Gen X Is More Financially Screwed Than Millennials

Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

There is seemingly endless media coverage of the difficult financial situation Millennials find themselves in. Generally, these stories follow one of two narratives.

1. The reason Millennials are struggling financially is due to external circumstances like student loans and rising housing costs.

2. The reason Millennials are struggling financially is that they are entitled brats that can’t manage their money.

The former is a narrative that is generally pushed by cynical members of older generations for clicks. These articles tend to paint Millennials as whiny, avocado-toast-eating punks that lack the discipline and work ethic of previous generations.

As a Millennial who rejects that premise, I thought it would be interesting to examine how Millennial stack up against other generations when it comes to managing money.

Let’s Start by Looking at how Generation X is Fairing Financially

Who’s in Generation X?

Let’s start by clarifying who we are talking about. Members of Generation X were born between 1965–1980. In 2019, they would be between the ages of 39–54. Whereas Millennials were born between 1981–1996 so currently range in age from 23–38 years old.


If you associate any generation with debt, it would probably be Millennials. While it is true, Millennials have a significant debt problem most notably their student loans, Generation X has some serious debt problems of their own.

This article from Smart Asset examined the total debt loads by age groups. Here is what they found.

  • The age group with the highest debt load is 35–44 who owe $152,400 in debt
  • The age group with the second-highest debt load 45–54 who owe $150,500 in debt

Add those together and we can see people between the ages of 35–54 have more debt than anyone else in society. That age range matched up almost exactly with the age range of Generation X. It is safe to say that Generation X, is the most indebted generation.

While mortgage debt is the number one source of debt for Generation X, credit card debt ranks number two. In fact, with an average balance of $7,750, Generation X has more credit card debt than any other generation.

I have written in the past that eating out at restaurants is one of the major factors keeping people broke. Eating out at restaurant costs more than 5 times more per serving the buying and cooking your own food.

Generation X is also leading the way for annual restaurant spending. According to this MarketWatch article, people from Generation X spend $3,500 on average every year on restaurant food.

Dare I be a little cheeky and suggest Generation X needs to cut back on their avocado toast and get serious about managing their money?

Retirement saving is where things get bleak

Easily, the most alarming statistic for Generation X is that they have on average, only $35,000 in retirement savings. Which is the exact same amount as Millennials (who are obviously much younger) according to a report from Allianz Life.

$35,000 is an alarmingly low amount of retirement savings for someone in their mid 40’s or early 50’s. This is especially true when you consider the fact that Generation X was better positioned than any other generation to take advantage of the stock market tripling in value over the past 10 years.

Unlike Millennials who were too young to have any money to invest and Baby Boomers who were likely ready to reduce their investment risk due to their age, Generation X was in their prime working years (ages 29–44) when the stock market bottomed out in 2009. For Generation X to have only an average of $35,000 saved for retirement coming off the longest bull market is hard to comprehend. It points to an extremely low savings rate.

With volatility returning the stock market, those in Generation X can’t count on the type of stock market returns that we have seen the past 10 years carry forward into the next 10 years, as many of them approach retirement age.

A lot of belt-tightenings is going to be required if the people of Generation X want to enjoy any type of quality of life in retirement.

Final Thoughts

I want to make clear that I don’t revel in the financial pain of Generation X. By putting a spotlight on the financial struggles of older generations I want to stress that financial problems are not reserved only for Millennials.

Every generation has financial struggles because nearly every person has financial struggles.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

Making of a Millionaire

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Ben Le Fort

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Here to write about personal finance, & economics… For business and freelance inquiries reach me at

Making of a Millionaire

Publishing Stories on all things related to personal finance