As Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”
No one knows that better, it seems, than folks in their 50s and 60s.
When asked whether they prefer to improve their health or finances in 2019, 72% of boomers checked the box on health in the 10th annual New Year’s Financial Resolutions Study conducted by Fidelity Investments. Younger folks, in contrast, were equally split between health and wealth.
But with the economy still on a tear, all generations in the Fidelity survey saw plenty of gold in the road ahead.
About three-quarters of respondents predicted that their wealth would increase next year. Boomers, however, were less optimistic than younger folks, with just 67% expecting to be better in 2019, vs. 80% of millennials.
“Much of that has to do with the very real prospects coming in for younger generations,” says Hevert, noting that earnings potential for millennials and generation X is still on an upward trajectory.
The Fidelity survey also found that just 23% of boomers—versus 47% for millennials and 32% for generation X—are planning to make a financial resolution for 2019. Boomers were focused on improving their health.
“More and more people are understanding the relationship between their health and their finances,” says Ken Hevert, senior vice president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Fidelity Investments. “For boomers, one of their biggest concerns is paying for long-term healthcare.”
But don’t take that to mean that boomers are turning a blind eye to money matters, says Hevert. For example, only 9% of boomers added to their debt burdens over the last year.
And when given a list of common financial mistakes—such as splurging on something they couldn’t afford or neglecting to cancel unused subscriptions—only half of boomers admitted to any goofs the previous year. By contrast, 70% of millennials had made at least one financial blunder.
What lies ahead
But when it comes to investing, older investors were also more likely to say they’d stay the course, despite recent market volatility. Only a quarter of Boomers said they were planning to investing differently next year, vs. 48% of millennials and 39% of generation X-ers.
Experience, says Hevert, has given older folks some all-important perspective. “People who have a plan and are comfortable with their strategy are much more likely to have confidence in periods of high volatility,” he adds.