If you ask a 50-something if they’re happy with their financial standing, the answer is likely to be, no. This is a surprising new trend. Historically, as we age, we become more and more satisfied with our money situation, however, this is no longer the case. It seems once again, the Boomer generation is changing up the status quo, and it’s affecting the younger generation money-making patterns.
The Good Old Days
In the past, workers looked forward to middle-age for financial gains. Working up the ladder meant that by the time an employee got to their mid-forties, they entered the sweet spot of their careers, and it carried through until their late 50s. Incomes rose and workers were able to invest, and prepare for their retirement years, finally. By their 60s, workers were operating with lower incomes and preparing to wind down in a few years.
The New Normal
These days, since Boomers are living longer, they’re also staying in the workplace longer. Boomers are in much better health, which means they’re still mentally sharp, and so they keep their positions at the top of the ladder, with salaries to match.
While smart for Boomers to continue working, it comes at the detriment to those in their 40s and 50s. Positions and income that would have gone to those workers when the older generation retired, have not. So people who are at a particular level aren’t working up when in other years, they would have. Even more, Boomers enjoyed the economic hay day of the 1980s, and if they were smart with their money then, they’re at a higher level in terms of finances today. Gen Xers never benefitted from that time, which makes their financial situation look much more dire in comparison, even if it’s not.
Unequal Balance of Wealth
While Generation Xers have always been pessimistic about money, as a survey in the early 1990’s indicated, their attitudes were on par with most people in their 20s and 30s, who are traditionally concerned about cash flow. The expectation was that as they grew into their careers, they would feel secure by the time they hit middle age. That’s not what’s happened.
50 year-olds might feel concerned about money because they see how much the generation ahead of them has – a lot more. Boomers make up a fifth of the population, and of the nation’s wealth, one third is occupied by the Boomers. But when you consider more time lived, and thus more opportunity to invest and save, those figures make sense. While 50 year-olds may feel behind the eight ball when it comes to money, it will come, but with seniors living longer, it’ll be a little later than in earlier generations. In another ten years, Gen Xers should be much more comfortable in their finances. Or maybe they’re just always pessimistic no matter what, only time will tell.