"He opened up a whole new understanding of retirement," said Brown, who is 24.
So what's he been doing with his money?
He bought a car - reliable transportation to work is an early must for twenty-somethings - with just a few payments left.
Brown had a bad experience with his first credit card. He was only 18 and, by his account, maxed out the first day. It took four years to pay it off.
Now, he's engaged to be married and will turn the car payment money into a wedding.
Brown and Britiany Stanford also would like to save for a down payment on a house in the next couple of years, capitalizing on cheap home prices.
But mortgages have become far more difficult to get in the wake of the financial crisis. Lenders also want much bigger down payments, further delaying when the youngest generation will become homeowners.
Some young adults who bought homes before housing prices collapsed have seen them become a financial nightmare they may never escape.
Nest eggs should take a back seat to an emergency fund, according to standard advice from financial experts. The idea is to set aside enough to cover perhaps three or six months of living expenses in case it's needed. The last recession proved that much may not be enough.
As for the stock market, it's for money you don't need now, or any time soon, advisers say. And the money should stay put a long time because, as twenty-somethings have found out quickly, stock prices don't always go up.
Young investors can afford to take those risks because they have time to make up early losses.
Despite all his plans, Brown figures he's ready to find some retirement money in his budget and get a nest egg started this year.
"I look back on how much money I've wasted that didn't go anywhere," he said. "I could have taken $50 or $100 a month, a paycheck, and put it toward something that could have benefited me in the future."
Some twenty-somethings have gotten a push to overcome the fear of investing.
Britton Tolbert, 23, got a nudge about a year ago. At his father's insistence, Tolbert opened an individual retirement account and has added to it with each paycheck. Some of his IRA money goes into stocks and some into bonds, which tend to be less risky than stocks.
"My fear was losing my money," Tolbert said of starting the account. "My dad kind of pushed me out there off the cliff, made me fly."
Many young investors say they've become interested in the stock market through school. Some had played The Stock Market Game, a program that gives elementary and high school students a pretend brokerage account for 10 weeks.
Others learn about stocks on the job when they open a 401(k) plan at work.
And these retirement accounts seem to be one place where fear hasn't gotten to twenty-something investors, according to a report from the Investment Company Institute.
Sarah Holden, senior director of retirement and investor research, has studied data drawn from millions of 401(k) accounts. Among other things, it shows a drop in the number of account holders willing to put 80 percent or more of their money into stocks rather than less risky choices.
It's not that 401(k) investors abandoned the stock market, they just backed out a bit.
"What's changed is how far into the water you've gone," Holden said.
The one exception - twenty-somethings.
More than 60 percent of 20-to-29-year-olds in 2010 were all-in with stocks or nearly so. That was higher than the 55 percent of twenty-somethings a decade earlier.
"That finding runs counter to the notion that younger participants, whose investing experience might be framed by the bear markets of 2000 and 2008, would become a 'lost generation' avoiding all stock market investments," Holden wrote in a December report.
The data doesn't reveal why workers in their twenties embrace stocks so firmly inside 401(k) plans.
But Holden has an idea: namely, target-date investment funds.
A target-date fund provides a ready-made mix of stocks and bonds until the investor reaches his expected retirement date. For young workers, the prescribed mix starts out heavy on stocks and cuts back over the years.
Roughly three out of four employers' 401(k) plans now offer target date funds. Employers often promote them as a good choice, and young investors tend to go along.
Many employers now also automatically enroll newly hired employees in the 401(k) plan, rather than requiring the worker to take the step.
"Younger workers, because of plan design, are in better shape than in the past," said David Wray, president of the Plan Sponsor Council of America in Chicago.
Of course, the key word is "worker." Without a job, investors have no 401(k) plan to join.
It's one of the many barriers standing between the millennial generation and the stock market.
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