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Gen Y’s Financial Lessons from Forrest Gump

By now we all should be aware that Gen Y* is a group of savers. According to our May Monthly Consumer Survey, more than two in five (41.9%) of these youngsters maintain plans to pad their piggy banks over the next three months. This compares to fewer than a third of Gen-Xers (29.6%) and just one in five Boomers (22.9%). (Silents clock in at 14.8%, but you’ve got to account for the large proportion of retirees in this group.)

Planning to Increase Savings Over the Next 3 Months

Maybe Gen Y hasn’t taken on enough life “experience” in the form of children, mortgages, loans, credit, etc. to put paying down debt at the forefront of their financial priorities. Maybe Gen Y is still relying on $upport from their Boomer and Gen X parents while working their way up the pay scale. Or perhaps – having just experienced the Great Recession – Gen Y has learned a few lessons from its elder generations. Let’s examine some of these would-be lessons à la one of my faves, Forrest Gump.

[While I do realize that the oldest members of Gen Y were 11 when this classic hit the theaters, please…just humor me on this.]

Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Financial crisis, anyone? How about the housing meltdown, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, dot-com bubble, war in the Middle East, or rocketing oil prices? [OK, we should have been prepared for a few of those.] Utopian society we are not; on both macro- and micro-environmental levels, we are always going to have something to be worried about. The difference between Gen Y and its older counterparts, though, is that the youngsters seemed to be preparing themselves for life’s uncertainties by improving their financial foundation. When asked to compare their personal financial situation to the previous year, more Gen Y-ers called their monetary “better off” (27.4%) than “worse off” (25.8%). In each of the older generations, those “worse off” outweighed those “better off.” Nearly two in five Boomers (38.0%) say they are “worse off” financially compared to this time last year, while just 14.5% think they are “better off.”

Stupid is as stupid does. Consumers buying on credit drove much of the spending growth we saw in the pre-recession 2000. Keeping up with the Joneses and living beyond their means left a lot of families in a lurch – and unable to keep up with their bills once the value of their McMansions plummeted, credit card fees and interest rates ratcheted up, and pink slips put many on the unemployment line. “Save not squander” might be the Gen Y financial mantra, as more than two in five (42.8%) say they are saving enough for future needs. This figure eclipses the rate of the second-highest financially prepared generation (Silents, at 31.0%) by a full 38%. Just over one in four Gen X-ers feel they are contributing enough to their piggy banks, while Boomers are the least likely to feel secure in their savings.

I am Saving Enough for Future Needs

It happens. Is anyone 100% secure in their place of employment? Unfortunately, a high unemployment rate is currently a fact of life, and – let’s face it – the current 8.1% doesn’t account for those underemployed or discouraged workers. Gen Y may be having trouble securing their first jobs, working up the pay scale, and avoiding LOFO [last on first off] layoffs. But in the event that “it” does hit the fan, this generation is making the most of the income that they have – by saving at rates higher than any other group. Nearly half (45.4%) plan to save more than 10% of their annual income, much higher than Gen X-ers (31.3%) and Boomers (22.9%). Of course, this may in part be the result of fewer financial obligations [*coughs* mortgages…children], but at least Gen Y is consciously saving and not burning through their paychecks, right?

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Inspiration for this post wasn’t completely random…I recently visited the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Miami.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

* Generations were defined for this analysis in the following manner:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: Webaholics Anonymous

Hi. My name is Randi and I am a Webaholic (along with nearly half of the American population!). According to the American Pulse™ Survey from March, 47.5% of Adults 18+ admit that they are addicted to the Internet. The World Wide Web is also the top tech addiction among all generations:

While TV is the #2 digital drug of choice among all Americans, members of Gen Y and Gen X seem more hooked on Facebook. Perhaps keeping up with friends and bartering farm animals is more addicting than tuning in to the boob tube for younger Americans.

Like many of my Gen Yers (although I hate to admit it) I am also addicted to Facebook and my smartphone. However, I can’t whole-heartedly agree with the 33.0% addicted to TV (unless you count reruns of Law & Order SVU on Netflix!). I actually cancelled my cable service a year ago and now rely on Wii streaming and DVDs via snail mail.

Similarly, if they had to choose, the vast majority of Americans (83.0%) would cut the cable and fasten to Wi-Fi. This intention spans across all generations; however, a few more members of the Silent Generation would opt to keep their cable:

Regardless of age, Internet appears to be a necessity. It’s also the more practical option—you can always watch TV episodes online!

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, MAR-12 #1, N = 3892

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development.

The Award for Best Portrayal of an Ideal Model Family Goes to…

March 28, 2012 1 comment

I remember watching it on TV like it was just last night. Theo sauntered down the steps with his hat and sunglasses on, lip-syncing “Night and Day” by Ray Charles all while the Huxtable family danced in concert in front of him. And when Little Rudy stole the spotlight (“Baby, Baby!”), the live audience roared.

