A cross-generational checkup

Many people of all ages are feeling it: financial pressures that don’t seem as if they’ll be letting up anytime soon. And while inflation and other global issues affect everyone, the specific impacts and outlooks vary across generations.

Retired boomers (born between 1946 and 1965)

At first blush, boomers don’t appear to have it too badly: This generation’s net worth is much higher than previous generations. However, the “Great Recession” (2007 to 2009) made a substantial dent in their income and home values. Boomers are now contending with debts and health care costs in their post-working life. But this needn’t be the end of the road: experts say it’s never too late to build a financial plan to help get you back on track.

Generation X (born between 1966 and 1980)

Generation X—the sandwich generation, often contemporaneously caring for parents and children —already carry a heavy load. Other chief concerns for this generation include retirement, monthly expenses, and job security. In one 2023 survey, only 12 percent say an inheritance will make up part of their retirement income and 46 percent do not believe they have enough saved to live comfortably in retirement.

When it comes to retirement, talking about how you visualize this time in your life can help motivate you to save. Set a savings goal, and consider setting up an automated savings plan and other investments.

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)

In comparison with baby boomers, millennials have shelled out more to pay for the cost of college, and the cost of home ownership has increased exponentially since the boomers were 40. This has impacts on millennials’ bandwidth to save for retirement and home buying, let alone their day-to-day needs.

Fledgling adults have never had it this tough. The cost of living is of great concern for this generation, many of them living from paycheck to paycheck and worrying they won’t be able to cover their expenses.

Cozying up to your cash

Our path to healing our relationship with money is the same regardless of our age, says Aseel El-Baba, CEO of Holistic Optimal Wealth. In her experience as a financial therapist, she has found that the biggest difference in how the generations handle financial stress comes down to their level of emotional literacy.

That’s because improving our financial emotional well-being starts with an awareness of how we relate emotionally to money. For instance, it could involve engaging in feelings that come up for you when you are trying to pay your credit card debts.

El-Baba also endorses building a relationship with money and seeing it as an entity you’re getting to know and trust.

By Carimé Lane