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What’s Your Money Generation?

What’s Your Money Generation?

Brenda Ward looks at the money personality of each of the generations and how world events can shape your view of life and security.

19 October 2021

Experts have discovered that world events and the trends around you can affect each generation’s spending and saving behaviour.

Labels have sprung up to describe these generations. At first, they were created so marketers could better sell to us and later, they helped us understand how other people think.

Baby Boomers are the only ‘official’ generation, as defined by the US Census department. The others were created later: Generation X, the Millennials, Gen Z, and then, for the earliest generation, we labelled our seniors the Silent Generation.

These catch-all labels are often eerily accurate, but remember, these assumptions are not true for everybody.


Born: 1920-1946

Now aged roughly 73 to over 100

The Silent Generation are in retirement after surviving upheaval, war and depression. The earliest of this generation were born soon after the First World War, and most of them lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War.

High numbers of young men were killed in the war, leading to an imbalance in the sexes.

People knew times of fear, and there were food shortages, so people were frugal. Women saved beautiful things for later, in ‘hope chests’. Men worked hard to rebuild their lives, then often stayed in their jobs for 40 years, fiercely loyal.

This upheaval and financial insecurity meant many people worldwide had fewer children. Then, as prosperity grew, they felt more confident and started having bigger families, the ‘baby boom’. They bought their own homes, paid off their mortgages, and tended to invest conservatively, to protect their wealth.


Born: 1946-1965

Now aged roughly 54 to 72

Baby Boomers were part of the biggest social change the world has seen. They were born to traditional parents while the world was recovering from the Second World War and entering an economic boom. Birth rates rocketed.

The Pill and paid childcare meant pregnancy didn’t have to limit women, and exciting new industries sprang up. This generation became defined by hard work and success in the workplace. Baby Boomers lived through the Korean War and the Vietnam War – and protested about it. Music was defined first by Elvis, then the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The first Baby Boomers started retiring a decade ago, and the others are nearing 65, so saving is a priority. However, many failed to start saving for retirement early enough, so they’re in a sprint to catch up. Some saw how the Global Financial Crisis hit investments and fled the share market, investing in property instead.


Born: 1965-1981

Now aged roughly 38 to 54

Gen X-ers were largely the children of comfortable couples with a double income. But they were the first generation to feel the pain of increasing divorce rates – many went on to have partners they didn’t marry. Many are master consumers, loving luxury, and aspiring to keep up with the Joneses.

They grew up through punk music, grunge, hip-hop, skater culture, Friends, and MTV, and were the first generation to discover computer games.

Gen X is also known as ‘the sandwich generation’. Many are caring for kids while also supporting ageing parents. Afraid there’ll be no NZ Super when they retire, many plan to keep working after retirement.

More tech-savvy than their parents, they tend to be more open to risk, investing for growth, despite living through the dot-com crash of 2009.


Born: 1981-1995

Now aged roughly 24 to 38

The Millennials are probably the most studied of all generations, because they’ll make up half the workforce by 2020. Seen as entitled and opinionated, Millennials often need affirmation, but have a drive for challenges, and reaching goals.

They’ve never known a time when they weren’t plugged into technology and social media, so they expect immediacy. They’re more socially aware than either their parents or grandparents, and many consider values when they invest.

Mocked as the ‘avocado on toast generation’, they’ve been hardest hit by student loans, facing high debt levels to pay off before they can buy a house. Many are trying to buy a house when prices are at highest levels ever seen in New Zealand.

They’ve embraced KiwiSaver, which for many had started by the time they got their first job. They tend to be DIY investors.


Born: 1995-2015

Now aged roughly 4 to 24

Who knows what this cohort will be like?

The oldest are already showing a love of entrepreneurship. After all, in today’s world, starting your own blog or creating a re-selling business may be the best way to get a job.

Technology, particularly social media, is something they’ve had since birth. They likely have liberal views, and have grown up in an often more-accepting world. They are often more multi-cultural than previous generations.

Social issues are important too and, as with Millennials, investing responsibly is gathering momentum.

They’re cynical, but committed to experiences and finding meaning, like the Millennials. The oldest are likely to gravitate towards tech jobs and aspire to be their own bosses.

Published 26 May 2019

This article does not contain any financial advice and has not taken into account any particular person’s circumstances. Before relying on it, we recommend you speak with a financial adviser. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that we consider are accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.

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