Canadian Millennial Spending Statistics You Should Know About

Written By
G. Dautovic
July 10,2023

If you were born between 1981 and 1996, you're considered a millennial. And if you're a millennial, chances are that you are tech-savvy, highly educated, probably carrying a lot of debt, and like to spend your money differently than previous generations. Generation Yers (as they're also called) and their spending habits are a powerful force in the economy.

This should come as no surprise, considering that 25% of the Canadian population are millennials. Let's delve deeper into some of the most telling millennial spending statistics and see how Gen Yers are changing the spending landscape.

Canadial Millenial Spending Stats for 2024 - Editor’s Choice

  • Millennials earn 25% more than the previous generations used to at the same age.
  • The wealth gap between millennials is double what it was between young Gen X-ers.
  • 42% of millennials (aged 25-39) self-identify as spenders, as opposed to savers.
  • 58% of Millennials prefer spending their money on experiences rather than things.
  • 55% of Canadian millennials find dealing with money stressful and frightening.
  • Millennials pay 31.91% more for housing costs compared to previous generations.

General Statistics on Millennial Buying Power

We'll present some general stats and facts on Generation Y spending habits before we get into more specific ones. By understanding how millennials spend their money in general, you'll better understand how they make their purchasing decisions.

Millennials earn 25% more than the previous generations used to at the same age.


With a median after-tax household income of $44,093, millennials bring in more money than any other generation before. According to a 2016 report by CBC, Generation Xers could count on an average income of $33,276, while boomers earned around $33,350 at the same time in their lives.

When we compare these figures, it's clear that the spending power of millennials is much higher than that of other generations. Canadian millennials with a high income tend to own their home, live in large metro areas such as Toronto or Vancouver, and have a higher education.

Canadian millennials have nearly twice the debt-to-income ratio of other generations.

(Statistics Canada)

With the cost of education and housing constantly rising, it's no surprise that millennials have higher debt loads than any other generation before them. According to a 2016 report by Statistics Canada, the average debt-to-income ratio (after taxes) for millennials was a whopping 216%.

At the same time in their life, Gen Xers' and boomers' debt load was 125%. That means that millennial consumers may seem to have more money to spend, but the portion of their income that goes towards paying off debt is much bigger than that of previous generations.

With a median debt of $35,400, Millenials have a 1.8 times higher overall debt load than Gen-Xers.

(Statistics Canada)

In 1999, young Gen Xers accumulated a median debt of $19,400, whereas the millennial cohort in 2016 had $35,400, which is almost double the 1999 figure.

This increase in average debt load is mainly because the costs of living, education, and housing have increased significantly over the past two decades while wages have remained relatively stagnant.

The wealth gap between millennials is double what it was between young Gen X-ers.

(Statistics Canada)

According to the millennial spending statistics in Canada, there is a growing wealth gap among millennials, with the top 10% of earners holding an average of 55% of the total net worth. While the highest-paid 25% of millennials in 2016 accounted for a total net worth of $253,900, the bottom 25% only had $9,500.

At the same time in their lives, the top 25% of young Gen Xers in 1999 had accumulated $126,900 while the bottom 25% had $6,200 in net worth.

With the growing wealth gap and rising inequalities, an equitable economy seems further away than ever.

Shopping Statistics - How Millennials Spend Their Money

One of the most popular pastimes for millennials is shopping, and they're spending big bucks on leisure activities. Millennials tend to be more impulsive with their money than other generations, which you can clearly see when you look at the shopping habits of this diverse group.

33% of online shoppers from Canada are Millenials, making them the most active group of shoppers.


Statista's research conducted in 2021 found that millennials aged 27 to 40 are the most active online shoppers, comprising a third of all Canadian online shoppers. Baby boomers are the next biggest section of online shoppers (30%), and Gen Xers comprise just 26% of online shoppers.

Moreover, the same research on consumer spending by generation reported Gen Z and pre-boomers accounted for just 8% and 4% of online shoppers, respectively.

42% of millennials (aged 25-39) self-identify as spenders. 

(Edward Jones)

A study conducted by Edward Jones, a brokerage firm that provides investment advice, found that 42% of millennials consider themselves to be spenders, as opposed to savers. This is in contrast to just 28% of Gen Xers and 19% of baby boomers who identify as spenders. At the same time, 62% of boomers (55-75) were most likely to describe themselves as savers.

Given the culture of hyper-consumerism developed around millennials and the increased costs of all goods for them, it’s no wonder millennials are more likely than any other generation to have debt, as they simply have to spend more money to fulfill basic needs.

58% of Millennials prefer spending their money on leisure activities.

(Edward Jones)

What do millennials spend their money on? A study by Edward Jones found that 58% of millennials (25 to 39) would rather spend their hard-earned money on experiences than things, and that they are similar to boomers in this respect, 57% of whom would do the same. “Experiences” include vacations, eating out, attending concerts, and participating in other leisure activities. On the other hand, Gen Z (18-24) tends to purchase clothing and electronics more often than other age groups.

 Millennials strongly prefer socially and environmentally responsible brands and organic products.


