Millennials Apparently Good With Money

TIME reports that a new survey shows that Millennials are good with their money—recognizing that they need to save and become better with their money.

One of the financial virtues of this group appears to be a slow and steady approach to building a nest egg. Roughly a third favor a long-term tried-and-true strategy, Northwestern Mutual found. Another third would like to take that approach but feel like they are too far behind to play it safe.

Millennials’ cautiousness may be a double-edged sword. Just 14% in the survey say they are pursuing a high-growth investment strategy even though such a strategy would promise superior long-term returns. This may be a case of playing it too safe. Millennials have 40 years to ride out any bumps. If their money is socked away in savings bonds and other ultra-conservative investments it won’t grow fast enough for them to retire even over a long period of time. Now is when they should embrace prudent, low-cost, diversified risk through stock index funds and similar investments.

What makes the Millennial generation so thoughtful about money?

Big Food Is Coming For Us

Apparently the three big trends are 1. millennials hate cans, so put your pre-made food in a bag or a box or something, 2. fancy buns instead of crappy white bread, and 3. JALAPEÑOS ("Millennials like "bold flavors"").

Millennials Now Earning a Median-Wage Income at Age 30

Through analyzing about three decades of census data—from 1980 to 2012—the study found that on average, young workers are now 30 years old when they first earn a median-wage income of about $42,000, a marker of financial independence, up from 26 years old in 1980.

About a third of adults in their early 20s work full time, a proportion that rises to about half of adults in their late 20s. The labor-force participation rate for young people last year declined to its lowest point in about 40 years, according to the report.

WSJ takes a look at a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which shows how much more difficult it is for millennials to reach financial stability and find their footing in the workforce. One of the reasons it’s taking millennials longer to earn the median-wage income of $42,000 is that factory jobs, which used to pay decent salaries and didn’t require much more than a high school education have disappeared in the recession (not to mention, jobs in general). The factory jobs that are available require advanced skills, and those who can’t score full-time work are cobbling together part-time work in the service and retail industries while taking on internships to keep their resumes relevant. Every generation has had to hustle a little bit, but this one has a lot stacked up against them. [Report here.]

Photo: Vernon Chan

How a College Freshman Became One of Pinterest’s First Employees, Then Walked Away to Start His Own Company

In 2010, Sahil Lavingia was recruited to become the fourth employee at Pinterest, then a little-known website. Being handpicked to help develop a site that is now used by millions is impressive in itself, but the accomplishment is made all the more remarkable by the fact that, at the time, Lavingia was an 18-year-old freshman at USC.

Millennials Find Confidence in Embracing the Void

Peter Coy at Businessweek wonders why we're so optimistic when we have nothing to be optimistic about. Good question. Is it, "the timeless confidence of youth"? Our "digital lives" (heh)?

A Boomer Measures His Son’s Success

In the Times’s “Booming” section (about baby boomers) Jim Sollisch has a really sweet essay about his son Max, a 25-year-old singer/songwriter signed to an indie label, who although doesn’t make a ton of money, is living a life he seems to love. Sollisch says that we often measure success by how much money we make but, of course, there’s much more to it than that:

What my friends don’t know is how to measure any of this on the only scale most of us have. You know, the one the I.R.S. uses. And to be honest, I’m not sure how to answer the question either. How successful is Max’s music career? What is a tattoo on the forearm of a 20-something in a medium-size Midwestern state worth? The Eskimos have all those words for snow, and it seems the only language we have for expressing success is numeric. It may be a universal language, but it’s an impoverished one. Maybe we need a word for “never having to sit in a meeting where someone reads long power point slides out loud.” Maybe we should have an expression that captures the level of success you’ve achieved when you do exactly what you love every day.

Max gets up when he likes and does what he loves. He avoids most of the things that most of us numerically successful people complain about all the time: racing from one unreasonable deadline to the next, sitting in unproductive meetings and watching simple things made complicated by committees. And he doesn’t want for much, largely because he’s smart enough to know that the only way to be rich is to want little. He takes no money from his parents. If he doesn’t make enough from a particular tour to cover the next few months, he gets jobs substitute teaching. Somehow he manages to save a little money.

Sollisch still worries what his son will do if his music career doesn’t work out (because dads worry about their children), but when he looks at his son, he believes that Max’s success is “off the charts.”

Photo: AndreChinn

Please Don’t Bring Your Parents to Your Job Interview

"The Millennial job interview prospect brings a resume, a crisp suit... and parents," read the caption at the top of this Wall Street Journal story. Sorry, but no. Yes, you can talk to your parents and get career advice from them. But you don't need them to accompany you for job interviews or smell out a place so that they can feel better about your career choice. Live your own life millennials! Or Joel Stein is going to come after you.

Blue-Collar Millennials

Jennifer Silva, a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School just came out with a book examining working-class millennials and some of the realities they're facing today. She discussed some of those realities in an op-ed for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Millennials & Diversity

Alert: the current issue of Pacific Standard includes a thoughtful piece about millennials and diversity from beloved journalist Michael Dang (!). In "This Millennial Story is Different" Mike points out that when we're talking about a generation that is, according to a Pew Research Report, “the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history," it's ridiculous to keep on coming back to the same old broad-sweeping narrative.

Millennials in Washington

With the zeal of a motivational speaker, Behnke tells her clients they can buy in the District at a cost comparable to the pricey rents here if they take in roommates to help make the mortgage. Twenty-five-to-34-year-olds in the District might earn a median salary of $44,680 (nationally, the median income for millennials in metropolitan areas is $27,025). But rents in neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan and Logan Circle average $2,000 per bedroom — far above the generally recommended income-to-expense ratio of 30 percent. Why not pay yourself rather than a landlord, Behnke reasons.

Yet after a day of showings, the 29-year-old will trek up 11th Street NW to a Columbia Heights rowhouse she shares with three friends. With the city’s median home price at $460,000, the agent who sells the Washington dream is a renter.

This weekend’s Washington Post Magazine is all about millennials and though I generally can’t bring myself to read pieces about the youngs these days, I just couldn’t help myself. It’s not terrible? I did find the story about the millennial real estate agent trying to convince her peers to buy houses and then rent out the rooms so they can actually afford to live in them a little batty. Also, Georgetown is apparently trying to be cool with the young crowd again (what, was it not cool when I worked in that neighborhood nine years ago and went to piano-sing-alongs at Mr. Smiths?).

When in Doubt, Go Dutch

Is going dutch the way? Do you offer to go dutch, but secretly hope your date pays? Dating, it is complicated.

When Did Entitled Become a Four-Letter Word?

Our society calls people "entitled" for desiring a means to support themselves, be that through jobs, public assistance, or a combination of the two. Such economic problems require a solution with more forethought than a putdown and real look at why those we smear can't afford to support themselves.