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As we approach the turn of a new decade and witness generational dynamics shift, Gen X parents face increased criticism for their financial upbringings.
Notably, financial guru Dave Ramsey’s critique has sparked intense debate.
Ramsey advocates that millennials struggle with debt and money management primarily due to inadequate parenting from Gen Xers.
This viewpoint has prompted many parents to question how they can better equip their children for future economic success.
In this article, we’ll explore the specific flaws in parenting that have resulted in the challenges faced by millennials today.
Gen Z and Millennial Financial Statistics
So what do the finances of Gen Z and Millennials look like?
According to US Census data, nearly half of Gen Z and younger Millennials (aged 18-29) live with their parents. This is the highest percentage since the Great Depression.
When surveyed, the primary reasons for moving back home were paying off debt so they could marry (37%) and saving for a home (29%).
Other stats for this group include the following:
- A little more than $2,400 in savings
- An annual income of $22,924
- Spend roughly $2,000 annually on socializing
- Close to 82% have a side hustle
While most live at home, a large portion of others rent and a small percentage own a home.
Gen Z Trainwreck
On a recent episode of the Megyn Kelly Show, financial guru Dave Ramsey talked about Gen Z, and many people were surprised by his quote.
He said, “this new generation, Gen Z, they are amazing. There is a percentage of them, I’ve got 19-20 year olds watching us on YouTube calling me, and they’re within a month or two of having their first home paid off. There is a dirty little secret that there’s a section of Gen Z that is absolutely the most productive and amazing young people I’ve seen in years. There is a portion of them that are useless but that is true of any generation.”
This was a surprise because Dave said, “So, let me get this straight. You live in your momma’s basement, but you got a Coach purse. Here’s what’s going to happen. You cannot avoid life, it’s coming for your butt. Momma can’t protect you.”
But many times, the second quote is taken out of context. Afterward, he said he does not blame Gen Z or Millennials for the impending “trainwreck” but their parents (mostly Gen X) for helicopter parenting and coddling.
Gen X Parents are Coddlers
When Gen X were kids, many grew up as latch-key kids. Their parents were working, so they were left to their own devices.
Now that they are parents, they want more for their children. They want to be move involved in their kids lives and don’t want them to experience the disconnect many Gen X’ers had with their parents.
The problem is, many in this generation have gone overboard.
They coddle their kids, not allowing them to live their own lives. And by doing everything for them, many of these kids don’t know how to survive in the real world.
While taking care of and protecting your kids is one thing, it is entirely different when you are overbearing to the point of it being detrimental.
Another issue is helicopter parenting, where the parents overprotect their kids.
They end up applying for jobs and even showing up at interviews with their kids.
The problem with this is their kids never build resilience and as a result, don’t take chances.
When Mom and Dad are gone, these kids are going to have a very difficult time surviving in the world.
Takeaways About Gen Z and Young Millennials
Dave’s original quote about a good portion of Gen Z doing well is accurate when putting all this information together.
It is just like any generation, including the Boomers. There are some in the group that is excelling financially and some that need to catch up. And there are many in between. We hear more about the extremes than we do about the ones in the middle.
So while you will undoubtedly read stories about how Gen Z wastes their money and cannot get their act together, chances are this is a small portion of the group. Many are working hard towards becoming financial independent.
If you come across one of them in the wild, offer them some wisdom you have learned about life and finances over the years. That is, of course, if they are willing to listen.
As for Gen X, the parents allowing their kids to live at home, it is best to set up some rules, including how long they can live there and agreeing to pay rent and share in household duties.
You don’t have to charge the market rate for rent, but $500 is more than reasonable. Having them pay for some groceries and washing dishes are also good ideas. The more practice they can get with adulting, the more prepared they will be in the real world. And the lower the chances of becoming trainwrecks.
Finally, Gen Z and young millennials living at home need to take some calculated risks in life. You don’t need your finances to be perfect to buy a house or have zero debt to marry. No matter how much you try to plan, life will happen and change your plans. Often, these struggles will help mold you into a better person if you are willing to grow.
What About the Baby Steps?
The most confusing part about the quote about being a ‘train wreck’ for living with your parents goes against his philosophy in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. Dave helps people dig out of debt and work towards financial independence in this popular step-by-step plan.
It would seem that living with your parents is a great way to keep your expenses low and begin to build wealth. But Dave takes another viewpoint.
This is primarily because a Morgan Stanley report said that many young adults living with their parents are using the money they save on housing to buy luxury handbags and watches.
If this is the case, it makes sense why Ramsey is ranting about them. It would be better if they move in with their parents and use the money they save to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, or save for a house.
Not all Gen Z or Millennials who move back in with Mom and Dad are wasting their money.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.