Financial Security Necessary to Be a Good Person: N.Y. Life Study

Accumulating wealth doesn’t necessarily lead to financial, life satisfaction

Members of Gen X and Gen Y are less satisfied with their financial situation than their parents, according to a New York Life study released Thursday.

Less than half of the Gen Y respondents said they were satisfied with their financial situation, compared with 68% of boomers and 82% of respondents from the Silent Generation. Just 51% of Gen X respondents said they were satisfied.

“The Keep Good Going Report findings align with other research that confirms that Gen X and Gen Y are keenly aware of how the economic slowdown has put stress on their long-term financial futures,” Paul Horrocks, vice president of New York Life, said in a statement. “These generations are concerned that the financial goals that baby boomers and the Silent Generation took for granted, such as home ownership, rising incomes and a secure retirement, will be much more difficult to attain.”

Horrocks noted that Gen Y has struggled to find jobs following the recession and suggested that the impact of that struggle may account for their relative unhappiness. “But what’s surprising is that Generation Xers, in their prime working years, aren’t more satisfied with their financial situation than Gen Y,” he said. “We believe this suggests a need among many members of both generations to take a more active role in understanding and managing their personal finances so they can feel more confident about their financial future.”

Confidence isn’t the only byproduct of financial security. The report found that respondents of all generations felt being financially secure was an important part of being a good person. Fifty-six percent of respondents said being self-sufficient in retirement was important to live life as a good person, the same percentage who said they needed to be able to protect their family against “life’s uncertainties.” Fifty-four percent said not having to worry about bills and day-to-day expenses was an important aspect of being a good person.

“The research shows that the ability to simply accumulate more things is not how most people find financial satisfaction nor real life satisfaction,” Brian Perlman, senior vice president and CFO of Mathew Greenwald & Associates, the research firm that conducted the survey for New York Life, said in a statement. “Americans, including Gen X and Y, want their finances to offer protection for the future, not just the ability to snap up the latest gadgets today. This highlights a great opportunity for people to cultivate goodness in their own lives just by taking some steps to feel more financially prepared.”

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