How wealthier millennials think about saving money

The generation that came of age during the Great Recession isn't counting on others to build their nest eggs -- at least wealthier millennials.

Millennials with financial resources say they will count more on their own own savings accounts in 20 years than on a 401(k), pension or other retirement plan, according to a survey from Bank of America's Merrill Edge.

Previous generations are more likely to depend on outside sources to fund retirement. Gen-Xers are more likely to rely on their 401 (k) savings accounts, while Baby Boomers look to their pensions as their most reliable resource, the study found.

The 18-to-34 set placed their savings accounts above "significant other" and friends as the thing they'd most be able to rely on in 20 years. "Millennials embrace a unique, self-sufficient 'do-it-myself' mentality as they pursue financial independence," according to Merrill Edge, an online discount brokerage service. 

They're also more likely to make "sacrificial" moves, like saving more than half their paycheck, forgo going out  and skipping vacations to build their financial pile, the survey found. A third of millennials who responded to the survey also said they'd postpone getting married or having children to have more money in the long run.

A majority of millennials said the recession still plays a role in how they make decisions related to buying real estate, pursuing education and starting a family.

Meanwhile, some four in 10 millennials think helping those in need is an "essential" element of success, compared with building an impressive resume (11 percent) or being a millionaire (9 percent), according to the survey.

A belief in altruism may come in handy for many millennials. Recent research from Credit Suisse shows millennials may be facing the most unequal society in their lifetime. The top 1 percent of global citizens own 50.1 percent of all household wealth, up from 45.5 percent in 2000, according to the bank.

Widening income and wealth inequality has been a hallmark of the post-recession economy, prompting policy experts and lawmakers to question whether the impact may do everything from stunt growth to shorten people's lives. The wealth gap recently spurred credit rating agency Standard & Poor's to warn that worsening inequality could hamper long-term economic growth by dampening social mobility and producing a less-educated workforce.

So if you have financial resources, you may be more optimistic than most. Based on the Merrill Edge survey, 96 percent of Americans see success as attainable, with 52 percent considering themselves already successful, while 54 percent think they'll become wealthy during their lifetime and 8 percent say they are already wealthy.

Merrill Lynch surveyed more than 10,000 affluent respondents. They included 18-34-year-olds with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000 or assets of $20,000 and $50,000 and an annual income of at least $50,000. It also included people over age 35 with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000.

Merrill Edge defined investable assets as cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of instruments excluding real estate. The survey had a plus or minus 3.1 percent margin of error.