The Cosby Show was a staple in my household growing up in the ‘80s. My sister and I were allowed to watch it because it featured what my mom considered to be a good, wholesome family. Fast forward 25+ years and it seems that the Huxtables are still viewed as the consummate household… According to a March American Pulse™ Survey, the award for best portrayal of an ideal model family goes to—The Cosby Show. Honorable mentions notably go to Modern Family and Home Improvement.

It’s interesting to look across the generations to see which TV family is perceived to be ideal. Gen Xers, Boomers and the Silent Generation alike all list The Cosby Show as portraying the essence of the American family. (Gen Y votes for Modern Family.) But shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver pop up among the Silent folks (admittedly, I’ve never watched a single episode of either). And Home Improvement is a popular choice among Gen X and Boomers, while Gen Y is more likely to list Full House.  I would have to disagree with the latter as I tend to prefer Uncle Jesse John Stamos post-Full House (and post-Beach Boys for that matter).

In the the same American Pulse survey, respondents were asked to vote for which TV show best portrays their group of friends. Not surprisingly, Friends tops the list among Adults 18+ followed closely by one of my friends and Gen X cohort’s favorites, The Golden Girls. (As an aside, I wasn’t allowed to watch The Golden Girls growing up, due to content my mom deemed questionable. And my friend got to know the mature clan via the Lifetime Network in college.)

Friends is also top of the list for members of Gen Y and Gen X as the TV show that most closely resembles their inner circle. Big Bang Theory comes in at #2 for both. Adults that fall into the Boomers and Silent Generations are more likely to say Golden Girls and Cheers. As a card-carrying member of Gen X, I noticed a glaring difference of opinion between “us” and Gen Y… Jersey Shore made their top ten for show that most resembles their friends. Scary Interesting to imagine Snooki as my BFF.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

And for additional info from our latest survey:  Blacks, Asians & Hispanics Say Healthcare Reform Will Benefit Majority; Whites Disagree, According to Latest American Pulse™ Survey

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, Mar-2012, N=3892

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: Confidence Defined

The components that contribute to confidence can differ from person to person. Is the stability of the national economy most important? Where do personal concerns with employment, finances, and the future come into play? Does the stock market influence anyone’s sentiment regarding the economy?

In this new analysis of the more than 9,000 respondents who completed our March Consumer Survey, we’re taking a look at how consumers define confidence. And, to make it even more interesting, we’re dissecting this data by generation:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

Among adults in general, “Trust in the stability of the national economy” was deemed to have the most influence when determining one’s level of confidence (49.5%). “Trust that your future financial situation will improve” (44.3%), “Trust in employment conditions and your ability to get or keep a job” (42.5%), and “Trust in a positive future for your family” (39.9%) followed.

Trust in the Stability of the National Economy

While stability of the national economy was important across all generations, it is most valued among Silents (60.5%) and Boomers (55.3%) – and was each of these segments’ top confidence influencer. The younger sects, though, were more likely to define confidence from a more personal perspective. Nearly half of Gen Y-ers (46.4%) said that employment conditions/ability to keep a job was most influential; this was also the #1 confidence component for Gen X (45.8%).

Trust in Employment Conditions and Your Ability to Get or Keep a Job

Gens X (42.6%) and Y (43.3%) were also more likely to add “Trust in a positive future for your family” to their confidence equation compared to Boomers (38.3%) and particularly Silents (33.3%). “Trust in the future place of employment” was important to nearly a third of each generation, save for the Silent generation (13.4%) – presumably with retirement in sight, or at hand, for these consumers.

Additionally, the older the generation, the more likely that macro-environmental issues play a role in defining confidence. “Trust in government’s international policy,” “Trust in stock market,” “Trust in government’s domestic policy,” and “Trust in regional economy” peaked among Silents and tapered off with declining age.

No matter how you define confidence, though, the slow improvement we’re seeing for consumer sentiment (currently at 34.8%) is a step in the right direction for an economy – and a population – that have been struggling for several years. Stay tuned to see if this optimism can be sustained throughout the springtime or if rising gas prices with quash this good feeling.

Very Confident/Confident in Chances for a Strong Economy

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAR-12 (N = 9242, 3/6 – 3/13)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: Get Your Green On

March 8, 2012 1 comment

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, it appears that Irish eyes will be smiling on restaurants, bars, and retailers hoping to rake in the greenbacks this year. According to our latest research for the National Retail Federation, 54.4% of consumers plan to get their green on this month, the highest in our survey’s history.

But with nearly 9,000 respondents partaking in our February Consumer Survey, we’ve got a pot of gold data to share with you on this subject, so let’s take a look at St. Patty’s Day from the generational perspective:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

This may come as no surprise, but it’s the youngsters who are on the hunt for four-leaf clovers this month. More than seven in ten (72.7%) Gen Y-ers plan to celebrate the holiday this year, while three out of five (63.5%) of those in Gen X say the same. Boomers (43.1%) and Silents (36.9%) index below average in their enthusiasm for the Irish-themed holiday.

