The generations rate their financial fitness.

Millennials are feeling pretty good, Gen X-ers not so much, boomers less than you’d expect.  Matures?  You have to scrape them off the ceiling.

If you disregard stories of strapped seniors living on cat food, it’s easy to understand why Matures aka Silents aka The Greatest Generation feel most financially comfortable, according to a recent survey  They’ve had the longest to accumulate wealth, and often have the most equity in the largest investment most people make, their home.

And the Greatest Generation is, by and large, frugal, although if avocado toast had been around in 1947, who knows how they would have turned out?  😉  (Please note ironic emoticon.)  The materialism of the 1950s and 1960s, so ridiculed by social critics back then, today seems like monk-like self-denial.  Or maybe we really are living within our means. but the means of a very visible slice of Silicon Valley is so much greater than it was fifty or sixty years ago.

It’s remarkable that millennials feel a little more financially comfortable, and a little less financially stressed, than boomers.  I say “remarkable” because around here boomers have the image of heedless oldsters happily living off the fat of Silicon Valley while their NIMBY-ism keeps millennials from getting a piece of the pie.  I can understand that the younger generations might have a hard time distinguishing between white-haired boomers and their white-haired parents, matures, and that boomers would get blamed for land use decisions made when they were in third grade.  After all, when you’re thirty, old doesn’t have any greys to it, no pun intended.  It’s just old.

Here’s the difference:  boomers are old, matures even older and, apparently, a lot more relaxed.  Hey, wouldn’t it be ironic if the Valley’s boomers actually led lives of quiet desperation, and those carefree oldsters monopolizing tables at your favorite restaurants were actually matures?

A post without irony is like a day without sunshine.

Why might boomers feel a bit less financially secure than millennials?  Because millennials see only a bright future, while boomers see time running out on wealth accumulation?

But what’s even more remarkable is the pessimism of Gen X, especially since the percentage of X-ers experiencing financial difficulties isn’t much higher than that of millennials or boomers, and may even be statistically insignificant.

Of course, there’s a difference between feeling strapped and being strapped, but Gen X’s pessimism could be based as much on reality as perception.  It entered what would have been its peak earning years just in time to get walloped by the lost jobs, lost homes and lost opportunities of the Great Recession, and the tepid recovery means that many Gen X-ers won’t get a second bite at the apple.  So a guarded outlook is not only understandable but appropriate.

True, matures endured even tougher times, but the sustained recovery of the 1950s and early 1960s gave them a remarkable optimism which they seem to have retained.

copyright © John Fyten 2017

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