The interesting truth about why millennials aren't saving for retirement.
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The truth about millennials and money is complex.

Millennials face different economic challenges than older generations did. I can speak from experience. Pensions feel like unicorns to us, and most of us live with a little monster called student debt on our backs that eats away at our paychecks. As a result, we have different financial priorities and goals, especially when it comes to retirement.


I would probably be less surprised if I came across this scene in a verdant pasture than if I saw a job posting with "pension plan" among the benefits. Painting by Domenichino, via Wikimedia Commons.

Admittedly, many millennials don't think hard about retirement at all. In fact, a recent study found that only 29% of millennials are "actively planning" for retirement ... but the real question is why. Why don't millennials think about retirement? And are we going to be stuck in cubicles until we're in our 80s?

Here's what the facts say.

Things may not be as bleak as they seem. GIF from "The Simpsons."

1. It's true: Millennials are not on track to cover our expenses in retirement.

When millennials think about retirement, they seriously lowball the amount of money they expect to spend, according to the Insured Retirement Institute and the Center for Generational Kinetics. Most millennials expect to spend $36,000 per year, but the average retired person actually goes through more like $47,000.

Another dicey finding from this study? Almost a quarter of millennials think they're going to bankroll their retirement years through the lottery or financial gifts. Yikes.

2. At this rate, many millennials will probably have to delay retirement, which means (in some cases) working until age 75.

A lot of millennials aren't planning to save for retirement until they've paid off their student loan debt, which can take a decade or more.

And it's more than just retirement that's getting delayed. In fact, one-third of recent graduates are saying that they're planning on living at home right after graduation so they can start paying it back. It's a domino effect that delays all sorts of life decisions, like getting married or buying a house.

Photo via 401(K) 2012/Flickr.

3. But more millennials are saving a decent amount of money — and sooner than their parents.

Last year, one survey found that about 56% of millennials are saving at least 5% of their income, which is 6 points higher than the year before! And other research has found that this generation began saving at a median age of 22, which follows a downward trend — reports show Gen X started around 27 and boomers at 35.

4. Plus, Americans in general (not just millennials) are planning to retire later.

In fact, the lack of focus on retirement might have more to do with a switch in mindset than a lack of financial knowledge. Stats show that the number of non-retired people who say they plan to retire after age 65 has grown from 14% in 1995 to 31% in 2009 and 37% in 2015. The expected age at retirement has been creeping up for a while.

Nary a latte in sight. Photo by ITU Pictures/Flickr (altered).

When most millennials entered adulthood, the economy was collapsing, the job market was super bleak, and the housing crisis was in full swing.

So while the majority of millennials appear to be pretty good at saving money when they can, the context is important. In general, millennials tend to avoid investments because the stock market seems like a house of cards, and the job market still feels fairly tenuous.

Millennials do, in fact, have financial priorities. But for most of them, there's a generational switch going on: Quitting work for the last couple decades of their lives isn't at the top of their priority list. Most 20-somethings are taking advantage of 401(k)s when they can, but they're also saving their money for meaningful experiences — like travel — because they'll be satisfied by a "semi-retirement."

You can't do this with an IRA. GIF from "Mad Men."

Since millennials are incredibly committed to finding jobs that they're passionate about, working past age 65 doesn't seem so bad.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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