Latest New York Life Wealth Watch survey reveals generational divide in post-pandemic financial confidence.

New York Life | July 21, 2021

NEW YORK — As they emerge from the pandemic, Millennials express more confidence in their long-term financial futures than their Gen X counterparts, though concerns about post-pandemic budgets linger.

The latest New York Life Wealth Watch survey revealed a generational divide in long-term post-pandemic financial confidence between Millennials and Gen X when it comes to navigating short term budgets and achieving long-term financial goals. In general, Millennials are most concerned about post-pandemic budgets, but they express high levels of confidence in their long-term financial futures and retirement preparation. Gen Xers, conversely, are more confident about their short-term budgets but more uncertain about their financial futures.

“As people across the country begin to emerge from the pandemic, they are reporting a combination of emotions – from happy (48%) and excited (36%) to anxious (21%) and overwhelmed (13%) – and these feelings are extending to their financial outlook,” said Aaron Ball, Senior Vice President, Head of Insurance Solutions, Service and Marketing, New York Life. “We saw the starkest differences in financial confidence among Millennials and Gen X, both groups that have faced unique financial challenges before and because of the pandemic.”

Of all generations, Millennials are entering post-pandemic life with the most optimistic outlook. In fact, Millennials reported higher levels of confidence than both their Gen X and Gen Z counterparts that their retirement savings will last the rest of their lives (45% vs. 35% and 33%, respectively), and they reported 68% confidence that they will be able to retire at their desired age versus 62% of Gen X. When asked how best to describe their financial strategy, 24% of Millennials said they “absolutely” know what they are doing, compared to 18% of Gen X who said the same. Millennial men were the demographic most likely to report that they “absolutely” know what they are doing (35%), compared to 14% of Millennial women, 21% of Gen X men, and 16% of Gen X women.

Millennials feel less confident, though, in their ability to navigate their post-pandemic budgets. When asked how resuming costs paused during the pandemic would impact their budgets, the majority of respondents (61% of all adults) said resuming these costs would not impact their budgets. However, fewer than half of Millennials (47%) agreed with that statement (versus 61% of Gen Xers) and one-in-three (32%) reported that resuming such costs would have a negative impact on their budgets.

Millennials report similar concern regarding their ability to afford a down payment for a home, with 41% saying they feel confident about being able to afford a down payment on a house, much lower than most over goals, despite nearly one-in-three Millennials (32%) describing it as a priority. As they look toward how to achieve their best-possible financial future, Millennials show more interest in working with a financial professional for assistance than the general population.

“People across generations reported a strong sense of knowing what they’d like to do with their money, but many were less clear on seeking the help of a financial professional to understand how to achieve their stated financial goals,” said Ball. “The guidance of a trusted professional is critical to navigating post-pandemic financial life with confidence.”

New York Life’s Wealth Watch survey’s newest results highlight trends that have emerged as Americans face a post-pandemic world and a rapidly re-opening economy. Additional findings from the survey include:

Generations and genders differ on financial confidence related to peers

  • Millennials reported feeling more prepared for a financial emergency than their peers at a higher rate than all adults (31% vs. 24%)
  • 43% of Gen Xers and 41% of GenZers reported feeling less prepared for a financial emergency than their peers.
  • Women were more likely than all adults to report feeling less prepared for a financial emergency (43% vs. 35%).

Many respondents are not planning to change their financial strategies post-pandemic

  • Less than half of respondents across most demographics said they were more likely to create or re-evaluate their financial strategy post-pandemic. Millennials, however, were more likely than the total population to say they would (54% vs. 43%), and 28% said they were much more likely to do so.
  • A majority of respondents across demographics reported that resuming costs paused by the pandemic will not impact their budgets. Millennials were an exception to this trend; 32% of Millennials said that resuming costs would negatively affect their budgets
  • While 22% of adults reported having a retirement strategy and 44% reported having retirement savings, 47% of respondents said they have neither.

Younger generations are more interested in receiving help from a financial professional

  • Overall, 41% of adults reported interest in receiving help from a financial professional. Millennials reported the highest levels of interest (61%), followed by Gen Zers (50%).
  •  Despite reporting lower levels of long-term financial confidence, only 38% of Gen Xers indicated that they would like help from a financial professional.
  • While 12% of all adults said they are currently working with a financial professional, only 5% of Millennials reported currently doing so. Baby Boomers were more likely than other demographics to already be working with a financial professional (21% vs. 12%).

For a more in-depth look at the New York Life Wealth Watch survey findings, click here to access the supplemental data sheet.


Wealth Watch is a new recurring survey from New York Life that will track Americans’ financial goals, progress toward those goals and feelings about their ability to secure their financial futures, identifying key themes and trends that are emerging about topics like retirement planning, the role of protection-oriented solutions and the importance of financial guidance.


This poll was conducted between June 16 and June 20, 2021 among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.


New York Life Insurance Company (, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States1 and one of the largest life insurers in the world. Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life has the highest financial strength ratings currently awarded to any U.S. life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies2.

New York Life Group Benefit Solutions products and services are provided exclusively by or through Life Insurance Company of North America or New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY, formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York (New York, NY), or by or through affiliates or subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. Life Insurance Company of North America is not authorized in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.


1Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, 6/2/2021. For methodology, please see

2Individual independent rating agency commentary as of 10/15/2020: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s (AA+).

Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.

Media contact

Sara Sefcovic
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-4499

View all press releases