Currently there are seven living generations on the planet. The oldest are nearing their 100th birthday. At one time writing a check was almost high-tech. Those in the youngest generation are just starting school and may never write a check or even have a paper checkbook as adults.
It’s no surprise then that each generation has a different approach to money, finances, and the money conversation.
Generations have different attitudes and outlooks. Generations are identified because they grew up together in similar historical and social times. Let’s quickly survey the generations, specifically looking at their views and practices when it comes to financial matters.
Greatest Generation: Age 95+
Grew up after WWI, fought in WWII. Assertive and energetic. Thrifty, careful with finances, balanced checkbooks often, saving as much as they could, fixing things before buying new.
Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Ages 74-94
Discipline, self-sacrifice, and caution. Lived in an era defined by conformity and general prosperity. Savers, financially prudent, the richest, most free-spending retirees in history
Baby Boomers: Ages 55-73
Their drive and optimism served them well in the peak of their careers but may have led to poor planning of some long-term decisions. Spend now, worry later, buy it now, use credit, not good with finances. First generation to use the word “retirement” to mean being able to enjoy life after the children have left.
Generation X: Ages 43-54
Entrepreneurial and individualistic group grew up as two-income households became more common. First generation that may NOT do as well financially as their parents did.
Want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt. Shadow generation between Boomer & Millennials yet hold 51% of leadership roles globally.
Millennials or Gen Y: Ages 24-42
Return to conformity in part thanks to nurturing, highly-involved parents who maintain authority long into their lives. Hope to be the next great generation and to turn around all the “wrong” they see in the world today. Eager to spend money, want to retire early having saved their money. They schedule everything. Invited as children to play a lead role in family’s purchasing and travel decisions. Heroes are their grandparents
Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Ages 8-23
Oldest members are in high school today. They began using cell phones and other digital technology very young, leaving traditional toys behind. A survey by Lincoln Financial Group of 400 members of generation Z aged 15 to 19 found that they are saving far earlier than older generations: 60% of them already have savings accounts and 71% say they are focused on saving for the future.
Generation Alpha: Age 7 and under
Generation Alpha is just starting school and will be the most educated and tech savvy people that ever lived. They don’t remember a time before smartphones or Facebook.s
If there is one commonality among all these generations it is that money can always be represented as a number. That number may be in a checkbook, bank account statement, or online balance. As we look at the youngest generations it is more important than ever they learn to manage money as a number.
Lynne Finch helps parents teach their kids about money from piggy banks to online banking. “It’s time to teach the kids how to manage money they can’t see or touch,” says the author of The No-Cash Allowance. Follow Lynne’s common sense approach for teaching children that money is a number with kids as young as pre-school and continuing through high school.
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