Millennials Will Be The Richest And Happiest Generation Ever

How much would you pay to be young, fit, and full of hope again? I asked myself this while chowing down on a double cheeseburger at the airport. I first came up with $50,000 to be permanently 10 pounds lighter and $200,000 to be permanently 20 pounds lighter. Wouldn't it be so amazing to eat all you want and never gain weight? Double fudge cookie milkshake here I come!

Then I thought about how much I'd be willing to pay to be 5 or 10 years younger. I'm 39 now and wouldn't mind being 34 again for $300,000. I've loved my 30s so far. But if I could rewind back to when I was 29, I'd be willing to sell my rental condo to pay $1,000,000. What a sweet spot in life! You're still young enough to feel young, but old enough to feel like you've got your groove on.

For those of you who were born in 1981 or later, cherish your youth. It's more valuable and awesome than you realize!

Reimagining Finances With Capital One

When Capital One invited me to cover their #CapXTalk in person in Seattle, I jumped at the chance. It was a way for me to broaden my perspectives about millennials and catch up with old blogging friends. I'm unfamiliar with any other large financial institution hosting these types of events around the country, so I applaud their initiative.

L-R: Stefanie, Jake, Erin, Mario

The panelists included:

Stefanie O'Connell, a 30-year-old ex-actress based in NYC who now is a professional speaker and growing media personality on everything millennial. I've known Stefanie since she first started her site, The Broke and Beautiful Life.

Jake Fuentesa Forbes 30 Under 30, and co-founder and CEO of Level Money, a financial app acquired by Capital One in early 2015. Jake is based in San Francisco, where he continues to work on advancing digital financial innovation for Capital One.  We'll hopefully catch up again soon.

Erin Lowry, a 27-year-old theatre and journalism major, also based in NYC, who is coming out with a book in July 2017 entitled, Broke Millennial. I've known Erin since she first started blogging as well. We got some scrumptious Korean BBQ in Manhattan several years ago.

Mario Armstrong, an Emmy Award Winning TV Host seen regularly on NBC's TODAY show, who acted as our moderator. Mario is based in NYC and Baltimore and is starting a new show called Never Settle.

What really impressed me about the panelists is that they are ALL doing something unconventional to make a living. Stefanie and Erin's main income streams are public speaking about personal finance. Jake built a startup that he sold for what I assume was millions after only three years. While Mario, a fellow Gen Xer, earns his living from hosting shows, moderating, and speaking. How cool is that?

When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I was slaving away in an office for 10 – 15 hours a day. I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial, but was too afraid to try. It was only until I built a livable passive income stream of ~$80,000 that I decided to take a leap of faith at age 34.

In a way, I only discovered my “millennialism” until I was almost middle age! Now I can't stop talking about building your brand online and leveraging the internet to be more free. It just took me longer than most younger folks because I grew up in a different technological era.

Generation X, those born between 1960 – 1980, is probably the most appreciative generation because we know what life was clearly like before and after the internet became mainstream in the mid-1990s.

When you grow up with an Apple IIc computer, you appreciate the power and portability of a 13″ Macbook Pro. When you had to sit tethered to a landline phone for three hours to talk to your crush, you appreciate your Bluetooth enabled mobile phone. And when you had to go to the library to work on a research paper for hours and hours on end, you really appreciate Google's ability to find all the pertinent information and images for you.

Main Topics Of Conversation

Capital One #CapXTalk War Room
The War Room – Preparation Before The Live Talk

The panel was live streamed at 10am and lasted for one hour. I arrived at Capital One's office in downtown Seattle at 8:45am, got to know the panelists in the “War Room,” and listened to how the team would organically present their thoughts.

It's interesting because everybody flew in the night before – Erin and Stefanie from NYC after a 5 hour flight delay, Mario from Dallas, and Jake and I from SF – to all come together to help make the magic happen. And if you watched the panel (replay), magic did happen!

After the event, I have little doubt Mario will invite at least one of his fellow panelists on his new show one day. I'll probably catch up with Jake over a beer in SF to finish our discussion on whether it's better to own a lifestyle business or go for the homerun. And maybe the next time I go back to McLean, Virginia (I went to McLean High School), I'll stop in to say hello to the Capital One folks at their WHQ. Networking is how opportunities are created!

Here are some key sound bites covered that I thought were most insightful.

“Money matters, there’s a difference in doing something that you love and having a lifestyle that you love.” – Stefanie O’Connell

“My mom and dad’s dream isn’t my dream and that’s OK. The dream for millennials is more diverse than ever. If I had to sum it up it would be living and working on our own terms.” – Stefanie O’Connell

“The delusional self-narcissism has a positive: it’s making us entrepreneurs” – Erin Lowry

“We didn’t give ourselves the participation trophies, just saying!” – Erin Lowry

“I wish I had invested in myself sooner.” – Erin Lowry

“If we are going to allow the millennial generation to take control of their own finances, we need to make it easier to put your finances on autopilot.” – Jake Fuentes

“Nobody’s in charge of this world.” – Jake Fuentes

“We need to not only talk about numbers when it comes to money, but the things that make people happy. Starbucks is one of the most delightful parts of my day, yet every financial advisor I meet tells me to cut it out to save money.” – Jake Fuentes

Banks are building culture and community, e.g. Capital One cafes all over the country. It's no longer about trying to get in and out of your bank as fast as possible. Now, it's about breaking down the taboo of money so that everybody can be more comfortable managing their finances and growing their wealth. 

All of these money problems aren’t just millennial problems – they’re HUMAN problems.

Capital One CapX Talk Behind The Scenes

Why The Richest And Happiest Generation

Millennials are ~83 million people strong, therefore it's hard to generalize. But what I've come to believe is that millennials will be the richest and happiest generation ever. Here's why:

1) Massive generational wealth transfer. When the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers die, we will be leaving behind $30 trillion to the next generation. When the median inheritance is expected to be around $1.1 million according to one survey, the worst case scenario for many millennials is financial stability. When you know you won't starve, you tend to go after your dreams.