A study by Nielsen found that 20% of the millennial cohort would be willing to pay more for products and services from socially responsible and environmentally friendly companies. Compared to an average shopper, millennial spending habits in Canada are significantly influenced by brand quality: Namely, 30% of respondents are more likely to consider organic products. 

As they are more attuned to global issues, millennials are more likely to seek brands that reflect their values. As a result, companies increased the attachment of labels reflecting a socially responsible and environmentally friendly stance on their products to increase sales.

82% of millennials in Canada claim inflation will impact their travelling plans.


A 2022 research data by PayPal Canada indicates that four-fifths of millennials are concerned about inflation eroding their travelling power.

What’s more, the same study on millennials' consumer behaviour shows that 85% of travellers from this generation count sales and discounts as an essential factor determining their decision to travel, and 16% consider budget management to be their top priority when travelling.

Millennials and Financial Management

When it comes to financial management, this generation is ahead of the curve. With the accumulated debt from student loans and a lack of savings, millennials are forced to manage their funds much more tightly. We've gathered some stats to help paint a picture of the current financial situation for Gen Y.

 55% of Canadian millennials find dealing with money stressful and frightening, statistics about millennials claim.


Managing personal finances is almost always frustrating, but it seems especially stressful for millennials. In a 2022 study by the Meridian Credit Union, 55% of respondents from this generation said money management is very stressful and intimidating.

Many millennials grew up in families struggling with economic tension. The leftover financial anxiety from their childhood caused 51% of respondents to have difficulties coping with their own finances as adults. This has only been compounded by the overarching economic issues of the past two decades, which affected millennials more than any other generation.

Despite their struggle, 73% of respondents haven’t reached out to a financial adviser for help.


The same study on millennial spending statistics found that, even though most Gen Yers struggle to deal with their finances, nearly three-quarters of them have not sought out professional help. Despite the fact that most top-rated trading platforms offer financial tools to help young investors make informed decisions, millennials aren't impressed. Around 37% of respondents manage their own funds because they know they wouldn't be able to pay for a financial advisor.

40% of Gen Yers in Canada claim paying down debt is their essential short-term financial priority.

(Edward Jones)

According to a study by Edward Jones, two-fifths of millennials in Canada claim paying down debt is their number-one financial priority in the short term. This is because many of them are still paying off student loans and other debts, as all of these costs have grown much faster than Gen Y’s income. As the current economy makes it practically impossible for them to save for a rainy day, most of Gen Y is just trying to get out of the red.

Millennials pay 31.91% more for housing costs compared to previous generations.

(Better Dwelling)

The cost of living has been rising steadily in recent years, and this is especially true for the millennial generation. Namely, millennials in Canada, as Statistics Canada 2020 data indicate, pay nearly a third more than previous generations for housing, electricity, gas, water, and other utilities. At the median age of 31, they have to pay an average of $18,428 after adjusting for inflation. 

Millennials also have to pay around $36,170 per household on taxes, which is 22.24% higher than boomers and Gen X.

Nearly half of all millennial households reported an income decrease last year.


The youngest generations of adults have been the most affected by the economic downturn in the past few years. As a result, 44% of millennials reported their income had shrunk due to the pandemic and the general economic crisis. They are struggling to find affordable personal loans with low-interest rates to compensate for that lack of spending power.

Final Thoughts

All in all, millennial spending statistics and financial data show they have much less support and savings to fall back on than previous generations. To make things worse, they have to deal with much worse inflation, slower wage growth, and increased cost of living, too.

The millennial cohort is the first generation to come of age in the digital era. This means they are used to making purchases online and are comfortable doing so. They tend to pay for leisure activities rather than purchasing big-ticket items. Also, they are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that claim to be socially responsible and environmentally friendly. 

Finally, this economic pressure has taken a toll on Gen Yers’ optimism: Millennials' purchasing power has decreased significantly over the past few years, and barely a quarter of the demographic feels hopeful about their financial future.


Which generation has the most spending power?


At face value, millennials have more spending power than any previous generation. However, they also have to deal with double the debt of Gen X, a much higher cost of living, an exploding housing market, and extreme inflation. Therefore, the increased spending power of Gen Y isn’t exactly the advantage it’s touted to be.

How much money do millennials have?


According to statistics, millennials' spending power is higher than any other generation. In fact, with a median net income of $44,093, they're making the most money compared to boomers and Gen Xers. However, this number is significantly skewed by the wealth gap of this generation, towards the 25% of millennials who have more opportunities to earn a higher income, live in big cities such as Toronto or Vancouver, and have high homeownership rates.

This is further highlighted by the fact that Gen Yers are also the most indebted generation. The average millennial has a median debt of $35,400, due to high housing costs and student loans.

What do millennials buy the most?


According to the millennial spending statistics we had insight into, 58% of millennials aged 25 to 39 would rather spend on experiences than things. Most of them tend to part with their cash for going on vacations, eating out, attending concerts, and other leisure activities. Another interesting fact is that this generation is willing to spend more on socially responsible brands, environmentally friendly companies, and organic products.


About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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