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7 ways rich millennials spend and display their money differently than rich baby boomers

Many rich millennials flaunt their wealth on social media.
Many rich millennials flaunt their wealth on social media. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

  • Rich millennials have different financial behaviors and habits than rich baby boomers do.
  • Growing up in an age of technology, millennials tend to display their wealth on social media, buy luxury goods online, invest in cryptocurrency, and dress more casually.
  • Millennials also define wealth differently, equating it more with success and purpose than baby boomers do, according to a study by Boston Private.

It doesn't take everyone a lifetime to build wealth, some get there a lot faster than others and get to enjoy their wealth at an earlier age.

According to a SmartAsset study, 11% of high-net-worth households consist of adults ages 18 to 33. Millennials also comprise 13% of the "wealth and affluent market" - households with at least $100,000 in investable assets - Michael Kaplan of the New York Post reported, citing a study by Wealth and Affluent Monitor.

These rich millennials are redefining luxury and creating a new image of affluence, according to Larissa Faw in a piece for Forbes.

Compared with affluent baby boomers, affluent millennials invest more in things such as health and wellness, experiences, and cryptocurrencies. Growing up in an age of technology, they love to show off their wealth on social media and are more likely to buy luxury items online. They also look different, opting for more casual attire than previous generations.

These behaviors might be attributed to the fact that millennials define wealth differently - more so with purpose, success, and an overall broader version of happiness, according to Boston Private's 2018 "The Why of Wealth" report.

See how rich millennials are different from rich baby boomers.

Rich millennials prefer to spend on experiences, not things.

The cost of attending depends on the experience you want. One festivalgoer told Forbes she spent $1,414.47 attending Coachella in 2017, while Money's Megan Leonhardt estimated the typical cost to be $2,347 in 2018.
Christopher Polk/Getty

Millennials, in general, prefer to spend their money on experiences over things - they pay more for things such as travel, entertainment, and dining compared with their parents and grandparents, according to findings by JPMorgan.

But this is especially true of wealthy millennials in particular. They aren't drawn to money or traditional status symbols, according to Faw. Instead, she said, they crave experiences.

"They will vacation in Ibiza with their buddies or fly to New York City for the weekend," Andrew Moultrie of Extreme International, a sports-lifestyle brand rich millennials favor, told Faw. "They see the richness in the storytelling of having an experience, rather than buying one expensive item."

Spending among younger millionaires has shifted to "the experience economy," Lauren Sherman wrote in a Business of Fashion article. This is strongly seen in personal transformations - "think health and wellness, but also travel and food experiences - where what you are really buying is a better you," she wrote.

They flaunt their experiences — and other displays of wealth — on social media.

They flaunt their experiences — and other displays of wealth — on social media.
Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Millennials also crave validation, according to Faw - they love to show off their experiences on social media. "What affluent Millennials prioritize is the awesome group photo that can be posted on their Facebook wall," she wrote.

Just look at the "Rich Kids of Instagram," now known as "Rich Kids of the Internet," a group of millennial influencers known to flaunt their wealthy lifestyles on social media. They've shown off everything from beach vacations in Malaysia to their private jets and yachting trips around Monte Carlo.

Most recently, rich millennials took part in the "Falling Stars Challenge" on social media.

"As the name vaguely implies, the challenge showcases rich people pretending to fall out of their expensive vehicles, such as cars, private jets, and yachts, and some choose to 'accidentally' spill the contents of their designer purses on the ground," Zeynep Yenisey of Maxim wrote.

Because baby boomers didn't grow up with this technology, social media wasn't part of their lifestyle then or today - at least, not to the extent that it is for millennials.

They make up 'the wellness generation.'

They make up 'the wellness generation.'
Sally Anscombe/Getty Images

Rich millennials are spending more on health and wellness - a result of a rise in discreet wealth, in which the rich are investing less in material goods and more in lifestyle choices. Health and wellness, in particular, have become luxury status symbols, Vogue reported in 2015.

The industry has created a boom in recent years: From 2015 to 2017 alone, the wellness industry grew by more than 12% and is now worth $4.2 trillion globally, according to a report by the Global Wellness Institute.

With that, millennials are flocking to the growing number of health and wellness offerings.

"Wellness is increasingly regarded as a modern embodiment of luxury, and accordingly, an array of spas and studios offering treatments like cryofacials, weeklong retreats, and vitamin IV drips are delivering those experiences," Business Insider's Lina Batarags wrote.

