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How Your Generation Affects Your Financial Decisions with Dr. Jean Twenge

Haley Paskalides  |  September 6, 2023

Generational stereotypes get a bad rap, but Jean Twenge says that understanding them may be the key to saving more.

Every single one of us is part of a certain generational grouping, and we may love or loathe the stereotypes that come with each.  For example, Gen Xers are branded as cynical and overly defensive, Millennials are entitled and lazy, and Gen Z — though they haven’t been working long — are supposedly uninterested in career growth, and would rather pursue their passions than earn a paycheck… But we’ve also seen time and again that these assertions are not only insulting — they’re just plain wrong! No one knows this better than Dr. Jean Twenge. She’s a preeminent psychologist, professor, and the author of “Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents―and What They Mean for America’s Future.” 

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She says the generational differences don’t stop at career stereotypes — there are also some very real differences in the way we handle our finances. Today, millennials hold just 4.6% of wealth in America, according to a report from Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Boomers hold 53.2%, while Gen X holds 25.3%… But the “great wealth transfer” is on its way. Boomers will soon pass on some $140 trillion in wealth to younger generations, and this enormous financial shift will impact everything in our economy — housing, education, health care, the stock market, the labor market — even politics. 

LISTEN: The Best Money Moves For Gen Z

The general consensus is that each generation is largely shaped by — and classified by — major historical events. But Dr. Twenge argues we should be thinking in terms of how the generations are marked by technological advances. She tells us why — and why Millennials and Gen Z should feel they can “take their time” when considering big life milestones like going to college and having children 

Also, we see some pretty pronounced generational differences in spending — we know Boomers are generally willing to spend more on housing, Gen X spends more on consumer goods, and millennials like to spend their extra cash on experiences. Dr. Jean Twenge weighs in on how these differences will shape our economy in terms of the great wealth transfer that’s coming. 

In Mailbag, we dive into how much to save for a newborn’s college education, and how to retire early. In our money tip of the week, all of the factors to consider if you’re thinking about picking up a side gig for extra cash


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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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