It is sometimes noted that baby boomers and their millennial offspring live lives far more deeply intertwined than previous generations. Boomer parents have been highly engaged in their children’s early development from school to athletics and extracurricular activities. Many watch the same reality shows as their children and vacation with them, and the generations advise each other on career moves and other major decisions.

Stereotypes are frequently overdone, but millennials were in no rush to get their own cars and get out of the house like the Beach Boys generation was. The economic circumstances no doubt played a role in the decision of some to move back into their parents’ house after the Great Recession.

But the cost of raising children has exploded over the last 50 years, thanks largely to the unsustainable tuition increases at the nation’s colleges. Having priced themselves out of reach for many Americans, it’s little wonder that hundreds of colleges are now closing their doors.

If only it stopped there. A recent Bankrate report found that 70% of parents say they have sacrificed their savings to support children over 18 and 50% are dipping into emergency funds or delaying paying down debt.

Perhaps boomers and Gen Xers can be blamed for pampering their children but it’s getting too late in the game to point fingers. The Social Security trust fund is scheduled to run out of money in 2033 or thereabouts. Medicare will be exhausted even sooner.

It’s no longer a problem for the distant future. Saving or reforming both programs is likely to be the dominant issue in the 2028 presidential election if not before.

If anyone wants to find signs of encouragement in this whole mess, Financial Advisor’s cover story on Young Advisors To Watch (on page 40) might be a good place to start. By any measure, the current generation is very different from preceding ones and, in many ways, their frugality and financial conservatism will serve them well.

It also seems their diminished expectations may be an advantage. I once asked a Danish economist why his compatriots always came out at the top of lists that rank nations by levels of happiness. His response was that they have more realistic expectations than Americans.

Millennials and members of Gen Z also would appear to have their priorities in order when it comes to money. They want it to work for them and service other goals, not be an end in itself.

There is hope yet.

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