Report reveals the stingiest and most generous generations

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The generational wealth gap is big in the news at the moment, with baby boomers being blamed as a burden on younger generations.

Whether this is a fair accusation or not, the fact remains that, despite what some may say were prosperous economic conditions from which boomers benefited, to a degree, they still paid their taxes, dealt with low wages and high loan and interest rates, and a volatile stock and jobs market.

As one YourLifeChoices member wisely stated: “Each era had their own peculiarity, just like the one before baby boomers”. It’s fair to say that there were factors that helped (or help) each generation and those that work (or worked) against them.

However, as the Financial Planners Association (FPA) revealed in its latest report, generosity plays a part in a person’s wealth, and the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts may do well to be a little stingier, just as the boomer bracket seems to be – at least according to the FPA.

Australians spend almost $20 billion on gifts each year, but some generations are more generous than others.

The research also reveals that 73 per cent of the $19.8 billion spent on gifts is unplanned.

“There’s literally billions of dollars of household spend that is simply not budgeted for by nearly three in four Australians (73 per cent) across genders, generations and geographies. That’s an obvious opportunity to increase our nation’s financial literacy and awareness of the benefits of budgeting, financial planning, and giving in a way that brings joy without debt or regret,” says FPA chief Dante De Gori.

On average, boomers and Gen X are more tight-fisted when it comes to gift-giving than their Millennial and Gen Z counterparts.

Millennials spend around $130 on gifts each; with an average spend of $1560 per year – the most of any generation.

Gen Z were the next most generous gift givers, spending around $91 a month on presents, followed by boomers, who spent an average of $89 a month. Gen X is the least generous generation, with an average spend of $87 a month.

Gen Zs and Millennials were also more likely to chip in for a more expensive gift, with four in five taking part in group giving compared to three in five boomers.

The report also revealed that re-gifting – passing on a gift you have received to someone else – was also more prevalent amongst younger people.

Overall, 41 per cent said they’ve have re-gifted a gift, but Millennials are the ‘re-gifting generation’, with 54 per cent saying they’ve re-gifted compared to 44 per cent of Gen X, 37 per cent of Gen Z and 32 per cent of baby boomers.

Gen X pet owners spend the most on their pets – an average of $142 per pet per year – followed by Millennials, who spent an average of $121.

The average amount spent on pets was only just under the amount we shelled out on a wedding gift – an average of $137 – which was more than double the average spend for a significant adult birthday for a friend or family member.

Spouses or partners received around $437 in gifts each year, followed by $361 spent on children and $201 on parents.

The Grattan Institute says that young people are being ‘sold out’ by older generations, with Generation gap: ensuring a fair go for younger Australians revealing that today’s younger generation will be the first since Federation to see their standard of living decline compared to their parents.

Maybe these same young people could do well to follow their parents and be a little less generous when it comes to spending on gifts.

One glaring omission from the report was the ‘gifts’ of money given to younger people by parents and grandparents.

Twenty per cent of first-home buyers rely on some kind of loan from their parents when applying for a mortgage, according to statistics from Digital Finance Analytics, with the average size of that parental contribution being around $70,000.

As of April 2019, parents lent a total of $30 billion to their children, making them the ninth largest home-loan lender in Australia.

Do you consider yourself stingy or frugal when it comes to gift-giving? Do you think younger people could rein it in when it comes to giving gifts?

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Centrelink Q&A: How does gifting affect the Age Pension?

Garry and his wife have accounts for the grandkids, but now it is time to transfer the money.

Will family member financial help affect your pension?

Will a gift from a family member to help you buy a house affect your pension?

Can you avoid gifting rules by making will bequeaths?

Does Centrelink gifting apply to will bequeaths?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 47
  1. 0

    Don’t like receiving gifts so don’t give them so I discourage others.

  2. 0

    The reality of life is that boomers lived through hard hard times and did without much of what the current crop sees as a rite of passage. That always seems to get lost is BS like this and millennials would laugh at you if you asked them to do without the multitude of things they spend/waste their money on. ‘Not us’ you stingy people with some money and a house…..(both hands out).

    (comment edited by the moderator)

    • 0

      MICK, boomers never lived through the depression or a major world war. We have had a peaceful life with plenty of secure work that gave us opportunities to prosper.

    • 0

      Although I’m a member of the Silent Generation I feel we also had a similar upbringing to the Baby Boomers. I left school on a Friday and started work the following Monday without a second thought. The term “gap year” wasn’t in the vocabulary back then. I agree that the Baby Boomer generation is being unfairly targetted by those younger who don’t realise that it is that generation that invented most of the life easing gadgets that the young ones enjoy today. We were brought up with manners and the ability to appreciate what we have and the way to budget so that most of us can enjoy our well earned retirement years.

