Generations of Spending

Whether someone is a Gen Z (born from 1995-2012), Millennial (born from 1980 – 1994), Gen X (born from 1965 – 1979), or even a Boomer (born from 1946 – 1964), they are all concerned about their money and how they spend it. The world is changing every single day, and so are the spending habits of current generations. A Gen Z is not spending the same amount on gas in 2023 as a Boomer did in 1980, and a Millennial is not paying the same tuition as Gen X, but how does everyone’s spending compare in the present day?

The oldest member of Gen Z is currently 28 years old. Some would define a person at this age as an adult with a career, maybe a house, and potentially a family. But the youngest member of Gen Z is 11 years old, who is considered a “child” that is still learning to manage their money. This generation is just starting to get its feet wet, financially, where their spending is not as significant to the generations before them. But, they are currently in an economy where they are expected to pay more over time. Forbes (2023) wrote, “Between 1980 and 2020, the average price of tuition, fees, and room and board for an undergraduate degree increased 169%.” Higher education is one of the top financial responsibilities Gen Z has, right next to housing. According to the St. Louis Fed, houses in 1990 were selling, on average, for $150,000. In 2023, homes are being sold for $500,000 on average. Although Gen Z is predicted to spend more in housing and education, the boom of social media keeps their entertainment costs low compared to other generations. Many families in 2023 are using a variety of streaming platforms, video games, or social media for day-to-day entertainment instead of paying for overpriced cable packages or planning lavish excursions. But only time will tell, as Gen Z gets older, and more of those financial responsibilities start to shift as they age.

What about Millennials? The oldest Millennial is 43 years old, while the youngest is 29 years old. At this point, somebody in this generation is almost completely immersed in adult spending. Most college degrees have been obtained, they have entered their careers, and now their financial goals have shifted completely. Many individuals in this generation suffered during the economic crash of 2008 and now are suffering during the backlash of COVID-19. The prices of goods have always been expensive, and over time people have come to prioritize themselves and their necessities. According to NBC News, individuals are now looking to prioritize their education so they are set up for success financially, and are better able to support their future families. Due to this change, Millennials are not having children until later in life, meaning that childcare costs aren’t a concern until ages 30-40. And since childcare is so expensive, many millennials are choosing to adopt pets before having babies as reported by WFLA. Although many have swapped childcare bills for student loan payments and pets, this generation is still not paying as much in healthcare service like Gen X and Boomers are today.

According to the World Economic Forum, Gen X is known as the “spending” generation. They are paying the highest amount on average to their bills, cost of living, and entertainment. Although Gen X and Boomers bought their houses at a cheaper time and went to school for a lower cost, inflation in 2023 impacts everyone’s dollar. These generations are paying the most in healthcare, insurances, and transportation, which is inevitable for every generation as they age. Pew Research Center states that one in three U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 live with their parents. Since the cost of housing has gone up, most younger generations are not moving out of their Gen X or Boomer parent’s homes. Having children live at home always adds to the cost of your weekly groceries, monthly bills, and so much more. Netflix reported that 100 million households use a shared password for an account. Traditionally the household owner would pay for that subscription, along with any other streaming services being used.

Every generation has its own financial struggle. And for every obstacle or price tag that may stand in your way, you are never too young or too old to overcome it.

Which goal should your generation save for?

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