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Do You Overspend?

By Beverly Bowers September 10, 2023 Managing Money

I just read two interesting articles about spending habits. One focused on boomers and the other discussed the differences in spending habits of boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. The latter article was based on data from Bank of America.

My Spending

I started seriously tracking my spending in mid-life and must admit it gave me pause. I can identify with the boomer woman who wrote the article about her spending habits. She found it much easier to spend on her children than to spend on herself. In fact, she felt guilty spending on herself – to the extreme! She attributed it to growing up in an environment where needs could not be fully covered by family income, not to mention spending on any wants.

I grew up in a household that covered its needs – we were clothed and fed and had a comfortable home – but my parents had to set priorities for any extras. To ensure that their priorities were met, my father kept a ledger of income and expenses to the penny. I learned those values but also decided that I did not want to keep track of every penny and wanted to have disposable income to spend as I wished.

Family is a priority for me. I have four sisters and two sons who are married and have blessed me with six grandchildren. I love to see them regularly and celebrate birthdays and holidays together.

Throughout my career I developed close friendships. Our get togethers for lunch or happy hour are truly my attitude adjustment time. Combined, I can easily overspend on gifts and eating out so that is where I concentrate my watchfulness.

Spending Patterns

After COVID, boomers (born 1946-64) and Traditional households (1928-45) showed high growth rates in credit card spending while Gen X’s (1965-80), millennials’ (1981-96), and Gen Z’s (1997-2012) spending dropped.

The COLA increase for Social Security is attributed to part of the boomer increase as well as higher saving rates during COVID. On the other hand, higher housing costs and the end of the student loan repayment moratorium affected younger generations. Spending patterns also played a role.

A survey by Qualitrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma found that 36% of Gen Z and millennials reported having a friend who influenced them to overspend. As a result, 88% of millennials and 80% of Gen Z have taken on debt. “The overspending is concentrated on dining or drinks and nights out, trips and vacations and birthday celebrations.”

Sound familiar? Their patterns of overspending do not sound much different than mine except to the extent of taking on debt. So, what causes that degree of overspending according to the above report?

Reasons for Overspending

According to Credit Karma, these are the top reasons survey respondents spend money they don’t have when they’re with friends:

  1. Not wanting to feel left out. (31% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials).
  2. Wanting to keep up with their friend’s lifestyle. (29% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials).
  3. Wanting to please their friend. (29% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials).
  4. Another 28% of millennials admit they just don’t know how to say “no” to this friend.

As we age, perhaps we are less enamored with matching the spending of friends, and our friends have less influence on our lives. Perhaps we are more conscious of the need to watch spending to buy a house, pay for the education of children, or save for retirement. Priorities change with age.

As we become more self-confident, perhaps it becomes easier to say “no”? Or maybe we distance ourselves from those friends whose influence is damaging to our financial health.

How to Combat Overspending

My parents taught me to watch expenses and save by their example. My former husband and I tried to do the same although we indulged our boys more than either household we grew up in. I admit that I never sat down with my sons and discussed family finances or talked about good saving and spending patterns. I expected them to learn the same way that I did – by example.

Parents still set the standard, but what happens if the adults in the household do not set a positive financial role model?

Because of my experiences as well as those of my investment and financial planning clients, financial literacy education has become my passion. I believe that age-appropriate financial concepts should be available in our education system at multiple levels. There are some wonderful programs offered in our communities – Junior Achievement, for one – however, mandated study in school would touch every boy and girl. According to the latest research, only 25 states currently mandate at least some financial education, sometimes as part of an existing course. That must change!

We set an example for our children and grandchildren, and they are watching! If you want some ideas for age-appropriate money and saving tools and programs, watch for my upcoming blog on that topic.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Did you have formal education on a financial topic? If so, where did you receive that education and who taught it? What is the most important financial tip you received?

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Balancing your checkbook was taught as a basic in high school. We learned from my mom (she grew up in the depression and had to live with different relatives) that owning real estate was the key to a good retirement. I am one of three sisters who bought and paid off houses at a young age. Two of us are now seniors, and we would never be able to do that in the current market.

One thing overlooked in impulse and overspending is adult ADHD, often not diagnosed in older women. Adult ADHD – trouble with impulse control. Rebuying something you have because of organization issues. Shopping as a way to self-medicate with the disorder.


As part of my frugal and fun skibum type lifestyle, I find there is plenty of inexpensive social activity available these days. More than ever it seems. Libraries have become hubs of interesting activities. There are outdoor weekly bands in parks…and lots more.

It would be great if we fun people over 60 (#Twifties) had a way to identify others who were feeling social and wanted to make some new fun friends for activities. Of course to meet people who enjoy the same activities as you, meeting AT the activity is a SURE solution!

I propose wearing a bandana to show you are social and want to make new friends! #TwiftiesLifeStyle

Lauren Teton
founder of Twifties the fun people over 50, centered around birth year 1956
Instagram MsTwifty, follow me!


I agree about libraries being sources of interesting activities from cooking demonstrations, jewelry making, author presentations and music. This year I saw a live jazz quartet in a local library. Wonderful, surrounded by books all for free! Overlooked and not enough funding but when the funding is there, we benefit. So are museums. Once a month, admission is free in my city. If you are on medical assistance, you get in for free. Then, there are festivals.
My biggest expense is food these days as it is for everyone. I am guilty of eating out a bit too much. i try to limit it to $10 or eat a filling breakfast before
running errands and just take a snack and water.


I’m an early 60s boomer and am careful not to overspend as I lost my private pension to a scam and was told I had no access to compensation. What makes it worse is the person who scammed me was a long term business associate and someone I viewed as a friend.

Husband’s sister is Generation X and about 9 years younger than us. She has never been out of debt all her adult life to the point debt collectors have been at the door. Any time she’s in trouble her parents sorted things out, even giving her large down payments for houses that were loans and have never been paid back. It is ridiculous, she has a partner and 3 adult children still living at home, none of them are capable of standing on their own feet financially or are able to budget so it’s like an ongoing cycle. Kids can’t afford to move out, but on the other hand have huge car loans, take expensive holidays and eat food they have delivered every night.

It makes me glad I’m careful!


Thanks for sharing these interesting findings! And couldn’t agree more on the need for financial literacy education in our schools.


As a real estate appraiser, I am always surprised at the lack of financial literacy I see and it is not only younger people. Offering this type of education at some level is a goal I would like to pursue when I am fully retired. The other thing that shocks me is watching younger family members spend fortunes on attending friend’s weddings that often involve travel, gifts for several occasions, clothes, etc. And these are not just very close friends – it seems to extend to friends I would consider only acquaintances. This is $$ that could be saved toward a downpayment on a home or other long term financial goals.


Hello Julie,

What are the steps to become a real real appraiser as I would like to become one. Any information that you are able to share would be greatly appreciated.


The Author

Beverly Bowers is a retired financial planner who has been solely responsible for her financial life over 25 years. Her passion is to make investments understandable – dispel the mystery and simplify the process. In 2021 she self-published a book, How to Dress a Naked Portfolio, a Tailored Introduction to Investing for Women. She relishes questions from all levels of investors. You may submit questions and sign up for her blogs on her website.

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