Millennials are the most over-analyzed generation ever, and perhaps with good reason. As they now outnumber baby boomers, they are today’s style and thought leaders. And without doubt, their love affair with technology has changed the way we communicate, work, think and even marry.

Coming of age in the era of social media and big data, they have grown up in a fish bowl. Their every move and preference has been sliced and diced by Google analytics.  The results are unsurprisingly contradictory, as millennials are caught in the crosshairs of slow to change social norms and rapidly changing expectations:

  • They hyper-communicate via text and social media, yet they’re socially awkward face-to-face.
  • They selfishly focus on their own happiness, thanks to overly indulgent parents, yet they are empathetic and socially minded having come of age during a time of economic hardship.
  • They believe in gender-equality, yet often default to traditional sex roles.

One thing, however, is sure. They are more on their own than any generation since the Great Depression.

  • They cannot count on corporate jobs with steady wages and benefits.
  • They cannot rely on Social Security and Medicare in their older years.
  • With less reliable income streams, they’ll be funding more of their own retirement and healthcare costs.

They are also more fiscally conservative and cautious than previous generations. Burdened with heavy student debt and unable to find jobs, many moved back home and watched as their parents struggled to hold onto their homes and savings. Mistrusting the real estate and stock markets, many of them rent and keep their savings in cash.

Ironically, by playing it safe, they inadvertently open themselves to greater risks. Avoiding market exposure, they lose the opportunity to grow their savings. They pay off their landlord’s mortgage (instead of their own) while inflation erodes the value of their cash deposits, which are earning close to zero interest.

The good news, if you’re a millennial, is that you have plenty of time. Working with a qualified financial advisor, you can develop a plan for financial security, which balances your need for growth against your fear of risk. It may require a bit of an attitude adjustment, but like my grandmother always said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” As you can’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe, you can’t reach your financial goals by avoiding all risk.

Taking a realistic view, you have a savings horizon of 30 or 40 years, which means you have plenty of time to recover from an occasional stumble, as your investments continue to grow decade over decade.