Three generations, one household.

When Boomers, Gen X-ers and Millennials come together under one roof, differing experiences and opinions about money can lead to family friction.

Each generation has a different perception of risk, which typically comes from their early money experiences, says Scott Plaskett, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and chief executive officer at Ironshield Financial Planning in Toronto.

“Many Boomers grew up at a time when money was scarce, which makes them resistant to spending even if they can afford it. Their emotional response to a five percent loss in their portfolio is far greater than the emotional high from a five percent gain,” he says. “Gen X-ers want freedom from that kind of denial but worry about making ends meet, paying down debt, and taking care of aging parents. Millennials meanwhile are freer with money, less concerned about debt, jump from one job to the next and want to fully enjoy the lifestyle experience rather than worry about a retirement date. These are all things that scare the generations that came before.”   

How can harmony reign when the money mantras of grandma, parents and kids are in conflict? Communication is the key, says Mr. Plaskett.

“The older generation’s biggest fear is the transfer of hard-earned wealth to younger generations who are not properly prepared to receive it,” he says. “Every generation must be brought into the conversation about estate planning, major purchases and household expenditures.” 

Regular discussions will help ensure that all three generations feel understood.

  • Boomers are comfortable that their legacy will be valued, rather than spent irresponsibly.
  • Gen X-ers are not overwhelmed by the weight of bills, careers and being sandwiched between two generations
  • Millennials are not constantly criticized and marginalized.

A financial planner can help get the ball rolling, adds Mr. Plaskett. With an unbiased third-party on-side, logic rather than emotion will drive the discussion between the parties and result in a multi-generation plan that works at all levels.

Once all the ducks are in order, he says, a solid plan offers benefits to the entire family.

  • Boomers with resources the permission to stop denying themselves and take that first class trip of a lifetime that they’ve earned.
  • Gen X-ers knowledge of how much they need to put aside for the future and the go-ahead to use the balance guilt-free.
  • Millennials direction, with options, so they can live life to the fullest now while building wealth for the future.

If you need a qualified professional to help put your household on a sound financial footing, FPSC’s Find Your Planner tool can help put you in touch with someone in your area. 

For more on family finances, read 5 tips for loaning money to family and Modern families have one thing in common