Entitled and lazy may be some of the words bandied about the millennial generation but one thing you can’t call them is frivolous. That’s because they are saving more money at a younger age than any of the generations before them. Consider this: according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies millennials started saving at a median age of 22. That compares to 27 for Gen Xers and 35 for Baby Boomers. Meanwhile, research from Fidelity Investments found 20 somethings are now socking away 7.5% of their income compared to 5.8% in 2013. But what makes this generation different than the ones before them? It turns out a lot of things have affected their perspective on money and the reasons why they save. (Read more, here: How Much Millennials Should Save To Retire Comfortably.)

Many Millennials Grew Up In Hard Financial Times

The millennial generation has gone through the financial crisis, an era marked by a record number of foreclosures. They have watched their parents lose their jobs, their retirement savings and in some cases their homes. As a result, millennials are less likely to own a home and are quick to hop to the next job. They are also more worried about a retirement without enough money and, as a result, are willing to save more than their parents and even their older siblings, cousins or family members. It doesn’t help that many millennials are dealing with record levels of student loan debt at a time when they are either unemployed or underemployed. That debt is resulting in millennials not only putting off homeownership but also getting married and starting a family.

They Understand The Importance Of Saving For Retirement

Long gone are the days when someone could retire and live off of their monthly Social Security check. These days, retirees are going to need a lot more than Social Security benefits to survive, and many millennials have been taught that at an early age. Whether they witnessed their parents facing a retirement savings shortfall or had it drilled into their head that they need to save for their golden years, it is resonating in the form of savings. It doesn’t hurt that millennials are familiar with 401(K) plans and other company tax-advantaged saving vehicles and won’t think twice about using them.(Read more, here: What Makes Millennial Savers Unique?)

The Prospect Of No Social Security Is Real To Them

Ask anyone in their late 50s or early 60s and they will tell you they expect to get a Social Security check each month when they reach full retirement age. Ask any millennial that same questions and chances are they will say there won’t be any money left. While past generations have expressed concern about the Social Security coffers being empty, it was never a real risk. With millennials it is and as a result, they know they are going to have to bankroll their own retirement. That in turns creates earlier savings habits that generations before them didn’t have to worry about possessing.

They Are Aware Of The Ramifications Of Bad Spending Habits

Overextending ourselves and taking on debt we couldn’t afford was one of the main reasons the U.S. fell into a deep recession a few years back with foreclosures and repossessions happening all over the country. Millennials got to witness a lot of the bad behavior that got consumers in trouble. Not to mention the overspending at the government level that has resulted in a record deficit. Unlike other carefree generations, millennials know all too well what bad spending and saving habits can cause and don’t want that to happen to them. One way to prevent that: save for retirement. (Read more, here: Money Habits Of The Millennials.)

Working Forever Isn't In The Cards

By choice or circumstance many people work well into their 70s, retire and then end up dying shortly after that. These same people give all of themselves to their job, clocking long hours at the expense of their family and their health. Millennials value a work/life balance much more and don’t want to spend their entire lives working. To retire at an earlier age millennials have to amass a large retirement nest egg and one way to achieve that is to start saving as soon as possible. It’s the reasons millennials are putting away money for retirement at 22 on average while their baby boomer counterparts waited until they were 35. (Read more, here: Early Out: A Realistic Plan To Retire Younger.)

The Bottom Line

Retirement savings is a necessary part of everyone’s financial plan, yet far too many people have little if anything set aside for their golden years. After all, many grew up at a time when debt was easy to come by, and little thought was given to how they were going to live when they were old. Millennials are different than past generations, partly because they grew up in tough times. With a nation saddled with a huge deficit, many witnessing their parents losing their jobs and their homes and with real concerns that Social Security won’t be around, millennials have been stepping up their savings strategy to ensure they have enough for their golden years.

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