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Exploring the unique financial challenges facing Gen X

Gen X hit a special milestone in 2017 as its oldest members turned 50, putting retirement just around the corner. Unfortunately, research shows that most of Generation X may significantly underprepared for their golden years; and no, that’s not because Gen Xers have been “slacking.”

In fact, it’s because they’ve been pulling double duty. Generation X is also called the Sandwich Generation, stuck between kids that can’t achieve financial independence and parents who lost their retirement savings during the Great Recession. The financial burden has driven Gen Xers into greater debt with less savings lined up for the future.

The articles in this section are specifically targeted to helping Gen Xers understand their financial world. You can also find more information about Gen X financial trends at the bottom of the page.

A baby boomer man stands at a sunny window contemplating his retirement plans

Long-Term Care With Short-Term Finances? A Disaster For The Ages

November 20, 2017 | Michelle Bryan

We want to take care of our elderly family members. But we don’t want to talk about it.

Generation X Lost its Way With Finances?

Has Generation X Lost its Way Financially?

November 16, 2017 | Deb Hipp

Gen Xers struggle more than prior generations to save money, and a new study finds that those with subprime credit often have no savings at all.

Baby boomers say to save long and prosper

Advice From Baby Boomers: Never Stop Saving

November 13, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Baby boomers say they are financially ready for retirement. Most say that living life on the cheap side will leave you more money in your later years.

Americans Still Don’t Save

Americans Still Don’t Know How to Save

October 26, 2017 | Ryan Lynch

Older citizens are also doing better than younger ones.

Three millennial guys at a bar talking about money in relationships

Millennials Talk About Money More Than You’d Think

September 18, 2017 | Joe Pye

And the more they talk, the happier they are

Generation X Logo

Generation X Is Stuck in a Tight Spot

August 23, 2017 | Michelle Bryan

But their growing debt apathy may have payoffs for all

How millennials think about retirement while relaxing at home

Millennials Would Rather Save for Retirement Than Raise a Family

August 18, 2017 | Joe Pye

They’re the furthest from retirement, but it’s still one of their main goals.

A Baby Boomer business woman sits in a corner office, examining a computer screen

Americans Hope They Can Work in Retirement

July 11, 2017 | Joe Pye

And that’s a good thing, since we aren’t saving enough anyway.

Banking apps may be better than you think.

Baby Boomers Really Love Smartphones

May 23, 2017 | Joe Pye

They are more willing to give up financial stability for smartphones, than younger generations.

financial graph on technology abstract background represent financial crisis,financial meltdown

Good And Bad News About Recession 2018

May 15, 2017 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

The economic recovery is literally one step forward, one step back.

Senior woman with hands to face for stress retirement concept photo

Job Problems Are Hurting Savings for Boomers

May 8, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Nearly one-third of Americans 50 years of age and older have faced career setbacks and by 2021, retirees will lose $4.3 trillion in retirement savings.

elder financial abuse

The Ripple Effect of Ripped-Off Seniors

April 6, 2017 | Dori Zinn

When elder relatives get financially abused, caregivers struggle to keep them afloat.

When it comes to kids and money, teach kids to work on their finances to avoid things like adult Millennials living at home

You’re Not Talking To Your Grown Kid About Money

March 27, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Most families believe having money chats is very important but neither parents nor their adult children are actually talking about finances.

parents stressed about retirement

No Parents, You Can’t Have It All

March 22, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Parents are downsizing and delaying retirement to make sure their kids and their savings are both in tact.

children's finances

Millennial Parents are Surviving Because of Their Parents

January 24, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Grandparents that are more willing to help out are saving their millennial children tens of thousands of dollars a year in child-rearing.

Technology put the world in your hands, but it comes with a range of risks, from personal hacking to business identity theft

There is No Ideal Entrepreneur

November 10, 2016 | John Rampton

But there are a lot of them, and they’re successful. Want to join them?

When it comes to kids and money, teach kids to work on their finances to avoid things like adult Millennials living at home

More Parents Want to Talk About Money Instead of Sex

October 17, 2016 | Dori Zinn

There’s a generational divide when it comes to kids knowing how much their parents earned

America Saves Week

Parents Are Saving Better for College

September 29, 2016 | Dori Zinn

Most parents are saving for their child’s education, and they’re saving more money.

Explore income sensitive repayment

Student Loan Debt Is Killing Our Careers

May 30, 2016 | Treanna Lawrence

Student loans are limiting career choices, and not just for millennials

Debt.com's founder and CPA Howard Dvorkin

Ask The Expert: Fighting Over Found Money

May 18, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader says she and her husband never fought about debt, but they’re fighting over an inheritance.

retirement role model

Ask The Expert: Resigned About Retirement

November 4, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader’s husband thinks their golden years are forever tarnished, but she still has hope.

