One day Generation X is pitied as the generation that bore the brunt of the Great Recession. The next minute, it's back to despising the "slackers" by saying they are irresponsible for being overextended. A recent article by CNBC points out that there are more than a few reasons to "pity" Gen Xers, but adds that Gen X still doesn't get it when it comes to retirement savings. Frankly, some Gen Xers don't give a darn about their retirement. We have more pressing financial worries. A new PwC report cited in the CNBC article shows the 85 million people born between 1981 and 1961 were most negatively impacted by the financial crisis. Less than 40 percent of the Gen-Xers reported feeling confident about their retirement. Of the oldest Gen-Xers, only a quarter feel confident about their retirement.
Being stuck in the middle
Members of Gen X that I know don't lack discipline. In fact, many of us are frugal. Most of us put other people ahead of ourselves. In fact, it's the fact that we give so much to our children and parents that we sometimes "break into" our 401(k) plans and Roth IRA accounts. According to experts, it's not unusual for Gen-Xers to tap their retirement even though they haven't reached retirement age. It's not our fault that it costs as much to send our children to college as it would cost to buy them a more expensive home than the ones we live in. It's also not our fault that many of our baby boomer and traditionalist parents need our financial help to get by. In fact, at one point I paid three electric bills. I paid the utility bill for my son's apartment, my home and the grandparents' home.
Remembering the good times
Some experts say Gen X should have saved more money when economic times were good. I don't think older generations truly understand that things were never that good for Gen X. And, most likely, baby boomers don't care because the world revolves around them, not others. Most of us got a late start in the workplace because all of the good jobs were taken by baby boomers. I freelanced until I was 30, which meant I couldn't contribute to a 401(k) in my 20s. After settling into our first real jobs, the layoffs started happening. It's not like we were all blowing our money attending Phish concerts. A lot of my peers broke into their retirement accounts in order to avoid going into foreclosure.
Buying at the top of the markets
And speaking of foreclosures, a lot of us know about losing homes. I'm getting used to the fact that my timing is all wrong when it comes to the financial markets. I bought a house at the top of the housing bubble. I bought gold at the top. I purchased stocks at all the wrong times. But the good news is that I don't have to retire in another 25 to 30 years. Sooner or later, the time is going to be right for Generation X. And even if we don't accumulate millions of dollars for retirement, we will have what no other generation has: complete apathy. Bottom line is we get it. We really, really get it. We just don't care.
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