anti-debt.
    There do seem to be some indications that car/suburbs hating millennials is exaggerated – mainly student debt has delayed it. I think a permanent/long term urban existence is easier/more desirable thanks to technology. I think the decreased desire to work a 9 to 5 for 40+ years is due to the lack of supply of attractive options.

    • Scott Trench

      Jesse – these are all great points and I agree with pretty much everything you said. I will say that I think that things like cars and suburbs are laughably inefficient in a modern economy, and that as intelligent new options like self-driving, shared economy transportation, reliable and efficient short term rental options like AirBnb, and other aspects of the shared economy develop, that millennials will be the first to adopt and be comfortable with these new efficiencies.

  4. Qulia Bryant

    Great read!! You definitely nailed it, only us Millenials will understand your sentiments here. It’s great to see that as a Generation we encompass the same struggle and ambition. It is definitely our time to change the wave!!

  5. Daniel Ryu

    Scott –
    Yeah.. I think driverless cars, the desire to be more eco-friendly, etc, could lead to more urban living in smaller spaces with more shared communal areas. The driverless cars also could potentially revolutionize car ownership by bringing transportation cost down far enough that people stop buying. That could open up more urban space formerly set aside for garages and parking spaces to make urban living even more attractive.

    Maybe millennials won’t buy and sell houses in the future – but just trade them! One giant shared economy. ^^

  6. Lauren Lockett

    I loved your insight on our generation & personal finance. I think these are my sentiments exactly! It’s not about the money; it’s about what I can accomplish with it and the bonus of having that freedom to live an extraordinary life. Society’s standards are bleh! Make your own rules!

  7. Ayodeji Kuponiyi

    This is probably my favorite article on BP! Millennials are in a great position to build substantial wealth. I’m not saying this because I fall in that generation category, rather I value my TIME over money and I see this same value instill in many of my peers. I remember my father worked every day and sometimes in weekends and he didn’t look enthusiastic about it. I appreciated the modest middle class life I grew up but seeing my dad work, work, work and not spend time with me and younger brother verified to me that I did not want to be like my dad and worked every day and not spend time with my kids or look miserable and stress over money. I knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to work a corporate job. I wanted to be rich and live life on my terms and travel. Working in a cubicle or office setting scares me. I’m not lazy, I just believed that there was a better way. Our generation is building wealth and it’s apparent with companies like Facebook and Instagram just to name a few. I have already started building wealth thanks to real estate.

  8. Jon Kepler

    Scott, I think you are onto something, but I have one thing to add. You are correct when you say that Millennials are looking for freedom rather than extreme wealth. Fortunately, this puts us in a unique position to out-achieve those with that mindset.

    During my childhood, my mom and I lived on social assistance. Now, as a 29 year old real estate investor, my net worth is *150 times* the national average household net worth for people under 34 years of age. While my Millennial friends have been pursuing this “freedom”, I’ve been working as hard as humanly possible. It is the “Millennial Mindset” adopted by my generation that has enabled me to leave them all so far behind.

    • Scott Trench

      Jon – Your years of hard work will give you the options to do whatever you wish for the rest of your life most likely. Congrats on your successes! You’ve bought your time back far earlier than most in our generation will!

  9. Daniel Hamilton

    Interesting article. The only things I believe you left out were: the National Debt, the terrible world economy (watch out for CHINA and large parts of Europe), and the aging population (yeah, my generation). You guys will be fine if you can figure out what to do with the problems you are inheriting.

    • Scott Trench

      Thanks Daniel! Interesting points on the future problems coming our way. In this article I described some of the larger broader economic problems in terms of our education – I’m sure that education will continue through the next decade or so as we tackle the problems you point out here.

  10. Derek Caffe

    Great article Scott. I think you really hit the nail on the head when it comes to time freedom. Like many I saw my parents get up, go to work, eat, go to sleep. That is their schedule to this very day. I greatly appreciate their hard work, but don’t wish for the same.

    I work a full-time, federal government job, and over the past two and a half years have worked countless hours of overtime just like my parents. The only difference is because I knew what I wanted going in to the job, I planned and just recently purchased my first duplex and bought into a two location car wash.

    I feel because of our need for time freedom, we won’t work less, but we’ll actually work harder to create the lifestyle necessary to achieve our goals. I’m excited to be part of a movement of many talented young people changing the face of what’s normal when it comes to work & life.

    • Scott Trench

      Derek – I share your exact same mindset. I work as hard as possible to achieve my goals as well – which I hope is to both my long-term benefit and BiggerPockets’.

      Congratulations on your first two purchases – those are fantastic, creative, and conservative assets to accumulate so early in your career. I hope they help speed up your accumulation of passive cash flow!

  11. Amit M.

    I think your socio-cultural observations are spot on. But I’m not sure they will translate to more, or less, wealth for millennials than other generations 10-20-30 years from now. The reason being is that the future of the global, and USA economy over that timeframe is probably a more salient factor than cultural differences among generations. How inflation plays out will also be important. Thus you always have to adjust for it when comparing generational wealth. It’s fun to speculate on social, technological and cultural trends, but only time will tell how one generation compares to the next in macro economic terms.

