Close Close

Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Americans' views on financial security vary by generation

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

They say money talks. If so, it might say to Americans, “Don’t be afraid of me! I’m here to help!”

Maybe, if money could also read and saw the results of a survey by Lincoln Financial. The results, distilled from input from more than 2,500 U.S. adults, shows that more Americans are essentially gripped by fear of money than are comfortable with their relationship to it. But even more fascinating is the nearly one-quarter of respondents who don’t even know how they think about money. That seems like fear disguised as denial.

The survey was designed to tease out differences in attitude toward money among everyone’s three favorite generational groups: millennials, Gen Xers and boomers. In fact, the three groups weren’t as far apart in their responses as one might have imagined. When compared to overall responses, they were surprisingly in alignment.

The big picture: 36 percent of all respondents said they were “in control and confident” in their relationship with money. Another 40 percent said they were not. (The huge herd of “I don’t knowers” came in at 24 percent.)

When broken down by the age groups, here’s what popped up:

I am in control and confident with regard to money:”

  • Millennials: 40 percent

  • Gen-Xers: 33 percent

  • Baby boomers: 34.5 percent

I am not in control of my relationship with money:

  • Millennials: 38 percent

  • Gen-Xers: 44 percent

  • Baby boomers: 38 percent

If one assumes that, in the majority of cases, millennials were raised by boomers, one could conclude that these two groups have had talks around money and came to a bit of a consensus. The Gen-Xers perhaps just need a parental figure to help calm their fears.

But, when it comes to where folks get their financial advice, “young boomers,” Gen-Xers and millennials all ask friends and family first. Millennials have a slightly greater tendency to seek guidance from their employers, and about a quarter of all three groups say they visit a financial services website for input.