2) Greater freedom, greater happiness. The people who are most unhappy are those who feel stuck working at jobs they hate. Now, with the help of technology, a study by Intuit estimates that roughly 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by the year 2020. The more you can work on your own terms, like all the panelists do, the happier you will be. My happiness has significantly increased since I left my day job in 2012 to build Financial Samurai full-time. Despite making 80% less money my first two years, being able to make my own rules was priceless.

3) A voice that's heard. Unhappiness creeps in when nobody cares or hears what you have to say. With social media and blogging, millennials can be heard instantly. No wonder why I get so much joy writing for you guys! Further, financial institutions such as Capital One and so many of the fintech startups are listening and adjusting the way they do business. I don't know of any other large financial institution who is proactively reaching out to bloggers and millennials, hosting fireside chats around the country, and making finances more relaxing and fun. Creating a community atmosphere early is just smart business.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the millennial generation? Will they be the richest and happiest generation ever until the next generation comes along? What are some things financial institutions can do more of to help make financial tools accessible for all? How much of your net worth or money would you give to be 5 and 10 years younger?

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about the Capital One Bank, visit:

About The Author

92 thoughts on “Millennials Will Be The Richest And Happiest Generation Ever”

  1. Millenials need to get a grip. Stop whinging and crying and complaining how unfair life is because Hillary Clinton lost the electoral vote to Donald Trump

    STOP huddling with your equally distraught buddies in Starbucks over your Venti Iced White Chocolate Mocha.

    STOP howling away on social media about how unfair life is and how it’s the end of the planet as we know it.

    STOP updating the exact number Hillary won the popular vote by, because it doesn’t bloody matter.
    Cheer up, American millennials!

    I mean, seriously, CHEER THE **** UP!

    Oh, I know you’ve had a rough week ever since Donald Trump won the election.

    But it’s time to get a grip.

    STOP crying.

    STOP taking personal days off work to ‘process’ what happened.

    STOP marching around screaming your fury at the result when many of you couldn’t even bothered to vote.

    STOP retweeting all your favourite celebrities’ own outbursts of pique, rage and anguish.

    STOP demanding the Electoral College reverse the decision in December.

    In short, STOP being such a faux-tormented bunch of absolutely deluded cretins.

    Want to know why Trump is going to be your next president?

    It’s because he is what’s called a ‘winner’.

  2. May the fittest survive! I am a strong supporter of the Darwinism, and I am sure the millenniums will not be strongly represented in the survivor ranks.

    Their pure materialism and very superficial lifestyle will make them the first to disappear.
    How can you expect that everything can continuously grow, in a world where nothing is limitless??

    And the only ‘value’ is hidden in the FANG-stocks??? which produce nothing, just hot air?

    with today’s market close we had nine falling days, a thibng not experienced since 36 years!
    And the FANG-stocks lead the way to the bottom:

    In the last week the so-called FANG stocks (FB, AMZN, NFLX, GOOGL) have stumbled. As earnings and outlooks disappointed, shareholders have awoken to the new normal low growth world and wiped over $100 bilion in market capitalization of the four horsemen of the Fed’s wealth creation bubble.

  3. When i read your vision it shudders me. There is worldwide turmoil in the cards, the financial system, fractional as it is will just implode and your millenium folks will starve to death, as thye never learned how to survive. They depend on a working supply chain with super markets for the groceries and sockets for the iphones to do their useless social network stuff…
    And that will all stop in the not so far future.

    Good luck. We need this reset and a reduction of at least 50% of the world’s inhabitants.

    1. It isn’t just millennials who would struggle in such a scenario. What exactly about the world markets is causing you to think such devastation is imminent? I can see saying that a debt bubble will explode or something like that but that isn’t going to send us back to the stone age. What you are expecting sounds like the aftermath of a pandemic or nuclear war.

  4. Simple Money Man (SMM)

    Hi Sam,

    I’d probably give more than half my wealth to be 5-10 years younger again. But at the same time, I would want to have the same amount of financial knowledge that I have now (so I can make smarter financial decisions at this younger age). Still though, I know people in my family whom are struggling, not because they don’t have a good job, but because they just aren’t good at managing their money and don’t really seem to want to change. Maybe that makes me fortunate.

  5. Sam, I believe that the millennials (myself included) will have the highest percentage of happiest, wealthiest individuals…HOWEVER I also believe we will see new highs of disease, obesity, and depression.

    The amount of laziness in our culture is crazy. We use our tech. for everything, and not as the tool it is. Our food source in this country is also causing crazy high rates of type 2 diabetes and a host of other auto immune diseases.

    It is very sad to see this problem coming down the pipeline, but hopefully our generation can recognize these issues and deal with them before it is too late.

  6. Given today’s exorbitant rents and the high proportion of millennials living with parents, I expect that millennials will be largely divided between wealthy inheritors and poor non-inheritors who will never own a home.

  7. #2 and #3 are great points you make! Having the freedom to do what you want to do and how you want to do it, allows you to live a happier and less stressed life! Additionally, having such advanced technology and social media is so beneficial in order to reach out to thousands or millions of other people and be heard! This was such a great article to read, thanks for sharing!

  8. Absolutely not! What happens to dude who doesn’t want to “build his brand”? The guy who escapes the Matrix and decides all social media is just meaningless window dressing for a life as a vacant, plugged-in, coffee shop drone? To hell with brands, “presence”, and all that nonsense. It’s just depressing as hell and about as meaningful as chasing Pokemons around a park–yeah, just another thing that doesn’t even exist and doesn’t matter. Why don’t you useless zombies just run around in circles a little longer now that we’ve properly brainwashed you? Are you really buying what you’re selling, Sam?

    Here’s who I feel bad for: The smart millennial, the one who wants to see *real* things, experience real things, speak up, and not build their brand like some tarted-up, obedient Stepford wife who’s dying inside of anger of want of freedom. He/she can’t ’cause they can’t even move their eyes without being struck by some phoniness, carrot and stick, or fear of overblown reprisal. Look at those four people in that photo on stools–they’re absolutely terrified about not fitting in or being “good” in case a social media backlash hit them or people stop clicking “Like” on their stuff. Was there a single disagreement? A real heated debate? No, I didn’t think so.

    Yes, I feel bad for these poor, 24-hour monitored kids. I wish them luck–especially those who realize it’s all a bunch of stupidity. By the way, who the hell wants to sit around in a “fireside chat”?! Have you lost your mind?