    • 0


      I was raised in the UK and believe me, you didn’t have to live through a world war to experience the effects. Britain was totally impoverished post WW11 and times were tough.
      Married woman generally did not go to work in those days and fathers were the sole bread winners. Chicken was a rare treat and bread and dripping plus vegetable stews were regular meals. I left the UK when I was 27 and at the time was earning 40 pounds a week. To put that into perspective I was broke by Wednesday and had no money until I was paid again on a Friday. I could not afford to run a car and used a bike to get around. I’m not complaining just stating it as it was. Australia was a massive improvement but when interest mortgage rates reached 18% it reminded me of my earlier challenges. While secure work gave us the opportunity to prosper, it was never a cake walk, especially for families. I have three children and I think it has been suggested that they cost over $500k each to raise.

    • 0

      inextratime, most women with children stayed home and chicken was a luxury in Australia too. You could make a hearty meal from free bones, offal and dug up vegetables from the back yard. Nothing is for free these days.

      There was job security no matter how hard or not it was. Rents were affordable and so was the housing market.

      The only people arriving to live in Australia these days, are from developing nations because they are overpopulated, polluted and have no work.

      A regular wage and secure housing have gone for Australian younger generations unless they have been born to families that support them.

    • 0

      jackie – some merit in your take but you left out how hard people had to work, do without and save to even get a house. No coffee shops, designer clothes, expensive holidays, overseas travel or expensive entertainment in those days. I remember them well. Things are different now of course and this is the point I was making. The current lot spend a lot of time lamenting about how hard they are done by when they go without nothing. They spend their money ON THEMSELVES and then attack boomers as they accuse them of an easy life….which was never the case.
      My wife showed me an article on the ABC today from The Grattan Institute. Straight from Liberal Party HQ. A most disgraceful intergenerational piece designed to stoke confrontation and blame so that our rotten government can attack retirees again. I can’t believe the ABC could run this sort of dishonest propaganda as a ‘story’.

      We may have to agree to disagree jackie. Our lives were not easy until a few years ago. Until then it was a struggle. You’ve obviously forgotten or come from a wealthy family. Cheers

    • 0

      Every generation has people who are stingy and those who are generous. The most stingiest generation in my lifetime was the ‘Silent Generation’.

    • 0

      Jackie you may want to revisit your comment that the world has been peaceful since WW2

      And if you think peace keeping is without danger then see this:

      YOU may have had a peaceful life but millions haven’t!

    • 0

      Arvo – ‘stingy’ is usually a word thrown around by those who want a handout from somebody else.
      We made our own way in life and never asked to be stumped up. It was tough but it made us resilient and independent. We did however have a couple of windfalls but it was a tough life until now, when there are no more financial worries other than how to preserve what we have.
      The real issue is governments which want to asset strip average citizens. Both sides are at it but the current rich man’s government is running a blatant class war where the 1% always win and the rest of society always pays.

    • 0

      Poor little down trodden MICK, boo hoo.

  3. 0

    The poor have always been the most generous people.

  4. 0

    Always feels better to give than recieve. The joy on the faces of my grandchildren when they get the smallest gift is heart warming. When asked by family what I want I just say “give me a hug as that makes me happy”
    My daughters like to pool together to buy me something special but really at my age I have everything I need including a beautiful family & great friends.

  5. 0

    Memo “Jackie” … as a “Baby Boomer” I was born immediately after WW2 when things were tight and recovery was happening; the Korean War; conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War, lived through the recession of the mid 1960’s, Paul Keating’s “recession we had to have” in the early ‘90’s …. scrimped and saved, held down two jobs, through the ‘70’s and ‘80’s to raise three children and buy our first home. You seem to have forgotten many things …

    • 0

      Nomad 1946, yes times were less consumerist back then too but many could stay in a job for years. We left school to work not accumulate debt for some job that does not provide loyalty and security. We were trained on the job instead.

      The recession we had to have was Fraser’s NOT Keating’s.

      Prior to bank deregulation by Keating, bank customers earned a high interest for their savings. That helped to save for the house. Now it’s all bank fees and credit cards which are contributing to the mess.

    • 0

      Nailed it Nomad. A big difference between the two ‘generations’ is that we worked through our hardships and we DID have some !! Difference ? We didn’t whinge about it – just ‘got on with it’ and those that survived it are now relaxing and relishing in the fact that we are still here 🙂

    • 0

      Jackie, I think that you need to study your history a bit closer. It was in 1990 when, as treasurer Paul Keating announced the recession that we had to have. This was after seven years of the Bob Hawke Government, with Keating as Treasurer.

