Generation Y investors are more likely to have increased their debt and discretionary spending over the last 12 months than older investors, according to MFS' Investing Sentiment Survey released Tuesday.
Measured in June and then October 2011 respectively, 36 percent and 34 percent of Gen Y investors -- those between 18-30 years of age -- agreed that their outstanding debt had increased "somewhat" or "significantly" in the past 12 months.
Slightly less than 25 percent of Generation X investors agreed while less than 20 percent of baby boomers indicated the same.
Similarly, for the same time periods, 42 percent and 40 percent of Gen Y investors agreed that over the past 12 months, the amount of their discretionary spending had increased "somewhat" or "significantly."
Over the two time periods, older generations were less likely to report an increase in spending for the preceding 12 months. Gen X investors agreed at a rate of 26 percent in June and 19 percent in October, while an estimated 14 percent of boomers surveyed agreed for each time period.
"Higher debt and discretionary spending come with the territory for this age group," said William Finnegan, senior managing director and head of U.S. retail marketing for MFS. "The concern, though, is raised when these habits are combined with fears of market volatility and high cash balances," he added. "It leaves younger investors focused solely on more immediate financial needs instead of considering their longer-term financial goals."
The MFS survey was conducted by independent market research firm Research Collaborative from Sept. 28 to Oct. 13. The firm surveyed 929 individual investors with $100k+ in household investable assets.
All investor respondents make or share in making financial decisions for their households. MFS was not identified as the sponsor of the survey. Gen Y investors are those under the age of 31. Gen X is defined as investors between the ages of 31 and 45. Baby boomer investors are those between the ages of 46-64.