Financial Literacy for Millennials

Some of the links included in this article are from our sponsors. Read our Advertiser Disclosure.

Millennials have a lot going for them; better education, access to information and groundbreaking technological innovations, and more economic participation to mention but a few. However, at the same time, they have to deal with greater financial difficulties than their predecessors did.

For generations, young adults have been welcomed into the real world by the harsh realities including the hassles of finding a job, paying bills and the need to make major purchases such as a home or a car. In additions to these financial pressures of youth, millennials have to deal with inflated student debts in an uncertain economic climate. The unemployment rates are higher than ever but even for those lucky enough to have full-time professional jobs, budgeting and saving for a house or retirement seems like a far-off dream.

I recently came across an article titled β€œcredit concerns” where an exasperated mother was expressing her bewilderment at her bank’s dubious services that destroyed her unemployed student daughter’s credit. Despite not having a savings history, the bank sent the girl a credit card on her 18th birthday and a few years down the line she was deep in debt with no way to climb out since she was unemployed. The bank knew that the girl, at her young age was predisposed to lavish spending and lacked the financial acumen to manage her personal finances. This is just an example of how such banks and other predatory entities are setting up millennials to fail.

Millennials have been described as spoiled, materialistic and saddled with a sense of entitlement but in truth, many odds have been stacked against them. According to new research conducted by George Washington University, millennials are highly engaged in their financial lives, at least on paper. Majority of them are banked, about 51% have a retirement account, 40% are homeowners and a fourth have invested in bonds, stocks or mutual funds. On the flip side, a majority of millennials are heavily indebted. They could be facing one of the bleakest financial futures in generations. The only way to survive and thrive against these odds is through financial literacy. (#FLM2018)

financial literacy

Where can Millennials get Financial Education?

Despite being considered least likely to seek professional financial advice, financial literacy is slowly floating towards the top of the millennial agenda. More millennials are now seeking financial education from various sources. A millennial can receive relevant financial knowledge from many sources. The trick is to distinguish misinformation that could lead you down a wrong path and potentially ruin your ability to secure your financial future. Here are some tips to help weed through the noise.


The internet has no shortage of information about every financial topic from debt management to budgeting. Getting legitimate financial information is the tricky part. Separating facts from sales pitches and predatory entities from well-intentioned programs require a keen eye and an understanding of finances. If the internet is your source of financial knowledge, look for unbiased, non-commercial resources you can trust to avoid being duped.


Banks have become a great source of financial information. If you need to understand different investment options, the ideal time to transition from a student checking account or advice on the most suitable retirement plan, bank professionals can help you. Being digital natives millennials have been the biggest beneficiaries of online and mobile banking. These platforms have given them access to invaluable financial management knowledge and tools.

Friends and Other Community Members

Some friends seem to have it all figured out as far as financial management is concerned. Some have a lot of information about personal finance topics. Blind faith is ill-advised but telling reliable information that can apply to your situation from bogus deals that may get you into financial disasters is not as easy as it sounds. You should look for unbiased seminars and workshops presented by facilitator’s who are not out to make a quick buck.


Family members influence most financial decisions of millennials. This does not include watching stock prices on TV with your parents, active participation in managing the family finances builds a strong foundation for children as they prepare to leave the nest and step into the real world. It should be the responsibility of parents and guardians to empower these young millennials with financial knowledge gained from personal experience and study.

Financial Educators at School

Financial education should ideally be embedded in the school curriculum. It ought to be a life-skill course taught in class or delivered in a self-guided online learning environment. Personal finance education is a requirement in only 17 states but this does not mean that students in the other states do not have access to it. However, high schools and colleges host numerous trusted financial educators to teach students about financial management and other financial skills.


Financial education in the workplace is important since retirement planning has shifted from benefit plans to contribution plans. It takes more than answering a few questions after skimming through a human resources PowerPoint. Knowledge of the pros and cons of potential choices is necessary.

Millennial or not what been your best source of financial education? What advice would you offer someone just starting out on a financial education journey?