    • Scott Trench

      I agree that only time will tell about Millennial generational wealth. I think that a ton of literature is being produced to psychoanalyze my generation, and much of it reflects negatively on our financial savvy and life outlook in general. In this article, I wanted to point out some of the positives that seem to be ignored, and how these things can be to our long-term financial gain.

      I think that your points here are good ones – that there are still likely to be some pitfalls that will impact our generational wealth – inflation and economic output being key among them.

  12. joe kim

    Lumping millions of people together as Millennials as if they will succeed or failure together is foolish at best and laughable at worst.

    It’s like saying my chinese zodiac (ox) determines what kind of person I will be based on the year of my birth.

    Everyone makes their future based on experience, determination, and education 1000x more than what generation they came from.

    If you are investing in real estate at an early age (before 30) and learning on BP, then I think you have a huge advantage and leg up compare to the general population.

    • Scott Trench

      Obviously not everyone in my generation will be successful, and not everyone will fail financially. The main purpose of this article is to counter the points of mainstream media outlets that routinely bash my generation as irresponsible, lazy, and foolish with money. This piece is in response to that sentiment, and I agree that it is totally ridiculous that Millennials are routinely lumped together and projected to fail in widely known publications.

    • Thomas Smith on

      Very interesting article but couldn’t be more wrong. I am a physician, age 58 who has a very satisfying career and very happy. In your article you talk about not climbing the corporate ladder, avoiding cubicles, never have to work again, work/life balance. There is one thing you never mention and that is service to others. That is what has brought me happiness. I worry that the “millennials” such as yourself will accumulate wealth, avoid the cubicles, have work/life balance but at the end find that it is not very satisfying. I see it all around me in my peers. Don’t be too selfish, happiness comes from helping others.

      • Scott Trench

        Thomas – what you mention here – giving – is a critical component to life. While it can have a tremendous impact on wealth creation as well, I believe that it is more important to getting meaning from life. Millennial’s search for meaning likely still continues.

        As a doctor, I’m sure that you found your calling fairly early in life and admirably serve that higher cause over a lifetime. Many 20-somethings have yet to discover that passion, just as many of your peers failed and got stuck in a vicious cycle of 9-5 at a corporation.

        I too believe I’m fortunate in having found my calling. I believe that there is something immensely powerful and rewarding in helping others take control of their finances – and thereby their choice of which higher calling to serve – here on BiggerPockets. That cause – spreading the knowledge and power of financial freedom, is what I find satisfying with my work.

        That said – I don’t think that working immense hours like previous generations necessarily creates greater impact or generates more meaning. Often, more meaning can be found in small kindnesses, the sort you might encounter at a park on a sunny summer Tuesday afternoon, than can be found in entire careers in the office.

  13. Susan Maneck

    My son is Millennial who fortunately was able to graduate with very little in student debt. But he graduated in 2009 not having done any internships or anything that would help him find a job. His high school counselor, however, persuaded him to try tutoring, at which he earned $60 an hour. Try to persuade a young man to get a ‘real’ job when they are earning that kind of money working part time! His father and I helped him finance his first house, a 3bdrm1ba house at 23K (yes, you read right.) Finally, when he found the “right girl” he took a job that had been offered him by the father of one of the kids he tutored. Since he no longer had unlimited time he attempted to cut back on tutoring by raising his rates to $80 an hour. Didn’t work. He figured out how to schedule his appointments online which cut back on time spent phoning clients tremendously. Now his boss is putting him through graduate school and he bought a house in a better part of town for his new bride. The old house? Now rented for $700 a month which more than covers the mortgage on his new house.
    Yeah, I think they are going to be okay. Did I mention he is putting his new bride through medical school?

  14. Becky Davis

    Efficiency! That’s, in a word, what we crave 🙂
    My very first job out of college was creating a process, then handing it off to someone off-shore and training them to do it while I moved onto the next piece. I grew a team and a department by doing that and was rewarded and valued as an employee.
    I can order almost anything online and have it delivered to me in 2 days for the cost of what I would have paid in gas over the year, not to mention saving time driving to and searching in badly organized stores. (Hooray Amazon!)
    You mentioned banking, I can deposit checks, pay my bills, everything instantly from a phone. Or automate if I want.
    What would have been days of research in a library or government office is now at my fingertips on the computer in a matter of moments.
    I maximize my time listening to podcasts while driving and my books, tasks, and research are always with me via my phone when I’m waiting in line or for an appointment. I barley ever run errands and when I do, I walk my dog to the store since I live in a central area.
    As a generation we are rewarded at every turn for doing things efficiently and decreasing our personal effort, is it any wonder we devour books like the 4 hour work week? I can keep more balls in the air each time I reduce my effort while reaping the same rewards whether it is money, education, securing a future, or nurturing my free time for the things I value most.

  15. Jeanette Adler

    Excellent article! I am a gen x but I think I was born in the wrong generation! I love the gen y outlook of working less and enjoying life more. As for being lazy I support your contrarian views on not getting sucked into the soulless lifeless corporate machine. Perhaps companies that are trying to attract talented workers will start to change their work environment and policies to stay competitive. As for the 4 hour work week, I don’t understand why so many of my generation and older bash it. It’s a mindset, not a dogmatic set of instructions. I found it helpful for me to cut my hours from 40 to around 25 and still be productive. I have 2 small kids and know I’ll never get that time back if I squander it working. I’d be too busy making a living instead of making a life.

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