What is Generation X?
Generation X, sometimes abbreviated Generation X, is the name given to the generation of Americans born in the mid-1960s and early 1980s. The exact years that make up Generation X vary. Some researchers, demographers William Straus and Neil Howe, for example, state the exact birth years from 1961 to 1981, while Gallup enters the birth years between 1965 and 1979. But everyone agrees that Generation X follows baby boomers and precedes Generation Y or Millennials.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Generation X, or Gen X, refers to the generation of Americans born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s.
- Generation X, between baby boomers and millennials, has around 65 million people.
- Members of this group are nearing the middle of their careers and potential earnings spike.
- The generation is about to become the first to be less prepared for retirement than its parents.
Explaining Generation X
The name “Generation X” comes from a Douglas Coupland novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, published in 1991. Although it is more useful for marketing than sociology, generational theory, the hypothesis that people born in the same time frame can be seen as a group with similar opinions, values, tastes and habits and the idea of a generation gap has been widely accepted in the United States.
The American generations covered by the theory are:
- Largest generation (born between 1901 and 1924)
- Silent Generation (circa 1925 to 1945)
- Baby Boomers (circa 1946 to 1964)
- Generation X (circa 1965 to 1985)
- Millennial generation (from 1985 to about 2000)
- Those born after 2000 are considered Generation Z or post-millennial.
Generation X has around 65 million people, while baby boomers and millennials have around 72 million members each. Generation X is also sometimes referred to as the ‘lock key generation’, as they were often left unattended at home after school until their parents returned from work. Like the silent generation, generation X has defined itself as an “intermediate” generation. The group’s purchasing power and savings were compromised first by the collapse of the Internet, then by the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession. In terms of social and political power, Generation X is among the baby boomers who came of age during Vietnam and the Reagan era, and Generation Y during the Obama era.
Generation X assembles another group called the sandwich generation. Each modern generation has had its time in this niche, which is used to feature middle-aged people who, due to longer life expectancies and having children later in life, find themselves simultaneously supporting their elderly parents.
Generation X vs Baby Boomers and Millennials
Transamerica’s 20th Annual Employee Retirement Survey, released in 2020, compares Generation X, baby boomers and millennials.
Among his discoveries:
- Gen X members think it will be much harder for them to achieve financial security than their parents (80%), compared to Gen Y (77%) and Baby Boomers (73%).
- Across all three generations, Gen Xers are much more likely to have credit card debt (52%), Millennials are more likely to have student loans (26%), and Baby Boomers are more likely to be debt-free (25%).
- Generation X users are least likely to use a financial advisor (37%), compared to Generation Y (42%) and baby boomers (45%).
Financial situation of generation X
Over the next few decades, there will be a significant transfer of wealth, collectively, around $ 30 trillion, from baby boomers to younger generations, including their generation X children. 6 Generation X members account for just 16% of the nation’s wealth, while baby boomers own more than half (56%), according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by economist Gray Kimbrough. In 2008, at an average age of 35, Gen X owned just 9% of the nation’s wealth, less than half that of baby boomers at 35.7.
Notable members of Generation X include Jeff Bezos, Tiger Woods, and the late Kurt Cobain.
Nearly 60% of Gen X respondents in the Transamerica survey “strongly agree” or “tend to agree” that they are creating enough savings. Generation X has an average of 64,000 in retirement savings. No wonder Baby Boomers have the most, 144,000, and Millennials, the minimum, $ 23,000. Nine percent of Generation X have no retirement savings.
This is a long way from what generations hope they need to retire. Generation X and Baby Boomers estimate that to feel financially secure they will need 500,000 and 300,000 for Millennials.
Effects of market synchronization on Gen X
On average, Gen X families began to work, save and invest during a period of lower return on investment than baby boomers. Many Gen X households began accumulating savings during periods of strong market valuation, such as the tech bubble and dot-com bubble of the late 1990s and on the eve of the 2008 global financial crisis. The effects of subsequent markets Bears weigh heavily on their wallets. According to the Transamerica survey, only 44% of Gen X workers said they had fully recovered or were not affected by the Great Recession, compared to 50% of baby boomers. Transamerica Retirement Studies Center. “Transamerica Twentieth Annual Survey of Workers’ Retirement”. Furthermore, the current environment of particularly low interest rates has also had a negative impact on its ability to grow its financial assets. Meanwhile, Gen X investors’ early experiences with large market declines seem to have made them more risk averse.
