Being a millennial can be tough, but for many millennials of color, the burden placed on them by family members needing financial help can make it virtually impossible to get ahead.
Writing for the Atlantic, Mel Jones breaks down why young Black and Latin@ people have such a hard time building wealth.
During key times in their lives when they should be building assets, they’re spending money on basic necessities and often helping out family. Their financial future is a rocky one, and much of it comes down to how much—or how little—assistance they receive.
A seminal study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives on wealth accumulation estimates that as much as 20 percent of wealth can be attributed to formal and informal gifts from family members, especially parents. And it starts early. In college, black and Hispanic Millennials are more likely to have to work one or two jobs to get through, missing out on opportunities to connect with classmates who have time to tinker around in dorm rooms and go on to found multibillion-dollar companies together. Many of them take on higher levels of student debt than their white peers, often to pay for routine expenses, such as textbooks, that their parents are less likely to subsidize.
…Recent polls indicate that a large portion of Millennials receive financial help from parents. At least 40 percent of the 1,000 Millennials (ages 18 to 34) polled in a March USA Today/Bank of America poll get help from parents on everyday expenses. A Clark University poll indicated an even higher number, with almost three-quarters of parents reporting that they provide their Millennial children with financial support. Another survey saw nearly a third of Baby Boomers paying for Millennials’ medical expenses. A quarter of Boomers subsidized “other expenses” so their Millennial offspring could save money. Black and Hispanic Americans are less likely to be the recipients of this type of support.
One reason millennials of color aren’t able to receive as much help as their white counterparts is due to the racial wealth gap, which has been exacerbated by systematic racism and discriminatory financial practices. These challenges often mean Black and Latin@ households accumulate financial assets at much slower rates than their white counterparts, or not at all.
“Wealth inequality can’t be discussed without talking about race; within the American context, they are inseparable…For black Millennials in particular, studies point to a legacy of discrimination over several centuries that contributed to less inherited wealth passed down from previous generations. This financial disparity stems from continuous shortfalls in their parents’ net worth and low homeownership rates among blacks, which works to create an unlevel playing field.”
Despite the extra added burden of helping family members, of color are still some of the most creative, innovative people in America. While their dreams may take longer to reach, they continue to try to make them happen.
Are you struggling to get ahead financially because you help your family out? Sound off!