Millennials’ Vices: Where Do Young Americans Spend the Most Money on Guilty Pleasures?

Level Money Report Analyzes Millennials’ Coffee Shop, Bar, and Fast Food Purchases; Reveals the Most Popular Brands and Top Spending States for Generation Y

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Level Money, the mobile-first financial services company, today released a national report revealing how Millennials spend money on their guilty pleasures. Level Money was designed for Millennials, and the company has deep insight into their financial habits and needs. The report analyzes spending activity during the first half of 2014. The results provide an important look into the spending behaviors of Americans aged 18 to 35, specifically how they spend their hard-earned 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 population1.

“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,” said 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:

  • 1. Maine
  • 2. Massachusetts
  • 3. New Hampshire
  • 4. Connecticut
  • 5. Washington

States with the Lowest Coffee Shop Spending:

  • 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:

  • 1. Oklahoma
  • 2. Kansas
  • 3. Texas
  • 4. Virginia
  • 5. Maryland

States with the Lowest Fast Food Purchases:

  • 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:

  • 1. Massachusetts
  • 2. Colorado
  • 3. New York
  • 4. Wyoming
  • 5. Illinois

States with the Lowest Bar and Liquor Store Spending:

  • 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 over 500,000 member base from January 2014 – 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.

About Level Money: Level Money is dedicated to building a financially sustainable society for today’s young adults. Level Money’s approach begins with everyday decisions: the Level Money application provides an instant, at-a-glance read on financial health. Level Money applies the “quantified self” approach to finances, eliminating the need for budgets. Level Money’s mission is to create a fully-integrated, next-generation financial services company designed for the 21st century. Level Money is led by a team with deep experience in design, mobile engineering, and finance, all oriented towards a common objective: setting up the next generation for financial success. Named a top startup to watch in 2014 by Mashable and Business Insider, the company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information, visit



SutherlandGold for Level Money
Victoria Krammen, 415-848-7178


SutherlandGold for Level Money
Victoria Krammen, 415-848-7178