Millennial spending and investing during the COVID-19 pandemic is vastly different than the way Millennials managed their money in 2019.

The devastating impact of the pandemic on the American economy has inspired a new drive to achieve financial security and build wealth among Millennials, America’s largest and most diverse generation. 

Discover how to create and maintain a healthy budget during the COVID-19 pandemic with powerful online budgeting tools.

Our survey of more than 2,000 Millennials revealed that the majority have recently shifted their attention towards securing their financial futures. We found that most are limiting expenses, optimizing their savings, and expanding their investment portfolios. 

In this post, we’ll look at Millennial spending and investing, as well as how Millennials are using popular FinTech tools to support their financial goals. 

For an intimate portrait of how American Millennials fared in the pandemic and how our survey statistics bear out in real life, check out our other piece, Millennials, Money And COVID-19: How The Pandemic Is Shaking Up American Life.

Millennial spending and investing attitudes: goodbye avocado toast, hello annuities

For Millennials, economic uncertainty is likely nothing new. For those old enough to remember the Great Recession, the American economy’s 11-year growth streak has always been haunted by doubt. The fact that an in-demand degree and a solid resume is sometimes no guarantee of job security or financial stability in a volatile market has been underscored by the pandemic. 

The overwhelming majority (nearly 89%) lived in states where COVID-19-related restrictions on business and public activities impacted their day-to-day lives. This change in the way Millennials live and work meant that many of those surveyed found themselves struggling with the results of prolonged social isolation, such as boredom and sadness, and behaviors like unnecessary shopping, which often go along with environmental stress. 

Pressures on Millennials include a growing sense of financial insecurity in concert with general social unrest. Millennials hold an average of eight jobs between the ages of 18 to 32. Job-hopping is often spurred by hopes of achieving a better salary and benefits. 

Millennial Spending And Investing During COVID-19 - How The Pandemic Has Changed Millennial Financial Thinking

Also, due to high unemployment rates, soaring student loan and credit card debt, and a lack of personal wealth when compared to the previous generation – Generation X – Millennials are especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact on their finances. Nearly one-third of our respondents reported a reduction of work or job loss due to COVID-19. Millennials’ financial straits don’t just affect singles: nearly 50% of those surveyed were parents or contributed to the household budgets of extended family members. 

The fragility of Millennial financial prospects is reflected in our data. Millennials are shifting their focus towards wealth-building and financial literacy, even as they struggle with the uncertainty of the American future.

Millennials have found that there is a downside to working from home

Millennial Spending And Investing During COVID-19 - What Are Millennials Shopping During The Pandemic?

For many Millennials, working from home (or enduring a work furlough) has resulted in a budget-killing side effect: shopping out of boredom. Not only are Millennials apparently baking obscene amounts of chocolatey things, but they’re also buying lots of everything else. 

We found that Millennials are spending more money than usual online on:

  • Clothes and accessories: 30%.
  • Household goods and electronics: 37%.
  • Online entertainment subscriptions: 27%.
  • Online classes: 10%.
  • News site subscriptions: 7%.

Millennials don’t want cheddar, they want sustainable wealth 

Millennial Spending And Investing During COVID-19 - How The Pandemic Has Changed Millennial Thinking On Investment

Millennials are motivated to learn how to future-proof their finances. From how to find the right savings account to finding the right investment opportunities in a volatile market, most Millennials believe that knowledge is power – and money. 

Here’s what we learned about how Millennials are thinking about wealth:

  • Over 66% of Millennials are interested in learning how to invest their money.
  • 61% believe that this is a good time to start investing.
  • 20% plan to start investing.
  • 27% are already investing in the markets.

Those already investing in the markets lean towards stocks:

  • Just over 37% actively invest in dividend-paying stocks and bonds.
  • 21% earn income from stock portfolio appreciation.
  • 18% invest in real estate.

The Millennial FOMO financial toolkit

While Millennials’ fear of missing out (FOMO) is a familiar catchphrase, it’s also a way of life. From online shopping to food delivery, the Millennial penchant for doing things better and faster to get more for their time and money has driven innovation for nearly a decade. 

That appetite for efficiency and value also extends to financial technology. Here are some of the most popular financial tools that Millennials are using:


Fundrise is an online real estate investment trust (REIT) that holds a portfolio of real estate projects managed by Fundrise. 

How does it work?

Like most REITs, you earn quarterly dividends and can amass value the longer you hold your investment (depending on the market). Every two quarters, Fundrise will reassess the value of your portfolio, and you’ll have the option to sell or hold on to it.

Fundrise offers two plans for new clients. The Starter Portfolio asks for only $500 to get started and provides a free upgrade to the next tier – the Advanced Core Plan – if you invest more than $1,000. The Advanced Core Plan has three investment paths to choose from:

  • Supplemental Income: This path offers regular projected annual returns dividends of 7.9 to 8.6%.
  • Balanced Investing: This plan provides a broader range of real estate investments than the Supplemental Income membership option. The projected annual return is 8.6% to 10.7%.
  • Long-Term Growth: This choice provides the highest maximum annual yield, at 9.3 to 12.8%.

As your investment capacity grows, Fundrise can accommodate your long-term financial strategy with a diverse range of portfolio options that provide steady dividends.

Our verdict

Fundrise is a solid option for those looking to get their feet wet in real estate investing but aren’t ready to make a substantial financial commitment. 

This is a testimonial in partnership with Fundrise. We earn a commission from partner links on MoneyUnder30. All opinions are our own.

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is a self-managed trading platform that frees you from paying many of the expected fees and offers simple integration with the Chase mobile banking app.

How does it work?

