Here’s What Millennials Spent the Most on in 2016 (It’s Not Avocado Toast)
Last year, those dang millennials spent about $500 each on avocado toast. That’s more than a dollar a day!
Even if it was, that’s only 1% of what we spent last year.
Sweeping generalizations aside, for the first time in its history, the BLS included a generational breakdown for this annual data. It gives an interesting new insight into how the seemingly misunderstood and maligned generation spends its money.
Millennials vs Baby Boomers: Here’s How They Spent in 2016
For one, millennials made about 84 cents for every dollar a boomer earned last year. Not too surprising given more experience means higher wages.
But millennials were on average way thriftier than our older counterparts. We spent $2,835.36 less than baby boomers, and that’s even when we control for their higher incomes.
Part of that probably comes from how millennials seemed a bit, shall we say, stingier when it comes to celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or other accomplishments of our friends and family. Generation Y spent $541 on gifts on average last year, compared to the $1,401.96 boomers forked over.
However, millennials might just be more DIY-focused.
We also seem to be really thrifty when it comes to real estate. The average value of a millennials’ home was $71,791 in 2016, which is less than half of the $181,256.04 for boomers.
Don’t blame us for being careful with our money: Millennials took on more than double the amount of liabilities — basically, debt — than boomers, adding $10,849 on average.
Still, millennials did find time to have some fun. Their generation on average spent $342 more to eat out than baby boomers and $25.88 more on booze.
But overall, there aren’t many huge differences in inter-generational spending that aren’t a result of age (that would be, for example, drugs and healthcare spending). I mean, we spent nearly the same amount — about $50 — on eggs, and only had a $6.58 difference in spending on milk and cheese.
Maybe digging deeper into millennial spending will help some of the aforementioned millionaires better understand us.
So How Did Millennials Actually Spend Their Cash in 2016?
Millennials spent about $48,600 on average last year, on everything from $1 on a major appliance given as a gift (maybe this is a “Seinfeld” situation where a bunch of Gen Y-ers pooled together money to buy someone a fridge… or something) to $2,473 on healthcare, a much more sensible purchase.
They spent the most on housing, averaging $16,900 on rent, a mortgage or other accommodation that accounts for 35% of overall spending.
The generation of dog and cat memes spent about $435 on their pets last year. If that still seems like a big chunk of change, there are a few pet rewards programs that can bring down your bottom line.
As far as human food, millennials spent 47% of their total food budget at restaurant or fast food joints. That’s a pretty big — and troubling — ratio for a generation saddled with student debt, since you can save hundreds by prepping your meals at home instead of ordering that expensive takeout Chinese food.
Despite worries about growing auto loan delinquencies, the average member of Generation Y spent more than $3,700 toward buying a vehicle in 2016. Some good news: About 60% of that spending went toward used cars. Great move, millennials!
So for millennials and baby boomers alike, now that the BLS is watching what you spend, try not to make your generation look bad, okay?
That goes for Generation X, too. Yeah, we see you in the corner over there.
Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He may be a millennial, but he prefers peanut butter toast to avocado.