Recent data shows young Americans are borrowing to buy cars but are not borrowing to buy homes. That is why so many Millenials, compared to prior generations, are still living in their parents’ basements.
One other thing Millenials aren’t doing is investing in stocks. John Aziz at The Week has an article up discussing the reasons why Millenials are shying away from stocks. It may in part be because of the poor performance of the economy as a whole:
Now, it’s important to mention that millennial investment in stocks may be down as a whole because young people just don’t have the money to invest. Wage growth has been relatively weak since the recession. And unemployment and underemployment is still high, and if you’re unemployed you’re not going to be able to invest even if you wanted to.
However Aziz notes data showing Millenials with discretionary saving are avoiding stocks as well. You can spin all sorts of tales about why Millenials are wary of stocks including the relatively poor performance of the S&P 500 over the past decade. Aziz argues the weight of historical evidence is for a notable investment in equities for the long run.* He wonders whether this investment conservatism will come back to bite them:
And yet it seems that the millennials are still acting like we’re near the end of the world, the stock market was the problem in 2008, and sitting on cash is a smart thing to do even with interest rates near record lows.
This is totally boneheaded, and lots of people are going to wake up in 20 years when they’re closer to retirement and regret it.
I have argued a couple of times (here and here) that young investors should at the very least dip their toe into investing if for no other reason to get some experience while the dollar-stakes are still low. For all the talk about more modern ways of investing like crowdfunding it hard to see you make a go of that without having some more mainstream experience under your belt.
The stock market is going to do whatever it does. No one has control over it. But we all have control over our own education and experiences. Investing is a lifelong pursuit for all of us so get started as early as you can.
*See this Conor Sen piece on how the aging of the Baby Boomers and the maturation of Millenials will play it in a macro sense for the financial markets.