How much each generation needs to feel ‘financially healthy’

Here’s how much each generation says they need to earn to feel comfortable:

  • Gen Z: $171,633
  • Millennials: $133,758
  • Gen X: $112,222
  • Baby boomers: $78,317

More: How to ask for a raise

However, when it comes to how much savings these generations believe they need stashed away, the numbers drastically differ.

  • Gen Z: $105,299
  • Millennials: $349,784
  • Gen X: $566,975
  • Baby boomers: $764,999

Although Gen Z has the highest salary expectations to be financially healthy, they have the lowest expectations when it comes to how much they need in savings — and vice versa for boomers.

Paul Deer, vice president of advisory service at Personal Capital, theorized to CNBC that this might be connected to the housing market. Younger generations may feel they need a higher income to afford expensive mortgage rates and to plan for their retirement.

“Lower savings for younger generations basically means you have a stronger need to be able to build a nest egg,” Deer said.

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Deal with the immediate first

Even if you can’t hit the salary mark you need just yet, you still have options when it comes to maximizing your income and bolstering your savings.

“Yeah, making more money is great, but it’s what you do with your earnings that makes the real difference,” says Lacey Cobb, director of advice solutions at Personal Capital.

“Regardless of the number on your paycheck, avoiding high-interest debt and saving a meaningful percentage of your income can put you in a better spot in the long run.”

One of the first steps toward financial wellness is to deal with your debt — especially those with the highest interest rates. Thanks to exorbitant consumer prices, Americans are increasingly relying on their credit cards and household debt is soaring.

But with credit card interest rates spiking to record highs in response to the federal funds rate, now is not the time to let your monthly payments slide. Make sure you’re doing your best to pay them off in full and on time.

Then plan for the future

Once you’ve got your debt under control, make sure you’re tucking some savings aside as well. The Personal Capital survey found that 58% of Americans are putting away more into their short-term savings and retirement savings. But if the pandemic taught us anything, it's incredibly important that you’ve got some emergency funds in place for an unexpected expense.

And with many predicting they’ll need $1.25 million in savings to retire comfortably, you’ll want to start preparing for your financial future immediately.

While investor sentiment may be low right now, Birk advises against panic selling your investments.

More: How to invest your spare change if you're not rich

“Stocks can be a secret weapon because they offer you one of the best chances to mitigate the impact of inflation and, in the long run, you’re well-positioned to beat it several times over.”

Consider building a well-diversified portfolio with sectors that traditionally perform well throughout economic cycles, like consumer staples and utilities.

With a little focus and some hard work, before long you’ll be feeling financially strong again.

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