Debt.com's founder and CPA Howard Dvorkin

What Most Americans Are Doing RIGHT With Their Money

April 27, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

The headlines during Financial Literacy Month have been scary, but buried in the stories is really good news.

Debt.com's founder and CPA Howard Dvorkin

Why Millennials May Be Better Than Baby Boomers

March 23, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

The youngest workers are still the brokest, but they may have the best financial habits.

Ages with 9 are worse than a midlife crisis

Infographic: The Danger of Decades

February 18, 2015 | Michael Koretzky

If your age ends in a 9 — 19, 29, 39 and so on — be careful. You could die this year. Or run faster.

How Does Your Generation Save Money?

What Your Generation Does to Save Money

January 13, 2015 | Brandon Ballenger

Are you spending and saving better than your peers? What they’re giving up might surprise you

baby crying because of how much debt it will be in once it's done with college

10 Dumb Things People Say When They Find Out I Don’t Have (And Never Want) Children

October 23, 2014 | Michael Koretzky

And what I say to shut them the hell up.

6 challenges that Gen X faces in today’s financial landscape

#1: They’re taking care of their parents and adult children

A recent study found that nearly half (47%) of Americans in their 40s and 50s taking care of an aging parent at the same time they are financially supporting an adult child over age 18. It’s the reason Gen X gained the additional title of the “Sandwich Generation.” For all the labels of slackers that Generation X received, they’re now taking care of three generations, often in one house.

This creates a huge financial burden on Gen X households. About 15% of Gen Xers are financially support both a parent and adult child. That leaves little room for focusing on their own financial goals.

#2: They aren’t saving effectively for retirement

Not surprisingly, Generation X struggles to save for their own retirement. A 2017 study by Northwestern Mutual found that 37% of generation members say they’ve taken no steps to prepare for their financial future.

That’s a problem. As the study points out, Gen X is the first true generation that’s solely reliant on retirement accounts. Pensions are absolutely a thing of the past. This makes it imperative for Gen Xers to start saving early. However, 45% say they prefer not to concern themselves with retirement investing until later.

This is a recipe for a retirement nightmare. More Gen Xers will be forced to work longer or maintain at least part time employment in retirement. And that’s only if Social Security doesn’t get gutted before they reach their golden years.

#4: They still have student loans to pay off

The average student loan balance for someone in their 40s is still $30,000. Gen X is more likely to hold their own student debt longer. They also are footing PLUS loans for their adult children, as tuition continues to climb. So, rather than student loan balances going down, they’re going up.

That’s a serious issue as you hit middle age. Student loans were always supposed to be those debts that you paid off in your 20s and 30s. By your 40s, it’s supposed to be clear, so you have financial breathing room for things like homebuying and starting a family.

Having student loan debt while you work to prepare for retirement is creating a financial rock and a hard place. So, if you’re in Gen X and still have student loan debt to repay, you need to find solutions. The good news is that about 50% of borrowers overpay and have better ways to eliminate their debt that they’re not using.

#5: Gen X holds more of every type of debt

As if paying student loans in your 40s wasn’t enough, there’s more debt pretty much everywhere. They have more mortgage debt than Baby Boomers – $144,000 versus $90,000. They also have more credit card debt with $8,000 in average balances versus $6,000 for Boomers.

What’s more, Gen Xers are more likely to rely on credit cards to cover everyday purchases. About 20% believe in going into debt on everyday expenses versus just 14% of Boomers. Of course, if you’re supporting your Boomer parents, that’s probably a contributing factor in why you can’t balance a budget.

#6: Gen X is fairing okay with credit

According to NerdWallet, the average credit score for Generation X is 655. A “fair” FICO score ranges from 630-689. So, Gen X is comfortably within the fair range. The same study shows that Gen Xers use about 37% of their available credit (30% or less is good). And they are twice as likely as the Silent Generation to have payments that are more than 90 days overdue; that’s 40% likely versus 16%.

Still, fair isn’t good and lower credit scores mean higher costs to borrow. Basically, not only is Gen X carrying more debt, because of their credit they’re doing it at higher interest rates. That means higher costs over the time it takes to eliminate each debt.

What can Gen X do to achieve financial stability?

If you’re a member of Generation X, your prime directive is to find practical debt solutions. Carrying more debt at higher interest rates will only further delay saving for life goals and retirement. In order to get ahead, you need to focus on eliminating debt.

Luckily, you’re in the right place. Debt.com offers solutions for credit card debt, student loans and tax debt. We can help you find solutions that will help you reach zero, so you can save for your own future, even as you support parents and adult children. Call us or visit our Solutions Center to get started.