How Do Different Generations View Money?

by Spero Financial

When thinking about money, have you ever noticed that you have a different view than your parents? Or your grandparents? Perhaps you’ve even noticed that as your children grow older, they seem to have different ideas about money than you do. People from different generations tend to view money differently, and their views are shaped by life experiences unique to their age group. Let’s look at the money habits and opinions of five generations in the United States and the circumstances that molded these views.

SILENT GENERATION (1954 and Earlier)
The Silent Generation, or Traditionalists, is the oldest in the United States. The Great Depression and World War II shaped this generation’s views of money. Because they largely grew up with little money and needed to stretch their dollar when they could, the Silent Generation is quite frugal and emphasizes the importance of saving. They are understandably cash-reliant, as credit was not common early in the 20th century. The Silent Generation also does not like going into debt, preferring to pay for items in full with cash they already have.

BABY BOOMERS (1946-1964)
Baby Boomers are much different than their Silent Generation parents. Boomers, motivated mainly by prestige and work accomplishments, are more materialistic than the Traditionalists, often as a quiet rebellion against the frugality they experienced growing up. This generation eagerly adapted to credit spending and traditionally spent more than the previous generation on housing and retail purchases.

GENERATION X (1965-1980)
Generation X may have the most complex relationship with money, as they grew up in a time when cash, checkbooks, and credit cards were used interchangeably. They experienced the contrast between “real,” tangible money (cash in their pocket) and dollars that existed only as numbers in a bank account. Because of this, Gen X tends to spend more on consumer goods and larger purchases such as education and housing.

MILLENNIALS (1981-1996)
Millennials have experienced significant financial challenges over their lifetime and face an inflated economy that makes larger purchases (e.g., homes and cars) more difficult. They also tend to carry significant debt compared to other generations. Since their dollar doesn’t go as far as the generations before them, they tend to focus their money less on material goods and more on experiences. It’s worth noting; however, Millennials aren’t afraid to splurge on quality and convenience.

The oldest members of Gen Z are just out of college and entering the workforce, so many of their money habits remain to be seen. What we do know is that this young generation is on top of their spending habits. These technology natives check their bank accounts regularly, track their money, and are the least likely generation since the Traditionalists to take on any unnecessary debt. Perhaps we can learn something from this youngest generation!

However you view your money, it's important to bank with an institution that cares about your financial future. Get your money habits on the right path today by speaking with a Spero Financial member service advisor.

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