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Millennials or parents, who has had it easier?

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Millennials have become an easy target for older generations who often say that life for younger people is a relative breeze.

New generational research conducted by Equifax Canada, however, indicates that the answer isn’t so clear cut after a recent survey of 1,500 Canadians.

When asked to assess their current standard of living compared to their parents at the same age, 35 per cent respondents indicated they felt they are currently worse off financially.

But among millennials, there’s a definite difference of opinion on the subject. The number jumps for those ages 25 to 34 to 45 per cent, while younger millennials 18 to 24 are lower than the national average at 28 per cent.

“There’s a tendency to paint millennials with one brush, but that’s a mistake because it’s a broad age group,” says Julie Kuzmic, director of consumer advocacy for Equifax Canada. “Younger people within this group tend to be more optimistic. The reverse is true for older millennials who have been working longer and have started to think about buying a house.  This group is definitely finding life a little tougher than their parents.”

Data from the Canadian Real Estate Association backs this up. On aggregate home prices in Canada have increased by 45 per cent over the last five years to an average of $634,000.  It’s even higher in Toronto and Vancouver where the average home prices are $768,000 and over $1 million, respectively.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the average Canadian salary is $51,667 and has only increased by nine per cent over the same time frame.

Feeling somewhat stymied, millennials also say they don’t feel they have enough information to make financial decisions. This time it’s the younger group who feel this way the most, at 54 per cent compared to 43 per cent of older millennials.  The national average is 30 per cent.

“Education will get you and keep you on the road to financial wellness,” says Kuzmic. “Thoughtful financial planning cannot take a backseat to daily life.”

She offers the following tips towards financial wellness:

– Know where your money goes, track personal expenses and consider where you can cut back, like coffee or Netflix.
– Develop a budget and pay bills on time to maintain a good credit score.
– Save for major purchases and pay yourself first.
– Save for emergencies with an emergency fund.
– Protect your financial data from identity theft.
– Know your credit and ensure your credit reports are accurate.
Learn more at equifax.ca/education.

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