  6. 0

    There are only two kinds of people in the world today. Givers & Takers. What side are you on ?

    • 0

      Spot on – Bronze Anzac and I think it is often a family trait.
      Thankfully I come from a very giving and generous family – but
      we were never well off, just your average hard working family.
      I love giving gifts and of myself. I think the ‘pre-war and ‘just after’
      the war generation are also ones that give to charities – they know what
      it was like struggling during and just after the war. We raised a
      family and had a house on a moderate income and high interest rates,
      but still managed to help those less fortunate.

  7. 0

    Baby boomers could be as young as 55 and they are still working. People up to 67 are still employable and even older. Yet it seems a common belief that all baby boomers are old and retired. Yet only six of those years are past retirement age.
    Gift giving is important. Lately, I have read where people lamented that no notice was taken of their birthday. Not in our family! Every one is celebrated with cake and gifts.
    It says you are loved and valued. Same with Xmas and father’s and mother’s days.

  8. 0

    What seems to be forgotten in this discussion is the gift of time baby boomers give to looking after their grand children while both parents are at work saving the parents substantial amounts of money for child care. Also, baby boomers do the majority of volunteering in this country. Gifts of time from the heart are very difficult to quantify in money terms.

  9. 0

    I was born in the UK during WWII and still remember very clearly the days immediately after the war, the rationing that seemed to go on forever, the making do with makeshift furniture, handed down clothes, walking to the coal yard with dad to see if we could get a small amount of coal, meals of vegetable stew and bread etc etc etc. Growing up certainl’sy wasn’t easy for the great majority of people. I worked every weekend and all school holidays for at least a year and a half before I left school then moved straight into full time work. Sound good? Ha! Try living on a wage of less than two pounds a week – a pittance even in the late 1950’s. Early married life was punctuated with good and bad weeks depending on how much ‘piece work’ had been available that week; whether one of the kids needed new shoes urgently (eg holes that were too big to mend or their feet just wouldn’t fit into them anymore); stressing over whether we would be able to get any fuel for the fire when it was below freezing in a house that had no heating except for one fireplace; illicitly chopping down unobtrusive parts of the fence during the dark hours so the kids wouldn’t freeze to death when there was literally no money at all left to buy coal; making do with a peculiar mix of whatever was left in the larder when the money ran out before the week ended. I could go on and on. This was the cold reality of life for thousands and thousands of people for many years after WWII. Life didn’t get miraculously better the day after the war ended. Of course, life did gradually improve over the years but it was never good until I migrated with my 3 children to Australia in the late 1970’s. Even then it wasn’t easy. Just a lot better than I had always known in the UK and with much better prospects for the future. To try and blame any generation for life’s problems today is disingenuous and futile. Every generation has it’s hardships and advantages and they are all relative to what is considered the norm by the current standards of the day. I look back on my early life from today’s perspective and think how difficult it was, yet I certainly didn’t think of myself or my family as hard done by at the time. It was a normal sort of life – the same as nearly everyone I knew experienced. There’s certainly a lot of truth in the lyrics of the song that goes something like “Every generation blames the one before”. I just know that my family has always worked very hard for everything we have. Hubby and I have never been handed anything on a plate and just get on with the business of living our lives to the best of our abilities now that we are moving swiftly towards the end of our race.

  10. 0

    My wife and I are still wearing the Centrelink penalty (deeming) for giving each of our three children a sizable gift to help them buy their first home. It’s insane. We can free spend as much as we like of self-indulgent overseas holidays but we get penalized for helping our kids get a better start in life. We’re now past the five year deeming penalty we incurred by paying off their HECS debts (we always considered that educating our child was our responsibility as parents).

    • 0

      I have just had a friend on the Aged Pension who inherited $900,000. She immediately gave her 3 children $200,000. Turns out this was how the will was worded – the money left to her, to give to her 3 kids. BIG mistake! Because of the Centrelink gifting rules. Will would have been better to specify the split, that way it would not have affected her so badly. She had always known about what to do after the inheritance, however she knew nothing about the gifting rules. She simply assumed she could still get the pension after giving it to the kids.

    • 0

      So she had $700,000 (after giving the $200,000 to the kids) and STILL expected a pension?

    • 0

      KSS…havent you worked it out yet….most retirees want the pension and 80% of them have it…just the other 20 percent who were the idiots who scrimped and saved and cannot get the pension …even though like everyone else they paid taxes all their lives.

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