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The Results of Intuit's Prosperity Study

How Millennials are Changing the Definition of the American Dream

We partnered with Intuit to help you power your own prosperity and reimagine what the American Dream means to you.
The word "prosperity" can mean something different for everyone. For some, it's measured by salary, promotions, and advancements in career; for others, it comes down to starting a family, traveling the world, or just overall health and happiness. However you define prosperity, there's no doubting that the notion of the American Dream is always looming large in the minds of every generation. But what happens when the American Dream starts to take on a new meaning? In an economy where financial prosperity seems to be drifting farther and farther out of reach, it's natural that Millennials and the following generations are rethinking what the American Dream looks like.

In the face of the changing American landscape, Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, TurboTax, Mint, and Turbo went to work to shed some light on just how optimistic the population remains. They surveyed 3,000 Americans across Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z (over 1,000 of whom are Millennials) to better understand the new pursuit of prosperity; read on — the findings may (or may not) shock you.

Is Prosperity Achievable for Millennials?

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It's no surprise that most Americans surveyed (87%) see the path to prosperity as the ability to meet their financial goals — after all, money often unlocks the door to other happy-making aspects of life (marriage, home buying, traveling, etc.). That said, Intuit's study revealed that four out of five Americans (78%) feel that prosperity is currently out of their reach, and as a result, the same amount say they are putting off purchasing a home (30%), starting a business (19%), starting a family (22%), or getting married (19%).

Another hurdle 55% of Americans have trouble overcoming? Not feeling confident when it comes to managing their finances. Just like in any other situation in life, that lack of confidence can cause a ripple effect — 45% of respondents are living paycheck to paycheck, 44% don't have any savings, 36% have gotten too far into debt, and 19% aren't able to fully support themselves financially.

The Socioeconomic Barriers

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It's a well-known fact that the financial playing field certainly isn't level in America — everyone's unique circumstances, from gender and sexual identity to ethnic background, zip code, and education have different implications for people's prosperity. Even though the U.S. economy grew nearly 3% in 2018 and job growth averaged 223,000 per month, more than half of Americans (58%) believe that the economy is a major factor holding them back from living the life they want. But the data takes it a step further — 57% of people believe their current economic landscape is actively making it difficult to be financially successful.

Unsurprisingly, those who feel most disadvantaged in the American economy are women of color. Twenty one percent of Asian women, 15% of African American women, and 14% of Hispanic women cite their ethnicity as a hurdle to overcome in the pursuit of prosperity. Nearly half of Americans (46%) also cite demographic factors like ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation to be hindering their ability to achieve financial stability.

Remaining Optimistic & Finding Solutions

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In spite of the personal barriers and drastic economic challenges that exist on the way to reaching the American Dream, Millennials today remain optimistic: 58% of Americans are hopeful to achieve prosperity in the future, and 80% see financial success in their future. Plus, the idea of prosperity has begun to shift away from a simply monetary-based concept — Millennials are also looking for mental and physical wellbeing, healthy relationships, and being able to provide for a family to round out a prosperous life.

The study also found that while only one in five (19%) Americans born outside of the U.S. believe they are currently prosperous, 71% are hopeful to achieve a prosperous life, as opposed to 58% of their U.S.-born counterparts.

And because of that optimism, a new entrepreneurial spirit is being born: non-traditional ways to earn money are becoming the norm, side hustles allow people to pursue their passions, and taking the leap to become one's own boss is looking more and more feasible. The study found that 36% of Americans are considering taking on a side job, one in three people (37%) are considering becoming business owners or becoming self-employed within the next five years, and one in five (21%) Americans are willing to make less money if it meant they could be their own boss. Small business owners are nearly twice as likely to feel more prosperous than those who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs, and one-third (33%) say they are achieving prosperity because of the decision to open a small business.

So, what can young people do to ensure their upward trajectories? Seek out help in managing your money, either from a financial professional or a family member or friend. Make sure to put money into a savings account, be diligent about setting a monthly budget, pay off your credit card each month, and pay off or pay down debt. Start tracking your personal spending by using digital payment tools like Intuit’s Mint app to manage your spending and budgeting, and Turbo to monitor your credit score and get the full picture of your financial life. But perhaps most importantly? Don't lose sight of the big picture — tend to the prosperity of your mental and physical wellbeing along with your financial future to find your version of the American Dream.

Click here for more information about Intuit’s Pursuit of Prosperity study, and join the conversation online! Share your thoughts on your pursuit of prosperity with the hashtag #ProsperityForAll.