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How Different Generations Think About Money

How Different Generations Think About Money

A father and son.

Do you think about money differently than your parents? How about your grandparents? The answer is almost certainly yes — no matter what generation you count yourself a member of. There are also key differences, generationally, in how families discuss or teach each other about money, too.

A recent survey by Forbes Advisor provides some interesting insight into those differences, and it can be insightful to think about how these generational differences apply to financial literacy.

Here are some of the takeaways from that survey:

Discussing money

Gen X, Gen Z, and millennials were much more likely to have grown up in a family that discussed household finances. The Baby Boomer generation responded that only 41% of them grew up in such a family, whereas 55% of Gen Z did (or does), 73% of millennials did, and 57% of Gen Z did.

Why the huge discrepancy for the millennial cohort? Perhaps because that generation was growing up during the financial crisis and Great Recession — which all but required some explaining.

Why money discussions were a no-go

The survey also looked at why some families did or do not discuss money. The Baby Boomer generation’s top reason cited was that “money is personal.” Millennials, on the other hand, said it was because of “insecurity” related to their finances.

Salary discussions

Are you willing to discuss how much money you’re earning with your coworkers? Many people are not, but younger generations are much more likely to do so, per the survey. The data shows that only 41% of Baby Boomers are willing to discuss their salaries with a coworker, while 76% of millennials are, 74% of Gen Zers are, and 66% of Gen Xers are.

Asking about a coworker’s salary

Similarly, would you be comfortable asking a coworker what they earn? The data shows that 36% of Baby Boomers are, but 74% of millennials are — again, a sizable generational gap.

Financial literacy – when to start?

Another element of the survey that’s of interest is that each generation was asked when they thought the best time to begin learning financial literacy would be. A majority of the responses answered that middle school — generally, grades 6-8 — was the best. Millennials were the outlier, though, with a majority saying that elementary school would be the ideal time.

Financial literacy by generation

A final important piece of the survey involved respondents rating their own levels of financial literacy. Here’s what Forbes Advisor’s write-up says:

“When we asked participants to rate their own financial literacy on a scale of zero to five (five being the most financially literate), less than half of Millennials (43%) and Generation X (43%) rated themselves as the most financially literate, followed by Baby Boomers (42%) and Generation Z (35%) when we combined results for four and five. Thirty-six percent of all respondents rated themselves at a three.”

Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do. And remember, if you or someone you know is keen on improving their financial literacy, Money Vehicle is a great place to start!

Check out the Money Vehicle textbook — you can find it here on Amazon. And if you like what you see, you can get more content sent directly to your inbox! Sign up for the Money Vehicle Movement Newsletter!

And check out our white paper: “Strategies for Increasing Financial Literacy Rates Among High School and College Students”

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