Generation Delusional: X, Y Get D, F for Retirement

Mar 19, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Though their approaches to interviewing and working styles may differ, members of Generations X and Y (those born between 1968 and 1988) seem to have something in common after all.

Both groups are now acknowledging that they need to pick up the slack when it comes to planning for their financial futures.

A new report released by the Divided We Fail group and the American Savings Education Council shows that while 86% of Gen Xers and Gen Yers know they should be more prepared for a “rainy day,” most are surprisingly clueless about how to make that a success.

Need proof? The survey of 1,752 young people shows they know more about their iPods (40% very knowledgeable) than they do about filing their taxes (26%), buying a home (21%), investing outside of work (15%), and saving for retirement (15%).

Even though 75% of respondents in the “Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y” report claim that saving for retirement is a personal financial goal, most grade themselves poorly when it comes to saving money (42% gave themselves a D or F) and investing their money outside the workplace (47% gave themselves a D or F).

“The good news is that they realize how the retirement landscape is changing and are confident that they can achieve their financial goals, the bad news is that they know more about making their iPod work than making their savings work for them,” says Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of social impact at AARP.

Best Interest at Heart…or Not?

The Divided We Fail organizations (AARP, Business Roundtable, National Federation of Independent Business and the Service Employees International Union) say employers should be a part of the solution to better equip all generations.

The survey shows that 48% agree and 52% disagree with the statement, “employers generally have their employees’ best interest at heart.”

And 47% agree that “people your age feel loyal to employers,” while the remaining 53% disagree.

Divided We Fail notes that companies can work toward helping more workers agree with those statements — and thereby up retention rates among star-powered workers — by enhancing workplace benefits.

The survey found that 94% place a high value on workplace health insurance; 88% place a high value on retirement savings plans; 89% place a high value on matching or contributing to a retirement savings plan; 78% place a high value on wellness plans; and 77% place a high value on company-supplied financial education/advice.

Mommy, Daddy Still Matter

But kids are still kids. The survey finds that 70% still prefer to turn to their parents for personal finance advice and guidance.

More than one-third of both generations — 36% — say their parents are their primary source of advice. Younger respondents, those in Gen Y (50%), are nearly twice as likely as Gen X (26%) to cite their parents as their primary source.

But maybe that means Gen Y are more family-oriented, as the survey shows 43% of Gen Yers expect to help their retired parents financially, compared to 33% of Gen Xers, despite the fact that Xers would have parents further along in their retirement years.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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