This article is the first in a series of three that will explore what each of the aforementioned three generations — Boomer, Gen X and Millennial — have to teach the others about money and managing their financial lives. The series begins with a look at what we can learn from the youngest of the three, Millennials.
Each generation is defined by a unique set of shared experiences, experiences that shape the choices members of that generation make about money and their finances. Having come of age in the 60s and 70s, amid Watergate and the Vietnam War, Baby Boomers have a flair for independence, even rebelliousness, some would say, but also a tendency toward materialism. Members of Generation X, meanwhile, are caught in the middle —between the analog world in which they grew up and the digital age they have watched emerge as adults, and, from a financial standpoint, between the employer-funded pension plans to which so many of their parents had access and the fund-it-yourself retirement plans that prevail today. Then there are Millennials, digital natives whose apparent sense of financial restraint is born of their experience with economic upheaval, skepticism about the financial “system,” a heavy college loan burden and struggles finding gainful employment.
From these generational distinctions come opportunities for Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980) and Millennials (born 1981 to 1997) to learn positive financial practices from one another — to benefit by borrowing certain approaches, priorities and behaviors from members of another demographic group.
“We’re all in this together, so we all need to rely on each other,” observes Certified Financial Planner™ Douglas A. Boneparth, 32, who heads Bone Fide Wealth, a Millennial-focused firm based in New York City. “We work best when we can tap into each other’s strengths.”