Financial Facts: Saving and Sound or Dealing With Debt? A Global Generational View

Financial Facts: Saving and Sound or Dealing With Debt? A Global Generational View

Whether paying for college, financing a car or buying a house, accumulating debt seems like an unavoidable means to an end for most of us in order to get the things we want. But how much do attitudes about finances differ by age? To find out, we asked Generation Z, Millennial, Generation X, Baby Boomer and Silent Generation respondents around the world about their saving strategies and debt decisions. It turns out that no matter the age, most of us need sound financial advice.

In this fifth of a five-part series about the differences between how generations live, eat, play and work, we focus on how consumers save and pay.

Are We “Saving and Sound” or “Investing, But Insecure”?

One-third of Generation Z (32%) and Millennial (34%) respondents are wise beyond their years when it comes to saving for their financial futures, but about half need some help figuring out what to do with their money, as they’re not confident in their savings strategies.

Older consumers could use some help, too. Half of Generation X respondents, and about four-in-10 Baby Boomers (41%) and Silent Generation (38%) respondents are saving some money, but they’re not confident in their financial futures.

And just over one-third of Baby Boomers and Silent Generation respondents don’t save at all for their futures.

The Race to Retirement

More than half of Generation X (58%) and Baby Boomer (55%) respondents, as well as four-in-10 Millennials and Silent Generation respondents (44%) say they’re currently in debt – and many are worried about how they’ll pay back the money they owe.

While spending strategies for those with debt varies, nearly half of all respondents across the four generations say debt motivates them to be careful about spending. As we get older, and presumably closer to retirement, we get more serious about eliminating debt. Baby Boomers are the most likely to be careful about spending and take a shorter-term spending strategy, foregoing the things they want and need to keep debt down.

Conversely, Millennial respondents, those with the most time left to navigate financial matters, are more likely to take a longer-term view of their debt situation. They’re the most likely generation to say they’re willing to refinance to lessen debt, and are also among the most likely to feel like they must incur debt to buy the things they want and need.

Other findings from the Global Generational Lifestyle Report include:

  • The majority of older respondents turn to TV to get the news, but the medium still holds sway for nearly half of Millennial (48%) and Generation Z (45%) respondents.
  • Older respondents show higher levels of being distracted by technology at mealtime than younger generations.
  • While TV has universal appeal as a popular spare-time activity among all generations, more respondents in Generation Z selected reading as a favorite activity than watching TV.
  • More than half of Generation Z and Millennial respondents (52% and 54%, respectively) want to live in a big city or urban neighborhood.
  • Millennials are roughly two times more likely than Generation X to leave their current job after two years.

The Nielsen Global Generational Lifestyles Survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to better understand how global consumer sentiment differs across life stage. For the purposes of this study, respondents are segmented into five life-stage classifications: Generation Z (age 15-20), Millennials (21-34), Generation X (35-49), Baby Boomers (50-64) and Silent Generation (65 and older).

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Generational Lifestyles Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Generational Attitudes was conducted Feb. 23-March 13, 2015, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America. The sample includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of equivalent size would have a margin of error of ±0.6% at the global level. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion.