Generation X is constantly being bombarded with articles about their financial challenges. We are promised a bleak retirement. A lean retirement looms for those of us born between 1965 and 1980, according to a recent Chicago Tribune article. The thing is, it’s not even remotely true. That’s because Gen-X’ers are survivalists. I don’t doubt that Gen-X’ers lag behind other generations at this stage of the “game,” but they will surpass every generation by the time they retire.
Owning homes outright
Generation X’ers will be the first generation since the Greatest Generation to own more of their homes outright. Most of us have been burned by the housing collapse since we purchased our homes when prices were at the top. Even though I’m out from being underwater on my mortgage, I’m not moving. It’s the Millennials and baby boomers that seem to be out buying homes while people in my generation stay put with low interest rates. With a 2.75 percent interest rate, I’ll be mortgage free before I turn 55.
Avoiding student loan debt
After getting burned on student loan debt, many Gen-X parents dissuade their children from taking out college loans. I sent my sons to community college, and a lot of my peers are doing the same thing. Our children have seen older Millennials burdened with tens of thousands of student loan and credit card debt. Our children aren’t going to college for 6 years to study psychology. They are getting practical degrees that qualify them for jobs.
Dealing with slipping income
It’s true a lot of Gen-X’ers have deal with lowered income. In fact, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances cited by the Chicago Tribune article shows the income of Gen-X’ers dropped 9.1 percent during the recession. I myself experienced more pay cuts and furloughs than I can remember. Instead of racking up credit card debt, I just cut my spending. Like my peers, I know how to survive economically. I treat debt like a financial plague.
Banking on nothing but ourselves
Unlike older generations, we aren’t expecting to inherit money to bail us out in retirement. In fact, we aren’t even expecting Social Security to be there for us. We have to own our homes outright and have money saved in Roth IRA accounts. I watched my 401(k) balance take a huge hit after saving up in my 30s. It reminded me of the dot.com bubble when I saw the money I saved in my 20s vanish. Maybe the bold baby boomers will risk their retirement money in the stock market, but I’m pulling out before the baby boomers crash the market.
Generation X may have been hit hardest by the recession, but we are bouncing back. We are a lot more resilient and ingenious than some realize. The baby boomer generation was given a golden opportunity because of the booming economy, but many squandered it. Maybe younger boomers will die at their desks, but Gen-X’ers are going to retire with financial peace of mind because they built their own retirements.
More from this contributor:
Financial Setbacks for my Sandwich Generation
The Myth of the New Rich
Surviving Partial Retirement as a Gen-X’er