Other challenges faced by generation X
The relatively lower wealth levels of Generation X will prevent them from maintaining their parents’ spending habits, due to rising costs of education, health care and home ownership. And then there’s the sandwich syndrome: the fact that this generation has reached the age where they support and educate their children while caring for aging parents.
Generation X now has the highest average debt of any generation, according to a study by LendingTree. They increased their average debt by about 10%, or 11,898, between 2016 and 2019, to reach 136,869. Mortgage debt accounted for the largest share (62%), followed by student debt (10.7%), car loans (13%), credit cards (8.6%) and personal loans (5.7%).
Reinventing retirement for Generation X
The retirement landscape is different for Gen X than their parents. Previously common private sector pension plans are rare and have been replaced by defined contribution plans such as 401 (k). And Gen X also doesn’t depend on Social Security to fund retirement. According to the Transamerica survey, baby boomers (37%) are much more likely to expect Social Security to be their main source of retirement income, compared to just 26% of the Xer generation. In fact, 41% of Generation X members “strongly agree” that social security may not be there when they retire, while 26% of baby boomers think the same. Transamerica found that, in general, workers of all three generations share financial and healthy aging reasons for working after age 65. But baby boomers are more likely than other generations to do it because they want an income. Generation X will continue to function because they can’t afford to retire because they haven’t saved enough.
Financial planning for generation X
The potential for financial stress can be considerable, but steps can be taken to reduce stress, balance budgets, and reduce the effects of unforeseen life events. Here are some tips for Gen X to get their financial lives in order and manage all layers of this generational sandwich: kids, parents, and themselves.
Make a real estate plan
This is essential if you have dependent children and do not yet have a will or other necessary documents. You don’t want the fate of your employees or assets to be decided by a judge in a probate court. So now is the time to make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to get your will, living will, medical and permanent powers of attorney, and perhaps a living trust, created to ensure the smooth and swift transfer of your estate.
Get a Comprehensive Financial Plan
When you were 20, managing your finances was a fairly simple matter of having good financial habits, such as saving and budgeting. You’re now at a point where your finances are probably a little more complicated, and one financial variable, such as how much you contribute to your company’s 401 (k) plan, can affect many other areas in a way that becomes difficult to calculate. or predict accurately.
This changing impact may mean it’s time to hire a professional financial planner or financial advisor who can deliver cash flow, balance sheet, risk tolerance, investment objectives, timeline, and tax groups into sophisticated financial planning software. It can at least understand where you are actually financially and what you need to do to move forward to reach your desired location by retirement age. Just be prepared at the end to see some nasty numbers that may indicate that you won’t be able to retire whenever you want.
Manage your debts
If you are considering buying a home, it might be wise to look at a fixed rate 15-year mortgage first. Interest rates may never be so low, at least for General Xer’s lifetime, and a 15-year loan charges only a third of the 30-year mortgage interest. If your debt burden becomes unmanaged, find a legitimate debt management company that can help you get it under control.
Start with college planning
While most experts warn parents about redirecting their retirement savings to their children’s college, this is the time to open a Coverdell Education Savings Account or Plan 529 Plan if it does not exist. Your children can contribute to these funds, as can you, and the money you inherit from deceased parents or other relatives can also be sources of college funding. Opening an individual pension account for them can be another good choice, as long as you are sure that they will not withdraw contributions for other purposes.
Get a financial picture of your parents
True, talking about money between parents and their children can be tricky. But if you have not talked to your parents about their health and finances, then it is probably time to get the ball in the field. If your parents’ health is poor and they do not have a real estate plan, then it may be wise to pay the extra cash yourself to do this if they approve.
Consult an elderly attorney for advice if you need help dealing with managed care issues and choose a designated sibling to be the person to handle these matters. A common mistake made by children of aging parents is to overestimate coverage with Medicare, Medigap and Medicaid. Having an out-of-pocket payment can determine if purchasing long-term care insurance (if it is still feasible) and additional insurance policies can be beneficial.
Let the returning children contribute
The stress of caring for aging parents can be multiplied by the support of adult children. Seeking offspring to return home after college to help with household expenses — including paying rent, grocery shopping, or helping care for the elders — can reduce the pressure of multi-generational support. It can also provide children with several life lessons for financial and fiscal responsibility.