    1. Hi Edward,

      Please share some specific examples from your life that are difficult. You’re talking about others, but I’m most interested in hearing what has happened in your life that has made it difficult.


  9. Hi Sam,

    I’m from Canada and I’m not sure how different millennials differ here from SF. Millennials today do have more opportunity than the previous generation. It’s amazingly privileged to be living in North America and be able to travel anywhere in the world. The internet has also made education a lot more accessible for those that truly want to learn something. From what I see this has interesting effects, for some, it really propels them forward while for others, the sheer amount of choices creates analysis paralysis.

    PF has also really changed throughout the years. There’s robo investors, discount brokerages, lots of cheap etfs on the positive side and unaffordable housing, companies going public later on the negative etc. Since financial well-being is a bit part of happiness, I’m curious how well the millennials will do financially in 20-30 years.

    One point I would like your opinion on – if a massive generational wealth is occurring and money tends to be concentrated, doesn’t this severely disadvantage many millennials who will not receive a transfer or receive much less of a transfer? For each one that receives a bountiful transfer, there are many dozen others that don’t.

    1. Yes, the have nots with parents who did not save, invest, buy property etc will be at a disadvantage. But aren’t things much more equal in Canada with the socialist system? High wages, huge property prices in Vancouver and Toronto, subsidized/inexpensive health care. Things seem good.

      1. Subsidized health care is great but its not as beneficial for millennials as it is for older people. Of course this varies depending on the individual’s health and if they have a family.

        I’m not sure what you mean by high wages, I think the average household income is about 75k-80k. For most millennials the high housing prices are not a good thing unless they own a home already. The wages are way too low to support detached homes. I really like the posts you wrote on having a side hustle – employment income is very limiting.

        Things are still good in Canada and I really enjoy living here but I think there are more opportunities to make bigger money in the US.

        1. The average household income in the US currently is ~$56,000, which means Canada HH income is about 50% higher. That is a HUGE difference!

          I just don’t understand why more wealthy Canadians don’t relocate south where they don’t have to suffer for 6 months during the year. I’m so much happier in Hawaii during the winter, for example!

  10. Your optimism really is refreshing.

    I’d agree that the accessibility of opportunity today is unmatched, but I’m skeptical about how rosy the financial outlook is for the majority of millennials with record student loan debt, stagnant wages and the lack of traditional benefit structures (employer healthcare/retirement benefits w/ HR guidance).

    The generational wealth transfer stat is fascinating and could potentially counteract at least SOME the aforementioned financial challenges, but it seems to fly in the face of so many of the stats about lack of retirement readiness among boomers. I know I’m not counting on an inheritance, and I’m in a far more privileged position than most. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    That said, I agree that it’s up to us to seize the advantages we DO have and run with them. It’s certainly an exciting time – for all of us.

    1. Wages were stagnant until the recent jump by 5.2% to $56,500. Also, record student loan debt corresponds with record amount of income earned.

      I truly believe the lack of retirement readiness is overblown by the mass media. Further, we have a growing government who will redistribute wealth and take care of everybody possible.

      Hence, less people will fall through the cracks and things will be OK!

  11. I agree that Millennials will be the most educated and creative generation ever. Not sure about the richest and happiest though. Maybe in the US, not sure about Europe. In Europe the recession is still there and National economies are kind of crap. Pensions are a mirage and social security is a kind of hologram from the past. Having seen our parents retiring at age 55 with state pensions with no special skills and no Master degrees (at least in Italy) doesn’t help: current predictions for retirement age is 72 to 76, with less than half of the benefits. Happiness level is very low in European millennials.

    Yes, we now have instant accessible information of any kind at any moment, and I’m taking advantage of it and planning my early retirement, but the vast majority is doomed by their ignorance.

    I hope I’m wrong

    1. Things are much worse in Europe than in the United States. Unemployment is much higher due to very restrictive employment laws. I remember talking to people in Italy who said you have to be absolutely certain your business can afford to bring on an extra person because it is pretty much illegal to ever let someone go. They can sue you and it could take 5-10 years for the case to resolve and if you lose you will have to pay all those wages you would have paid them if you hadn’t let them go. I guess it is nice for people who already have jobs, but for young people who need to get some work experience it is a killer.

      1. Absolutely true. So sad for Italian/European Millennials.
        Most of my friends approaching age 40 and above still live with their parents and work irregularly at their jobs.

  12. Unless you have a highly professional or technical position, it’s hard to generate much wealth in today’s world. There once was a time (so I’ve heard) that pretty much anyone with a bachelor’s degree was set for life. They could provide for their family and enjoy life with minimal worries. That’s becoming much tougher today. Almost to the point that someone with a non profesisonal degree NEEDS to be an entrepreneur just to have a decent life.

    Things like high tuition costs and outsourcing have made finding a “stable” job much more difficult. As Sam says, if you can’t find a place you like just be your own boss! Which is what a lot of Millennials are doing.

  13. I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about being willing to pay $300,000 to get 5 years back of your life. When thinking about money my perspective has always been incredibly important, but not for the reasons that most people think. The most valuable asset you can buy with money is your time. Time to pursue your passions, time to be with family, time to focus on your relationships, time to explore the world. It’s for this reason that we decided to have a smaller simpler wedding. The saving, invested over years, eventually grows to a larger amount that can be used to buy us time in the future.

  14. A very interesting perspective. You mention in your article that the millennials will benefit from a huge inter-generational money transfer.

    My question, is should we make them wait until we die, to start passing on the money we have salted away?

    As the parent of two Millennials, should I continue to build my own net worth, or should I be passing down money to my kids now, to help them on their way? They wont be as fortunate as my generation were, with company pensions etc, so should we enable them to get some serious savings put away now, to let them grow their reserves. (I’m not talking cash for squandering…)

    I suppose I have already made the first part of my decision, two years ago I passed on the value of my mothers house to my kids to enable them to become mortgage free.

    In the meantime, I’m hedging my bets, I’m off to increase my income in retirement…. I’ve just started a blog on Making the Most of Retirement… I’m also having fun, doing loads of travel and interesting hobbies. The Millennials shouldn’t have it all their own way!

