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Why the drastic difference in price?

Gen X ($130,000) and Gen Z’s ($128,000) yearly price on happiness isn’t far off from baby boomers — so why do millennials feel they need so much more money?

One major factor could be the economic crises they’ve faced during their lifetimes, suggests Empower. The Great Recession of 2008 came at a time when many millennials were starting their careers, followed by market volatility amid the COVID-19 pandemic along with high inflation that continues to persist.

Both millennial and Gen Z survey respondents say they stress most about high housing costs (67%, 46%), rising rent prices (62%, 38%), growing debt (57%, 48%), job layoffs (53%, 26%) and student loan payments (48%, 20%) — the last of which resumed this fall.

Millennials are also at a stage in their lives where their parents would have been homeowners, but are currently contending with high mortgage rates and home prices.

Some could be managing other costs as well, such as child care, which has become increasingly expensive and inaccessible, especially with the end of pandemic-era programs.

Meanwhile, many baby boomers have seen their wealth grow over the years, thanks to rising equity in their homes, and some are now settling into retirement with their kids out of the nest. They likely don’t have as many pressing financial commitments aside from putting together a tidy cash cushion to spend their golden years in comfort.

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One thing all generations agree on

While different age groups can’t seem to agree on what’s the magic income to achieve happiness, nearly three-quarters of respondents to the Empower survey agree one thing is key to financial wellbeing.

Around 73% of Americans say having a financial plan can contribute by bringing a sense of security. In addition to earning the right income, it pays to have the right tools and knowledge to help you manage your finances and set milestones.

Whether your goal is to buy your very first home or sock away enough money for retirement, a roadmap can help you get there.

For example, you might want to figure out how to pay off your credit cards or whether or not to consolidate your debt.

You might even look for other ways to boost your income to help get you to your own happy number, including starting a side hustle, or investing to grow your wealth.

Nearly half of survey respondents say they haven’t gotten the advice they need just yet, but speaking with a professional who can evaluate your financial situation could be a great first step if you feel you need a hand.


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About the Author

Serah Louis

Serah Louis


Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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