fancy an avocado toast?

American Millennials and GenZers feel wealthier than Boomers

Charles Schwab's survey on modern wealth found that younger generations are more likely to feel rich

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Photo: Astrid Stawiarz (Getty Images)

For many years, American Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996, have been the butt of the economy’s joke. They had barely started climbing out from the financial hole created by the Great Recession when covid hit, once again halting their progress toward the future riches they were promised by older generations.

In the mean time, they have been blamed for it, too, and painted like a lazy, entitled generation determined to eat their down payment on a home in fancy avocado toast.


It’s all water under the bridge. Elder millennials have crossed into their forties, and they feel—surprise!—wealthy. More so than any other generation, including Boomers.

Dispelling Millennial myths

A new survey about wealth by Charles Schwab (pdf), comprised of 1,200 participants, 13% Gen Z, 34% Millennials, 28% Gen X, and 25% Boomers, found that 57% of the Millennials surveyed consider themselves wealthy. And they are, with an average net worth of $531,000 among those who feel wealthy. The median income for survey participants was $68,000 a year.


This is a percentage significantly higher than other surveyed generations—assuming generations are anything more than a clever marketing ploy. Among members of Gen Z, 46% feel wealthy, more than the 41% of Gen Xers who see themselves that way. Boomers feel the least wealthy of all, with only 40% seeing themselves as rich. Millennials aren’t settling either: They need more than $100,000 more than Gen Xers and Gen Zers to feel wealthy, though not as much as Boomers, who need an average of $692,000 to feel wealthy.

This is in contrast with the fact that collectively, Boomers are wealthier—though Millennials are in line to receive the biggest generational wealth transfer in world history.

Social comparison

Millennials are competitive. The survey found that they are the generation most likely to define wealth by being able to afford what their friends can, as do 61% of those surveyed, but they also tend to compare their lives to their friends’ lives on social media (47% admitted to this). Meanwhile, fewer than a third of Boomers said that they care about what their friends can afford, and just 13% look at their social circle’s Instagram lives for comparison.


There are other surprising findings in the survey. For instance, Millennials are the generation least likely to value having time over having money: While 56% of them think time is most important, 67% of Boomers do.

This all begs the question: If Boomers have more money but feel less wealthy, value having time, and don’t really have a competitive drive against their peers, maybe they are the entitled and lazy generation? Only avocado toast can tell.