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Millennials ‘overwhelmed’ by debt

By Marcie Geffner ·
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or echo boomers, understand the importance of saving but are struggling with burdensome or overwhelming debt.

That's one clear conclusion of a new survey of 1,414 people, age 22 to 32. The survey was conducted by Market Probe, a market research firm in Milwaukee for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., a financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets.

Here's a summary of the relevant findings.

• As much as 54 percent of millennials said debt was their largest financial concern.

• About 61 percent viewed themselves as savers.

• Roughly 49 percent said they'd started to save for retirement.

• Another 51 percent said they hadn't started to save for retirement but planned to do so by the median age of 30.

• About 57 percent said their parents had the most influence over the way they viewed money.

• As much as 78 percent said they learned "a great deal" or "somewhat" about personal finance from their parents.

• Roughly 60 percent said they were most likely to consult their parents for advice about investing money.

• Of those who'd started saving, 34 percent said they did so because they realized starting early could result in a bigger nest egg in the future, and 29 percent said they were motivated by access to an employment-based retirement plan.

• Of those who'd not yet started saving, 53 percent said they were overwhelmed by debt and 87 percent said they didn't have enough money to start saving or wanted to pay off debt first. Being overwhelmed by debt was slightly more pressing for women, at 55 percent, than it was for men, at 51 percent.

Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement at Wells Fargo, said in a statement that millennials who save early and regularly and who put aside as much money as they can will benefit from the power of compounding and ultimately feel more confident about their financial future.

"I can't stress enough how important it is for this generation to start saving now. The benefits of starting young can't be recreated later," Wimbish said.

How much are you saving for retirement? Did you start saving early or wait until later in life?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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June 04, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hopefully, millenials won't be savaged by a lost decade of "money not working for you" that older folks have been savaged by due to greed and plunder. Wouldn't it be nice if their generation had a better ethical set than today's financial engineers and corporatists. Unfortunately, the successors are raised in a corrupt system that requires matching behavior to rise the the top floor office. When they see that morally bankrupt guys like Chase's Dimon can oversee mega-billion dollar scandals and get rewarded with keeping Chairman and CEO jobs AND get a raise, it's hard to see hope.

May 30, 2013 at 11:05 am

I'm 27 and started saving 14% of my annual income at the age of 24 (employer 401k and employer pension benefits combined with my personal contributions). I'm very confident in my financial future if I can continue saving at this rate into the future.

I learned a great deal about financials from my parents (zero taught at school). My parents have always stressed the notion of making money work for you.