There’s this common notion that millennials waste money—remember the guy who said millennials can’t afford houses because they spend too much on avocado toast? But the reality is, that’s just not true.
As much as older generations want to blame millennials’ financial troubles on irresponsibility (and a quick Google or Twitter search will reveal hundreds of headlines that blame millennials for killing just about everything from chain restaurants to napkins), the truth is, millennials aren’t as spendy and wasteful as you’ve been led to believe. In fact, a recent study from Bankrate reveals that millennials actually spend more on necessities and less on discretionary (aka “fun”) things than other generations do.
According to the report, millennials spend more on food (mostly on groceries, but also eating out), gas and phone bills—15 percent more, overall, than other adult generations. And yes, a cell phone bill may technically be considered an “extra” cost and not a necessity—and millennials do spend more on them than other generations—but if you think about it, smartphones are tied in to pretty much every aspect of our lives from work to socializing, making them pretty important.
In other aspects, millennials are cutting back more than older generations. Millennials actually spend less on travel and television than any of the adult generations (spending at least $40 less per month on television, and around $1,943 per year on vacation as opposed to older Americans who spend $2,600).
It’s also important to note that millennials are both more in debt (thanks to student loans) and more debt-averse than older generations, meaning “they’re less likely to buy now and pay later,” according to Bankrate’s credit card analyst Robin Saks. This means they’re also less likely to book vacations and opt for more frugal options, both because they’re cautious and because they can’t currently afford it.
Though millennials already spend more on bills and necessities than other generations, that will only go up as time goes on and as millennials settle down, according to the report.
“As millennials get older and start to have families, their spending will increase on everyday bills like groceries and gas,” Frankel said.
All-in-all, it seems millennials aren’t any more irresponsible than any generation before them—they’re just stuck with debt and spending their money a little differently, so let’s stop blaming them for everything.