The generational gap is often the subject of online meme culture. Boomers brand younger people as irresponsible and lazy, while Gen Z mocks older generations because they “just don’t understand” the new way of thinking. But how much have money mindsets and work values actually changed over time? Let’s break down and compare how each generation views spending and financial decisions.
What are their workplace values and needs?
(Born between 1997-2009)
Gen Z is highly entrepreneurial and enjoys freelance work. They care the most about work-life balance. In the workplace, their expectations are driven by values and personal beliefs. Gen Z values economic security, communication and transparency from employers. -FirstUp
(Born between 1981-1996)
Millennials are hardworking, independent and ambitious. Like Gen X, they want a work-life balance and to continue learning. Highly adaptable, they’re always looking for new ways to be efficient. Collaboration and praise for their work is important to them, and they need to have a strong connection with their superiors. -Indeed
(Born between 1965-1980)
Gen X likes working towards clear goals and objectives. They value autonomy and education, often seeking extra job-related training. Workplace flexibility is a must due to their family lives, and Gen X wants a clear divide between work and personal life. -Indeed
(Born between 1946-1964)
Boomers are hardworking and work-centric, typically enjoying long work weeks. They’re driven by prestige and defined by their professional accomplishments. Boomers typically stay in their roles and at companies longer than other generations. -TheBalanceCareers
What are they buying?
Gen Z mainly spends on eating out, housing, mobile devices and transportation. Social media recommendations and brand loyalty guide their purchases. However, they’re learning how to spend responsibly as they go off to college. -Yahoo!
Millennials are conscious of price but will pay more for ease and quality. Though seen as reckless spenders by older generations, Millennials have different life circumstances that inform what they choose to spend their money on. They splurge on things like apparel, travel, personal care and online retail. -U.S. News & World Report
Gen X spends mostly on consumer goods and major monetary choices, like education for their children. Though they earn more money than other generations, they struggle having to spend money on their larger households and caregiving for aging parents. -Business Insider
Baby Boomers spend the most out of all generations across all categories. They dominate consumer retail and were one of the first to embrace credit spending. At their stage of life, boomers mainly spend money on their housing, travel, health care, adult children and grandkids. -Yahoo!Finance
How do they handle credit?
Gen Z'ers are learning about building credit, and more than half are already great at paying off card balances. However, they saw the highest growth in personal loan debt during the beginning of the pandemic. There was a 67.2% increase from 2019 to 2020 among the youngest generation. -Experian; Yahoo!
Naive and expensive credit card behavior leaves Millennials with plenty of late fees and debt. Student loan debt is most common among this generation, with 51% of borrowers concerned about being able to pay it back. -TIAA Institute
Gen Xers juggle more debt than other generations due to the big ticket purchases they have to make, such as cars, homes and their children’s education. Half of Gen X is caught in the middle of the years of heavy debt from ages 44-48. -Business Insider
Boomer debt is rising. This is partially due to population growth, but the main cause is the amount of debt they choose to carry on credit cards, mortgage, auto loans and home equity loans. As a result, they run the risk of having bad credit. -Visa
Who saves the most?
Gen Z has a pragmatic approach when it comes to saving money, and they are saving more earlier on. Gen Z knows basic money concepts like savings and budgeting but lacks education in the areas of retirement savings, investments and home buying. -Arizona Federal Credit Union; Bloomberg Wealth
Millennials are pretty good savers—with 73% actively saving money—but it might not be enough. Factors like student loans cause them to be way behind on saving for retirement, and many don’t keep adequate emergency funds. -Yahoo!Finance
As the generation with the highest savings, Gen X is looking toward topping off their retirement funds. Many Gen Xers feel they’re creating a comfortable “nest egg” fund, but some worry about future financial security when it comes to savings. -Investopedia
Boomers adopted the “buy now, pay later” mentality that came with credit spending and faced saving for retirement on their own earlier in life. Additionally, the 2008 financial crisis and an overall lack of financial planning affected their savings, making them less prepared as they begin to retire. -Investopedia
How do they bank and what do they value?
As digital natives, they favor personalized online banking with features like digital payments and automatic savings. Gen Zers are pros at moving money around using apps like Venmo, Cashapp and Paypal. -Banking Administration Institute
Millennials are tech-savvy and prefer to use online banking tools; it needs to be simple, fast and user-friendly to keep them engaged. For bigger financial decisions, they rely on trustworthy professionals for help and interact with financial institutions frequently. -Accenture
Gen Xers prefer traditional banking institutions. With the major money choices they have to make, Gen X looks for banking policies with competitive interest rates, customer loyalty and strong values.
-Banking Administration Institute
Boomers show low involvement in financial institutions, and they expect very fast and helpful customer service. Their top concern is fraud, as they are more vulnerable than other generations. Trusted bankers help with their security concerns. -Bank Administration Institute