True or false: millennials are bad at managing money?

The number of homeowners choosing to improve their current residence rather than move is increasing, with approximately four million households a year undertaking some kind of home renovation. High property prices along with the cost of moving are key reasons for staying put, with a building project often a cheaper way to create some extra space.


Projects may end up costing more than intended though, with 40% of homeowners exceeding their original budget according to the Hiscox Renovations and Extensions Report 2018. The report concluded that:

“Here’s where age and experience would seem to pay dividends with only 26% of over 55s going over budget compared to 59% of millennial homeowners.”

On the face of it, this statistic appears to play into the ‘frivolous millennial’ narrative. Is this another suggestion that millennials are poor at managing their money? After reading this, the idea stuck with me for a few days; would my parents really be on point for how much their renovation was going to cost? Just because they have carried out work in the past doesn’t mean they would be familiar with current rates.


The same report highlights that younger generations are more likely to renovate for practical reasons, with just 22% renovating to keep up with design trends versus 41% of over 55’s. Young families aren’t moving when they outgrow their home – they can’t afford to – which means that the type of projects millennials are carrying out are more complex than an aesthetic overhaul. With that comes more risk and potential for hidden costs.

‘Decorating the nursery’ becomes a highly skilled construction project when it involves extending your one bedroom flat to the side and rear (whilst propping up your neighbour above) and relocating the kitchen and bathroom, all to create an extra bedroom for a new baby.

On top of this, millennials are likely to be completing home improvements with less disposable income or savings than their more mature counterparts, meaning that they are under pressure to achieve more for less.

It is possible that younger homeowners have higher aspirations for the look of their projects, using more expensive materials and finishes. Perhaps inexperience does play a part through false optimism about what can be achieved. It’s a complex picture, not easily unpicked.  

Whatever the reasons, I suspect money management isn’t one of them. As Olivia Rudgard argues in her Guardian article, ‘Stop trashing millennials for not saving enough money – they’d love to, if only they could’, contrary to being bad with money, millennials have to work harder to manage their money in a difficult financial setting. I feel that the same rings true for home renovations.

It’s our experience that millennial homeowners are more willing to educate themselves on what to expect from their renovation projects. We estimate that around 79% of the attendees at our workshops fall into the millennial age group, keen to learn how to manage their projects and budget accordingly.

While there is much speculation around millennial spending habits in the press, when it comes to owning a home it’s clear that younger homeowners have to work much harder to achieve the house that they want. Luckily, if there was a generation able to rise to the challenge, it would appear to be this one. 

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