Gen Xers are cutting discretionary spending amid high inflation, while continuing to save for retirement, study shows

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As Generation X edges closer to retirement, inflation appears to be weighing more heavily on that age group than other adults.

Compared with millennials (ages 26 to 41) and baby boomers (ages 58 to 76), a larger share of Gen Xers (ages 42 to 57) are concerned about the nation’s economic outlook, maintaining their standard of living, retiring on time and affording retirement expenses, according to recent research from State Street Global Advisors.

“Gen X is showing signs of stress with the highest concern about inflation … the country’s economic outlook, market volatility, as well as their ability to stay the course,” said Brie Williams, head of practice management for State Street Global Advisors.

The research was based on an analysis of survey results from 243 adults with investable assets of $250,000 or more. The margin of error is plus or minus 5%.

While inflation showed signs of easing in July, the Consumer Price Index was up 8.5% from a year earlier. The Federal Reserve has raised a key interest rate several times this year in an effort to slow inflation, and is expected to implement another hike next month.

Gen Xers cut spending, kept up with retirement savings

The higher-than-normal pace of inflation — the Fed’s target rate is 2% — has caused a greater share of Gen Xers (61%) to cut back on discretionary spending like dining out. Among millennials, it’s 37% and for boomers, 54%.

For essential purchases like groceries or gas, the results are similar: 41% of Gen X have cut back more than millennials (26%) and boomers (21%).

They also are more likely to have reduced contributions to their regular savings — 36% versus 18% for both other generations — but not to their retirement accounts. Just 5% of Gen Xers say they have cut back the amount they add to their retirement nest egg, compared with 18% of millennials and 11% of boomers.

“I think the actions that they’re demonstrating are relatively prudent so far,” Williams said.

There also may be a benefit down the road to the belt-tightening and adjustments to short-term spending and financial goals, Williams said.

The age group “is trying to lean on their resilience to navigate the way forward,” she said. “When you see Gen Xers taking a prudent [approach] … it means sticking to a budget or investment discipline will be easier when the economy improves.”

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Sophie Tremblay

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