A Shift in Generational Norms: Millennials Embrace Open Discussions about Money
Courtney Burrell, a 37-year-old financial professional, grew up in a household where money was always part of the conversation. Her parents discussed stock picks, savings, and retirement accounts, instilling in her a strong financial foundation from an early age. Burrell is not alone. According to a recent survey by Forbes Advisor, nearly three-quarters of millennials grew up in families that openly talked about money, in stark contrast to previous generations. This shift indicates a changing landscape in family finance, with younger generations embracing open discussions about money and financial literacy.
The Generational Divide: Boomers vs. Millennials
The Forbes Advisor survey reveals that boomers were the least likely to have grown up in families that discussed finance, with only 41% recalling conversations about money with their parents. In contrast, 73% of millennials reported having discussions about money within their families. This generational divide highlights a significant shift in attitudes towards financial education and transparency.
Learning Financial Responsibility from an Early Age
The Northwestern Mutual survey supports the notion that Americans are learning about finance at a younger age. Boomers reported having their first family money talk at age 22, while Generation X started at 20, millennials at 18, and Generation Z at 15. Chad Lewis, a 36-year-old millennial financial advisor, recalls discussing credit cards, credit scores, and responsible payment habits with his parents since middle school. These early conversations empowered Lewis to develop a solid understanding of personal finance and build a strong credit score.
The Influence of Boomer Parents
Experts believe that boomers’ commitment to teaching their millennial children about money stems from their own experiences. Boomers, who largely grew up in households headed by members of the Greatest Generation and Silent Generation, were not exposed to financial discussions in their formative years. The contrast between the generations, with one experiencing economic hardship and the other born into relative affluence, may have motivated boomers to ensure their children were financially literate. The impending transfer of wealth from boomers to millennials further emphasizes the importance of financial education within families.
Living Within Means and Building Financial Independence
Trent Long, a 34-year-old millennial, recalls his parents impressing upon him the importance of living within his means and saving from a young age. This early foundation led Long to co-found an app called BUNKR, which focuses on securely storing and sharing important financial information. Similarly, Deacon Hayes, who sits on the cusp between millennials and Generation X, learned the hard way about the perils of debt. He adopted a new financial philosophy, embracing the concept of Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE). Hayes now advocates for living debt-free and investing in assets that appreciate over time, rather than accumulating unnecessary debt.
The Rise of Financial Literacy Movements
The increasing prevalence of financial literacy movements, such as FIRE, is a testament to the growing interest in personal finance among millennials. These movements promote financial independence, responsible spending, and long-term wealth building. Deacon Hayes, for example, founded the Well Kept Wallet website and authored a book titled You Can Retire Early!, sharing his journey towards financial freedom and providing guidance to others seeking financial independence.
The shift towards open conversations about money within families, particularly among millennials, marks a significant departure from previous generations. The increasing prevalence of financial discussions from an early age empowers younger generations to make informed financial decisions and build a solid foundation for their future. As the transfer of wealth from boomers to millennials looms, the emphasis on financial education becomes even more critical. The lessons learned from boomer parents and the rise of financial literacy movements contribute to a generation that is redefining family finance, paving the way for a financially secure future.