100 hours of talking to millennials about money showed most of them want one of 2 things: financial freedom or homeownership
Photo courtesy of Sunny Israni
- Sunny Israni, founder of personal finance app Clasp, found that millennials tend to want one of two things from their money: financial freedom or homeownership.
- In 100 hours of interviews, Israni heard that many millennials want financial freedom - to be debt-free and able to retire early - and the ability to make spontaneous choices with their money.
- Other millennials put a big emphasis on homeownership, seeing it as a sign of adulthood. However, it's still out of reach for many struggling to save because of high costs of living.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
After interviewing over 60 millennials about their finances for more than 100 hours, Clasp founder Sunny Israni started to see a pattern about what millennials really want from their money.
He was talking to them to find out what makes this generation good and bad with money. In the process, he found that millennials don't have crazy expectations for their finances, or want anything extravagant.
In fact, their hopes and money goals aren't all that different from previous generations at their age: Mostly, millennials said that they wanted one of two things: to free from debt, or to own a home. Generally, Israni said that the people that he talked to wanted one or the other.
Some millennials want to be financially free and spontaneous
Israni found that millennials want to be financially free. Whether that means taking spontaneous vacations or being able to leave work at a young age, millennials told him they want to make financial decisions without worrying.
"When you drill down for some people, on what freedom means, for many, it means spontaneity," Israni told Business Insider. "For example, 'I can spontaneously go on a trip across the world,' or 'I can spontaneously go out and study something in higher education.'"
For a generation that's been crushed under massive amounts of debt, including student loan debt, spending money how they want has become a goal. Millennials have also put a big emphasis on early retirement, and becoming financially independent with the FIRE movement.
They want the freedom to make choices without worrying about money, and above all, they want to spend on things that bring them joy rather than on debt payments.
Other millennials really want to be homeowners
Those millennials who aren't in search of spontaneity wanted something quite opposite: homeownership. "There was an overemphasis on homeownership," Israni said of the millennials he talked to. "When they think of being set financially, it almost always involves homeownership."
For many, it was an attitude. "Homeownership represents this ideal of adulthood," Israni said. And millennials crave that, given that the life milestones that signified adulthood for previous generations - things like marriage, homeownership and children - haven't happened as quickly for them.
For many millennials, homeownership has ultimately remained out of reach due to a lack of savings. According to data from INSIDER and Morning Consult, 30% of millennials who want to buy a home aren't actually saving for it. And, high living costs in many metro areas are preventing millennials from building down payment savings. Research by rental site HotPads found that the typical renter in Los Angeles, for example, would need about 53 years to save a full 20% down payment, assuming they're saving 10.5% of their income.
The game has changed, and Israni thinks that feelings around homeownership should, too, especially given that home-buying isn't as easy for this generation as it has been for generations prior. "Old-school personal finance advice applied well before, because people were so homogenous," he said. "Everyone was pretty much the same in terms of getting married at a certain age, having children, and following a path. But we're in a whole new world."