17 thoughts on “Financial Literacy for Millennials”

  1. Thanks for the close-up look at millennial finances. It’s interesting to see how there are some millennials that have their financial healthy in tip-top shape (maybe due to fears from seeing their parents suffer through the great recession); meanwhile, there are others who are being prayed on by financial services company. Hopefully this latter group can come around!

  2. I WISH the internet had been around (at least how it is today) when I was in my 20s! I feel like I could have learned so much more…but I guess we had books. πŸ™‚ I think the point is, the education is there…you just have to want it.

    • I agree with you Tonya. It took me years to seek out answers to my personal fiance questions. So wish I went looking earlier. πŸ™

  3. I think this is why FIRE is catching on so quickly–thanks, Internet! Millennials are now in their 20s-30s, so we’ve grown out of the “spoiled teenager” phase that a lot of people still put us in. It doesn’t help that we’re saddled with a higher debt load than previous generations and face a higher cost of living. Womp womp. I think this is why it’s crucial to teach debt avoidance as well as how to take on smart debt. I went to a private university and racked up $65,000 in debt (AFTER scholarships). That’s not a smart way to take on debt. πŸ˜‰

    • Teaching debt avoidance is key. Teenagers and parents need to understand the value of making smart money decisions from the begin to avoid be shackled with debt for years to come. I keep preaching to my teens with good choices they can be millionaires in their thirties.

  4. One of the great things of having many awesome personal finance blogs is that there is a lot of information out there…of course, as you said…you’ve got to separate the good from the bad. Even well intentioned advice might not be good. When I first graduated from college, my friend got a job as a “financial advisor” for an insurance company…he was really an insurance salesman. He tried to sell me on whole life insurance and he thought it was a great idea (he truly believed in it), but I was young and had no need for it. Fortunately, after reading some books and the internet I decided to pass on it.

    • There’s no one size fits all approach. Everyone’s situation is different. That’s why I like reading the varies points of views on blogs and see what might work for my personal situation.

  5. Unfortunately, my best teacher has often been experience, and not the good kind. I got in credit card debt and had to claw my way out. I bought too much house and had to wait for my income to catch up. I’ve invested successfully, but also not so successfully. I refused to learn from my mom, who frankly had a lot to teach. I listened instead to people who probably weren’t nearly as savvy. in part because I really misjudged how much I knew.

    But, eventually, I did learn and learned where I needed to keep developing. I think the internet makes it easy to explore an interest in personal finance. But I also think that the interest in personal finance doesn’t just develop for most people. Something has to spur it, and unfortunately, that’s usually a financial stress. Maybe today’s financial stressors will be a blessing in disguise for Millennials if they spur them to greater financial literacy and attention.

    • I was a bit stubborn in my twenties too Emily, not listening to others advice. (kicking myself now) Sometimes we need trial and error to learn the lesson. I’m hopefully that if we just keep the conversation going, and let financial education bubble up more in schools, we find less and less people needing the help.

  6. I agree with Emily that something needs to spur someone’s interest in personal finance. We’ve been trying various approaches with our niece who married a doctor. He’s got loads of student loan debt (over $200K) and is going for loan forgiveness, but what if he changes his mind? We hear they’ve been saving a lot of money and it’s sitting in a bank account. We’ve attempted to talk to them about investing, suggested books, etc. but we’re met with a blank stare. We’re not heavy handed it about it either. They’re just not interested.

    • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I hope your niece and husband figure it out without a painful lesson.

  7. I like this saying, “If you are so smart why aren’t you rich/happy/etc?” And, usually, I tend to listen people who have achieve something in the area I am trying to be successful. And after I get an advice I think. Think and analyze.

    But sometimes I also listen to people who has nothing to show, but they have opinions. It’s really interesting and powerful to learn from broke people as well. Learn what not to do.

  8. I have to say that our best source of financial literacy has been through PF blogs and PF books. Without them, we’d still be blowing our money. Unfortunately, it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for learning financial literacy. I have a feeling that banks and lenders aren’t going to take a serious step in helping them out any time soon. πŸ™

    • It is on the individual to be willing to learn, but I think for some just having some exposure to the topic might be the spark they need too.

Comments are closed.