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You’re Sharing WHAT Online!!??

Generational Differences in Sharing Financial Information.

A lot has happened in my lifetime – we fought the cold war, saw the Berlin wall fall, put men on the moon, deregulated industries right and left, increased our health and lifespans, fought several wars, suffered through multiple stock market ups and downs, endured 9/11/2001 – and we developed the internet.

To me this is the most significant development (along with all of the other technological advances required to make it work and grow) of my lifetime.

It gives all of us a personal window to the world and the opportunity to share whatever we want to put out there – it gives us an unfettered voice to use as we see fit and enables new ways to view, transact and share our finances.

Here is my view of the difference in sharing of finances between five generations – based mainly on personal observation.

The Lost Generation – WWI era.

In my grandfather’s generation, finances were personal, not even shared with offspring (and sometimes not even with spouses). If you used a bank (and a lot of people didn’t trust them due to the depression), your transactions were between you and the teller – no one else. You paid mostly with cash. Sometimes you might write a check – if you used a bank.  Hand written accounts of net worth were the norm.

The Greatest Generation WWII era.

In my father’s generation, finances were still personal, but it was OK to talk about them in general terms. You had to share information with your loan officer to get your loan (loans were made popular by the GI bill). You had to share information with your broker to set up an account (you didn’t like it). You got back a piece of paper listing your transactions each month – through the US mail. You paid mostly with checks, by mail – or in person with cash.  Typewritten accounts of net worth were the norm.

Baby Boomer Generation.

In my generation, finances are still personal, but no longer private. We are starting to discuss finances within the family unit. Our information (financial, medical and credit) is collected and stored under one number – our social security number aka our tax id.

We collect our own financial information on our own equipment (using personal computers and programs like Quicken). We still use checks, but the more venturesome of us also use automatic bill pay from our banks. Direct deposit of paychecks, government benefits and other transactions is the norm and typically a requirement.

Some of us are uncomfortable seeing our financial information online (such as with online banking), and keep our personal tracking accounts entirely separate from the internet. However, we do realize that it is out there whether we choose to use it or not.

Online banking acceptance is changing among my generation though. An American Bankers online study in September 2011 showed

“57 percent of banking customers 55 and older said they prefer to bank online versus at a bank branch or via an ATM. This is up from 20 percent 2010, a significant gain amongst the baby boomer population. “

Pew research indicates that 61% of all internet users bank online.   – 61% of the nearly 80% of the US population (according to Internet World Stats) who do go online at all.

Credit cards are used extensively and other online money movement tools (such as Paypal) are used with care. But we still carry cash.

GenX, GenY and Millenial Era.

In our children’s generation, finances are discussed (for the most part) without reserve. Online tools and tracking systems are used freely and without concern. Online banking and bill paying is the norm. Debit cards (as opposed to credit) may be used more extensively, however one or the other is preferred over cash or checks.  Most people in these generations do not carry much cash.

Bloggers such as Flexo on Consumerism Commentary,  post networth statements and personal income reports online for all to see and track changes there from month to month. Banking, brokerage and asset accounts are consolidated and tracked online using various tools (such as

Gen Z and Beyond Era.

My grandchildren’s generation will adopt mobile banking within the decade, according to some responders to a Pew research report.

“Many of the people surveyed by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project said that the security, convenience and other benefits of “mobile wallet” systems will lead to widespread adoption of these technologies for everyday purchases by 2020.

Others—including some who are generally positive about the future of mobile payments—expect this process to unfold relatively slowly due to a combination of privacy fears, a desire for anonymous payments, demographic inertia, a lack of infrastructure to support widespread adoption, and resistance from those with a financial stake in the existing payment structure.”

I wonder what my great-grand kids will do with their finances? Maybe they will have no use for money – Star Trek Next Generation members didn’t seem to need it.

Does the above fit with your view of how the various generations share their finances? What are you comfortable sharing online or otherwise – about your own finances.

This post has been written by Marie from Be sure to visit her site if you’ve enjoyed this post



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I am only in my twenties but I don’t think I will be sharing my income or absolute net worth online… not yet at least. I don’t mind sharing with certain people in person but the whole internet doesn’t need to know. It would open me up to too many potential issues.

  2. I still find it hard to believe that people would use a cell phone to conduct important financial transactions. I don’t doubt the convenience. Or the capabilities of the phones. But I found an iphone on the side of the road while running. Luckily they had it set to only open with a password. But I still don’t trust myself enough to NOT lose it…along with all the personal info on it.

  3. I agree with Lance- I share tidbits about my finances and give percentages to show how our spending was allocated for the previous quarter but I don’t think everyone needs to know specifics. I remember when Derek used to share a breakdown of his blogging income from the website and he decided to stop sharing that information.

      • Gen Y

  4. I am a baby boomer! It fits and doesn’t fit. I am very open about my finances, but I do not give details to other than my close family.

  5. This list makes a lot of sense. I’m a GenX-er, and I do a lot of finance online. My friends all talk finances – not specifics, but it’s easy to whine together because all of us are struggling to find jobs, keep jobs, or make a sufficient salary to pay back monstrous student loans. It is kind of cathartic.

    • My sons are Gen-X and I believe they do online banking and such, but don’t share details online.

  6. Great post! I sometimes feel that I am sharing too much information online. My parents think it’s ridiculous that I share as much as I do on Facebook, but a few pictures cannot hurt, right?

    • I guess it depends on what pictures you are sharing. I’m a boomer and am inclined to not share too much. I cringe when I see cute pictures of kids doing funny stuff. I wonder how long those pictures will be out there and what will they think once they are bigger – will their friends make fun of them….I worry about child molesters and their ability to find and hurt those kids….

      BUT then, I’m probably just a bit old fashioned. Hopefully all is well – because there are a lot of them posted (and they are cute).

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