Each generation handles money in a different way. After all, people have grown up in different eras, they place value on different commodities, and some are busy saving for retirement while some are squirrelling away their pennies in order to see the world one day. Attitudes towards saving money are most certainly generational, and there are plenty of assumptions people tend to jump to about these attitudes. Millennials, for example, famously get a bad rap for splashing all of their money on avocados and fancy coffees, but they are more money-savvy than many give them credit for! Let’s take a closer look at some generational spending and saving habits and see who comes out on top.
Baby Boomers often have a lot to say about the younger ‘snowflake’ generations, but in reality, the financial landscape has traditionally been more in their favour than it has for any generation after them. They are generally referred to as the ‘wealthiest generation’ and have been lucky in terms of free education, high salaries, stable investment opportunities, and inheritances.
People in this generation are good at saving, but not necessarily because they’ve had to be, more likely because they just can. What’s more, they are the generation that was brought up after the Second World War, so they are likely to have inherited a frugal attitude from their parents’ generation, who lived through rationing.
With generally hefty retirement bundles, Baby Boomers are thought to have saved at least twice as much as younger generations, but they also enjoy the finer things in life; one study found that Boomers spend around three times as much as younger generations do on holiday accommodation for example.
Sometimes known as the ‘forgotten generation’, Generation X refers to anyone who was born between 1965 and 1979. Generally, they’ve seen more financial strife than the Boomers before them, but this doesn’t put them off spending!
The average Generation X household spends £126.39 per week on ‘lifestyle’ products — more than any other generation. They’re more likely to be splashing out on eating at restaurants, new smartphones, and going to the cinema than saving their pennies. On top of this, many of them are splitting the funds that they have saved between caring for their elderly parents and supporting their ‘boomerang’ children, who are likely to return to live at home at some point during their mid-twenties.
Next up, we have the infamous avocado eaters who are often thought to extravagantly frit away all of their money. Well, many of them do enjoy a good brunch, but they’re actually more money-savvy than they’re given credit for and tend to work well with the poor hand they were dealt.
The older group within this generation was hit by the 2008 financial crash, while younger millennials faced extortionate university costs and difficulty breaking into the job market. On average, millennials spend about 40 per cent of their incomes on housing and utilities, and 7.8 million admit to not having savings or investments in place for their future goals.
Despite this, millennials are the generation that is most comfortable with making short-term sacrifices (such as ditching their morning coffee or deciding against going ‘out out’) in order to save for future experiences. According to the Guardian, seven out of ten millennials are regularly setting money aside, with an average of £174 being saved per month, proving that they’re not as reckless as other generations seem to think.
Finally, we reach Generation Z, a group of savvy-savers and digital bankers. Research from Zopa, has found that a third of Generation Z already have savings that amount to more than £1000 and they’re also the least likely generation to have any form of debt (including overdrafts and loans from family and friends).
Unsurprisingly, there are many similarities between Gen Z and millennial saving attitudes. This is largely down to aptitude with technology and their preference towards mobile banking. Most Gen Z savers check their bank balance at least once a day and are likely to use savvy banking apps that allow them to move their money around between their accounts and know exactly how much they are managing to save.
Like older generations, Gen Z still enjoys treating themselves and living life to the full, but they are more likely to seek discounts and schemes to do so, such as having a restaurant discount card.
There are many different factors that feed into these saving tendencies, and most of the time, generational attitudes towards saving can be put down to the state of the economy as a whole during different eras. However, it’s all about finding the right balance for you and your personal finances, whatever tribe you are part of!