Millennials Spend Differently Than Past Generations

By Erin Delmore

“I think today’s generation focuses a lot on, basically, convenience,” said Hoboken resident Danny Huynh.

Convenience is in, carrying cash is out. From what millennials are buying to how they’re paying for it, a sea change from the baby boomer generation.

“I think we’re a little more tech savvy. I think we do things more efficiently than, I would say, my parents or grandparents. I haven’t sent mail maybe like in 10 years,” said Oscar Padilla of Kearny.

“I think my parents were sort of from a different generation, so they probably spent their money on more of the essentials,” said Fort Lee resident Jack He.

Millennials are waiting longer to buy their first homes and to make other major purchases like cars, even waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses. A report from the University of Michigan found while nearly 90 percent of 19-year-olds held driver’s licenses in 1983, today, it’s down to under 70 percent. And the numbers have been falling among Americans in their 20s, 30s and 40s, too.

“Rather than investing in a car, they may be investing in their smart phone, in their tablet, in their laptop and the like. So that’s a major change in consumption and a shift of resources,” said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

Representatives from the car-sharing service Zipcar told us, millennials account for at least 40 percent of their customer base.

“Millennials grew up with paying for the song, downloading songs, not paying for the record. They kind of are this generation that want access to things over ownership,” said Zipcar Public Relations Manager Lindsay Wester.

Spend a little more to save a little time. Millennials say that’s a bargain. But don’t expect payment in cash.

“I rarely have cash, but I use Venmo, I use the Apple Pay, the Samsung Pay, credit cards,” said Shawnte Mobley, Bloomfield resident.

“I don’t usually carry cash, so it’s either my phone or my debit card,” said Latroya Boyd of Bloomfield.

“I rarely carry cash around with me. I just usually use Venmo and credit cards,” Huynh said.

“I rarely have cash, which is sometimes an issue, because there are certain stores around here where you have to use cash,” said David Velez of Union.

With close to 2 million millennials in New Jersey, the stakes are high for businesses.

“I feel like the trend here is to try to attract I guess millennials, have more of a hangout spot. Around here, there’s a lot of activities for younger guys. So I think that’s what they’re trying to build around in this area,” Velez said.

Experts we spoke with said the revitalization of downtown areas in New Jersey is attracting millennials to live, work, play and spend. Another example of growing dollars in the Garden State.