    I would love to have understood the concepts of saving for early retirement in my 20’s, to retire early at 35, but would I turn the clock back? Nope. I’ve enjoyed the journey far too much….

    1. Hi Erith,

      It depends how grounded and self-motivated your kids are. One of the biggest evils of money is letting it destroy all motivation to do something on your own. I’m so thankful my parents were frugal all throughout my upbringing. We drove beater cars and lived in a humble townhouse when I was in high school. That made a huge difference in my drive to become independent and help them live a better life.

      But if I had millennial kids, I’d talk to them about money and their hopes and dreams. I’d talk to them about what it took for me to save XYZ and provide ABC for them so they can hopefully appreciate the effort.

      I’d make them read, Spoiled Or Clueless? Trying Working A Minimum Wage Job as an adult. Then I’d have them read, Are You Too Proud To Be Rich? When Uber Drivers Make More Than Uber Corporate Employees.

      I wouldn’t have them read these two posts:
      How To Get Your Parents To Pay For Everything As An Adult
      A Massive Generational Wealth Transfer Is Why Everything Will Be OK

      Only you can read these two posts!


      1. A great set of articles – thanks.

        We have always lived pretty economically. ‘Put away for the rainy day’ style.

        Both kids have had their fair share of minimum wage jobs helping to pay their way through college…. Both are very grounded. My youngest, living in NZ, is totally sold on the concept of the extra choice that being financially independent brings and already has some extra income outside his job. The older one is in a lower paid job, prefers doing stuff for free, but at the same time drives a beat up 14 year old car, held together by string, refuses to spend money on himself and saves every spare penny….

        They both tell me they don’t want anything from us, they don’t need it. I’m more worried about giving it away to the government with 40% Inheritance Tax (I’m UK based, but if I give it away 7 years before I die, there’s no tax!)

        A few discussions ahead….


  15. Nice post Sam and it looks like a really cool event. I’ve been using Capital One for years (since they bought ING Direct) and have been very happy.

    I think the Millennials are in a good spot and if they don’t end up happy, have no one to blame but themselves. The technology available today let’s anyone with enough determination and grit to carve out the life for themselves that they want. What could be better?

    And, would I pay money to be younger? Not a dime. I’m 46 right now and very happy.

    1. I’m impressed you wouldn’t be willing to pay money to rewind your life by 10 years. Glad things are so peachy. I don’t want to be 46. I want to stay in my 30s forever!

  16. Well you had me hooked with that title. What self respecting, narcissistic millennial wouldn’t click for an ego boost with a title like that! You definitely didn’t disappoint in delivering some ego boosting material for my millennial soul.

    Great read, makes me very optimistic for the future. I love the quote you used about our dream not being our parents dream, and that’s ok. That mixed with not having a respected voice can often leave millennials questioning themselves, feeling belittled and pushed into the ways of the “wiser, must know better” generations above us – no wonder so many of us turn to the internet to find like-minded people.

    Blogging has been one of the best things I’ve done, I’m utterly amazed at how respected my voice is, there are even some people my parents age eagerly reading away, it is definitely received differently and positively compared to the “real world”.


  17. FIRECracker

    This is a refreshing point of view that’s the opposite of the usual “Millennials are DOOMED! DOOOOOMED!”

    I’m waiting for the Boomers to get here and yell at us for being entitled at any second now…

    Whether the Boomers like it or not, Millennials are the entrepreneurial generation because the 9 to 5 just doesn’t cut it anymore. Ever since outsourcing became prevalent due to the ability to work online, we’ve had to adapt and use the internet to our advantage. And that’s where we shine. That’s why there are more and more online business popping up on a daily basis. Why spend lots of money and take on risk by opening a brick and mortar business when you can invest a mere $60/year on a web hosting package and be up and running within weeks? We don’t work harder, we work smarter.

    And I love the point you made about how as you get older, time becomes more precious than money. You can always make more money, you can’t buy more time.

  18. I agree strongly that we did not give ourselves the damn participation trophies. It frustrates me when the folks who raised us complain about how they raised us. The fact that we look at the world created by generations before us and opt out of the worst parts of it is sensible to me.

    And now I need to go answer another client email. ;)

  19. Finance Solver

    Wow beautiful post. It’s really nice to get to hear some of other people’s regrets so that I can learn from them (does that sound bad?). I do have some regrets or things that I wish I would have done differently but regrets are time wasters, best to just learn from them and move on.

    I think I’m on the opposite side. I’m 21 right now (to turn 22 in 2 months exactly) and I can’t wait until I get to my mid 20’s. After my mid 20’s though I want to stop aging but alas, that can’t happen!

  20. The one thing that I worry about is how healthcare will affect retirees. With 30% of people requiring long term care and people living longer and longer. I wonder if that will siphon off some of the generation wealth that is intended to be transferred.

    Additionally, if Hillary Clinton is elected she is stating that she will raise the estate tax to 65%. I wonder if she’ll be able to lower the minimum estate tax threshold to raise more revenue.

    Anyway, while I am a millennial I definitely do not anticipate receiving an inheritance from my parents.

    1. That is why you save up and retire early. Then you have more time to take care of your parents and they won’t need as much long term care. It is a win-win. Also most people are only in long-term care for about a year. Even at 10 grand a month that is a 120k hit to the average 1 million inheritance.

    2. Damn, didn’t realize Hillary is planning on raising the estate tax to 65%! Any idea what the threshold is though?

      I definitely plan to donate or spend all my money beyond that point.

  21. I’m slightly older than 30 and I would give everything I’ve accumulated so far to be able to go back to being 20 (just at the end of my university days) – provided I could keep the things I’ve learned.

    There’s no doubt (despite all the complaining) that our generation have it better than our parents and our grandparents. Some of my parents friends were worried about being drafted, for crying out loud, and my grandparents not only were drafted, but then they were gifted the great depression as a reward. I look at what I’ve got (and what my friends have got) and yes, while there are some challenges, they are small scale in comparison to previous generations.

    I’m grateful for all the latent potential gifted to our generation due to the hard work of previous generations. Hopefully the lack of significant challenges facing our generation isn’t detrimental to our ability to move the entire human race forward, as generations before us did.

