'I'm Sure I'm Going To Die Penniless' — Almost Half Of Gen X, The 'Lost Generation,' Has More Credit Card Debt Than Savings — Even the 'Broke' Millennials' Are Faring Better

Generation X, often referred to as the “Lost Generation,” finds itself in a precarious financial situation, wedged between the money struggles of millennials and Gen Z on one side and the relative stability of baby boomers on the other. According to a recent Bankrate survey, 47% of Gen Xers (ages 44-59) have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

This statistic paints a picture of Gen X falling behind all generations, with millennials (ages 28-43) faring only slightly better at 46% having more debt than savings, and Gen Z (ages 18-27) at 32%. On the other end of the spectrum, baby boomers (ages 60-78) appear to be in a more comfortable position, with 68% having higher emergency savings than credit card debt — the highest percentage among all generations surveyed.

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The survey data highlights the financial tightrope that Gen X is walking, sandwiched between the debt burdens of millennials and Gen Z, often referred to as the “broke” generations, and the comparatively well-prepared boomers. This Lost Generation moniker takes on new significance as Gen Xers struggle to build a financial safety net amid competing demands of supporting their children and aging parents.

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, points out the strain many households are facing, stating, “Financing purchases at 20% interest rates is a sign of the financial strain millions of households are feeling.”

The survey also revealed that Gen Xers were the most likely generation to report having less emergency savings than they did a year ago, with 34% admitting to a decline in their financial cushion.

Pew Research Center’s examination of Generation X highlights their significant role as a bridge between the notably different baby boomers and millennials. Despite their critical economic and social position, Gen Xers have often been overlooked in discussions about demographic, social and political changes. Their financial outlook is notably more pessimistic compared to other generations, partly because of the economic stresses associated with middle age.

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This bleak reality was echoed on Reddit, which posted an article about Gen X having the largest wealth gap. In the comments, one user wrote, “I feel like I did everything they told us to do and be successful, and I’m sure I’m going to die penniless.” 

Another lamented, “I myself have been a casualty of multiple economic downturns, notably the 2008 recession … and, well, it’s not looking good for me.” A third user pointed out, “There’s no safety net under capitalism, but millennials are not the enemy. They’re allies.”

As the generational divide widens, Gen X finds itself at a crossroads, caught between the financial challenges of their children’s generations and the looming retirement prospects of their parents’ cohort. Navigating this middle ground will require a concerted effort to prioritize both debt reduction and consistent savings — a balancing act that many Gen Xers are still struggling to master.

it is never too late (or too early) to start working toward financial stability. Consulting with a financial adviser can play a pivotal role in helping people across all generations to assess their current financial situation, set realistic goals and create a plan to achieve these goals.

Financial advisers can offer tailored advice on a range of strategies to reduce debt, increase savings and plan for retirement, ensuring that individuals are taking proactive steps toward financial health. Whether it’s exploring options to consolidate debt to lower interest rates, setting up an emergency fund to avoid future debts or investing wisely for long-term growth, a financial adviser can provide guidance tailored to each person’s unique circumstances.

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*This information is not financial advice, and personalized guidance from a financial adviser is recommended for making well-informed decisions.

Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in a variety of publications including Zacks, The Nest and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser, and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

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