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Category: Leads · 4 min read

How Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials Approach Retirement

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on August 15, 2019

author profile photo

on August 15, 2019

a family with three different generations

There are three generations in the workforce right now—do you know all three? Baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials. Each generation is at a different stage in life and in planning for retirement. And each generation approaches life and saves for retirement differently.  

Chances are you’re probably going to interact with all three generations as you meet with different prospects and clients, so it’s helpful to know what makes each of them tick financially. Let’s go through each one, from oldest to youngest.   


Baby Boomers 

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are in their retirement years, or are going to be soon. They’ve worked hard most of their life, and now they can relax. Or can they? A new report from Wells Fargo revealed that the number of seniors (age 65 or older) in the workforce is rising, and should continue to rise in the coming years.1 That means more retirees are going back to work to supplement their retirement income.  

Why? Well, it could be due to the fact that 63% of baby boomers are worried about outliving their savings and 58% are thinking about reducing their expenses in retirement.1 There’s a need to have more income and fewer expenses, and re-entering the workforce can help with that.  

Baby boomers also rely more heavily on Social Security and pensions than other generations. Thirty-eight percent of their income is from Social Security and 19% is from pensions.1 They worked most of their years during a time where pensions were still a thing and there wasn’t a fear of Social Security running out, which is why half of their retirement income comes from those two areas.  

Bottom line: they’re working more than past generations, and half of their income is probably coming from Social Security and pensions, so they approach retirement with some hesitation and a willingness to keep working.  


Gen Xers 

Gen Xers, also referred to sometimes as the forgotten middle child, are those born between 1965 and 1980. Right now, most of them are in their peak income years, but they’re still less confident about saving for retirement. Only 59% of Gen Xers are confident about having enough money to keep the same lifestyle in retirement, compared to 72% of all workers.1 Why? Because 65% of Gen Xers’ monthly income is for household expenses.1

Another interesting statistic: The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 77% of Gen Xers are saving for retirement. However, the average amount saved is only $66,000, which won’t go far in retirement.

Keep in mind that not only do Gen Xers have the normal responsibilities of baby boomers and millennials, they also may have to deal with aging parents and saving/paying for their children’s education, which could contribute to their lack of overall savings. That means there’s an opportunity to help Gen Xers balance their budget, so they can adequately save for retirement. They’re most likely in their peak earning years, which could be a great time to play catch-up.  

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 77% of Gen Xers are saving for retirement. However, the average amount saved is only $66,000, which won’t go far in retirement.2


Now let’s talk about the youngest generation: millennials. They may not be close to retirement age yet, because they were born between 1981 and 1997, but they’re still at a good age to start saving and preparing for it now.1 

Right now, 25% of millennials who expect to retire between ages 66 and 75 have no retirement savings account.3 

Many millennials are overwhelmed with debt that their predecessors didn’t have, and they lack a clear understanding of how to dig themselves out. They want to save for a healthy financial future, but they either can’t or aren’t yet putting aside funds.  

They’re also more conservative than the generations before them. Thirty-two percent of millennials don’t want to grow their retirement savings in the stock market.1 Plus, 60% of millennials said that doing basic financial skills are intimidating.

That’s where you can come in and help them. Informing millennials about how and why they should be saving for retirement can help them prioritize their money. 

Many millennials are overwhelmed with debt that their predecessors didn’t have, and they lack a clear understanding of how to dig themselves out.

A Common Goal 

People of every generation need help planning and saving for retirement. That’s a common goal that they all can rally behind, whether they’re a baby boomer, Gen Xer, or millennial. Use the different statistics and approaches above to help you as you talk to prospects and clients from each generation, so you can accurately address their specific needs. 



1. Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Reimagining Retirement: Generational Strategies for 21st Century Challenges.” Apr. 2019. 

2. Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. “What is ‘Retirement’? Three Generations Prepare for Older Age.” Apr. 2019. 

3. Loudenback, Tanza. “Millennials are delusional about the future, but they aren’t the only ones.” Business Insider. Apr. 9, 2019.  


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Written By

Mark Williams

President and CEO

Mark Williams is the President/CEO of Brokers International. Over his more than 25 years of financial services experience, Mark has been both a producing independent agent in the field and a home office leader consulting to agencies and field marketing organizations. Currently, Mark is focused on the future of the insurance industry, from the disruptions of InsurTech and robo-advisors to the changing demographics and needs of customers. He also is an avid mentor, helping financial professionals navigate the industry.

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