spending

Monopoly for a New Generation

The game plays into millennial stereotypes, but in reality we’re not much different than other generations.

Like many ’90s kids, I grew up playing classic board games, including Monopoly. Recently, game maker Hasbro cashed in on our childhood nostalgia with Monopoly for Millennials, which features Rich Uncle Pennybags taking a selfie, holding a latte, and wearing earbuds and a participation medal. Instead of buying property and amassing cash, players discover destinations—ranging from “Parents’ Basement” to “Week-long Meditation Retreat”—and collect “experience” points. The game, which roasts millennials with the same one-liner clichés we’ve heard for years, was met with ire online but quickly sold out.

But at the suggestion of my editors—both baby boomers—I tracked down the game on Amazon at triple its $20 retail price and gathered friends to play it and see what Hasbro had to say about our generation. Some of my friends found the game offensive, while others appreciated the self-deprecating humor. As we played, we were almost always strapped for cash and waiting for a break (pick up a fourth job, collect $45) or a calamity (unpaid student loans, go to jail), with little chance to increase our income or save for future goals. And yet, with its bikeshares, yoga studio and snarky comments, the game was surprisingly relatable and funny.

Jokes and jabs aside, the financial reality for millennials is challenging. Coming of age during the Great Recession—when student debt ballooned, the job market shrank, wages flattened and credit was put in a vise—has left millennials with lower incomes and fewer assets than Gen Xers and boomers had at the same age, according to a recent Federal Reserve report titled “Are Millennials Different?” But things aren’t as bleak as many have suggested.

Busting clichés. The same obstacles that have stacked the deck against millennials may have also made us better with money. The game implies that millennials live in the moment and spend without planning for the future. But more than 40% of us set money aside monthly, according to a recent study by financial services firm Allianz. Plus, we are prioritizing retirement, with about half of millennials with a 401(k) contributing 10% or more of their income each month, says Allianz.

Granted, for others, saving for retirement draws the short straw. Two-thirds of working millennials haven’t started saving for retirement, reports the National Institute on Retirement Security. That’s cause for concern, but it tracks patterns set by prior generations. A survey by the financial site Comet found that 41% of Gen Xers and 42% of boomers say they haven’t started to save for retirement, either.

For a long time, too, millennials weren’t buying homes at the same rate as previous generations did. In fact, the game’s tagline is “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.” But now, millennials make up the largest group of home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. And in 2018, roughly four in 10 millennials owned their own home, while only 16% reported living with their parents, according to a recent report by professional services firm EY.

Millennials have also often been criticized for spending on experiences, such as travel and brunches with avocado toast. But after accounting for differences in earnings compared with prior generations, the Fed study found that millennials’ spending habits and consumer preferences are similar to those of Gen Xers and boomers. One big difference: Social media fuels our spending, with nearly 60% of millennials saying they make unplanned purchases because of what they see on social media feeds, reports Allianz.

As for Monopoly for Millennials, it’s mercifully shorter than the traditional game, leaving us time to play better games, hang out at an artisanal coffee shop or work on a side hustle.

Most Popular

How to Use Your Estate Plan to Save on Taxes While You’re Still Alive!
estate planning

How to Use Your Estate Plan to Save on Taxes While You’re Still Alive!

Upstream basis planning is a trust strategy that can save wealthy people on their capital gains taxes and income taxes associated with highly apprecia…
July 3, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
The 15 Best Growth Stocks for the Rest of 2022
growth stocks

The 15 Best Growth Stocks for the Rest of 2022

A sharp selloff in growth stocks this year creates opportunity for keen investors. Here are 15 top-rated picks to consider in the second half of 2022.
June 28, 2022

Recommended

Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers
credit & debt

Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers

What money-management guidance can we glean from the words — and experience — of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and others?
June 30, 2022
Prepare for Painful Utility Bills, Gas Station Visits
spending

Prepare for Painful Utility Bills, Gas Station Visits

While brutal pump prices are dominating the headlines, consumers also are absorbing rapidly escalating utility bills.
June 14, 2022
Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is at an all-time high. What’s driving the surge and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
June 13, 2022
Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid
retirement

Beneficiary Designations: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid

You may be surprised at how easy it is to make an expensive mistake with your beneficiary designations. Here's how to help avoid the five most common …
June 6, 2022