Among those celebrating, the wearing o’ the green is the overwhelmingly preferred activity, with Gen Y (87.3%) most wanting to avoid the pinch patrol on March 17. These youngsters are also most likely of our groups to attend a party at a bar or restaurant (37.1%) or attend a private party (27.1%). One-third (32.9%) of Gen X-ers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day plans to head to a bar or restaurant, and this percentage continues to decline with rising age:

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day at a Bar/Restaurant

So where does that leave the older generations? Sipping their green beer at home, of course! Nearly 40% of the Silent and Boomer generations plan to enjoy their corned beef and cabbage at ye olde homestead [#oopsEnglishnotIrish]. Among Gen Y, fewer than one in four (23.7%) are planning to make a special meal:

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a Special Meal

Head over to Retail’s BIG Blog for the full report on St. Patrick’s Day 2012 from the National Retail Federation.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – FEB-12 (N = 8716, 2/1 – 2/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: Yuck, It’s Tax Season

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Ah, the joys of Spring…the birds are chirping, the weather’s getting warmer, and Uncle Sam is banging on your door. With April 15th fast approaching, this is the one time of year I’m thankful I married an accounting nerd!

But enough about me, let’s focus on the different generations…as it turns out, the year you were  born is very much likely to influence your annual approach to signing your life away to the U.S. Treasury being a good, law-abiding citizen:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

While a record number of taxpayers overall intend to use at least some of their refunds for savings, this plan is most prevalent with the youngest generation. Among Gen Y-ers anticipating a refund, 52.2% will to plunk this cash back into their piggy banks, compared to Silents (46.5%) and Gen X (44.7%). Boomers are the least likely generation to save their refunds (38.8%).

Perhaps still under the shadow of a student loan, mortgage, growing family “stuff,” holiday spending [etc., etc., etc.], Gen X-ers are the most likely generation to apply refunds to current debts (49.3%). About two in five (39.5%) Boomers plan to do the same, followed by Gen Y (36.3%) and Silents (27.3%).

Interestingly, it’s not all work and no play for the refunds received by Gen Y. One in five (19.5%) of these youngsters expecting a refund intends to make a major purchase (like a TV, furniture, car, etc.), quadruple the number Silents (5.1%) planning to do the same. Fewer than one in ten (8.3%) Boomers plans to use their refund toward a high-dollar expenditure, while Gen X-ers are nearly as likely as their younger counterparts to splurge (16.3%).

Other tax facts this year:
– Gen X is the generation most likely to file their taxes online. Seven in ten (68.1%) plan to e-file, compared to Boomers (60.2%), Gen Y (55.7%), and Silents (52.0%).
– Two in five Gen X-ers (42.6%) plan to prepare their taxes with computer software, higher than any other generation.
– Nearly a third of Silents (30.6%) plan to use an accountant this year, the top prep method with this generation.
– About one in five (18.8%) of those in Gen Y will have a spouse, friend, or dear-old-dad [or mom] other relative prepare their taxes, double the number of those in other generations planning to do the same.
– Three in four of those in Gen X (76.8%) and Gen Y (72.2%) are anticipating a refund this year, perhaps explaining why about 70% of these lucky ducks were planning to file in February or earlier.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

And to view the original Nation Retail Federation Tax Returns release, click here.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – FEB-12 (N = 8716, 2/1 – 2/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Device Detox: Which could you do without?

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

These days it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing someone distracted by a smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, or other device. Chances are also high that you, yourself, are addicted to some sort of gadgetry (admittedly I’ve been slightly obsessed with my NookColor lately). But could you live without those devices?

In our recent American Pulse™ survey, we asked 3,839 Americans 18+ what devices they could do without if need be, and the generation* gap in responses is quite wide. In fact, for every “new” device (think hand-held video games, eReaders, tablets, smartphones, etc.) we looked at, device dependency dwindles significantly with age:

So while the majority of Boomers and the Silent Generation said they could do without a Netbook, an MP3 player, or a smartphone, the majority of Gen Y implied they wouldn’t be able to part with these devices. The majority of Gen Xers wouldn’t be able to part ways with their smartphone either.  Further, only half of Gen Y said they could do without their hand-held video games, eReaders, and tablets.

But what about more “traditional” devices (i.e. those that have been around a bit longer)? Interestingly, with the exception of laptops, dependency on more traditional devices increases with age rather than decreases. It seems as though Boomers and Silents are less likely to be able to do without digital cameras, radios, televisions, and basic cell phones than their younger counterparts:

While only a small portion of consumers, regardless of age, could do without these more traditional devices (suggesting all consumers are dependent on some level of technology), Gen X and Gen Y would have less trouble than the Silent Generation giving up these gadgets.

But why is this? Well, perhaps because if they were forced to do without these basic devices, Gen X and Gen Y could replace their digital camera and basic cell phone with their smartphone, their radio with their MP3 player, and their television with streaming video on their tablet.

Or at least that’s what I would do…

*For the purposes of this analysis, generations were defined as follows:

  • Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
  • Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
  • Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
  • Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, January 2012 #2, N=3,839

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ and American Pulse™ are trademarks of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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