What advice can Boomers give Gen Z?
We live in an era in which, for the most part, different mix less frequently than ever before. Grandparents are visited occasionally; young people seek the freedom of independent living as early as possible. On social media, intergenerational warfare is commonplace, as members of Gen Z (those born between the mid-90s and the early 10s) criticise older people for having had an easy ride and for hoarding their effortlessly-gainedwealth, while baby boomers bemoan the perceived sensitivity of the younger – ‘snowflake’ – generation
Young people sometimes have the instinct to cast older people aside, believing people from older generations are out of touch. Gen Z might be tempted to do this with baby boomers: “What did a house when you were young, like, £20,000?” This is uncomfortably close to the truth, as the average house price at the end of the 1970s was £19,250!
The stark contrast between then and now can lead Gen Z to believe baby boomers are out of touch. And while it’s true things are very different now, it doesn’t mean we boomers haven’t learned a thing or two in our time. In addition, many core tenets of personal finance don’t usually change from generation to generation. As a result, there are several pieces of money advice baby boomers can share with Gen Z
The only question is whether any will listen or give the now famous signature sarcastic reply. “OK boomer,” accompanied by rolling of the eyes?
Save early, but don’t forget to have fun
Because of the power of compound interest, it’s important to save and invest early and often. But while Gen Z should absolutely take advantage of compounding, it’s also important to enjoy life while you’re still young. That’s how Manning Field, CEO of Follow, sees it. “Invest as much as you can, but don’t compromise being young and having fun,” Field says. “Establish a behaviour of regularly putting money away”
In other words, establish a healthy habit of saving and investing regularly. However, you shouldn’t put so much money away that it hinders your ability to enjoy life. “If you want to maximise compound interest you should start as soon as possible, even if it’s small amounts of money at first,” Field says
In particular, if you can, start a pension early. If you start a pension at 21 and retire at 65, that pension has been going for 44 years, and compounding can turn a very small sum into a substantial sum over that time. The state pension is unlikely to be enough to live on, sadly. In addition, as early as you can, get a life insurance policy. Make sure it’s a whole-life insurance policy, because that way, if something happens to you, you have something substantial to leave to your beneficiaries
Diversify your investments
Diversify. Diversify. Diversify.
Even though they’re young, chances are Gen Zers have heard about investing, even if they haven’t started investing their own money yet. But the headlines around stocks and shares tend to centre around whichever company is hot right now, and numerous apps fuel this fire. While following the next hot thing can be fun, solely investing in those shares isn’t a viable long-term investment strategy. Instead, diversify by investing in low-cost index funds, like an FTSE 100 fund or a total stock market index fund
This is not to say Gen Z should never invest in ‘hot’ stocks. If you have some extra money left at the end of the month, baby boomers say there’s no harm in throwing a few extra pounds into these stocks. But they shouldn’t make up the core of your investment strategy
Avoid high-interest debt
One of the problems young people entering the workforce might encounter is not knowing how to control their spending. They might have their first job as a university graduate and could be tempted to spend a lot of money. This could lead to running up charges on a credit card, leading to a large amount of high-interest debt. But this kind of debt can trap people in a never-ending cycle of interest charges.
Because high-interest debt can be stifling, baby boomers stress that Gen Z should use credit cards sparingly. But if they do end up with large credit card balances, they should work to pay them off quickly, using debt payoff methods like the debt snowball or debt avalanche.
Choose a career path that aligns with your personal values
Finding the right career path is important, especially if you want to advance within your field. Money is always part of the calculation, but it shouldn’t be the only thing Gen Z should consider. Baby boomers say if Gen Z wants to be committed to their careers, it’s best to find something that aligns with their personal values. This will help reduce the chance that you will want to switch careers after just a few years.
Renting is a waste of money
This may draw a bitter laugh from Gen Zers, but home ownership has always been a key tenet of baby boomers. Their cinicism notwithstanding, house ownership gives you an asset that appreciates over time, and the equity plays a role in your future wealth
Renting, on the other hand, doesn’t build wealth – in fact it doesn’t create wealth for you but for someone else. Because of this, many boomers don’t favour renting, seeing it as throwing money away every month
However, there’s today’s painful reality that many (most?) Gen Zers can’t take the step to buy a house because it’s prohibitively expensive. While renting will not increase your wealth, in these circumstances it may be better to rent than to buy, particularly if you can only just afford it, and find yourself ‘house rich, cash poor’
The situation may be helped with the recent announcement by Skipton Building Society about their deposit-free Track Record mortgage
Skipton commissioned research that shows that, of 2,000 adults who live in a rental property, 86 per cent dream about one day stepping onto the property ladder, but are unable to do so because of the need for a deposit, a need exarcebated by house prices rising faster than wages
Its new deal, while requiring proof of 12 months of on-time rental payments and a good credit history, anyone wishing to apply does not need a guarantor. However, at 5.49% the interest rate is more expensive than the average five-year fix of 5%