Generation Y, those between 22 and 33, have taken the financial crisis to heart and have become more conservative about their finances, Fidelity found in a TNS Global survey of 1,017 people in that age bracket who hold a job and earn at least $15,000 a year.
Despite the fact that 75% of Gen Y’ers feel secure about their job, 70% are very concerned about their finances and have set a goal of daily money management and budgeting as their biggest focus. Sixty-four percent check their checking account balances online before making a purchase of $300 or more.
Twenty percent have a balance of $10,000 or more on their credit card, and 25% believe they will never be free of credit card debt during their lifetimes. Forty-one percent said the economic crisis has made their generation more conservative about their personal financial situation and their employment choices. They are now more reluctant to job hop, with 25% hoping to stay with their current employer until retirement, up from 14% of those surveyed in 2008.
While 75% still say that work-life balance still drives their career choices, workplace benefits have taken on greater importance. Sixty-two percent carefully review benefits packages before accepting a job, and 64% said such packages impact their job loyalty.
Surprisingly, paid vacation was not the No. 1 concern, with 82% ranking health insurance first, followed by 68% ranking vacation time, and 57% access to a retirement savings plan.
However, 47% said that grappling with current everyday costs such as paying the mortgage or credit card is a more crucial obligation than saving for retirement. At the same time, the number of Gen Y’ers most focused on saving for retirement has risen to 18%, up from 13% in 2008.
“The change in the mindset of young workers has been remarkable,” said Brad Kimler, executive vice president of Fidelity’s consulting services business. “Their attitudes and views toward their employer and finances are now more conservative and reflective of their parents’ generation, yet this generation will be faced with different challenges, including higher debt, greater responsibility for costs associated with benefits and less access to traditional pensions.”
Philippe Mauldin, executive vice president of workplace investing at Fidelity, added, “Many Gen Y’ers have become more engaged with their finances through this economic downturn and are recognizing how critical it is to save early for retirement. However, this is the life stage when retirement is competing with an ever-growing list of financial priorities.”
For instance, among Generation Y people who have lost a job in the financial crisis, 49% who did not receive guidance on the importance of not cashing out of their 401(k) took the money, versus 29% who cashed out without any education about the folly of doing so.