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12 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

millennials and money

millennials and money

There’s been a lot that’s happened to Generation Y. We got slammed with 9/11, went through two wars, moved back in with our parents and lost our jobs during the Great Recession. We lost our trust in corporations and politicians; we saw the Internet change the way we live. We saw the invention of telecommuting jobs, online shopping and Google. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we don’t buy the same things our parents did. In fact, there’s some pretty big differences between our generations now. Namely, our generation won’t buy the following 12 things:

1. Homes

So, remember the housing bubble? Well, that burst right when a lot of millennials would have been interested in buying their first house. Since then, it’s become a lot more difficult to get one, and millennials aren’t exactly trusting banks. According to experts, there are about 2 million fewer first-time home buyers, and a large portion of that is due to millennials living with family or roommates.

2. Cow

It isn’t just that millennials want to see the meat industry change, we also know less about cuts and how to cook them, so it can be a bit overwhelming to try making a steak dinner. Plus, remember the whole recession thing? Grain skyrocketed during that time, so meat was suddenly incredibly expensive. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Gen Y decided to try something else and got comfortable with it.

3. Home Phones

This should be easy – when was the last time you saw a landline? I’m guess it was at your grandparents’ house. That’s because 66 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds live in an entirely wireless home. Some of that does depend on location, of course. If you don’t have decent reception, then you’re likely to have a landline. Remember, though, that millennials aren’t buying homes; they’re renting. Why bother with a landline when you’ll only be there for a little while?

4. Couture Clothes

There’s a new fashion trend going, and it isn’t by Louis Vuitton. It’s thrifting. This came about from a variety of influences, including “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore which came out during the Great Recession when people needed to save. Now, more than 50 percent of millennials see the value of thrifting. After all, it was only 99 cents!

5. Cable TV

Who needs, or wants, to pay more than $100 a month for TV, when you can pay $7.99 for Netflix? Some people already have Amazon Prime, which includes access to hundreds of TV shows and movies. In fact, ComScore reports that 24 percent of millennials have given up their cable TV access. Quite frankly, it’s hard to blame them. After all, Comcast has been awarded the Worst Company in America badge for 2014, but still holds a monopoly on many areas for cable. So, it’s understandable that people would switch to Netflix. Besides, you can just use your parents’ password for HBO GO.

6. Cars

Millennials aren’t buying cars. The number of 21- to 34-year-olds buying cars has dropped to 27 percent, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. It’s expected that millennials will either continue to put off buying a car, decide not to purchase new until later in life or, to the dismay of the auto industry, just not buy one … ever.

7. Weddings

Have you heard that younger people are waiting longer to get married? Well, they are, and part of that might be fueled by just how much weddings cost. In fact, if things don’t pick up, Gen Y will have doubled the number of people who aren’t married by 40 from the previous generation. Lucky dads rejoice upon realizing they don’t have to pay for weddings yet.

8. Children

Since people are getting married later, they’re also having kids later. In fact, women having children in their late teens and 20s hit record lows, while birth rates went up for 30- to 40-year-olds. Kids and family? There’s time for that later. Sorry mom, no grandkids yet.

9. Cheap Beer

Now, don’t get me wrong. Millennials will buy beer, but the beers they like are the microbrews. Apparently, that’s just because it tastes better. At least, about 40 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds seem to think so. Miller Light, Bud Light and Natty Boh? They can take a backseat.

10. Cigarettes

Instead of buying traditional cigarettes, many people have switched over to vaping. In fact,  millennials make up a whopping 40 percent of the current vape market, which is a pretty decent chunk. Electronic cigarettes reduce nicotine intake and save hundreds of dollars each year, so it’s no wonder so many Millennials are making the switch. It doesn’t hurt that you can also try different flavors – like a peanut butter cup vapor liquid, or strawberry. Maybe combine the two and have a sandwich.

11. Investments

Sage advice is that you should start working on your investments as soon as you can – which would probably be with your first full-time job. That would be assuming, of course, that there was any money to save. Thanks to, yet again, the Great Recession, millennials aren’t investing. In fact, a whopping 93 percent aren’t cool with it – they don’t trust corporations or banks, and they don’t necessarily feel confident enough to do it themselves. No wonder, since computers do most of the investing now.

12. Work Clothes

Why drop major cash on a new wardrobe when you can work for a startup with a casual dress code? The idea of buying starchy, professional work clothes that have to be dry-cleaned is headed downhill. In fact, instead of buying separate clothes for work, play and exercise, Gen Y is wearing the same stuff for all of it and traditional retailers aren’t loving that change. Exercise brands like Nike, however, are making the most of the limelight.

So just what are millennials spending their money on, if not these old standbys? You guessed it: technology. That – along with clothing and eating out – are just a couple of the things that millennials are willing to invest in. Hey, what’s wrong with treating ourselves? After all, we’re worth it.

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14 Responses

  1. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m curious what type of long-term financial planning many Millennials are doing (if any), and where they’re putting this money. (I know the above is just stereotyping, as many Millennials I know – including myself – are taking advantage of the many opportunities the Great Recession provided.)

    There is so much potential at their age to take advantage of investments and compound interest – I hope financial education finds everyone soon…

    1. Hey Quinn, I completely agree with you about the age advantage millennials have for making investments. I’m actually working on a post about easing millennials’ worries about investing – for retirement purposes and financial success. If you’re interested, please feel free to check out my blog or shoot me an email!

  2. Great question, Quinn! I wish I had an answer, or that I could tell you that Millennials as a group are taking advantage of investments, but I have no idea!

    I can tell you that I feel the same way and, as a Millennial who is investing, I would highly recommend investing to anyone!

    One of my good friends just started a blog for financial education and I have put a little bug in her ear that you’re interested in the topic – please check it out and look out for a post on Millennial financial planning!

  3. Yes to most (especially Cable TV and Weddings!) but I purchased a townhome back in 2012 and definitely don’t think it was a waste of money because my monthly payment has been far cheaper than I ever paid when renting an apartment. Now I am moving to Montana where the cost of living is cheaper and already have renters set up for my townhouse. Nice little investment.

  4. Great discussion!
    From my perspective, Millennials are great at “saving” as exampled by thrifting & ditching cable for less expensive versions like Hulu or Netflix, but what we as a generation are bad at is directing those freed up dollars towards long-term wealth builders like homes or retirement accounts (like the matched 401Ks mentioned). Millennials see the extra dollars in their bank accounts and all to quickly spend it on a new sweater or night out. Instead of saving, I always recommend “paying yourself first” so that these dollars have purpose & a mission. Its a lot easier to take money out of an unnamed “savings” account, but hard to take money away from you “new house” account.

  5. Great list! I think another thing that should be on this list is “Content”. Millennials, myself included, get indignant when we have to pay for information on the internet. This compromises profits for online publications, obviously, but it also promotes equal opportunity/equal access to make informed decisions, which is essential. But at some point Millennials have to make a decision for the sake of good media’s survival: ads or a subscription?

  6. Wow! Great insight. I encourage Millennials to invest now though. Technology has made it so easy to open an IRA or investment account. I started investing early with as little as $50 per month. I am now in my 40s and my retirement account is impressive. Waiting to invest in retirement savings will tack on more years to your working life. I hope that the trend changes. Otherwise, young people will have to work until they are well into their 70s and may never be able to retire or reduce their time at work in order to enjoy their golden years. Check out She’s young, she invests and she’s a pro.

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