Convenience Store Food and 10 Other Dumb Things Millennials Love to Waste Money On

Millennial spending habits are a bit of an anomaly. On one hand, they’re more likely to have a financial plan in place to manage their tiny fortunes. On the other, they’re tossing money down the tube for a weekend at Bonnaroo, searching for the next Instagram-worthy photo moment. They refuse to buy things such as life insurance, houses, and national-brand beer, but won’t hesitate for even a second to commit to yet another subscription delivery service.

The millennial spending habits of those born between 1980 and 2000 has restaurants and just about every other retailer scrambling to keep up. As some products become obsolete, others are basking in victory. Here are 10 seemingly pointless things millennials just can’t help but waste money on. But be warned: they’re a contradictory bunch.

1. Wine in a can

canned wines at the beach

Millennials love wine. | Drizly

Organic, boxed, or canned: you name it, millennials want it. In fact, millennials consume so much wine, they’re changing how its sold. Forty-two percent of young people have bought bag-in-a-box wine and 14% of millennials have sipped wine from a can — which is more than any other generation can say. They don’t care about fancy labels or the subtle grape undertones boomers consider when spending money on wine. However, millennials will pay top dollar for organic, sulfate-free wine in a bottle, according to Infiniti Research.

Next: A weird pet trend millennials subscribe to

2. Snakes

brave man holding snake

Snakes are becoming surprisingly popular pets. | Talitha_it/iStock/Getty Images

If you have a heightened interest in keeping snakes — or any other reptile as pets — you might be a millennial. Pet Age data suggests this generation is “most active in reptile keeping and searching for related material online.” They’re also more apt to prioritize pet healthcare as a job benefit. Because, who cares about your own health if your snake isn’t thriving as well, right?

Next: Fitness isn’t cheap

3. Protein powder

A spilled scoop of protein powder

A spilled scoop of protein powder |

Nutrition supplements are a big reason why the health and beauty industry is booming under the millennial generation. Unfortunately, these products are not cheap.

Maybe it’s all those fitness influencers on Instagram driving the need for a lifestyle change, but protein powder and other supplements are a favored millennial purchase. Ibotta research found millennials frequent stores like GNC and Vitacost 33% more than other age groups.

Next: The foods millennials are willing to pay top dollar for

4. High-end groceries

Fruits and Vegtables

Millennials are willing to pay more for groceries. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Grocers like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Trader Joe’s have millennials to thank for their expanding retail footprint. Thirty-five percent of young adults are willing to spend more money at high-end grocery stores than non-millennials according to Ibotta.

There’s a reason Whole Foods is dubbed as “Whole Paycheck.” Young shoppers are willing to sacrifice an arm and a leg for healthy alternatives like kombucha, kale chips, and almond milk with an organic label than the regular comparable items at supermarkets.

Next: Millennial spending habits go from Whole Foods to 7-Eleven in no time at all.

5. Convenience store foods

Millennials aren’t above buying food at convenience stores. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Remember when we warned you about how contradictory millennial spending habits can be? It seems millennials will prioritize quinoa and flax seed one day, then turn around and buy Lunchables and hot dogs at a convenience store the next.

USA Today says this generation loves wasting a paycheck or two at fast-food restaurants and gas station convenience stores. They accounted for over 11% of millennial food and drink stops in 2014, compared to just 7.7% in 2006. Experts say any store hoping to stay afloat must understand that the future of their store does not depend on gas, but food instead.

Next: A “food” generation that also prioritizes laziness

6. Meal services

Millennials may love food, but they don’t always like to cook. | Grubhub via Facebook

Isn’t it ironic that millennials are the “foodie” generation, yet can’t cook? Or that they love to eat but hate meal prep?

It’s for this reason mobile ordering and delivery apps like Grub Hub are winning out with younger consumers. Even meal-kit services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are gaining traction with millennial wallets, despite their pricey and dare we say, pointless, nature. Millennials won’t eat cereal because it leaves a dirty bowl behind, so it’s easy to see why meals in a box are so attractive to this generation.

Next: Hot sauce is worth its weight in gold to some people

7. Hot sauce


Millennials love sriracha on just about everything. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

America has a passion for sriracha. In fact, it’s the go-to condiment for the entire millennial generation as more than half of American household are stocked with some version of the fiery sauce.

Hot sauce sales hit $1.37 billion in 2017, up 4.5% from the year before. The profitable millennial craving for burning tongues prompted everyone from beer companies to fast-food restaurants to debut products with hot sauce as an ingredient.

Next: Ride-sharing for the win

8. Taxis and Ubers

An Uber car waits for a client in Manhattan

Millennials will pay not to drive. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A Charles Schwab report notes millennials love to spend more money on conveniences like taxies and ride-sharing programs than any other generation. For one, more than half of millennials shell out money for taxis and Ubers, compared to 29% of Gen Xers and 15% of boomers. Though Ubers cost considerably less than taxis in urban areas, it’s not uncommon for young adults to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 bucks on this modern-day convenience.

Next: Millennials love to buy this type of home service

9. Entertainment subscriptions

Netflix is an essential expense for most millennials. | Kasinv/Getty

The “me” generation does nothing to debunk their “Starbucks-drinking, Netflix-binging” stereotype. Data proves they’re more willing to part with other expenses than cut ties with their entertainment subscriptions.

Boomers may think paying for streaming services with limited options are dumb, but 51% of millennials consider Netflix more valuable than cable or, say, a weekend spent socializing with the outside world.

Next: Labels matter, not price.

10. Craft beer

A colorful beer flights is illuminated against a bright sunset

Millennials don’t want to drink the beers their parents did. | BristolDen/iStock/Getty Images

Even Budweiser, the self-proclaimed King of Beers, can’t keep track of these wonky millennial spending habits. It recently fell to No. 4 in domestic beer sales, proving that millennial beer money is now better suited for craft brews.

Labels matter, apparently, and cheap mainstream drinks just won’t cut it anymore. Research shows millennials think it’s very important to include the brand of a beer or spirit in a cocktail menu when considering their options.

Next: A pricey habit

11. Vape products

For millennials, vaping is overtaking cigarettes in popularity. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Drinking and smoking are both popular pastimes for millennials — though it’s not usually a can of PBR and a Marlboro they’re after. This generation prefers to spend more money on pricier versions of these habits, including vape products, e-cigarettes, and hookah lounges.

Forty-four percent of vapor smokers are millennials. Older generations may scratch their heads when looking at a vape pen, but younger folks appreciate the supposed healthier side effects of the stuff.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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