NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Does age make American consumers more financially savvy?
Maybe not. It seems that in some key areas, financial consumers keep making money mistakes no matter how young -- or old -- they are.
Financial Finesse, an online financial wellness service provider, took a long look at the money habits and mindsets of 23,749 millennials, Generation X and baby boomers in a financial wellness assessment study.
The study broke down the biggest mistakes Americans make in all demographics. Here's a look:
The most crucial error Americans in the 55-64 age range make is not saving enough for retirement. The study reports that 51% of later-aged boomers haven't even completed a retirement plan estimate, let along saved enough for retirement. In addition, 78% of Americans in this demographic do not have long-term health care insurance, despite the fact a year's worth of time nursing home averages $50,000.
"This is likely to have a significant economic impact, as families or the government will be forced to support those who have inadequate savings, and employers will bear the brunt of costs associated with those who want to retire but decide to delay because they are not financially prepared to do so," Financial Finesse says.
Generation X faces some serious challenges and obstacles, with a depleted Social Security trust fund staring them right in the face. But Financial Finesse reports that Gen-X financial consumers are lacking in two key areas: cash management and retirement planning. Since the study estimates that Gen-Xers will get 25% less from Social Security than their boomer elders.
"Of all generations, they have the most current financial pressures and hardest time saving for the future due to competing priorities that most millennials have yet to face and most baby boomers have already overcome," the report states.
Millennials: U.S. Millennials generally have a good outlook on money management -- they save more and don't use credit cards as much as older Americans. But they generally excel in what Financial Finesse calls "short term" financial perspective. For the long term, the outlook isn't as rosy. Only 29% of millennials say they have undertaken a retirement plan assessment. That's a disturbing number, as the Social Security pot could well be dry by the time this demographic reaches retirement.
Of the three groups, it looks like the boomers are most ready for retirement, relatively speaking.
"While many baby boomers are not adequately prepared for retirement," says Greg Ward, research director at Financial Finesse. "Those that are eligible for Social Security will most likely receive full benefits, and they are much more likely to have some form of pension or retiree medical insurance than younger generations.">
"Most boomers are not as financially secure as they expected to be by now, but they are still in a privileged position compared to younger generations who are less likely to have financial support from their employers or the government, and face potentially higher tax and inflation rates over the remainder of their careers," Ward says.
For younger Americans, the study serves as a wake-up call to get smarter and more disciplined about money management. Fortunately, they have a few decades to make up for lost time.
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