Money Over Marriage: Younger Generations’ Priorities Present Adviser Opportunity

Younger savers may be responding to financial hardship ranging from the pandemic to inflation, according to research from MassMutual.

Most younger Americans believe financial stability is a stronger determinant of personal happiness than the person they marry, and financial advisers may be able to help address the former, according to the latest Consumer Spending & Saving Index from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

“Perhaps it’s a matter of being able to control what you can control, and personal accountability for one’s financial security may be falling in that camp to a greater degree than marriage today,” Amanda Wallace, head of insurance operations with MassMutual, said in an email response. “Younger generations have already observed or experienced financial hardships in their homes and witnessed the impact on seemingly healthy relationships.”

Among respondents, 68% of those in Generations Z and X, as well as 72% of Millennials, identified , compared with only 55% of Baby Boomers who would made the same selection. Similarly, Gen Z (65%), Millennials (62%) and Gen X (54%) were more likely to say that financial security has a bigger impact on personal happiness than who they marry, as compared with Baby Boomers (41%) and the Silent Generation (29%).

Additionally, younger generations reported being more worried about how their day-to-day finances will be affected by economic issues such as inflation and recession. In contrast, Baby Boomers reported more concerns about how the U.S. political climate and the 2024 presidential election will impact their finances.

Wallace says the findings indicate the high emphasis younger people are placing on securing their finances, so financial and retirement advisers would be well served to work with younger savers to create a plan that fits with their goals.

“It takes planning and preparation,” Wallace says. “A financial and legal adviser can help build and protect the wealth of a couple, individually and as a family unit.”

Wallace noted that, looking behind the curtain at wealthy families, advisers help guide family members over a long time horizon. They apply a combination of investments and risk management tools to help realize the family’s long-term vision.

Mass Mutual also reported that although younger generations prioritize financial stability for their happiness, many are not feeling secure. Gen Z (45%), Millennials (53%) and Gen X (53%) respondents said they are not saving enough to retire at their ideal age. Comparatively, Baby Boomers fare better, with 32% reporting the same concern.

Additionally, when federal student loan payments were temporarily paused, more than one-third of those with student loan debt diverted funds originally designated for paying down their debt to purchase consumer goods.

“Investing in yourself through wise financial choices today is a commitment younger people can make to secure a more stable financial future,” Paul LaPiana, head of MassMutual’s brand, product and affiliated distribution, said in a statement. “As with most healthy habits, consistency is key. Good financial habits include saving and spending responsibly starting at a young age, increasing retirement contributions, and broadening your investment portfolio to unlock a financially secure and prosperous future.”

Commissioned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., the research was conducted online by PSB Insights from August 5 through 21 among a sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, as well as an additional sample of 500 adult Massachusetts residents from August 5 through 28.