Survey Finds Chicago Millennials Are Saving Money, but Still Stressed

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The FINANCIAL — Millennials in Chicago are collectively better at saving than their peers across the country, according to the new Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits Millennial Report. The survey found that 70 percent of Chicago millennials regularly set aside money for savings, compared to 56 percent nationally.

Of those millennials in Chicago who are saving, the greatest number said they were putting away money for an emergency fund (54 percent), while approximately one in three said they were saving for retirement (34 percent) or saving for a home (35 percent) – roughly the same number who said they were saving for a vacation or travel (34 percent).

Still, despite a strong inclination to save, most Chicago millennials are falling short of their savings goals. Only 35 percent feel positively about the amount they currently have saved, and nearly half (46 percent) of those who are saving have less than $5,000 set aside, including general savings, retirement and other investment accounts. They’re not necessarily prepared for a financial emergency, either: Roughly four in 10 Chicago millennials (44 percent) admitted that they do not have three months’ worth of living expenses saved.

Saving, housing costs causing millennial stress

The pressure to save is having a real effect on the well-being of this group: More than half of Chicago millennials (64 percent) are either feeling worried, angry or hopeless about how much money they have saved. And it’s not the only issue causing angst. In general, four in 10 feel “chronically stressed” about their personal financial situation.

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Beyond the challenge of saving, the survey found that paying for housing is another major stressor, with 68 percent of Chicago millennials expressing concern over the cost of housing, whether renting or buying a home, in the Windy City. Taxes are another financial concern for more than half of Chicago millennials (55 percent say they worry a lot or some about taxes), while nearly one in three (31 percent) worry about the amount of debt they have.

“There are two parts to the story here. Our young people are trying to be responsible with their finances, but they’re struggling with the stress of rising expenses and economic uncertainty,” said Tim Maloney, Illinois president for Bank of America. “That’s not healthy for them or for the future of our city – and they shouldn’t have to go it alone.”

In an effort to address this critical topic and discuss financial education solutions in Chicago and beyond, Bank of America will convene a breakfast discussion on Friday, October 16 featuring education entrepreneur Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, and John Rogers, Jr., the chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments. Andrew Plepler, Bank of America’s Global Corporate Social Responsibility executive, will moderate the conversation.

Bank of America wants to help all young adults looking to boost their financial wellness with its free online financial education resource BetterMoneyHabits.com, powered in partnership with Khan Academy. Inspired by Khan Academy’s modern approach to learning, the platform provides engaging and easy to understand content on a wide range of personal finance topics. In addition to content geared toward millennials, as well as parents, new material is launching on the website this fall offering tailored advice to those living paycheck to paycheck.

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