Millennials have been accused of being financially irresponsible – but what if their spending patterns are more enlightened than we give them credit for?

They’re buying fewer homes. They’re postponing marriage. They’re spending on travel (and lots of it). They’re jumping from one company to the next in their early careers. It might sound like a recipe for failure – but that depends on your measure of success.

For past generations, life goals included a stable job, car upgrade every few years and a well-kept family home filled with nice stuff. But something has shifted with Millennials. Maybe it’s a result of the rise of #YOLO (“you only live once”) culture. Or maybe it’s a result of years spent watching their parents’ “stuff” lose its appeal as it accumulated in their family homes (which are increasingly difficult for Millennials to purchase for themselves, given the challenges of the employment market, stagnant wages, and out-of-reach prices). One thing is for certain: When it comes to the traditional definition of success, Millennials just aren’t buying it.

So what are they buying? Experiences, travel and quality products that align with their values, according to research. And when it comes to jobs, they’re not signing the contract unless it promises a reasonable work/life balance. Past generations may wag their fingers, but maybe Millennials are onto something. Several important studies (including this one from San Francisco State University) have shown that spending money on experiences contributes to greater overall happiness than buying material items.

After all, how many people who are on their deathbed whisper ‘I wish I bought a bigger television’? Will it matter if you lived in a rental apartment and never owned any property? For Millennials, true satisfaction lies in the adventures abroad (even if they can barely afford them), in the time spent with family instead of working overtime, in meeting friends for brunch – and yes, even avocado toast. A worthwhile investment, wouldn’t you say?

To understand the real buying power of Canadian Millennials, get your copy of our latest data-driven white paper on the behaviours and interests of this generation.

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