Millennials & investing: Getting started

Beth Hale
Posted by Beth Hale
Consumer Banking

As I think back on our recent 2017 Millennials Study, one thing that strikes me is how crucial investing can be in helping young people realize many of the expectations they have for the future. But are they getting started in time?

Young professional man and woman looking at open laptop computer and discussing.Most of the millennials we surveyed (ages 21-34) crave flexibility and want to travel abroad, for example, but they also enjoy stability; and many are choosing to buy homes and live near family. And here’s a striking statistic: 67% of millennials believe they have more opportunity to be successful than their parents.

I like that optimism, but it’s a little hard to square with this result: Only 24% of the respondents are investing. The overwhelming majority (64%) are saving in cash or bank accounts.

Am I surprised at this revelation? Not really. Having come of age during the volatility of the Great Recession, millennials may be more conservative with their money. The good news is that this generation is willing to learn, as we also discovered in our survey.

I know the concept of investing can be a little intimidating due to many options and risks, but here are three tips I often share on the basics of investing and why it’s a good idea to start investing sooner than later.

  1. It pays to invest early. Historically, people who start investing at a later age have a difficult time catching up with people who started earlier, even with catch-up contributions. So do yourself a favor and invest early. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
  2. Don’t leave money on the table. If your employer offers a 401(k), your contributions are pretax. Employer contributions (many companies match at 6%) are also pretax and can seem like free money. If you choose not to make contributions and receive no match, you are essentially walking away from money your employer is offering you as a benefit. Take advantage of your employer’s contribution. It will pay off in the long run.
  3. There is never a bad time to consider investing. Whether you invest when the market is at its highest or lowest, it has been shown that investing over the long run can beat out sitting on the sidelines or not investing at all. Even the smallest investments may have the potential to become major gains over time.

Of course, all investing involves different degrees of risk, so it’s a good idea to talk with a qualified financial advisor for help.

For more on the 2017 Millennials Study findings, view the full results here.

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