There are no account minimums, stock or options trading fees, and no inactivity or annual fees. Plus Get up to $700 when you open and fund with qualifying new money. Offer expires 07/13/2023.

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing also offers access to all of J.P. Morgan’s equity research, giving you the same authoritative data the pros use to forecast their market plays. The Portfolio Builder Tool (requires a minimum of $2,500 investment to unlock) helps you determine what type of investments will meet your financial goals and risk tolerance levels. 

Our verdict

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is a great choice for investors ready to take control of their financial futures – the workhorse that you need to get started in portfolio management. 



Millennial Spending And Investing During COVID-19 - RobinhoodRobinhood is a no-fee trading platform for buying and selling stocks and ETFs in real-time.

How it works

Robinhood allows you to invest in more than 5,000 stocks, including the majority of ETFs and US equities. You can get started with as little as $1 and you even get one free stock when you sign up – giving you a head start on your portfolio at no cost to you.

Plus there are no annual, ACH transfer, inactivity, or commission fees with Robinhood. A premium service, Robinhood Gold, costs $5 a month and offers access to NASDAQ Level II Market Data and Morningstar research.

Most significantly, Robinhood allows you to buy fractional shares of stocks. That means you can purchase desirable shares and diversify your portfolio even if you have a limited budget and can only buy a smaller share of a high priced stock.

Robinhood also offers an FDIC-backed high-yield account as part of its Cash Management program; interest is paid monthly based on the uninvested cash in your brokerage account.

Our verdict

For investors who want a low-cost, streamlined investing experience, Robinhood is an excellent option.

Advertiser Disclosure – This advertisement contains information and materials provided by Robinhood Financial LLC and its affiliates (“Robinhood”) and MoneyUnder30, a third party not affiliated with Robinhood. All investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Securities offered through Robinhood Financial LLC and Robinhood Securities LLC, which are members of FINRA and SIPC. MoneyUnder30 is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.”


Betterment is a robo-advisory service that offers flexibility for hands-off investors seeking a diverse portfolio.

How it works

There are two options for beginner or experienced investors. Betterment Digital requires a $10 minimum deposit to get started investing and charges a 0.25% fee for management. Betterment Premium requires a $100,000 minimum investment and has a 0.40% management fee, but provides unlimited phone and email support from certified financial planners.

Betterment supports Individual and joint non-retirement accounts as well as cash accounts, trusts, Roth, SEP, and rollover IRAs. Betterment also offers fractional shares so that you can support your long-term financial strategy with a mix of powerful earners, even with a moderate budget. The platform also has a high-yield cash account that pays 2.25% as of Sept 26 and provides automated tax liability evaluation for accounts, helping you to configure your portfolio to minimize your tax bill. 

Betterment offers an excellent range of ETFs, socially responsible stocks, and targeted income yield portfolio options. 

Our verdict

For goal-driven investors seeking a one-stop-shop, Betterment is a solid platform.

Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities. 

Annual percentage yield (variable) is as of XX/XX/202X. Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities.


Millennial Spending And Investing During COVID-19 - M1 FinanceM1 is a robo-advisory platform that provides an array of customizable portfolio templates created by professional analysts designed to help you reach your investment goals.

How it works

If you select to use one of the templates, called “Pies,” you can choose to purchase individual stocks or ETFs or use the recommendations that are offered with each Pie. M1 can use taxable, joint, traditional IRA, Roth IRA, rollover IRA, SEP IRA, and trust accounts. The platform has more than 2,000 ETFs available for investment. Dividends are automatically reinvested once you earn $10. If you have a balance of at least $2,000, your account will be held as a margin account (allowing you to withdraw your money quickly without penalty). Accounts are protected up to $500,000 by the SIPC (with $250,000 protected for cash reserves).

M1 also offers an instant portfolio line, M1 Borrow, for brokerage account balances of at least $10,000. You may borrow up to 40% of your portfolio value at a rate as low as 6.75% variable with M1 Plus.

M1 is a strong contender for investors who want the ease of portfolio templates with the option to customize investment choices. 


Citi® is currently offering a stout 2.20% APY on its Citi® Accelerate Savings Account. The account is FDIC insured up to the maximum, and I can tell you from personal experience that the Citi mobile app is a breeze to use.

Citi also offers the opportunity to earn up to $2,000 bonus when opening up their Citi Priority Account and meeting deposit requirements. Keep in mind, you cannot use a Citi® Accelerate Savings Account or a Citi Savings Account to maintain your Balance as part of the Citi Priority offer and still be eligible to earn the Bonus.


While Millennials have been hard hit by the pandemic, this may be the most agile generation when it comes to economic resilience. Today, innovation is becoming the norm across every industry. As more companies pivot towards online employment, Millennials are finding new opportunities to turn job-hopping into multi-client contract work. That means it will be easier for Millennials to solidify income streams and build wealth in a post-COVID-19 economy.

Digital startups are taking advantage of the work-from-home trend to create solutions for simplified banking, insurance, and online investment, helping Millennials develop future-proof financial management strategies with a few clicks.

Learn more about Millennial financial strategy.

M1 Plus Disclosure - M1 Plus is a $125 annual subscription offering products and services from M1 Spend LLC and M1 Finance LLC, both wholly-owned, separate but affiliated subsidiaries of M1 Holdings Inc. 
*Your free trial (a $31.25 value) begins the date you enroll in the M1 Plus subscription, and ends 90 days after ("Free Trial"). Upon expiry of the Free Trial, your account is automatically billed an annual subscription fee of $125 unless you cancel under your Membership details in the M1 Platform.

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Carla Rover has been a technology and finance reporter since 2010. She lives in New York City. You can follow Carla or connect with her on Twitter.