Roughing it: Millennials are finding shelter amid financial fears

Published: Monday, Nov. 14 2011 8:00 p.m. MST

Lloyd, who studies international business and Spanish, said that avoiding expenses was 60 percent of the reason why they moved to the mountains. They dodged about $1,875 in rent this year by opting out of an apartment.

Most mornings, Lloyd's girlfriend, Jacqueline Stuart, a junior from Syracuse, Utah, brings him breakfast. She rides his bus-driving work route with him a few times, giggling about his living situation as he sneaks bites at stops.

"I think it would be silly to go live in a tent to save money," Stuart said. "My parents think he's just being stubborn."

Silly as it may seem, Lloyd doesn't have enough money to cover his next semester. With registration coming up, his living conditions may not be enough to get him into school and back into apartment living, which makes avoiding debt hard.

The tent dwellers plan to stay in their mountain at least until the end of the year to avoid cost.

Investment is out of the question for many millennials.

According to MFS, more than a third of Generation Y said they will never feel comfortable investing in the stock market. Nearly a third said their primary investment objective was "not losing money."

Most millenials also feel pressure from too many choices. About 54 percent of Generation Y investors feel overwhelmed by all the choices they have, MFS said. This is likely the cause of the 47 percent who are putting off investment decisions.

Jenkins said a lack of education and hidden fees are the source of distrust towards banks among Generation Y.

"The No. 1 thing is transparency," Jenkins said. "If you're going to buy an investment, it should be very transparent and obvious what fees are being charged."

Banks are changing their tactics to attract college-aged customers. Zions Bank launched Cheapster, a reality TV-esque Web series that has contestants jockey to see who is the most frugal. Each installment is posted on Facebook.

Richardson, the USU tent dweller, is one of the contestants ranging from 18 to 28 years old competing for a $10,000 cash prize.

"Finances and banking are not at the top of the priority list for millenials," said Brad Herbert, vice president and emerging market manager at Zions Bank, "They have more things on their mind than they can think about. We know we're not at the top of their priority list, but we're here when they need us, and we want millenials to know that."

For the penny pinchers in a tent near Logan, financial planning is simple.

"I'm hoping to just find a sugar mama," Richardson said.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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