1107 GMT March 31, 2020
The comprehensive survey of 10,000 Americans, “You Get What You Give: The 2018 Financial Wellness and Community Involvement Study,” looked at how people help each other in defined community groups, which include: Family, friends, neighborhoods, school-related circles, work, religious, volunteer-related or city/town/region-related organizations, forbes.com wrote.
Americans are known for their generosity; the survey said that more than half, 53 percent — have helped someone struggling financially. But the research revealed some surprising findings that correct common mischaracterizations about certain demographics, including:
● Millennials, who have been tagged as the ‘selfish’ generation, are involved in more communities than other generations, and are more likely than anyone else to help others. At least 60 percent of Millennials offered support to someone in their community, compared to Gen Xers (55 percent) and Boomers (50 percent). Millennials also more likely to get help from others (38 percent); 25 percent of Gen Xers and 17 percent of Boomers have received community help. While Millennials were more supportive across the board (financially, emotionally, volunteering time or attending gatherings), the Silent Generation were more likely to give money. The data also didn't dive into technology access and if Millennials were more likely than others to see appeals to help their community on social media or in other areas.
● More city folks (73 percent) are likely to say that community involvement is important to their well-being than those who live in the suburbs (67 percent) or in rural America (66 percent).
● Millennials are more likely to participate in a variety of communities, both in real life and online.
The survey shows that those who have positive interactions socially also tend to have good financial habits, said Paula Tremblay, assistant vice president, Communications, at MassMutual.
“They really take their own personal time and sometimes resources to help their communities. They're putting some of that attention toward their own financial foundation as well,” she said.
The more engaged community members tended to have good money habits , such as putting money in an emergency fund or retirement account, paying down a credit card debt, keeping a budget, tracking financial goals, paying down student loans, and talking about finances with a spouse or partner.
For Millennials, their involvement in communities is directly tied to their work through mentoring and networking, which are proven ways to advance and make more money.
“For them, if it helps them in their careers, it definitely helps them with their financial foundation building,” Tremblay said.
Though 17 percent of those surveyed say there are zero barriers to becoming involved with their communities, others feel differently and pinpointed one or more factors that keep them from interacting:
● Time (42 percent)
● Money (35 percent)
● Lifestyle differences (31 percent), the feeling of not fitting in (28 percent) and cultural differences (24 percent)
● Competing priorities (27 percent)
● Geographic location (22 percent)
So those who don’t have the time, resources or inclination to participate in their communities may be overworking and underearning and aren’t plugged in enough to be engaged, Tremblay said.
The upshot: If you’re struggling financially, joining a community doesn’t automatically make you earn more — but it can help you develop new habits and put you in touch with people who may help you reach your financial goals.