    1. Yes if I could go back 10 years and keep everything I’ve learned including the winners of the last 10 Super Bowls and which stocks are going to skyrocket I would give up all my money too.

  22. Your First Million

    Very interesting perspective on millennials.

    I really think Capital One is onto something… I like the idea of people opening up about money and making it less of a taboo topic. One of the main things I like to tell people is that their beliefs about money are often what could be holding them back. Many people don’t like to talk about money… but money is something that really needs to be talked about. Hopefully millennials will lead the way in changing this culture as we move forward.

  23. What would be the advise given to the other 60% who will not be freelancers and working a more traditional hourly/salary position? Is it different from the Generation X’ers? I myself am a Business Owner and a Generation X’er who employs 90% of my staff of Millennials. They definitely don’t relate to my 20 years of work experience and find I find it tough to motivate them regardless of pay and benefit. Most of them are in their late twenties and early thirties with no marriage or family goals to speak of. How do you motivate this generation and prepare them for inheriting control of our Business, Money, and Government that will be in the 60% who are in traditional jobs?

    1. Good questions.

      1) As a fellow Gen Xer, it’s not too late to build your brand online. Once you’ve built your brand, you are more free to consult, find new jobs, or earn a living online completely.

      2) It’s naturally harder to be loyal or motivate yourself if you stand to inherit a lot. But life is pretty empty if you never created something on your own. Since so many Gen Y folks are set to inherit so much, then it stands to reason that nobody will feel special. Hence, it’s logical to assume that there will be naturally a lot of self-motivated people who want to prove to themselves and to the world they can make their own fortune.

      I think everything is rational and logical in the end. The next generation will simply have new challenges on a much more comfortable base.

    2. Wages and benefits probably aren’t the issue unless you are paying really low wages that people just can’t live on. Check out Dan Pink’s video on YouTube, “The surprising truth about what motivates us.”

  24. Time will tell how millennials as a generation will fare overall compared to prior generations. Are there official surveys that indicate millennials feel this way and are actually going to do better than earlier generations? Many people (liberal,conservative,optimists,pessimists,wealthy,poor) tend to associate with similar people only and probably are stuck in their own bubbles. You seem to only highlight the positive examples in your post, but just based on how popular Bernie Sanders was with the youth vote, many youths don’t seem to be sharing your eager optimism. Most surveys also seem to indicate millennials as a generation are more overburden with college debt, have a harder time finding a decent job without a college degree, and are less optimistic about their future overall.

    Also, if someone is black/latino, live in the flyover states, in the inner cities, their opportunities aren’t as rosy as you portray. I’d like to maybe see another post with examples of young people who are being left behind as a counter argument about millennials in a future post. Anyone can select few examples as your post did and make sweeping generation about how millennials will do great. If someone only highlights black success in the NBA/NFL, having a black president, Oprah, and claim black people have the same opportunities as white people and can make it with hard work, I’d be highly skeptical.

    1. I like your attitude. Love to hear from view and your background and maybe a guest post on all you see where you live. It’s always great to get new and different perspectives.

      The Darkside to be young and full of opportunity is a great, great avenue to explore. If you can help shed light on how things are so difficult in America now that would be wonderful!

      1. Sam,

        It does seem a lot of millennials depend on their parents for a place to live or a down payment “gift” to buy their first home. Many are still on their parents medical insurance policy up to the limit age of 26. What’s up with all that ?

    2. I did think this post is way over optimistic. Friend from my original town are being crushed by college debt. Our generation was pushed into college, “don’t let money get in the way of education” was the blanket statement from many teachers. I was lucky to get out with less than $20k, others are hitting 100k+ with 6%+ interest, and graduated in English, Art, etc that are not well paying careers.

      The wealth transfer from older generation can be seen as a negative. If the transfer of wealth is one of the main ways to make it financially then what does that say about upward mobility. I’m assuming most of that wealth is in the form of a house. Most of my friends in the bay area and in smaller cities on the east coast is coming to the realization they won’t ever be able to afford a house unless it’s their parents’. And this is only for people’s parents that have money. I don’t expect to inherit anything, in fact I’m going to start supporting my parents in the coming year so they can live a decent retirement.

      1. David – I have a counterpoint for you. Based on what I’ve noticed, only wealthy students have the luxury of studying English, Art, etc in college. Therefore, you really don’t have to worry about them.

        It’s the poor kids who really need to see an ROI on their education who study engineering, business, computer science, pre-med, etc. They need to earn b/c they don’t have as large of a safety net.


        1. >Based on what I’ve noticed, only wealthy students have the luxury of studying English, Art, etc in college.

          While this statement sets itself up to be disproven by a singular case, that’s not needed. Plenty of poor students take up these majors. I went to a public school, my friends got financial aid and studied English, another studied Art, another Theater. This wasn’t a top tier school, many people here were middle class at best.

          My generation was taught to follow their dreams. In my first comment I stated that we were pushed into college, to believe in our dreams. Many blindly followed that advise without realising how much hard that takes to achieve, some might even thought college would provide an absolute advantage into those creative fields. My first team lead told me the biggest mistake she made was going to a good school (English major), while I don’t know her family’s financial background, this is a sentiment felt by almost everyone at that company (recruiting agency, most right out of college, ~200 people by the time I left).

          1. David, but if we have the FREEDOM to choose Art and English as a poor student, is not the greatest joy and happiness of all? There are kids who don’t even have the opportunity to go to school, let alone have a choice to choose a major.

            If you are poor and can STILL choose a major that isn’t in high demand, then I think you are quite wealthy.

            Not everybody can follow their dreams. But in North America, it sure seems like we can more than most other countries.

            Related: Everything Is Rational, The Answer To All Things Irrational

            1. I think we have a different definition of wealthy and poor so our arguments are not going to line up correctly. Mine is relative to US living standards.

              And to the question of greatest happiness, maybe at that moment, until they figured out how hard it is to pay back the loans. There’s plenty of websites that have testaments to this. The one that stood out to me was an architect major that was retired and owed more on his loan than he began with. It took a big chunk out of his paycheck his entire life.

