Even wealthy millennials who started saving in their 20s think they’ll retire with debt

Wealthy millennials may be flush with cash, but they're not naive.

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Wealthy millennials may be flush with cash, but they’re not naive.
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Jamie Squire/Staff/Getty

  • Millennials with at least $250,000 to invest today still think they’ll retire with debt, according to a survey by the financial-services firm D.A. Davidson.
  • It seems many millennials expect to spend down their savings financially supporting adult children and aging parents one day.
  • The fact that even affluent millennials expect to stretch themselves financially underscores the severity of the affordability crisis that’s plaguing the generation as a whole.
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Wealthy millennials may be flush with cash, but they’re not naive.

The financial-services firm D.A. Davidson recently conducted a survey of 1,000 American adults with at least $250,000 in investable assets and found that three-fourths of the respondents started saving before age 35.

The firm further broke down the data by generation, focusing on millennials, which it defined as ages 21 to 38. Ninety-five percent of the millennial respondents said they began saving before 35, no real surprise considering many of them are in their 20s and have six-figure sums to invest.

And yet, despite having 50 times as much cash as the average American millennial, 36% of the affluent millennial respondents believe they’ll still retire with debt. In total, 28% of the survey respondents expect to retire, or have already retired, with debt.

Millennials carry a much greater debt load than their parents did at their age, with their liabilities accounting for 44% of their assets, according to a MagnifyMoney report. Debt from student loans and credit cards can seem insurmountable at times, which may be why many millennials surveyed by D.A. Davidson see themselves still holding on to it when they enter retirement.

But it seems as though the millennial survey respondents are also expecting to drain their savings, in part, caring for family – 61% think they’ll financially support an adult child, and 66% think they’ll support an aging parent.

Though the survey reflected a small sample size, it’s not the first time millennials have appeared cautiously optimistic about their wealth. About 38% of millennials earning $100,000 a year or more think they’re middle class, according to a previous INSIDER and Morning Consult survey.

“Millennials know what the worst-case scenario is because they grew up in it,” Andrew Crowell, the vice chairman of wealth management at D.A. Davidson, said in a press release. “They have seen the impact that the last recession and the subsequent debt has had on their family’s lives and retirement goals. It’s clear that they are looking for ways to pay it back to their parents while limiting the impact that debt can have on the next generation.”

The fact that even affluent millennials expect to stretch themselves financially underscores the severity of the affordability crisis that’s plaguing the generation as a whole. Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported that today’s youngest millennials face rapidly rising costs related to education, childcare, housing, and healthcare that are stifling their ability to build substantial wealth.

While it’s clear millennials are financially behind, Hoffower reported, experts say it’s possible they’ll catch up. Low unemployment rates, risk-averse behavior, and the potential of baby-boomer inheritances all serve to bolster millennial’s financial outlook.