Just How Money Savvy are Millennials?

Though they're part of the same age group, there are large differences in the financial patterns of older and younger millennials.

The overall debt of millennials is down since 2011, but there are few other similarities in the financial actions of older and younger millennials, according to a survey from PNC Financial Services.

The PNC Financial Independence Survey compared the responses of 20- to 29-year-olds regarding their financial patterns and mindsets within their age group and among those with and without higher education. The PNC survey found a fairly marked difference between the habits of millennials between the ages of 20 and 24 and those between the ages of 25 and 29.

Of younger millennials who carry debt, they only hold $17,000, which is half ($35,600) of what their older peers carry. When looking at only those who attended college, the average reported debt was $31,800. That amount of debt among the college educated respondents is down 30% from 2011. Furthermore, a third of millennials carry no debt.

“Financial maturity in this generation has noticeably shifted,” said Cary Guffey, CFP, financial advisor at PNC Wealth Management. “Younger millennials just entered adulthood when the economy shifted downward and as a result, it's clear they've become more cautious by avoiding debt.”

The debt that the older millennials carry in car loans, credit cards and mortgages were double, triple and quadruple, respectively, of what younger millennials claimed to carry. The only area where they had the same amount of debt was education. Regardless of age, 40% hold debt from student loans.

While 90% of younger millennials are saving, fewer older millennials are doing so (83%). Overall, though, the number of people in both groups saving is down 6% from 2011.

The entire age group has ambitious financial goals, according to the survey: 74% think they’ll own a home before the age of 35; two-thirds think they will retire in the early to mid-60s; and 62% have considered starting a business.