The financial challenge ahead — for echo boomers

In my daily life, I’m in contact with many age groups — seniors, boomers, Gen X’s and Gen Y’s (or echo boomers). And while I dedicate my energies to the concerns of those over 50 years, I am captivated and intrigued by the 20- (and almost 30-) something Gen Y’ers. These children of Boomers and have grown up with the spirited resolution of their Boomer parents and a solid foundation in the middle class.

Where Boomers were fighting against the restraints of the 50’s and living free love and free protest, Gen Y’ers are anti-establishment in their attachment to technology, ie., they i-pod, myspace, pda, notebook, and text their way from job to job, iteration to iteration. They invent and re-invent themselves on a whim, at the turn of a dime. They are easily bored and quite rightfully frustrated by the slower thinking speed of those of us born used to seconds and minutes, rather than nanoseconds and gigabytes.

They expect to get paid and paid well for their world savvy and they also expect to move up the ladder quickly. We are seeing school principals in NY, in their 30’s replacing the current crop of retirees. We are also seeing financially concerned 50 plussers start to take out reverse mortgages on their homes to supplement their income and cover looming medical costs.

At the same time, their children, Gen Y are seeing the financial support they have grown used to from their consumer-driven Boomer parents…dwindle. But the future is mighty scary and I’m now seeing (and reading letters to the editor) young adults in their twenties, trying to figure out how they will handle the very shaky financial future they see ahead. As one writer put it very well in the NY Times:

If parents’ income cannot cover their own medical costs, then this financial support of their children, and their children’s children, will abruptly stop.

I am a twentysomething, and my husband and I have maintained our financial independence through graduate school; and now that we have a child, we have little hope of owning a home because we value living close to our parents.
One of the few chances of owning a home was the possibility of inheriting our parents’ home. But I guess our parents’ houses will probably be sold off by the bank.
The question is, Who will be able to afford them once the baby boom generation’s wealth is gone?

Lara Triona Felton, Calif., April 25, 2006

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