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Why you and your friends aren't becoming millionaires like the generation before you


Why you and your friends aren't becoming millionaires like the generation before you

It's a dream many chase, but for millennials, becoming a millionaire is a much harder feat.

With hurdles like staggering student loan debt and low paying jobs, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) don't even think they'll earn a million dollars over their lifetimes.

That's according to an August Wells Fargo survey that also found 34 percent of millennials have a student loan debt and most of them say their debt is "unmanageable."

So while hitting that million-dollar milestone might be necessary for retirement, how Gen Y views success, work and money suggests the American Dream is alive -- but shifting.

I know I'm doing great work.
Scott Earl

"My main motive for working where I work is to make an impact and to help other people," Scott Earl, a non-profit employee in Washington, D.C., told Circa. "Even though maybe I'm not making the big bucks, I'm still happy, I know I'm doing great work."

For many millennials, including the ones Circa spoke with, feeling they have a mission behind what they do each day is a big priority.

Wells Fargo Chart EDIT.jpg

According to the study, another clear hurdle that exists is the wage gap between men and women. So despite how a person defines success, it's crucial, for young women especially, to have a saving and investment plan in place.

"The definition of success certainly varies from individual to individual," Jon Graff, senior vice president and director of participant services for Wells Fargo, told Circa.

"But regardless of the career and retirement savings aspirations, it's good for all people to have a plan and goals so that they can define what success means to them."

Graff says he's "bullish on this generation" because they are already establishing positive savings habits. 

What's more, Wells Fargo's research found 63 percent of young professionals agree that having a job they love or pursuing their life's passion is more important than holding a high income job.

Not only is the idea of leading purpose-driven lives incredibly important for millennials, so is having the room to do so.

Student and freelance photographer Kai Wright says "the American Dream has taken on so many different things" that not everyone can "obtain it the same way."

Graduate students give thumbs up as President Barack Obama delivers Howard University's commencement speech during the 2016 Howard University graduation ceremony in Washington, Saturday, May 7, 2016. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

"Everybody just kinda has to do what they want," Wright told Circa.

If at one point going to college and getting a great job was all you needed to become right and successful, experts say that's no longer the case. At least not since the 2008 financial crisis.

"The idea was if you do those things, then you have the freedom to live on your own terms, and what we found, particularly post-2008, was that that's not true," Stefanie O'Connell, who is a millennial money expert, explained to Circa.

"We've all seen it in action, particularly as millennials watching our parents."

It's not just about work you love; it's about a lifestyle you love.
Stefanie O'Connell

And for millennials, living on their own terms can make the financial struggle all the more real. But, there is one way to find balance.

"You know, there is something to be said for financial stability. It's not just about work that you love," O'Connell said. "It's about a lifestyle that you love."

How would you become a millionaire?

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