Photo credit: Source: Corner Bakery Cafe

Level Money, a mobile-first financial services company, released a national report about Millennials’ spending habits.

Level Money, San Francisco, says the report analyzes spending activity during the first half of 2014. Results provide an important look into the spending behaviors of Americans aged 18 to 35, specifically how they spend their money across popular “vices” in the categories of coffee, alcohol and fast food.

Millennials, a demographic of nearly 75 million people, wield powerful purchasing power. Given this influence, merchants and brands have a lot to learn from Millennials’ regional preferences and how their spending habits differ from other age groups. Specifically, Level Money’s data shows that brand loyalties of Millennials are shifting from those of previous generations.

While Starbucks and McDonald’s still lead as top brands for coffee and fast food purchases, respectively, Millennials are branching out in wide swaths: McDonald’s lead among Millennials is only 2-to-1, compared to a 3-to-1 lead among the general population (1).

“By better understanding this generation’s unique financial behaviors and motivations, and their brand interactions, those of us in the technology, personal finance, and business industries can better reach and serve them,” says Level CEO and co-founder Jake Fuentes. “In doing so, we can help them build successful financial futures and kick-start life-long, beneficial customer relationships.”


Key findings of the data report include:

States in which you are likely to find the most caffeinated Millennials: You might think that the home of Starbucks—Washington—would be the most caffeinated state. Not quite! Washington posts a strong showing at #5, but the most jittery Millennials can be found in Maine. Also of note, Millennials don’t drink a lot of coffee in the South or the Plains States. A Millennial from Maine or Massachusetts spends six times as much at cafes as one from Mississippi or North Dakota. Those states where Level Money members spent the most and least at coffee shops:

Top States for Coffee Shop Purchases: States with the Lowest Coffee Shop Spending:

1. Maine

2. Massachusetts

3. New Hampshire

4. Connecticut

5. Washington

46. Utah

47. Wyoming

48. West Virginia

49. North Dakota

50. Mississippi

Where Millennials are eating on the go: The South and Plains States top the list for most fast food purchases. The leader, Oklahoma, spends almost three times as much per day as the least fast food-oriented state, Vermont. The Northeast leads the pack of Millennials who spend the least at fast food establishments. Top and bottom states for fast food purchases:

Top States for Fast Food Purchases: States with the Lowest Fast Food Purchases:

1. Oklahoma

2. Kansas

3. Texas

4. Virginia

5. Maryland

46. Montana

47. Pennsylvania

48. New York

49. Connecticut

50. Vermont

States that embrace happy hour: The Northeast is well-represented in the category of highest bar and liquor store expenditures. Top and bottom states for bar/liquor store purchases:

Top States for Bar and Liquor Store Purchases: States with the Lowest Bar and Liquor Store Spending:

1. Massachusetts

2. Colorado

3. New York

4. Wyoming

5. Illinois

46. West Virginia

47. Iowa

48. South Dakota

49. Alabama

50. Mississippi

Top brands for fast food: McDonald’s retains its lead percentage-wise with Millennials at 11.7% of total purchases, but by a smaller margin than in the general population. Level Money data also shows that Millennials differ because they favor Chipotle over Subway as the runner-up. The following are the top fast food restaurants with Millennials nationwide (and percentage of users for each):

    1. McDonald’s, with 11.7% of total fast food purchases

    2. Chipotle, with 6.4% of total fast food purchases

    3. Subway, with 6.2% of total fast food purchases

    4. Taco Bell, with 4.6% of total fast food purchases

    5. Chick-Fil-A, with 4.2% of total fast food purchases


Top brands for coffee: The big brands still remain the leaders, with almost half of Millennials choosing Starbucks as their go-to for a caffeine fix; however, while Starbucks may come in first, the data shows Millennials are steadily branching out to other chains such as east coast favorite Dunkin' Donuts. The top coffee shop brands with Millennials nationwide (and percentage of users for each) are:

    1. Starbucks, with 45.5% of total coffee shop purchases

    2. Dunkin' Donuts, with 12.9% of total coffee shop purchases

    3. Peet’s Coffee, with 1.2% of total coffee shop purchases

    4. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, with 0.9 % of total coffee shop purchases

    5. Tim Horton’s, with 0.9% of total coffee shop purchases


To view the full report and accompanying graphics visit:


Methodology: Level Money anonymously analyzed the spending behaviors of its more than 500,000 members from January 2014 to June 2014. Based on the data, Level Money determined in which states Millennials spent the most and least at coffee shops, bars and liquor stores, and at fast food restaurants. They also analyzed the percentages of the total spend across brands to determine the most and least popular among their members.