Middle Child Syndrome of Gen X

Posted On June 29, 2016

“Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”

Most Generation Xers know exactly where that phrase came from and who said it – Jan Brady on the Brady Bunch. With her whiny lament for attention and jealousy of her sisters, Jan came to be a symbol of the archetypal middle child.

In the generational household, it’s Generation X that is playing the role of Jan Brady, stuck between the bigger Baby Boom generation and the up-and-coming millennials.

In a recent Forbes article, Cynthia Meyer notes that Gen-Xers are often overlooked when it comes to financial security, their concerns wedged between the impending retirement of the Baby Boomers and the back-breaking student loan debt shouldered by the millennials.

But many of them are treading water in their own ponds of debt, and retirement isn’t as far off as they may lead themselves to believe.

Meyer notes the challenges facing Gen-Xers today: planning for retirements that most of them will fund themselves, chipping away at mountains of consumer debt, and overcoming their distrust of Wall Street and financial planners after slogging through the Great Recession.

Meyer recommends taking advantage of employee assistance programs if they’re offered at the workplace; using tools like Debt Blaster, Expense Tracker and Mint to keep track of and devise a plan to reduce your debt; raising your insurance coverage to recommended levels and, if you haven’t already, drafting a will; and learning the basics of investing.

Nearly half the Gen-Xers surveyed recently by Forbes either didn’t know investment basics or couldn’t apply them. Contrast that with the 73 percent who cited retirement planning as their chief financial concern – a valid worry considering the disappearance of pensions and the uncertainty of Social Security’s long-term solvency.

Along with the sting of the Great Recession, Meyer cites Gen-Xers’ “latchkey kid” independence as a factor in the preferences of many to go it alone in their financial journey rather than enlist the help of an advisor.

Even so, with a multitude of internet tools and penny-pinching apps and even a financial television network in CNBC, Gen-Xers don’t have much excuse in being ill-informed. It’s time to put those instincts for self-reliance to use and get up to speed.

Jan Brady can’t whine to her mom forever. She’s going to be out of the house soon.

Categories: Financial Services, Generation X, Wealth