Millennials face unique financial challenges

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They often describe themselves as good-looking, creative, stylish, bold, and funny. They're the most highly-educated, tech-savvy, and entrepreneurial generation to date. They're also the most diverse, and are dealing with unique financial problems. We're talking about Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and the early 2000s.

Within the next ten years, one in every four global workers, will be part of this generation of young professionals.

According to James Fox, CEO of Red Peak, a brand strategy firm, this massive cohort of nearly 2.5 billion individuals is worth paying attention to.

Fox's company advises some big banks on how to better understand Generation Y and their financial habits.

For starters, they're about to undergo the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth in human history: about $41 trillion over the next 40 years.

Fox describes Millennials as socially responsible, entrepreneurial, and interested in brands.

But they're also struggling to find and keep jobs in an economy with stagnant wage growth.

Cole Stangler covers the labor market for the International Business Times and says it's harder than ever to get ahead.

Stangler says work is less stable than it used to be, and that is one of the biggest challenges Millennials are facing.

They're trying to pay off their student loan debt and struggling to find a job that pays the bills, and that's putting Millennials way behind.

According to Fox's research, sociologists say you have to do five things to be defined as an adult: finish school, leave home, get a job, get married, and have a baby.

In 1960, 77% of all people had achieved those goals by age 30.

As of 2010 that number had dropped to 13%.

Millennials are starting their adult lives well into their 30s and often aren't saving money until then either. That has huge financial implications.

Lena Rizkallah is a retirement strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Their latest report, The Millennials, shows just how detrimental it can be to delay saving until your 30s. 

Rizkallah says in an ideal world, if you graduate college, start saving at age 25, participate in an employer retirement plan, get an employer match, save outside of that plan, and Social Security doesn't change, you could save about 4-8% in your tax deferred account and do pretty well in retirement. Wait until your 30s or 40s and you'll have to save a lot more.

Rizkallah recommends 15% of your income.

Unfortunately, half of Millennials don't even have access to an employer funded retirement plan, and what's worse, this generation is less likely than others to invest on their own.

Rizkallah says 50% of Millennials have their savings in cash versus about 20% of all other generations.
Fox believes that's because Millennials are risk averse, and are skeptical of financial institutions because they were scarred by the financial crisis.

The frightening reality is that for most Millennials, this delay in saving and investing could mean they have to work well into their 70s to fund their retirement.