Recently, I have been asked a few times if the next generation talks more openly about money than the previous ones. Each time I ponder this question I realize my answer is “I don’t know, but I don’t think so.” Not a very authoritative response but a transparent and honest one!

My answer is based on my experience with my Bentley graduate students and my relationship with my niece and nephews who are Gen Y. While I occasionally have money conversations with these young people, it usually revolves around the mechanics of money, i.e., how to get a loan, how to pay for college, and how to borrow money from my husband and me to buy “stuff”. While these are important conversations, I am not sure young people are talking to each other or their family members regarding their thoughts and feelings about money. They’re silent on these questions:

  • What is your economic status and how does that impact your friendships and career choices?
  • What values do you express when you save, spend, and invest money?
  • What bias do you have toward those with more or less financial resources than you?

It makes sense that Gen Y would have the same money taboos as their parents did, but it is unfortunate. Certainly our current political environment is not helping as both parties use black and white, often highly biased messaging, to describe the wealthy and the working class. I see this same bias in college-aged students who joke about marrying rich or finding a rich roommate to pay the bills. What happened to us as a society that so many people feel entitled to other people’s money? What happened to working hard and being proud of your own accomplishments? If only members of Gen Y could talk more openly about these issues then they could see how in the end, no matter what our bank balance says, we are all just human beings trying to do the best we can.
What do you think? Does the younger generation talk more openly about money? Are they breaking down the barriers and being more honest about their thoughts and feelings about money? I would love to hear your comments as next time I am asked this question, maybe I will have a better answer.

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury is a wealth psychology expert and founder of KBK Wealth Connection, and author of several books including “How to Give Financial Advice to Women” and “How to Give Financial Advice to Couples,” both published by McGraw-Hill.   For more information, visit


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