Millennials have been dubbed the "wellness generation" by Sanford Health, and they even spend more on fitness than tuition, Jeanette Settembre of MarketWatch reported. A 26-year-old in New York City told Settembre that she spends about $500 a month - or $6,000 a year - on boutique fitness classes.

They also spend on pricey gym memberships, athleisure clothing, and water bottles.

They're more likely to buy luxury items online.

They're more likely to buy luxury items online.
Balenciaga Triple S sneakers cost $900. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Affluent millennials are more likely than older affluent Americans to prefer one-click shopping, according to Faw.

Millennial spending grew the most in full-price online luxury retail - 31% growth - in 2011 compared with the previous year, she wrote, citing an American Express report.

"Flash sales sites served as an entry point into the world of luxury, placing brands that were not previously accessible or on millennials' radar, top of mind," Peter Niessen of American Express Insights told Faw. "It's clear that the taste for luxury acquired through the proliferation of flash sale websites left them wanting more."

That's not surprising, considering most millennial purchases, in general, take place online.

In 2019, footwear is the most powerful category in the online luxury market, Business Insider's Mary Hanbury reported. Consider Balenciaga's nearly $900 pair of Triple S sneakers, which often appeared on the feet of fashion editors and celebrities throughout 2018.

They spend money on casual attire and 'work uniforms.'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Drew Angerer/Staff

You can spot a rich millennial by their casual attire - denim jeans, Converse, and a hoodie, Faw described it.

Silicon Valley's young tech executives have helped curate this look. Consider Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose daily uniform includes a simple T-shirt, jeans, and a hoodie. Tech CEOs have also made sneakers a status symbol, Business Insider previously reported - they have an affinity for the chunky low-top sneakers by the high-fashion house Lanvin, which range from $495 to $595.

"For many of the Valley's elite, the right pair of kicks is a trademark accessory carefully selected to convey a mix of power, nonchalance, creativity, and exclusivity," Business Insider's Avery Hartmans wrote.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn moms are adopting a bohemian style to exude a subtle wealth, Batarags reported, citing The New York Times. That casual style includes the Salt strap and the No. 6 clog.

Both casual looks represent a stark departure from the suit and ties or sweaters and button-downs rich baby boomers, such as Bill Gates, traditionally wear.

They invest in cryptocurrency.

Pump-and-dump schemes can artificially inflate the value of a currency.
David Ryder/Stringer

Millennials are more likely to invest in cryptocurrencies than stocks compared with baby boomers, Bitcoinist reported - they're even buying cryptocurrency to save for retirement.

A quarter of affluent millennials say they have cryptocurrency and/or are using it, while 31% said they're interested in using it, according to an Edelman report that surveyed more than 1,000 millennials ages 24 to 38 who have $50,000 in investable assets or an income of $100,000.

These findings aren't surprising considering that rich millennials gravitate toward exciting or trendy investments, Jake Halladay, a private wealth adviser for Bel Air Investment Advisors, wrote in a Business Insider article. He works primarily with millennial entrepreneurs who have an average net worth of $25 million.

"What we have seen with millennial investors is that they tend to drift towards investments that are exciting or trendy and before they know it they have a large amount of assets tied up in illiquid risky investments, such as direct deals into startup companies," he wrote. "If something comes up and they need a lot of their assets quickly, this can create a problem."

His clients are also investing money outside the US.

They associate wealth with purpose, success, and making a difference.

They associate wealth with purpose, success, and making a difference.
Andrew Toch/Getty Images

When it comes to viewing and spending wealth, wealthy millennials prioritize different values from wealthy baby boomers, according to Boston Private's 2018 "The Why of Wealth" report, which surveyed respondents with net investable assets of $1 million to $20 million.

They both view wealth as a means of peace of mind and happiness, but 46% of millennials defined wealth as power and influence compared with 26% of baby boomers, according to the report. Baby boomers also placed more importance on wealth as financial capital than millennials.

Those who are older look at wealth from a security viewpoint, the report said. Younger people are after a "more ambiguous concept of happiness," associating wealth with success and fulfillment at work and outside work.

But when it comes to spending that wealth, millennials place more emphasis on achieving entrepreneurial success, fostering change in the community or world, and contributing to improvements in their society.

Meanwhile, the report said that baby boomers prioritized living a pleasurable life without financial concerns and leaving heirs with the means to live comfortably more so than any other goals on the list.

"These findings reflect the fact that younger respondents are more imbued with a sense of purpose, idealism, and a desire to make a positive contribution to society," the report said.

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