Money & Career

Does Gen Y have it harder than the Boomers?

Research from TD Canada Trust asked both Gen Y and baby boomers about what it’s like to save when you’re in your 20s, here are the results.

Gen Y graduation caps. Getty Images

Gen Y graduation caps. Getty Images

Does anyone out there remember 1993? That was the year I was struggling to find my first job out of university. It was smack in the middle of the 1990s recession and the best I could do was a part-time retail job, despite sending out dozens and dozens of resumes and sporting a shiny new BA.

That was then – but how are today’s youth dealing with the economic carnage of the global recession? Not so well apparently – especially compared to previous generations. Research from TD Canada Trust asked both Gen Y and baby boomers about what it’s like to save when you’re in your 20s.

Not surprisingly, today’s youth say they face some daunting barriers — obstacles that their boomer forebears didn’t really have to deal with.

Here’s how the numbers shake out according to TD:

• Paying for education costs (44% of Gen Y versus 18% of boomers)

• Salaries too low to cover living expenses (39% of Gen Y versus 30% of boomers)

• Debts from credit cards, loans and lines of credit (38% of Gen Y versus 26% of boomers)

• The temptation to shop beyond their means (36% of Gen Y versus 16% of boomers)

Hmm…I get that education is a huge expense for today’s youth (my post-secondary education cost a fraction of what it does today), but I’m not sure I totally buy the other three factors as barriers to saving. Who earns big bucks in their 20s (it’s called paying your dues)? Debt and shopping beyond their means are the other two factors holding Gen Y back from saving.

Overall, though, I see lots of good news in this survey. Firstly, most of these barriers can be overcome by simply adopting some good saving and spending habits such as setting up automatic withdrawals into a savings account every month. Creating a budget is another great way.

Secondly, while you might not agree that Gen Y really has it harder than boomers did, I will say one thing: at least saving is part of the conversation today in a way I don’t remember it being a decade or two ago.

What about you? Are you finding it hard to save as a Gen Y-er? Did you save in your 20s? And if so do you think you had it harder?