5 Things Millennials Can Learn About Saving Money From Gen-X

By Mikey Rox on 19 August 2016 1 comment

Millennials think they've got it all figured out — just ask one and they'll tell you. But while I'm an advocate of the so-called "Me Generation," allow me to freely admit we still have a few things to learn.

Recently, money-saving grocery app Ibotta conducted a three-year analysis on user shopping habits — they dove deep into 25-million-plus user receipts — and the findings were interesting. As it turns out, Millennials aren't as financially savvy as they think they are. In fact, they can still learn a thing or two from Gen-Xers, who seem to have the saving vs. spending game down pat. Here are some of the results.

1. Gen-X Shops Where They Get More Bang for Their Buck

According to Ibotta's study, Millennials shop most frequently at beauty/cosmetic stores, nutrition stores, movie theaters, convenience stores, and apparel stores. That tells us that Millennials value quality over cost, and they don't mind paying the price for it. Especially when you consider the places Millennials shop the least, including pharmacies, dollar stores, arts-and-crafts stores, footwear stores, and home improvement stores.

I have to admit, as someone who considers myself more Millennial than Gen-X (and I'm right on the cusp of both of these generations being born in 1981), I tend to shop at the places Millennials are least likely to be found. There are incredible savings at dollar stores and arts-and-crafts stores, in particular, and they're too good for me to pass up. Of course, I go to the movies a lot as well (I guess that's the Millennial in me), but you'll very rarely find me in beauty/cosmetics stores or nutrition stores when I know that I get anything I'd find there cheaper at places like Wal-Mart and Target — and I'm never too proud to shop at either of those establishments.

2. Gen-X Is Perfectly Happy Shopping at Traditional, Lower-Cost Grocery Stores

Millennials shop at natural grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's about 56% more than non-Millennials, the Ibotta study reports. Which means that Millennial shoppers are not only trendy (or "health-conscious" if you want to be PC about it) in their food choices, but their grocery bills are likely much higher considering the steep prices of natural food markets.

Personally, I've never understood the appeal of "organic" food. I've been putting nonorganic foods in my body for 35 years, and I feel two ways about it: First, I'm A-okay, healthy as an ox. Second, the damage by preservative- and pesticide-packed foods has already been done; I hardly believe that switching to organic fruits and vegetables now will change whatever is going to happen to me down the road.

Plus, organic broccoli is the worst. I hate it, and you can't make me eat it.

On the flip side, Gen-Xers still shop at traditional grocery stores — and use coupons! — which we'll get into later.

3. Gen-X Values Their Own Hard-Earned Money More Than Making a Political Statement

I'm not at all surprised by this statistic: Millennials are 8% more likely to shop at Costco over Sam's Club. Moreover, they're 13.5% more likely than non-Millennials to shop at Costco.

I have a hunch as to why Millennials largely shun Sam's Club, and it has everything to do with being associated with Wal-Mart.

Now, I'm not someone who avoids Wal-Mart as a result of its labor practices or other political stances — I go where the savings are, just like Gen-Xers (yep, I'm fickle) — but it seems that there's an entire generation of consumers that look down on Wal-Mart as if it's subpar for whatever reason. (Although, one of those reasons might have to do with those unflattering "People of Wal-Mart" memes or the tramplings at Christmastime — who's to say, really?)

In any case, my assumption is especially valid when you consider that Millennials are 27% more likely to shop at Target than users in all other age groups.

I will contend that Target is much cleaner and more organized than most Wal-Marts I've been in, but I'm not boycotting a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club to make a political statement if at the end of the day my wallet comes out the winner. That's just common sense.

4. Gen-Xers Are Good at Making the Most of Mid-Level Consumer Goods

Millennials are brand loyalists through and through. Just look at the forever converts Apple has following its cult. The loyalty doesn't stop there, though. Whereas Gen-X is open to trying new brands, especially if they're lower priced or on sale, Millennials are willing to loosen the purse strings for established labels. When it comes to a brand like Sephora, in fact, Millennials are two times more likely to shop there than Gen X — and it ain't cheap.

But perhaps beauty vlogger Raye Boyce can change a few Millennial minds. She recently tested $600 worth of makeup on one side of her face and $60 in makeup on the other side. The results? Well, see if you can tell the difference in her video on makeup that could save you money.

5. Gen-X Clips a Good Coupon When They See It

I don't know if it's the stigma of using a coupon (maybe they feel "cheap" or embarrassed when they hand over a discount?), but Millennials are losing out on a lot of opportunity to save, which in turn is making their lifestyle way costlier than it needs to be.

The Ibotta study reveals that Millennials use 20% fewer coupons than Gen-X, and they take advantage of 7.5% fewer in-store discounts. Those numbers are crazy — especially the disparity in coupon use.

If you're a Millennial reading this right now, listen up: Your ego is making you broke, and it's time to come back down to earth.

I don't know how anybody can shop without coupons. This is coming from a guy who has and will continue to use coupons on dates (first dates even!). Because wherever I save means extra money for things I like to do, like enjoying new experiences or making investments that make me more money. That full-price pair of expensive shoes will only make you so happy — and that happiness will run right out when you're sitting in those shoes at home, broke and alone, on a Saturday night.

But at least then you'll have time to clip a few coupons with your shears… and probably a few tears.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these shopping stats and behaviors?

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Guest's picture
Karlene

Excellent article Mikey Rox.

On the "organic" food: I'm happy that you are "healthy as an ox." I hope that your belief that "the damage by preservative- and pesticide-packed foods has already been done; I hardly believe that switching to organic fruits and vegetables now will change whatever is going to happen to me down the road."

Until several years ago when my body started changing in negative ways I had not given as much thought to the type of foods I was consuming. However, based on articles, and parts of books like "Clean," by Alejandro Junger, M.D. I have read about changes that occurred for people who changed from non-organic to all organic foods I believe there is a difference. If money was no object I would buy all organic too. Until such time I am doing the best with what I can now.

Hopefully, millenials and Gen Xers who need to save more will get the point that: "... wherever I save means extra money for things I like to do, like enjoying new experiences or making investments that make me more money."

Sometimes it takes reading an article like this to help us to begin to shift our paradigms.

Best wishes to you.

Guest's picture
Dave

"…their grocery bills are likely much higher considering the steep prices of natural food markets"

Exactly what part of Trader Joe's is "more expensive"? It's so much cheaper than large chains like Kroger. Have you ever even been there?