3 Generations Disagree When it Comes to Financial Security

Optimism reigns for Maturing Millennials (ages 30-35) when asked about being more financially secure and in better shape for retirement in 2017, while Generation X (ages 36-51) and Baby Boomers (ages 52-70) have lower expectations for financial security according to a New York Life survey of more than 1,800 adults ages 30 or older fielded recently by Ipsos Public Affairs.

“It’s a tale of three cities for America’s generations as they head into 2017,” said Mark Madgett, senior vice president and Head of Agency Department, New York Life. “The stark contrast between Maturing Millennials and their Gen X counterparts, who aren’t all that much older, is equally promising for Millennials and worrying for Generation X. A source of tremendous concern is the Baby Boomers, who are clearly showing the strains of heading into retirement without the kind of financial planning many sorely need.”

Maturing Millennials

Despite financial hardships including higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, Millennials remain a very optimistic group. This survey uniquely focused on Maturing Millennials who are the oldest group among Millennials moving most quickly into “financial adulthood.” Even among this group, optimism is very high when it comes to their financial future, with 71 percent expecting to be more financially secure/better prepared for the unexpected in 2017.

Maturing Millennials also report significantly higher expectations around their financial situation, retirement preparedness, career growth, and spending in 2017 than Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Generation X

In sharp contrast with Maturing Millennials, less than half of Gen Xers (46 percent) believe that in 2017 they will be in better shape for retirement, and only 52 percent report that they will be more financially secure and better prepared for the unexpected this year (versus nearly three out of four Maturing Millennials).

The workplace is another source of stress for many Gen Xers, with only 46 percent anticipating opportunities for growth in 2017 (compared to 70 percent of Maturing Millennials).

Baby Boomers

Yet Baby Boomers’ most negative views on 2017 can make even nerve-wracked Gen Xers look like wide-eyed optimists.

Cash-strapped Boomers will be curtailing their fun activities – only 22 percent saying that they plan to spend more on ‘fun’ purchases, like vacations or even dining out. More disturbing: only one in three (33 percent) believe they will be in better shape for retirement – a looming problem for Boomers with only a few years to go before their so-called “golden years.” Opportunities for career advancement can be another source of stress for Baby Boomers, who are the least optimistic at 20 percent.

A positive note that echoes across age groups is proactive financial planning (reducing debt, saving more and making long term plans) which is identified as important to a majority of adults from each generation.

Generations Diverging

Overall Maturing Baby
Population Millennials Gen X Boomers
Generations Agree on Proactive 2017 Financial Planning
Planning to reduce debt 67% 76% 70% 62%
Planning to save more 61% 83% 68% 54%
Planning to make long term goals 57% 73% 63% 52%
But Have Mixed Expectations for 2017:
Believe family will be more financially secure and better prepared for the unexpected 46% 71% 52% 36%
Expect financial situation to improve in the coming year 43% 54% 52% 36%
Believe they will be in better financial shape for retirement 41% 66% 46% 33%
Anticipate more opportunities for career growth and advancement 35% 70% 46% 20%
Plan to increase spending on important purchases (i.e. home improvements, appliances, professional wardrobe, etc.) 34% 64% 40% 23%
Plan to increase spending on “fun” purchases (i.e. dining out, vacations, movies, sporting events, etc.) 30% 55% 35% 22%
Generations Must Have: Advice

“Maturing Millennials not only plan to address financial issues in 2017, they are also the generation most likely to engage a financial professional, with 48 percent planning to do so in 2017. With these positive steps we are hopeful that this generation will live up to the optimism they are expressing in 2017 and beyond,” added Madgett.

“It is important to not forget Generation X and Baby Boomers, where a strong majority have long term planning on their 2017 to-do list, but yet are less optimistic about financial success. It is the lower optimism among Generation X and Baby Boomers, who are more likely to have a lot of financial responsibilities that could include simultaneously taking care of their children and aging parents, paying mortgages and more that is especially poignant for me. There is a major opportunity among financial professionals to break through to these older generations who are closer to retirement and in greater need for guidance around the right moves to make for their future and their family’s future,” concluded Madgett.

The findings are from an Ipsos poll conducted December 5 – 7, 2016 on behalf of New York Life. For the survey, a sample of 1,863 U.S. adults over the age of 30 was interviewed online, in English. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2015 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.

 

Source: New York Life

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