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Generation rich

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Friday, August 5, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

If image is everything, then the generation of Millennials (age 18 to 32, also known as Gen Y) would appear to be the richest. A recent survey finds that compared with older generations, more Millennials want to be seen as wealthy, even as they battle feelings of guilt about indulging in luxury.

Among the three generations surveyed by American Express and Harrison Group, the Millennials have a vastly different view of wealth. Twenty-six percent of them say they've been affluent or wealthy their entire lives, compared with 11 percent of Gen-Xers (age 33 to 46) and 8 percent of Boomers (age 47 to 65). They may be correct in that assumption, considering most were raised by boomers, who are, in fact, the wealthiest generation, accounting for 44 percent of all millionaires according to researcher Gfk MRI.

But despite wanting to be seen as wealthy, Millennials also say they are more likely to feel guilty after they purchase luxury items -- 62 percent of them, compared with 44 percent of Gen-Xers and 37 percent of Boomers. Could it be because they're overspending to keep up with the wealthy image they've created for themselves? Or are they trying to recreate the life they've been led to believe they deserve by their rich Boomer parents?

Young adults have grown up with images of wealth everywhere. Before the recession, loose credit standards caused a lot of their elders to trade up to bigger homes and become more status conscious. Popular television shows like "Gossip Girl" and "Beverly Hills 90210" make it appear ordinary that teens and young adults would be driving expensive cars and sporting thousands of dollars in designer clothing.

What do you think: Do the Millennials think they're wealthy because they're entitled to it, or are they trying to keep up with their Hollywood counterparts?

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1 Comment
Jake
August 08, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Which generation do I think is most likely to overspend to keep up a wealthy image? It doesn't matter what I or anyone else thinks. Take the data and *measure* which generation overspends to maintain their image the most. The answer may be surprising. If you've read "The millionaire next door" then you know that boomers are not at immune to this phenomenon either. Surveys and Opinion poll results are often shown to differ significantly from the facts.