              Almost anyone has the freedom to pursue a major in the US because the government is there to provide the loans, and private banks as a backup. While this creates opportunity for those who researched enough, there’s plenty of horror stories from private colleges like University of Phoenix. Loans easy to get, accepted almost any applicant that can pay, sub par teachings, saddled with 50k+ with similar job prospects as before attending.

              The happiness factor in choosing to me is similar to ignorance is bliss. Lots of people choose without coming close to understanding the consequences of their choices.

  25. Hi Sam,

    Great article and very nice that you were able to be part of this conference hosted by Capital One! I agree that Millennials do have it better and a key reason is ever improving technology.

    Just this weekend, I attended the Financial Planning Day for SF at the public library:

    I learned a lot, but more importantly I networked and observed other people to decipher what they were trying to learn or gain from it.

    You shouldn’t have to pay any significant amount of money to permanently reduce your weight. I understand your thinking, but you can do it entirely with the power of positive thought, willpower, good goal making, and a DIY approach. My weight fluctuated greatly during middle and high school. I finally lost weight in college to be at a fitness level where I wanted, but I didn’t make the lasting lifestyle changes and I reached a low point (275 lbs) 5 years after college. 14 months after that low point, I had made the necessary lifestyle changes and reduced my weight to 150. I have maintained my weight within the 150-165 range (the goal range I had set forth) during the 8 and 1/2 years ever since.

    There are so many similarities between leading a financially disciplined life (something I never struggled with) and leading a good nutrition, active, healthy, and disciplined fitness life. There are some key difference too though.

    If you’d like to learn more about this topic, I’d be happy to share with you in person as I also live in SF. If not, I hope what I’ve already written can help guide you on a path to a DIY approach to achieving a balance and weight that is of your choosing.

    – Trip

    1. Very cool! I had no idea there was such an event in SF. I’m a supporter of the SF public libraries. It’s the greatest place for all socioeconomic groups to come learn for free. I love the library! So many good memories there too.

      I am IMPRESSED with your 125lbs weight fluctuation and recent maintenance! I have much lower volatility at 160 – 170 lbs for the past ~17 years. But I’m hyper sensitive with my weight b/c I need quickness when battling on the court. Carrying an extra 10 lbs dumbell while chasing down a ball is a drag!

      Do you know what was going through your mind when you were growing to 275lbs? What was the trigger point to stop? How was your life like then?

      1. Hi Sam,

        Which court? A tennis court, some other sport with a court, or something else entirely?

        Depression and emotional eating is what allowed me to get to that point in the first place. The trigger point was feeling heartburn from drinking even the slightest amount of red wine. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m killing myself”. I turned this all around before it was too late and all physicals I’ve had since result in the doctor being amazed at what shape I’m in. My life was very different then than it is now.

        1. Tennis court, of course! But any court will do as I love basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer etc.

          Glad you turned it around! I haven’t had the oh my gosh I’m killing myself moment yet. But I have had the “WTF why are my pants tighter now and where did my abs go.” In general, I’m a pretty happy go luck and confident guy. But I do like the challenge of trying to stay the same size since college.

          It’s all relative, just like finances.

  26. One commonality is the panelists’ background in theatre arts, and the ability to communicate professionally to more than one person at a time. The audience for Capital One and the fireside-gatherings is self-selecting, and already motivated. Not sure this is a representative slice of this Millenial age cohort.

    It would be quite interesting to find out where these people are five, 15 and 25 years from now. Wish them well.

  27. I wonder where the $1 million number comes from. Remember, more than half of people with $0 saved for retirement say that they think they’ve saved enough. I know I can’t live very long on $0. Whether it’s a survey of people expecting an inheritance, or people expecting to leave an inheritance, I would expect it to be greatly exaggerated.

    I would only trust data from financial institutions that aggregate data based on how much many they held on behalf of their clients.

    In my case, my mom has no money saved for retirement. She paid off her house years ago, has no debt, but she’s spent everything she made her whole life. She wants to retire early (at 62), live on her company pension and social security, and keep spending at the same level she’s spending. It makes no sense, but she exhibits high levels of magical thinking. Since her company pension is not indexed for inflation, the gap between her income and spending will keep getting larger. So, even though she’s debt free now, I expect that she will have to take a reverse mortgage to buy herself a few more years.

    If she’s lucky, in the end, when she dies, things will even out to zero. So, far from expecting an inheritance, I had to research whether I would be responsible for her debts if she dies in the negative. Fortunately, I won’t be responsible. It’ll just be a write off for the lenders.

    I expect that this story is more typical, given the high levels of spending and debt for most people.

    1. She is entitled to spend every penny of what she worked for. I would think most children of Boomers would rather their parents live the last few years of their lives in comfort rather than fret over what will be left over for them. Most Boomers did not inherit anything from their parents nor did they have the option of going back to live with their parents for free after college or the first time they got into a financial or relationship jam. Be happy she is healthy and not dependent on you (yet).

    2. Good thing she has you to support her! That’s what kids are for right?

      How much is the value of her paid off house? Without a mortgage, life is pretty cheap as a retiree, especially with medicare.

      1. It’s about $150,000.

        Of course I support her for 30-40 years of retirement. I can’t save for my own retirement and support her, but when I retire with no savings (because my savings went to her), I’ll just lean on my kids.

        It’s the ciiiiiircle of liiiiiife. Hey. Hey.

  28. I am a borderline Gen X/millennial but relate with Gen X way more. Similar to you I spent around 13 years earning my stripes in corporate and saving like crazy before I felt comfortable breaking out of the pack and becoming self-employed fulltime.

    I think a lot of Millennials are more comfortable taking big risks straight out of the gate and I imagine a lot of that is fueled by the confidence and assurance of having an inheritance to fall back on.

    I think there definitely are/will be a lot of wealthy and happy Millennials. Many of them whom I’ve met or worked with are very passionate people who want a lot out of life and aren’t interested in being couch potatoes. More power to those who have a zest for life and are able to grow their wealth in the process.

    Ps awesome pics from the CapX event!

    1. 13 years is a long enough time to experience what something is like to never regret moving on if you leave. Tried it, done with it, next.

      I don’t regret my 13 years one bit. Maybe the most optimal time woulda been leaving after 12 years, but who’s counting. The point is that we both moved on and are having a blast!

