Millennials may have ruined marriage, cereal, movies, golf, Big Macs and the Canadian tourism industry, but they still have high hopes for the future — and their bank accounts.
According to survey results out Monday from TD Ameritrade, about half of people between the ages of 21 and 37 expect to eventually become millionaires (or already are).
The brokerage firm sponsored a survey earlier this year that asked roughly 1,500 American millennials at what age, if any, they thought they would officially earn that label. 53% of respondents said they believed they'd become millionaires in their lifetimes, with about 7% predicting it would happen by the time they turned 30, 19% by age 40 and 16% by age 50.
7% of people said they'd be millionaires by 60 or later. A small part of the group, about 4%, said they were already millionaires.
That may sound optimistic, but it makes sense to TD's chief market strategist, JJ Kinahan. Kinahan tells Money that the results can be attributed to "youthful exuberance" and the plethora of success stories coming out of Silicon Valley, where employees often receive stock options as part of their compensation packages.
But the results diverge when the data is broken down by gender. Whereas over 70% of male millennials said they expect to become millionaires or already are, just 38% of females said the same.
Kinahan says that may be because many women plan on taking time off to have children or care for older relatives, which could affect their earnings potential. By contrast, "most males see their career in a straight line, so to speak," he explains.
Men's attitudes may also play into their millionaire expectations, as Kinahan says young males often "see themselves as invincible."
However, all millennials should set themselves up for success. Kinahan says young people should start saving for retirement and look into 401(k) options as soon as possible if they want to become millionaires.
"You can have that expectation if you're willing to make the sacrifices," he says. "It doesn't happen because you woke up one day and made a million dollars. For most people, it's because you saved. You set money aside when you were 25 for when you were 65."
Here's how that's possible, using calculations from Bankrate. Say you're a 25-year-old living in Iowa, where the median millennial income is about $63,000, according to a recent Money analysis. Assume you follow the national standard and start contributing 6.2% of your salary to your 401(k), with your employer matching 50% up to 6% of your salary.
Even if you only get annual salary increases of 2.3% — which is below the U.S. average — you can still have $1,004,468 by the time you retire at 65, assuming annualized market returns of 5%.
See? Being a millionaire is nothing to sneeze at, but it's not as rare as you might think. Money reported last year that one in every 20 Americans is a millionaire. Just last month, Fidelity revealed that about 157,000 people had more than $1 million in their 401(k), with most of them having saved for about three decades.