Gen Xers are the most worried about their financial health.

Latest installment of the New York Life Wealth Watch survey finds Gen X more anxious and less confident about retirement preparedness than other generations.




New York Life | January 20, 2023

New York Life’s latest installment of its Wealth Watch survey found that while Americans are feeling the impacts of economic uncertainty and volatility in 2022, most are optimistic about their finances. In fact, 66% of American adults reported feeling confident in their ability to reach their financial goals, and 1-in-3 feel hopeful about their finances going into 2023. This optimism dissipates quickly for Gen X, however. 

"As people are living longer, they’re more likely to become parent-caregivers, handling both parent or guardian, and unpaid adult caregiving roles," said Suzanne Schmitt, head of Financial Wellness at New York Life. “While Gen X households may vary, caregiving cuts across all genders, races, and socioeconomic status and it can impact mental, physical, and financial health. It’s imperative to have access to trusted, professional guidance, along with a well-rounded financial strategy, to understand priorities, address current and potential barriers, and help individuals and their families along their unique financial journey.”

According to the survey, Gen Xers reported the highest levels of anxiety and the lowest levels of hope when compared to other generations:

  • In general, 32% of Gen Xers feel uncertain about their finances, followed by anxious (28%) and hopeful (28%)
  • Thinking about their finances in 2023 specifically, 39% of Gen Xers felt stressed, 37% felt anxious, and 30% felt hopeful. Only 8% felt excited and 7% felt empowered
  • 90% of Gen Xers feel their expenses will be the same or higher in 2023
  • Gen Xers feel less able to manage debt compared to other generations (28%), versus 25% of Millennials, 21% of Gen Zers, and 17% of Baby Boomers
  • Gen Xers are more likely to say they are not confident in their ability to meet their financial goals (40%), versus 35% of Millennials, 32% of Baby Boomers and 26% of Gen Zers
  • 68% of Gen Xers are most concerned about inflation impacting their finances in 2023


Gen X experiences unique challenges

As the “Sandwich Generation,” many Gen Xers find themselves caught in the middle of financial wellness priorities, juggling household and family obligations and work duties along with long-term financial goals, like retirement. According to the survey, over half (53%) of Gen Xers do not have any retirement savings or a retirement strategy. Nearly half (45%) feel less prepared than their peers for retirement.

“Those who fall within Gen X are between the ages of about 43 to 58 years of age, a segment of the workforce that’s established, and oftentimes in their peak earning years prior to retirement. In addition to caregiving responsibilities, this segment may face life events such as divorce, rising health care costs, and possibly disability. It’s critical for this segment’s financial wellness strategy to be designed to understand the challenges they may face, and include relevant, personalized recommendations to meet their unique needs, including debt management, caregiving or backup childcare solutions, tax-advantaged strategies, investments, and income protection,” said Schmitt.


Tackling debt, building emergency funds, and retirement key for Gen X in 2023

While 3-in-10 (35%) members of Gen X do not have a financial strategy, those who do but need help changing their strategy to meet a specific goal are focused on three key components in 2023: Building emergency funds (45%), being on track to retire at their desired age (44%) and paying off credit card debt (40%).

Most Gen Xers who have investments (71%) are not planning on making changes to their investment portfolio in 2023, but for those who do intend to make changes, getting help from a trusted professional is among their first steps. The survey found that 40% of Gen Xers who plan on making changes to their investment portfolio plan to start working with a financial professional or using a robo-advisor in 2023, and 42% of these Gen Xers are planning to make changes in order to prepare for retirement.

“Gen X is focused on building a strong financial foundation, which includes paying down high-interest debt and protecting against financial shocks,” said Schmitt. “Borrowers often tap credit cards to help cover income gaps or emergencies. Stress about debt and financial stability may impact an individual’s health and productivity, which could cause a ripple effect. A well-rounded financial strategy, including professional support, can help address relevant needs and improve financial health goals.” 



Wealth Watch is a 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 December 17 and December 20, 2022 among a national sample of 4,410 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.


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Media contact

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