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Gen X & Y: Getting Back to Black

Being young in today’s world isn’t easy. Gen Y and Gen Xers are facing greater challenges day by day with the lagging economy and prospective jobs situation not improving. There was a time when having a higher education almost seemed to guaranteed a high paying job, but it’s not a given any more.  For example, take law graduates – many of them have had success as interns, making as much as $3,000/week, but they can’t get hired on because of the lagging economy.  You know times are rough when attorneys are struggling!

In the Gen X movie Reality Bites, Winona Rider, as a twenty-something living with roommates, stood at a gas station with her dad’s gas station credit card and paid for other people’s gas –– in exchange for cash to buy groceries. Sometimes you have to be creative to make a living, albeit, most of us don’t have Daddy’s credit card to improve our cash flow.

Statistics show that baby boomers (born from 1946-1964) are more financially secure and a tad bit more savvy with their money than Gen Xers and Gen Yers.  Baby boomers own a whopping $8 trillion of assets in America.  The younger generations are getting off to a rough start acquiring such wealth. A recent Oppenheimer Funds report shows that a majority of Gen X women (69%) believe saving for retirement was important. However, in reality, less than 35% have contributed even $100 to their company’s retirement plan.

There are 23 million Gen X women in the United States today and almost half are living paycheck to paycheck, with “nothing left to save.”

Gen Y has it even tougher. A few decades ago, you had the chance of walking out of college debt-free.  These days it is not even close to being the norm. It’s typical to be $20k in debt on graduation day.  On top of that, it seems to be almost socially mandatory to walk out of school with an iPad and smartphone.  The parents of Gen Y bought homes with 20% down. Now you can put as little as 2% down, but this comes with a higher interest rate.  It seems easy upfront, but it hurts down the road.

Gen X and Gen Y have some challenges in the financial world but they do have one tool our parents did not have – the information superhighway. It is quite the paradox that younger women are LESS informed when it comes to investing and general finances when we are smack dab in the middle of the information age. Tools and resources for making all kinds of financial decisions is just a click away. But, many women struggle nonetheless.  Before debt piles up and we get enslaved to creditors, we need to discipline ourselves to focus on building wealth and not debt.

Come every November there’s a little holiday we are marvel at – Black Friday.  It’s the day after Thanksgiving where all the ridiculously discounted sales start at a ridiculously early time. The reason it is called Black Friday is because it’s the day most retailers start making a profit (going from the red to black). Girls, it’s time to move back into the black! Reality does not have to bite – we just need to start taking advantage of the tools that are there for us to utilize.

So let’s don’t wait until November to get into the black, we have the ability to stay on top of our finances with almost any mobile device. There are apps for keeping us ON TOP of our finances, bills, investments, debt.

Cathy DeWitt Dunn, President of DeWitt & Dunn, LLC, is the driving force behind Women Money & Power. With decades of experience in the financial services industry, Cathy specializes in helping individuals and families strengthen their retirement outlook with lifetime income solutions not available from traditional brokerage houses. She has helped countless investors start their personal journeys towards a stronger retirement with strategies designed to protect principal, generate retirement income that can’t be outlived, and eliminate market loss.

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