Gen Xers Feel Less Wealthy Than Other Generations

Not having enough for retirement is their biggest concern
A Gen Xer

Gen Xers have had more time to save and invest than younger generations, but they are further from retirement than their older peers. Yet, financial challenges seem to weigh more heavily on them than on their older and younger counterparts, a new survey shows.

Age can play a role in one’s financial outlook. For example, younger consumers may be worried about paying off student loans, while older consumers may be anxious about making sure their retirements are secure.

To gain insight into how different generations perceive their finances, investment platform E-Trade Financial Corp. surveyed 902 investors who manage a minimum of $10,000 in an online brokerage account. Not only did Gen Xers feel the least wealthy of all generations, but financial fears topped their list of worries.

More assets as you age

Respondents were categorized by generation: millennials were those ages 25 to 34, Gen Xers were respondents ages 35 to 54 and baby boomers were those 55 and older. The survey asked each respondent how much they had in investable assets.

(Beyond what is in your retirement accounts, note that investable assets can include certificates of deposit, mutual funds, stocks, bonds and the money in your bank accounts.)

Baby boomers had the highest percentage of people with the most assets, which isn’t surprising since they’ve had the most time to accumulate them.

Among baby boomers:

  • 39% had $1 million or more
  • 26% had between $500,000 and $999,999
  • 28% had between $100,000 and $499,999

Among Gen Xers:

  • 12% had $1 million or more
  • 17% had between $500,000 and $999,999
  • 48% had between $100,000 and $499,999

Among millennials:

  • 7% had $1 million or more
  • 12% had between $500,000 and $999,999
  • 34% had between $100,000 and $499,999

Though Gen Xers as a whole had more assets than millennials, they were less likely to see themselves as wealthy. In fact, only 43% of Gen Xers described themselves as somewhat or very wealthy, compared with 49% of millennials and 50% of baby boomers.

Retirement worries loom for Gen X

Gen Xers were the only generation to cite not having enough saved for retirement as their biggest worry. When asked how often they worried about various situations, both millennials and baby boomers worried more about losing a loved one than the other scenarios.

Gen Xers may be finding themselves in a financial crunch, which could be contributing to their financial outlook. The percentage of Gen Xers who have taken early withdrawals from their retirement accounts has been rising in recent years. In fact, 37% of Gen Xers took money from an individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) account before the age of 59 and a half, which is up 10% from 2015.

If you’re worried about having enough money saved for retirement, start taking steps to improve your financial situation. First, figure out whether you’re on track or behind in your retirement planning. If you’re behind where you should be, look for ways to adjust your budget so you can save and invest more. You may need to look for a way to increase your income, such as a side hustle or part-time job.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

Comments and Questions