Boomer Financial Advice to Ditch
It's easy to dish out what you might think is great financial advice if you're from the boomer generation — the most recent generation to accumulate copious amounts of wealth compared to others.
But does the financial advice of this aging generation still hold up today?
Many believe the American dream is dead, and in many ways this is true. So it may be time to take part in the adolescent practice of "ignoring our parents" and ditch the financial advice of boomers — especially if that advice sounds something like this:
"Pay your mortgage off as soon as possible"
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For most boomers, paying off their mortgage as soon as feasible was sound advice at some point, but that's probably not the case today. Mortgage rates in the '80s and '90s were well over 10%, but the average rate in the past decade hasn't even gone above 5%.
It makes much more sense in today's world for homeowners with low-interest rates to consider investing that extra money or paying on higher interest debt.
"Don't discuss your finances with others"
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Americans have always been discreet about money, and it has long been taboo to discuss finances with others, especially in the workplace.
"How much do you make" is often interpreted as "how much is your worth," and the correlation of pay and a person's value makes it awkward for many to discuss their finances. However, the norm of keeping one's salary secret has only led to an increased wage gap in America.
There is no reason that sharing salary information with coworkers shouldn't happen. After all, it may just land you a higher salary. And if you're ever told by an employer not to discuss salary with co-workers, you can refer them to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which makes it unlawful for private sector employers to prohibit employees from discussing their pay.
"Get a college degree if you want to make good money"
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College isn't always a good investment anymore. With the college wealth premium — that is, the additional income earned by a family whose head of household has a college degree compared to that of a similar family head of household who does not have a degree — has been on a steady decline over recent decades, proving that college degrees don't necessarily ensure higher pay anymore.
The average cost of college has risen 3009% since the 1960's.
College was a completely different ball game when the majority of baby boomers attended. In 1970, the average college tuition came to what would now be $1,653. Today, that number is closer to $25,000.
To further debunk the myth that a degree amounts to more wealth, the skyrocketing price to attend college alone can often make a degree a bad investment. Many boomers were able to pay for entire degrees with the money made at part time jobs. With the average modern college student accumulating upwards of $40,000 in debt, the days of being able to pay for college with your own income are long gone for most individuals.
"Stay loyal to your job, and you will be rewarded"
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According to a Linkedin study, boomers report being significantly more satisfied and loyal to their employers than Gen X and Millennials; but a look at the change in the workplace might unveil the reasons why younger generations are more likely to switch jobs.
Pension plans, or retirement plans in which an employer makes contributions set aside for employees to collect after they retire are almost entirely a thing of the past. With this type of plan, often referred to as defined benefit plans, the employer is the sole contributor to the retirement accounts, unlike the common retirement plans today such as 401ks, in which the employee themselves must make contributions. Today, only about 4% of private-sector employers offer pensions to their employees.Along with diminishing retirement incentives, the lack of benefits and rising costs of employer-sponsored healthcare also play a factor into job loyalty. Since 1998, the percent of workers offered employer-sponsored coverage has been on the decline.
"Homeownership is the path to wealth"
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Any boomer will tell you that the first thing to invest in is homeownership. In fact, the baby boomer generation believed in this advice so much that they now own more than 80% of housing wealth in the US.
A recent study found that from 1983 to 2013, housing wealth increased almost entirely within the baby boomer and older generations. Urban boomers have highly influenced the increase of homeownership pricing due in large part to restricting housing supplies. For example, most neighborhood councils and homeowners associations are made up of boomers, who impose strict building requirements that raise the prices of homes and make affordable housing scarce.
Younger generations are left with few options, either having to often take out mortgages they truly can't afford, or continue to rent. And if the 2008 crash taught us anything, homeownership can be a very risky investment.