Most millennials think they're going to be rich, but they're actually worth far less than baby boomers and Gen Xers at the same age

rich millennial

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More than half of millennials anticipate becoming wealthy.

Millennials are optimistic about their financial future - perhaps overly so.

Sixty-six percent of millennials think they'll become wealthy one day, according to a new survey by MagnifyMoney. The survey polled 1,029 Americans of all generations.Advertisement

Just over half (51%) of all survey respondents believe they'll become wealthy. Millennials were the most confident generation polled - only 49% of Gen Xers and 25% of baby boomers think they'll become wealthy one day.

While millennials may be more positive, as the younger generation, they also have more potential (and time) for building wealth than Gen Xers and baby boomers.

Interestingly, more than half of all respondents (55%) define wealth not by a particular number, but as the ability to live comfortably without concern about finances. When it does come to numerical values, nearly 18% of both millennials and baby boomers define wealth as having a net worth of at least $1 million.

Read more: Meet the average American millennial, who has an $8,000 net worth, is delaying life milestones because of student loan debt, and still relies on their parents for money

Despite their optimism, millennials are financially behind

Millennials may have a bright outlook, but their finances paint a different picture. They have an average net worth of less than $8,000, Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post reported, citing a 2019 Deloitte study. According to the study, the net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has decreased by 34% since 1996, making them "dramatically financially worse off" than older generations, Business Insider's Kate Taylor reported.Advertisement

Millennials are less wealthy than previous generations were at their age at any point between 1989 and 2007, according to The Economist, which cited a recent paper by the Brookings Institution. Median household wealth was roughly 25% lower for those ages 20 to 35 in 2016 than it was for the same age group in 2007.

That might partly be because young adults aged 25 to 34 have only seen a $29 income increase from 1974 to 2017, adjusted for inflation, according to a recent SuperMoney report. This income growth hasn't kept up with staggering increases in home prices and education, all of which make it more difficult for millennials to save money.

But there's something to be said for millennials' optimism.Advertisement

"Thinking positively about your money is key toward building better financial habits," Andrea Woroch, a money saving expert, told MagnifyMoney. "Ultimately, your thoughts influence your behavior, which will lead to a desired outcome, so if you think you will be wealthy then you can start acting in accordance with this vision."

Generation Z from Business Insider Intelligence