Monday, June 2, 2008

Real World Money: Gen X Finance

A casual perusal of the topics on a typical finance website comes up with a list of categories that looks like this: Boomers, Just Starting Out, Family Finances, Retirement, College Savings, Debt. Let's take a count at how many of these categories are for boomers: Retirement, Boomers, College........hmm. I've said it before - I think the personal finance media is a little biased towards this generation.

Did I say a little? Wait, I meant completely. Sure, some of these articles have broad application across generations, but I'd love to see someone like Dan Kadlec focused on folks just a little younger and with a tad fewer assets. MP Dunleavy over at msn.com is the only one that truly comes close to focusing on the issues my generation faces.

The boomer-focus does make sense - they are the ones with the most assets - and the most likely demographic for perusing personal finance websites and magazines right now. But there's a whole other group, one who is just starting to see traction for 'their' news. The somewhere in-betweeners.

I'm talking about people like my husband and I - far away from just starting out, not yet parents, and a long while to go before the traditional retirement age. Or like my friend Jay, a 30-something tech writer who owns his own condo, is dedicatedly saving for retirement, doesn't really have any consumer debt, but hasn't yet found Ms. Right.

Us in-betweeners have accomplished some of our goals, but we have more, and they often feel daunting: how the heck is my generation going to successfully pay off their college debt and still save for our own kids to go to college? Save for retirement when the real value of wages is falling, and Social Security is on the rocks? Pensions have gone the way of the dinosaur for most of us, and those who have them are often afraid to count on them. Daycare costs an astounding some of money ($1300/month in my area), paid family leave is basically nonexistent, and costs of consumables are rising.

Add to that the pressures and demands of our consumer society make purchasing vs. savings decisions difficult. Ever tried to be the only one in your working group without a cell phone and broadband internet? Right.

Okay, so that's what's facing the in-betweeners. What do we need?

I think we need more information on 5 basic things:
  • Guidance on setting priorities
  • A clearer picture of how the rest of our generation really lives (note: it's probably not like the folks portrayed in 'The Hills')
  • A lot of clear discussion around how to cope with our consumption-based society
  • A realistic picture of how to reach our goals - and what the options are if we don't
  • A better understanding of the implications of politicians money decisions on our future

Over the next few months, I will be posting blog articles and links to articles on GenX finance, focusing in these areas. And I'd love to hear from you - what do you think Gen X should do differently? What do you think is missing for personal finance guidance?

Gen X isn't as young as it used to be....and it's time we got serious about our money.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you read USA Today last week? A huge section on Gen X!

Anonymous said...

FYI; "sum" of money :-)

Dvlish said...

Hey lady - just wanted to let you know that us nesties miss you! come to find out i missed some drama a few weeks back...still enjoying your blog though. hope all is well ~ dvlish

Carrie said...

I completely agree - it's time Gen X voted with their voices about what they want to hear.

Kudos to you for addressing it. (Finally)

Kate said...

Have y'all read about Wi$eup? It's a national program to teach Gen x and y'ers how to get and stay out of debt. Started by U.S. Labor Dept. Women's Bureau and course/web done by Texas AgriLife Extension Service...check out http://wiseupwomen.tamu.edu

Kate said...

Have y'all read about Wi$eup? It's a national program to teach Gen x and y'ers how to get and stay out of debt. Started by U.S. Labor Dept. Women's Bureau and course/web done by Texas AgriLife Extension Service...check out http://wiseupwomen.tamu.edu

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