Ever since she twerked her way into the headlines at the VMA awards, everyone’s been talking about Miley Cyrus. They liked the performance. They hated it. And, perhaps most importantly, what did it say about kids these days?
No matter your perspective, you likely don’t have as much money to put where your (ugh) tongue is, as Miss Miley. Following the performance, sales of her record skyrocketed, raising the roof on her estimated $150 million net worth just a little bit higher. At least financially speaking, this kid’s doing all right – as are her wealthy peers, according to a survey by Fidelity. More than 500 millionaire investors in the U.S. were surveyed in 2013 to compile the Fidelity 2013 Millionaire Outlook Survey. It showed that Gen X/Y are doing a lot of things right, although that doesn’t mean they’ve turned out just like their Boomer parents (sorry, mom!).
Here are some of the key differences between the most financially successful set of Gen X/Y and the generation that raised them.
How Gen X/Y is not like their parents
- They’re more optimistic
If you expected optimism from the generation that brought us rainbow-puking unicorns, you’d be right. In fact, Gen X/Y reported the most positive outlook of any group Fidelity has surveyed - ever. Their financial outlook is positive today, and even more positive for the future on all counts - including the stock market, real estate, the economy, and consumer and business spending. As for the Boomers, they’re currently seeing the glass half empty and only expect things to be a little better down the road.
- They had more to work with
Most parents through the generations have aimed to give their kids all the things they never had. The Boomers were one of the first generations with the means to actually get the job done. And boy, did they ever. So, it should come as no surprise that today’s millionaires got off to a pretty good start. On average, Gen X/Y millionaires attributed 32 percent of their wealth to help they got from others, compared to only 18 percent of Boomers. They were also three times more likely to say that inheritance was a major factor in building their wealth.
- They love living rich
Vacation homes, boats, country club memberships and first-class flights are the kind of bling Gen X/Y lives for, and they indulge at much higher rates than their more conservative parents. Eighty-seven percent of the younger set jets off on an annual foreign vacation, leaving 44 percent of their elders behind. Thirty-eight percent even opt to do it first-class style, while 95 percent of Boomers prefer to rough it in coach. That said, Gen X/Y are also savvier investors who are comfortable taking on enough risk to boost their earnings. And they give considerably more time and money to charity. Yup, these kids really are all right.
- They ask for help
Ninety percent of Gen X/Yers reported using a financial advisor, compared to only 68 percent of Boomers. But while mom and dad might rely on an advisor to do all thetransactional work, their kids lean on pros for information, research and a second opinion; most still manage at least half of their portfolios on their own. Gen X/Y is also more interested in having a financial plan, and using it to track their progress and achieve their goals. (Yet another awkward moment when you realize that your kids really are smarter than you.)
- They define success differently
Gen X/Y doesn’t just spend and invest money differently, they see it in a whole different light. For them, money in the bank isn’t about “security” and “comfort” - the words Boomers most strongly associated with wealth. Instead, they’re likely to say that money represents “opportunity”, “success” and even a little less stress. Those are different values, to be sure, but you can’t argue with a desire for opportunity. Isn’t that what every generation’s after?
The kids will be fine
Here’s the thing: Every new generation reveals a shift in values, just like every generation of elders predicts that the change is no good and of a moral decline. But each and every time, it turns out that the kids have done all right. In 2013, we’re all decrying Miley Cyrus. That isn’t to say her performance was even remotely respectful, appropriate or even culturally relevant (we give it a big foam thumbs-down), but maybe it isn’t the cultural death knell some people are making it out to be. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that the Beatles were accused of corrupting young people. Or Elvis with his suggestive hip movements...
And while we might not agree with past or future generations, the data shows that at the very least, they’re doing a pretty good job of managing their money. But god help us if tongue wagging becomes a thing.
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