Is life more expensive for America’s millennials? We may hate to admit it, but yes.

New data reveal millennials don’t earn as much, pay more for higher education and put off home purchases longer than Gen Xers and baby boomers did.

Note a stunning report from the news site Axios, which shows just how the cost of living has risen for Americans aged 25 to 34 today, vs. Americans of the same ages in the year 1977 when adjusted for inflation.

For instance, a four-year public college in 1977 cost $8,000 vs. $20,000 today, while median incomes have stayed flat at $34,000 over the same time period. Median debt has risen from $10,000 to $33,000, while the percent of those 30-year-olds who own homes has dropped from 48 percent to 39 percent since 1977.

How does this affect millennials’ investment, purchasing and life decisions?

In new research, Vanguard found that most millennials maintain high allocations to equities given their age and financial goals despite having experienced two severe bear markets during their lifetimes. Risk-taking across generations, which analyzes investor behavior and risk-taking across the 22-to-37 age group, revealed that the typical millennial investors allocate 90 percent of their portfolios to equities, which is consistent with portfolio allocations, or the “glide path,” of what are called target-date retirement funds.

Today, many company retirement plans now auto-enroll employees and direct savings to target-date funds, which increase the amount of bonds and decrease the amount of equities as an investor ages. That may explain why target-date funds are one of the fastest-growing segments on Wall Street. According to Morningstar, these funds held nearly $1.2 trillion in assets as of Jan. 31, compared with roughly $150 billion in 2009.

Millennials are also increasingly turning to robo-advisers or financial planning software (and yes, that means they don’t have to talk to anyone on the phone).

Younger generations prioritize giving back and social change in both their personal and professional lives, including in investing.

A Fidelity Charitable report reveals more than 70 percent of millennials and Gen-Xers have made an impact investment — those that help achieve social and environmental goals — compared to just 30 percent of baby boomers and older investors.


Erin Arvedlund writes for