Financial worries keep 10 million millennials awake at night

F&C Investment Trust surveyed millennials to see how money impacts them.

Millennial money survey 2019

  • Two-thirds of millennials – who are now aged between 22-38 – say money worries keep them up at night (66%)
  • Just over two-thirds blame social media for a false picture of what a successful life looks like (67%)
  • But more than two in three are determined to turn over a new financial leaf for next phase of life (68%)

A study tracking UK millennials as they mature, reveals they feel social pressure to succeed, and have a strong desire to take control of finances as they enter their next phase of life.

BMO and F&C Investment Trust conducted the Millennial Money Survey with more than 4,500 people to explore how money impacts young people’s home and working lives, as well as gauge their future life goals. 

Money worries

While a lucky one in three (34%) millennials report never feeling stressed about money, financial concerns keep more than three-fifths (66%) awake at night (10m people). Three quarters (73%) of millennials who are parents admit they are kept awake with the stress of money matters.

Thinking about debt and paying household bills are the double act upsetting a fifth of millennials’ slumber (19% for both debt and bills); followed by not being able to provide for the family (17%) and paying the rent or mortgage (15%).

Two-thirds (67%) of 22 to 38-year olds think social media is to blame for portraying a false picture of what young people must achieve to be successful, while a similar number feels pressured to achieve certain milestones by a certain age (66%). Seeing friends’ lives and achievements puts four out of ten (42%) under pressure as they feel the need to keep up with their friends’ achievements. 

Financial firsts

Over two-thirds (68%) of millennials (10.2m people) have resolved to turn over a new financial leaf in 2019 and do something with their money for the first time. The top three financial firsts are: start saving regularly (22%), pay off debts (21%), set financial goals (16%).

To ‘take control’ is the primary reason for starting new money habits. Their top three ‘control’ strategies are: pay off debts (60%), take professional advice (45%), start saving regularly (41%); followed by: create a budget (40%), and set financial goals (37%). 

Saving tactics

The majority (91%) of millennials are savers, and a third (31%) will save more in 2019 than 2018. Just under half (45%) of the savers will change their daily spending habits (such as buying take away food or drinks); two-fifths (41%) will resist impulse purchases, 39% will pay down debts, 28% will spend less on socialising and a quarter (25%) will buy own-brand supermarket products.

Travel remains the apex motivation for two-fifths (43%) of 22 to 38-year old savers, and a third (34%) of those who want to start an investing habit. Meanwhile, traditional life goals remain a priority for six out of ten (60%) millennials who want to get married, buy a house, or start a family. But they continue to face an uphill struggle due to bills, debts and insufficient income.

Essential bills are the main barrier for two-fifths (41%) of non-saving millennials. Debt is dragging down savings intentions for a third (31%); while a quarter (27%) say insufficient income from their job is stopping them from stashing the cash.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Eliza Filby, a generations expert and historian, said:

“As they move into their mid-twenties through to late thirties, millennials are starting to worry about their financial health and future. Their parents, the Baby Boomers, came of age in the 1980s when economics, culture and politics converged; they were encouraged and incentivised to invest in their future in the form of house-buying, private pension schemes and investments of other sorts. Baby Boomers went from hippies to yuppies, which is why one in five baby boomers in the UK is a millionaire, according to FT analysis of ONS data.”

“We must stop trying to fit millennials in the baby boomer straitjacket. Millennials will have very different lives and the previously available incentives – great savings rates and pension schemes – do not exist for them today. In fact, they’ve been actively dissuaded from saving or acquiring assets. Millennials still want to buy a home but see it as exactly that – a home not an investment – as Baby Boomers may see it. Millennials still worry about their financial future, as these findings attest, but they have a very different set of priorities – both short and long term – than their boomer parents. They would rather spend their money travelling when they are young, than saving up for the dream cruise in the seventies. Given they expect to work much longer, they see their pension not as funding their post-sixties lifestyle but as a social care plan for their final years.”

Ross Duncton, Managing Director, Head of Direct at BMO Global Asset Management, said:

“Our second study shows many millennials are clearly worried about clearing debts and covering bills, but their mindsets are focused in the right direction. Over 10m will take the financial plunge and do something new in 2019, the top reason for this is to ‘take control’ of their money matters. Taking control is a hugely positive step for anyone who has life goals. Reducing debt and building a budget – to see incomings and outgoings- are both vital starting-points to ease money concerns. Once you have a clear picture, you can start to see how to make the most of your money – perhaps saving or investing a little each month to kick-start your life goal list.”

How to get on top of your money

The Money Advice Service offers a range of impartial guidance and tips to help everyone make the most of their money. Go online to run a quick check of current finances and future goals, or a full money fact find:


  1. The here and now – taking stock: Does your monthly budget work out OK? Do you know the assets you have and what they’re earning (cash, property, savings, investments, pension and life insurance)? Do you know what you owe and what it’s costing (mortgage, credit cards, personal loans)?
  2. Looking ahead – your goals and aspirations: Will your income remain steady? What are your money goals, amounts and time frames? Are there things on the horizon that will change your life?
  3. Know yourself – your experiences, attitudes, money available: How were your past experiences with money? What is your attitude to risk and your capacity for loss? How much time would you like to spend managing your money? How much do you have available to save or invest?

Alternatively, you can get a valuable snapshot of your money situation, and your future plans, by completing a full money fact find; a useful document to refer to when you come to make choices, review your investments or talk to an adviser.

  1. Opinium surveyed 4,519 people: 1,005 Gen Z (aged 16-21), 2,501 millennials (aged 22-38), 506 Gen X (aged 39-55), and 507 Baby Boomers (aged 56-75). Online survey from 20-27 March 2019.
  2. Last year’s survey found 64% millennials had “traditional” life goals: buy a property, get married, or start a family; but half (50%) did not have savings or investments to help them to achieve the ambitions; the lower figure for 2019 (60%) suggests a few 5% may have achieved their ambitions since the last survey was conducted.
  3. The 2019 survey found a majority (91%) of UK adults aged 22-38 are savers (net number of respondents who are regularly saving money in 2019) and 75% are investors (net number of respondents who are regularly investing anything in 2019).
  4. How to get on top of your money, source: 
  5. One in five UK baby boomers are millionaires: Financial Times’ analysis on ONS statistics shows extent of intergenerational wealth inequality:   
  6. According to ONS data there are currently 15,022,973 people aged 22 to 38 in the UK (source: Estimates of the population for the UK, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Mid-2017: 

    All population calculations in this release are based on this ONS data:

    Money worries: 66% of 15,022,973 = 9,915,162.18
    Financial firsts: 68% of 15,022,973 = 10,215,621.64
    Social media to blame: 67% of 15,022,973 = 10,065,391.91
    Pressure to keep up with friends: 42% of 15,022,973 = 6,309,648.66



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Past performance should not be seen as an indication of future performance. The value of investments and income derived from them can go down as well as up as a result of market or currency movements and investors may not get back the original amount invested.

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