2008-05-07

Gen Y is Stupid, Smart, Lazy, and Diligent About Money

As I understand it, Gen Y includes those folks who were born from 1978-1994 (according to the Wikipedia entry on Gen Y) or 1979-1994 (according to a BusinessWeek article on Gen Y), or maybe just 1977-1988 (based on the back cover of The Generation Y Money Book, by Don Silver).

The definition of Gen Y is the least of its concerns. Gen Y seems to be all over the news, blogs, and other media regarding their treatment of money and career. Are they bad with money, insufficiently serious about their careers, spoiled, and unrealistic? Are they attentive to money, conscientious and community-oriented, and just unlucky to be saddled with skyrocketing costs of education and healthcare?

I’m not a member of Gen Y (under any definition, though don’t think I didn’t try to find a source that would allow me to redefine myself as a 20-something). But all the buzz about Gen Y piques my curiosity.

What is the deal with Gen Y and money?

Simple enough question, right? So I did some digging, and here are some simple enough answers.

Gen Y is terrible with money.

Gen Y is great with money.

Gen Y doesn’t care about money.

Gen Y cares a lot about money.

Gen Y doesn’t want to work as much.

Gen Y is working a lot.

Gen Y doesn’t like to talk about money.

Gen Y is open about money.

Phew! Glad we got that all cleared up. One of my favorites was: 31% or 70% of working Gen Y is contributing to 401(k). Really gives me a lot of confidence in surveys.

Why all the contradictions—or perhaps paradoxes? To some degree, I think it really doesn’t matter. Part of me thinks the desire to categorize people into neat little boxes just relates to marketing—marketing personal-finance books and products specifically to women, marketing personal-finance books and products specifically to young people—and specifically to baby boomers, specifically to Gen X, and now specifically to Gen Y. If you’re a member of Gen Y and have your financial house in order, great. If you don’t, and it’s useful to look at personal-finance books or blogs or other products aimed at Gen Y, great. (In addition to the Silver and Orman books mentioned above, I noticed, for your possible reference: Generation Debt: Take Control of Your Money--A How-to Guide, by Carmen Wong and Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold Out for Student Loans, Bad Jobs, No Benefits, and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers--And How to Fight Back, by Anya Kamanetz.)

Maybe the way in which they approach personal finance speaks to you.

Maybe it doesn't.

What do you think of Gen Y and money—whether you are Gen Y or just see them on TV? Bad rap, good rap, accurate rap,…?


Related Posts:

Early Savers: $69,000 Saved By Age 23

That Nagging Feeling I’m Being Stupid — Sticking With Stocks


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