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Minecraft, Monopoly or musical chairs? Texting, typing emails or writing letters by hand? Each generation has its differences – not just in how we socialise, speak or interact with the world but also in our values, beliefs, interests, and personalities. People of all ages like to express opinions about the older or younger generations – that youngsters ‘have it easy’ or that older generations are ‘overly strict with their kids’.

But are our attitudes towards money all that different? Sanlam surveyed over 350 Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers and Millennials to find out how the era they were born into shaped their attitudes towards life, careers and money. To our surprise, we found a number of similarities across the generations.

Generation who?

Not sure which generation you belong to? Here’s a quick overview:

  • Baby Boomers fall in the 57-71 age range having been born between 1946 and 1960 (the years after World War II). This is the generation nearing or already in retirement, which naturally makes them more focussed on growing their wealth and leaving a legacy.
  • Generation X-ers were born between 1961 and 1989, making them around 28-56 years of age. Most X-ers are probably parents, own their first or second home, and are feeling the pull of never-ending financial obligations.
  • Millennials were born around the turn of the century (1990-2000), which means they are 17-27 years old now. They grew up in a time of rapid change, giving them a set of priorities and expectations vastly different from previous generations.

On the subject of careers

Some say Millenials are an entitled bunch, more interested in growing beards and overdoing sriracha sauce than burning the midnight oil. However, studies show that they actually work longer hours than their Baby Boomer parents – something echoed by our research. In fact, the only thing they value more than being ‘hard-working’ is ‘success’. Generation X ranks ‘success’ second to ‘hard-working’, while Baby Boomers singled out ‘balance’ over being hard-working.

When asked about their attitude towards their career, all three generations felt that entrepreneurship is the future. Very few believed that their employers defined them, or that keeping one job for life was still something of value. Just over half of each generation said that doing meaningful work with purpose was their ultimate career reward (Millenials 52%, Gen X 54% and Boomers 54%), favouring it over freedom, flexibility and prestige.

On the subject of financial advice

“I leave it to the professionals – I won’t ask my parents or peers.”
- Jack, Generation X

Who do you trust for financial advice?

Who loves dealing with finances? Millenials, it seems. 30% said that dealing with financial issues was a necessity while 28% ‘actually quite enjoy it’. X-ers and Baby Boomers had very similar answers, and agreed with Millenials that they ‘do OK’ managing their finances. Curiously, almost the same number of people said that they ‘can do with some help’, in which case most people would trust the advice of a professional over parents or peers.

Only Baby Boomers were willing to pay for professional financial advice – however X-ers and Millenials would consider it if it’s independent. Once they’ve settled on an adviser, 68% of Millenials preferred face-to-face contact as opposed to email, a phone call or contact through social media.

Putting away something extra

Despite thinking that one should save 10 - 20% of their salary each month, most Millenials are not investing yet, citing ‘not having enough money’ as their main reason. When asked how they do save, the majority picked ‘saving account’ and ‘bank account’ over a retirement fund or investment account – something most older generations also chose.

Each generation had a different goal for their investments. It’s no surprise that 61% of Baby Boomers chose retirement as their main investment goal. They’re also more optimistic about having sufficient funds (30% = I’ll be OK) than other generations. 38% of millenials said ‘I know I’m not prepared’ versus 44% of Generation X-ers.

Generation X participants were split between retirement and their kids’ education as their main investment goals, while Millenials chose ‘growing my wealth’ as their goal over buying a house or car.

Results: What are you investing for?

Baby Boomers: My retirement
Gen X: My kids’ education and my retirement
Millenials: To grow my wealth

Your best piece of financial advice?

“Financial education is the key to success.” - Millenials

“Control your spending and seek resources to enable your financial health.” - Baby Boomers

According to the South Africans we surveyed, financial freedom is not defined by living the dream, being rich or having everything your heart desires. Instead, they would all rather be able to provide for those they love.

Regardless of your age or stage of life, financial planning will help you get closer to your goals and dreams. If you want to speak to a financial adviser, call us on 087 350 9075 or find your closest BlueStar adviser. Want to get your budget back on track? Read our tips on how to become a budgeting pro.

About our survey

The Sanlam Generations Finance Study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. Just over 350 participants were polled from a broad range in household income, gender, age and geographic location. We then analysed a sample of 50 participants for each generation.

Want to bring out the WealthsmithTM in you? Call us on 0860 22 33 90 or find your closest BlueStar adviser.



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