  29. Jake! Crazy to see him popping up on this blog. Smart dude.

    I left my corporate job 6 years ago to do something that makes me happier. I guess you could classify it as a lifestyle business, but I don’t like the negative connotation that comes with that label, especially in the Bay Area. I took one of those 80% pay cuts too, but in the long run, I will come out way ahead financially.

    1. Were you guys classmates in college? Small world if so!

      I think there is a POSITIVE connotation with running a lifestyle business. It is the ULTIMATE b/c work is a means to an end, a better life. If you can make money while also having a better life, that is the best!

  30. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials

    As a millennial, the world is literally at our fingertips. What was closely guarded proprietary information a generation ago can be easily found by one or two Google searches. I’m so very grateful for everyone online who shares their knowledge. If I hadn’t found Mr. Money Mustache in college, I would be just like everyone else: deep in debt, in search of the newest cool thing, destined to work until my body gives out. Instead, I’m well on my way to being retired far younger than the average. That’s pretty cool.

  31. I think with every future generation, people are given an opportunity to do things better than their parents as those parents share their own knowledge and mistakes in hopes that their children do better. This doesn’t always turn out well (addiction, “affluenza”-crimes, etc.) but I think for a majority of kids it is better, so long as they know the sacrifices their parents did make for them. I know my husband and I are better off as homeowners with a baby as my parents at this stage in their family/career. Early on, my parents had to collect cans for food money (5 cent deposits!) because my dad stupidly bought a home with a VA-no-money-down loan in Orange County, CA during the crazy-high interest rate early 80s and his salary barely covered the bills. Things got much better (sold house and moved family to North Texas with money down and higher electric engineer salary) but hearing their stories really taught me a lot about how NOT to do things.

    Also, technology does make things better job wise, although it may not seem apparent initially. As more and more manufacturing jobs leave our country, I think more service industry jobs will fill the void (technically, speakers, bloggers, and Etsy crafters fit into the service industry realm). A machine can’t give good advice nor create homemade goods qute like a human.

    1. Do you remember circa 2000 when everybody was fearful that tech jobs would get outsourced? Look what’s happened since. Tech engineering skills is in the highest demand ever!

  32. …Unless they go into teaching (raises hand). KIDDING! I think the most kick ass part of being a millennial is how great we are at ferreting out information, asking questions, and charting new paths. It’s not that other generations haven’t done this, but with all the technology, creativity, and innovators that we have at our disposal, we can leverage that really effectively. Even as someone who has chosen a conventional career path (because it’s my true passion…I think of it as a my calling. Gasp!), I know that jumping in the PF world, looking at technology, and watching the disruptors and innovators in other fields puts me so far ahead of many of my colleagues, not just in terms of money, but in terms of embracing change. PLUS it helps me get this generation of kiddos ready to work for you all. And then become all of our bosses ;)

    1. Being a teacher is one of the most admirable professions of all. Well done! Being a teacher and throwing in some vital PF know-all is even better. All I learned about PF growing up was learning how to write a check, barely. Give us more!

  33. Interesting question, Sam. I have the benefit of being relatively young, but I know a few friends in their mid 30s to mid 40s that have told me they would give all their money to be 10 – 15 years younger.

    I definitely agree that millennials will be the richest generation and that’s why so many companies have spent a ton of research and marketing dollars targeting our generation.

    The issue I think some companies run into is that we have relatively low interest in brands that our parents are loyal to. One company that comes to mind in this category is Haley-Davidson, who is having a hard time shifting their demographic towards younger generations.

  34. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    Awesome post and agree – 10/10 on that panel. Some real great quotes!

    I don’t think there should be much surprise since every generation tends to improve the lot of the next generation in some way. I think of the improvement in transportation, education (internet) and entertainment. Things will only continue to improve.

  35. Yes, the Millennials will be the richest generation ever. Every generation is a bit better off than the previous one. Quality of life improve and life is easier. My kid is so much better off than me when I was a kid. Technology improves so fast these days.
    I don’t know about happiness, though. I think the happiness level stays about the same from generation to generation. Millennials will have the same personal challenges as the Gen X and the Baby Boomers.
    40% of the workforce seems huge. Hopefully, we’ll have solved the health insurance problem by then.

  36. Hi Sam,

    Great post! Being part of the millennial generation (turn 31 in Dec), I have to agree. We have so many additional tools at our disposal that were previously unavailable. In fact, it’d be sad if we were worse off, that’d mean humanity was heading in a worse direction? Robo-investors, information searches that take mere seconds, and so many other things that make monotonous tasks done easy on autopilot. Some of these advantages will forever evolve certain things as a result, but I do think everything continues to be for the better. But then again, I’m an optimist!

    I work for Cap1 and didn’t even know this occurred! I’ll have to promote this internally to help get it spread (sidenote: I’m based in Richmond, our previous HQ and where we as a company started if you ever are here and want to get some beers and chat!). I think that Cap1 as a company, is a true leader (and I love working here and will continue to do so because I believe in what we’re doing) in trying to achieve our mission, and that’s change banking for good. Credit reports for free, intuitive and easy to use products (no hidden APR hikes for late payments, etc.), and great apps and sites for banking will continue to distinguish us and and shine a light on us for use of future folks.

    Given that I’m still young, or relatively I guess at 30, and the recent (1 year ago approx) discovery of your site and others, and wanting to work towards early FI, I wouldn’t trade any of my NW for that yet. Give me another 10 or 15 years! While I got a late start, my NW is now skyrocketing every month, with my FI date being at the age of 45, conservatively. I hope to hit it sooner, but am planning for unexpected items over that time period that will take away from the aggressive saving plan. If you’re interested in a guest post about my transformation from clueless spender and minimal saver, to FI focused, let me know, I’d be happy to! Either way, you have my thanks and gratitude, as well as appreciation for continued posts that I’ll follow on my journey!


    1. Hi Troy,

      Very cool to hear from an insider! Are you in Richmond, Virginia? If so, sounds good. I went to The College of William & Mary, so not too far away. I’ve been thinking about going back for a visit (it’s homecoming this weekend I think!). I love that area. So beautiful and tranquil and inexpensive.

