For the first time, we have seven living generations on our planet. The oldest are nearing their 100th birthday. For some of these people, writing a check was high-tech. In contrast, today’s youngest generation may never write a paper check. Consequently, each generation’s attitude about money and finances is different.
Generational money attitudes in families
How do we define a generation? People growing up in similar historical, social and economic times share common experiences. Therefore, living through World War I and living through the Vietnam War created very different impressions on people. Let’s quickly look at the different generational money attitudes in families today.
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
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
Their drive and optimism served them well in the peak of their careers. Unfortunately this led to some 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.
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
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
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 is starting school and will be the most educated and tech savvy people that ever lived. They don’t know a time before smartphones or Facebook.
The commonality in all generations
In my research about generations I did find one commonality. Money is a number. That number may be in a checkbook, bank account, or other online balance. In many transactions today money never exists as cash. Regardless of how we spend money, money can always be tracked as a number.
As we look at the youngest generations it is more important than ever they learn to manage money as a number. To learn more about my book for teaching kids this essential life skill here: Money and Responsibility Define This Allowance System for Kids.
What are the generational money attitudes in your family?
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.