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Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio
One of the big differences between the "haves" and "have-nots" appears to be age. Economic analysts say the net worth generation gap between baby boomers and "Generation X" is quickly getting bigger.
The actual dollar amount of the generation gap has been calculated. Economic analysts say it is worth about $200,000. Some reasons for this may seem obvious. Five Seasons Financial Planning Owner Paul Winter says, "Typically, middle-aged people are in their peak earning years, so they're earning more and they're paying less in the form of mortgage and student loan payments and so on. So, I think it's fairly natural for older people to have accumulated more assets."
But the generation gap is apparently getting bigger. USA Today says the average wealth of people between the ages of 55 and 59 went up nearly 100 percent over the last 15 years to just under $250,000. During that same time, the average wealth of people between the ages of 35 and 39 fell 28 percent to under $50,000. Winter says he's not surprised. He says, "Younger people tend to have less assets and they sort of tend to live in the moment more than people that are sort of staring retirement in the face."
Winter says young people sometimes have problems budgeting and don't always contribute to their company's retirement plans. Plus, the younger generation is spending their way into trouble, and credit cards are a big culprit.
American Credit Foundation spokesman Mike Peterson says, "The credit cards are getting more and more aggressive at chasing after the college students." Peterson says college graduates head into the real world with more debt than before. "The average graduate right now is coming out of college with a $20,000 debt."
Peterson says all recent graduates seem to go wild when they get into the marketplace, making what they think is good money. "Instead of saving that money, they start to spend it immediately on credit cards, or using credit cards to spend that money on items they can't afford otherwise."
Peterson says even graduates with high-paying jobs go ahead and spend even more on toys and other things they don't need. He says if young people can figure out how not to eat out as much, they could save a small fortune.