Each life stage – schooling, first jobs, marriage, children, career changes, and retirement – brings with them their own personal finance challenges. The needs and wants of each generation change as they go through these life stages. The same basic financial health foundational steps – savings, goals, budgeting, and debt management – exist for everyone. Each generation must adjust to these steps and their own circumstances, ensuring they can be financially fit.

The Retirement Generations

This group can be anyone age fifty and older. Many people are working long past seventy due to longer life spans and lack of retirement savings. This group spans three generations – the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers. They are dealing with health and long term care issues, lack of income, fraud, aging parents, children living at home, and paying off student loan debt. (The Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation in the United States.) However, these types of challenges affect everyone, eat into people’s retirement savings and force many to head back to work.

The remedy is to get them on a financial fitness plan. Review savings and retirement investments regularly while utilizing them responsibly. Develop financial goals that will meet the needs and wants of retirement – health care, living expenses, travel, family assistance – for themselves and family members. Create a budget that is a spending plan to meet financial goals, live through later years comfortably, and pay for unexpected expenses. Minimize overall credit balances, reducing unsecured (student loans and credit cards) and secured (mortgages and auto loans) debt, leaving no credit issues for future generations.

Working Generations

This mid-life group covers anyone between thirty and retirement age and spans three generations – Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. They are in various stages of their lives with families, careers, and retirement preparation. The Millennial generation is now the largest age group in the country and has the biggest purchasing influence on the economy. The market place is impacted by all ages of people, working together. They are dealing with world instability, retirement fund uncertainty, assisting aging parents, home and education unaffordability, and out of control national debt. These issues challenge people to think long term, putting off retirement until they are into their seventies.

It is extremely important for this working group to put together their financial fitness plans, handling the tests that these sandwich generations face. Open and maintain savings and create financial goals that will cover wants – technology, trips, vacations, cars, homes, education, and retirement – for themselves and their families. Develop their budgets to accomplish their goals, live through these challenging years, and prepare for retirement with minimal impact to their adult children. Follow credit management practices, paying secured debt responsibly, lowering unsecured debt quickly, decreasing the chances for personal bankruptcy and overall economic failure in U.S.

Upcoming Generations

This younger group is anyone up to the age of thirty and covers the Millennial and Gen Z generations. They were mainly raised in a post-2001 world relying on technology and social media. Many are attending expensive colleges, starting their first jobs, or returning home to live with parents after struggling to be on their own. The Gen Z generation has the largest diversity mix of any age group in the United States and is changing the way Americans shop, making their purchases online. Surprisingly, they are dealing with many of the same issues as the older generations. However, this younger group is entering their adult years with more social and economic pressures worldwide than ever before. Our planet has become a smaller place due to technology with many more opportunities. The demands and expectations of these generations will have to be balanced with the challenges they face to live financially healthy lives.

Financial fitness planning is very significant for this younger group. They observe the older generations and their successes with savings and spending. There needs to be education and coaching, showing the Millennials and Gen Z’s to focus on personal finances immediately. By beginning to save, developing financial goals, and creating budgets, they can live through each life stage strategically. Credit management is paramount with economic uncertainties and rising student loan and credit card debt. This younger group must learn to keep their unsecured credit to a minimum, reducing the chances of loan defaults, impacting our country’s economy negatively.

As we enter into a new decade, the 2020’s, all generations should review their personal finances. The challenges we face will only increase. The need for a national movement on financial health has never been more relevant than the present. We must understand that each person is in a different life stage, but we ALL have the ability to become financially fit.

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