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Saving Trumps Spending for Majority of Millennials

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Millennials and baby boomers have many things in common with regard to saving and spending money, TD Ameritrade reported Monday.

A new survey found 68% of boomers and 62% of millennials considered themselves savers.

Respondents who characterized themselves as savers were likelier than self-described spenders to be married, own a home and earn a higher annual income: $75,000 vs. $61,000.

Sixty-four percent of millennial spenders in the survey said they wanted to “enjoy life now,” compared with 52% of boomer spenders, and 14% younger ones said they were spenders because they had so much debt they no longer cared.

More than two-thirds of both boomer and millennial savers said they were happy to save, and eight in 10 equated saving with financial security. The two groups, not surprisingly, had different goals when saving.

Eighty percent of boomers’ focus was on saving for retirement, while 82% of millennials were more likely to be putting away money for something else, typically an emergency fund and/or a vacation.

“Our research shows that it isn’t so much having more money as it is saving money that can make people feel more financially secure and happy,” Dara Luber, a retirement and long-term investing professional at TD Ameritrade, said in a statement.

(Related: 10 Best Places for Boomers to Work: Fortune)

“The more money you have saved, the freer you are to take control of your own destiny and make choices to improve your quality of life.”

Seventy-two percent of millennials reported that they were already saving for retirement, though at half the rate of their boomer counterparts: a median $150 vs. $300 per month. Millennial spenders were saving just $95 a month.

Two-thirds of millennials who were not saving said they could not afford to do so, compared with 56% of boomers who were in the same position.

Thirty-nine percent of millennial non-savers explained they were paying off student loan debt—a median $200 per month. In addition, the survey found millennials carried $15,000 in non-mortgage debt, compared with $10,000 for boomers.

Head Solutions Group conducted the online survey on TD Ameritrade’s behalf in mid-June with 2,100 American adults, half of whom were millennials and half baby boomers.

Short- and long-term goals

Millennial and boomer respondents shared both short- and long-term goals, but 3 in 10 boomers said they were ahead with both kinds of goals, compared with one in five millennials.

The most important short-term goal for both groups was having an emergency fund, while paying for old-age healthcare was their top long-term goal. Forty-four percent of millennials said retiring before age 65 was also a long-term goal.

According to the survey, homeownership remains an important goal for 64% of millennials, considerably less than the 78% of boomers who said owning their own home was very important.

Although only about 20% of younger and older respondents said they had a written-down financial plan made with an advisor, millennials were likelier than boomers to have written down their goals independent of an advisor.

In terms of financial advice, the robots haven’t taken over yet. However, four in 10 millennials said they would feel confident using an automated online investment service if human contact was available when needed. One-third of Boomers felt the same way.

In major financial situations that might require advice, about a fifth of millennials and a quarter of boomers said they would consider an online advice platform with human contact.

Forty percent of millennials and 20% of boomers said they would look for professional advice when planning for retirement. At the same time, half of boomer respondents and four in 10 millennials believed they did not or would not need any help to plan their retirement.

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