      Thanks for sending this post around the firm. I’m sure everybody at the firm would love to read it actually. I like what you guys are doing. It’s innovative, fun, and supportive. It’s also a wise business move to cultivate relationships early with the inevitably richest generation in history.

      I always welcome guest posts from the audience who’ve been reading for 1+ years. Shoot me an e-mail (find it in the about page) and let me know what you have in mind!



  37. Apathy ends

    I would give all of our money for 10 years (provided I could take my wife with me)

    I wonder how large companies are going to fill the gap if 40% are working outside traditional jobs – hopefully they have to get competitive to keep/attract employees.

    I am still shocked how high the average inheritance is from the survey, I don’t know that we will get anything from our 3 sets of parents

    1. I just read a report that Goldman Sachs was advertising on Spotify to get more younger workers. The 40% gap is going to be interesting indeed.

      Seriously, if you can make the same or more as a freelancer, while being your own boss, going the freelancer route will eventually dominate the day job route. Now that we have the Affordable Care Act, at least those who make less than ~$45,000 no longer have the fear of medical bankruptcy due to the subsidies.

      Healthcare and other job benefits have held people back for a long, long time. But after I discovered the SEP IRA, Solo 401k, and how to properly run a business, it is very, VERY hard to ever go back FT unless the pay and the people where simply amazing.

      Related: How To Be A Rockstar Freelancer

  38. The Green Swan

    As a millennial I sure do cheer on fellow millennials and hope for everyone to be prosperous. Ultimately it starts with being smart with money (sometimes millennials tend to impulse buy or purchase material items to keep up with others) and saving at a young age. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… education on basic financial terms is crucial for all high school or college students. Firms should invest in that sort of education to assist all who are young and can start saving.

  39. Thanks for the great article Sam, and for sharing your experiences on the panel. Your take on millennials is refreshing, and in my experience, accurate. Typically most of the media headlines I see about this generation are negative and skeptical. But my own experiences are much more like yours, so it’s reassuring to see I’m not totally out to lunch!

    1. I was truly inspired by how “put together” all the panelists were. They spoke so eloquently and had such good insights. It’s not easy speaking to a live audience or in front of a camera. The panelists all did a great job.

      I’m inspired to start practicing as well to one day do more public speaking next year. Uncomfortable challenges are fun!

      1. Public speaking has always been a big fear with people. Even in my professional life I speak in front of small groups for meetings and executives for my projects. I even did stand up comedy for two years during my university days but I still get nervous during public speaking events.

    2. The Long Haul Investor

      Besides the media you might even get negative reactions from friends and family. I’ve received a few negative comments from people I wouldn’t have expected it from, but fortunately not those I care about most. I guess that’s what happens when you take what seems to be a strange career path to others.

      Sam it sounds as if you are referring to this subtly in your article.

      “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

      I love that quote and it makes more and more sense as time goes on for me. Thanks for sharing your CapX experience here.

  40. I think being a successful millennial today (at least in the way you’ve described it) requires three things: opportunity (which all millennials theoretically have access to), being a self-learner, and grit.

    I am a millennial and I have many friends who are unhappy because they’re stuck in dead-end jobs with no great future prospects for any of their goals. I want to shake them by the shoulders each time they complain and yell, “It doesn’t have to be this way!!! Do work!!”

    Learning how to make my own money through blogging and freelance writing has been a game-changer for me. No one taught me how to do this; I learned myself, after reading and listening to other people. I persisted through repeated failures and embarrassments, and will continue to do so.

    The millennials who don’t have this ability are the ones being left behind, IMO.

    1. Shake one hard each day and you will make a difference! :)

      Y’all have so much opportunity. Actually, anybody living today has so much opportunity. Just gotta seize it and KEEP ON GOING!

    2. PatientWealthBuilder

      ” [I] persisted through repeated failures and embarrassments, and will continue to do so.”

      That is a trait of a successful person. Most millennials don’t have it.

    3. PatientWealthBuilder

      ” [I] persisted through repeated failures and embarrassments, and will continue to do so.”

      With that attitude you will be extremely successful. Keep it up. Most millennials don’t have that attitude.

  41. Lenny Nurdbol

    No. I don’t think so…
    The Millennials I’ve met are live-for-today, never-saying, never-thinking (about the future or anything else) children who will probably die broke and homeless, if not even earlier from drug overdosing.
    America’s sheeple are still very much out there, wallowing in their smart phones and peeing their money away on bottled water, Starbuck’s crap, and (leased) SUVs.

    They are optimistic in their own minds and are very much a spoiled generation incapable of independent thought and self-sufficiency.

    1. I think you’re overgeneralizing. It really differs depending on education, upbringing, and maturity. I’m 29, grew up in a lower class single-parent family, learned the value of money and hard work at an early age, yearned for independence, earned a great education, and have saved well for my future while growing my freelance business. I invest heavily in my retirement and spend frugally. I am on track to retire by 40, and I even splurge occasionally on the typical millennial “wanderlust travel” and tech gadgets. I suppose I am not like the majority of millennials, but to say I’m spoiled, incapable of independent thought and self-sufficiency is far from the truth.

    2. Brandon J. Kaminsky

      Lenny, I disagree. I’m not sure how large or appropriate your sample size was, but most millennials are very independent. They might not be moving out of their parents house by the age of 19-20, but then again that’s because college is now a norm. Moving out at 20 isn’t possible for millennials because college doesn’t end until the age of 22 (at the minimum). The pre-independence stage for millennials is naturally much longer than that of any prior generation. That being said, other generations also don’t know what a lump of college debt feels like.

      And in our defense, we weren’t the ones doing the spoiling..

  42. Every generation sees the next one down as less committed, less involved, and lazy. As a late gens early millennium hybrid or whatever they call people born around the age change over I remember discussions as a kid by adults about how Gen X was going nowhere, the bad influences of latch key parenting, heavy metal music, etc. and yet like every generation before them they ultimately came out ahead of their parents. So too will millenials, as will the generation after them whatever they will be called. And yet still we will view them as irresponsible and not dedicated. Why? As we get older we tend to forget how we were in our 20s and only see how we hunkered down in our 30s and 40s when responsibility forced us too.

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