From the off, I have a confession to make. I don’t like avocado on toast for breakfast and the concept of man buns is just plain silly. You will never catch me in skinny jeans or wearing an oversized vest. Yes, I know I am a little bit old to be one and I know I will never be able to be a Millennial as I wear a tie to work and take a car rather than a child’s scooter, but it may be time to open our ears to them.

Instead of taking your values from your peers or previous generations, believe it or not, these young whippersnappers are teaching us all a lesson in savings and retirement.  Earlier this year a study from Merrill Edge showed us that our conventional wisdom to retirement is going out the window.  From the Baby Boomers onwards, saving for retirement has been placed on how much money you will need to retire at a certain date and we all know that collectively, we do not save enough.

Millennials though, as they are thought to be skittish with holding down a long term job or planning anything in front of where they can get their next pumpkin spiced latte while setting up their next app-based dog feeding service have been kicking us Gen X, Gen Y and the Baby Boomers into touch with the amount that they are putting away. It is just that they are putting money away on a different time scale and for different things.

They are not looking at leaving the workforce or planning for marriage or home ownership or children. They are planning for the experience relatively soon rather than waiting till they are 70. Working and saving allows them to do whatever they want to do now. Comparative to previous generations, Millennials spend their savings on travelling (81%) dining (65%) and fitness (55%) rather than for the financial future.

The biggest surprise was how much they actually were putting away. They were the top savers with on average 19% of earnings saved compared to the next highest, the Gen Xers at 14% and the Baby Boomers down at 12%. Yes, they don’t have to pay for a mortgage or children, but with over a third saving more than 20% of what they earn, the future is looking rosy for them.

What can we learn from our younger work colleagues or relatives? Don’t worry about them not having enough to retire on. They will work that out for themselves in the coming years. Just know that they have already proven that they can have a decent platform of a savings history to start on.

Also, saving for retirement is all well and good, but as my wife’s favourite bloke once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. If you don’t know who said that, get away from your artisanal jojoba-encrusted wheatgrass and kale bagel and borrow someone’s Netflix subscription and hunt it down.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at