The baby boomers are either already retired or just a few years away from collecting Social Security — and many of them are woefully unprepared. Several studies have shown that nearly half of all baby boomers have no retirement savings at all, and that many others don’t have nearly enough.
Then, of course, there are some who are downright rich.
While wealthy boomers are individuals who spend their money in different ways and on different things, they tend to have a lot in common when it comes to how they refuse to spend it.
GOBankingRates spoke with several financial professionals who work with millionaire baby boomers, and they’ve noticed that many of them — no matter how diverse their backgrounds or philosophies — agree that there are some wasteful ways that they simply will not squander their money.
Rich baby boomers aren’t still rich at their age because they spent their lives wasting their money to advertise their wealth.
“My wealthy baby boomer clients generally avoid unnecessary expenses, such as luxury items that do not offer long-term value,” said Rory Donadio, CEO of Tribeca Capital Group. “They often prioritize spending on experiences over material possessions, valuing travel or time with family over the latest gadgets or luxury cars.”
It’s not uncommon for people of any age to litter their walls, dressers, counters and tables with decorative items that might have sentimental value, but no real monetary value.
Older Americans are no different — except for the most financially successful ones. For them, the adornments that beautify their living spaces double as investments, hedges against inflation and future inheritances for their heirs.
“Wealthy baby boomers often engage in artful collecting rather than accumulating possessions,” said John Browning, a 30-year Wall Street veteran, founder and CEO of Guardian Rock Wealth and author of “Build a Life, not a Portfolio: A Guide to Your Financial Future Based on Your Personal Values.”
“They appreciate quality over quantity, investing in unique pieces of art, vintage items or limited-edition collectibles,” Browning said. “This not only serves as a form of enjoyment but can also become a valuable part of their estate, contributing to a legacy of appreciation for craftsmanship and culture.”
The baby boomers are either retired or about to be, and Browning has seen many of them splurge on dream retirements, regardless of whether they can afford those dreams in the long term or not. But the rich ones tend to choose lower-cost social quality over post-career opulence.
“Instead of opting for extravagant retirement living arrangements, wealthy baby boomers are exploring community-driven models,” he said. “They invest in retirement communities that prioritize shared values, experiences and activities. This intentional community focus fosters social connections and mutual support, creating a fulfilling retirement lifestyle that goes beyond individualized luxury.”
Many wealthy boomers built their fortunes through their investments, and while they’re not averse to calculated risk, they didn’t get rich by chasing gains without considering the IRS’s stake in those returns.
“Wealthy baby boomers are adept at leveraging tax-efficient investment strategies,” said Browning. “They carefully allocate assets across various tax-advantaged accounts, taking advantage of opportunities such as Roth conversions and tax-efficient withdrawal sequences. This meticulous tax planning enhances their overall financial efficiency, ensuring a more tax-resilient retirement strategy.”
Like nearly all rich people, well-to-do baby boomers avoid revolving credit card balances at all costs.
“Wealthy baby boomer clients play it smart with their money by avoiding high-interest debt,” said Rob Whaley, finance specialist at Horizon Finance Group. “They know that holding credit card debt means paying more due to interest, which isn’t a good deal.”
But when leveraged as a tool for financial improvement, credit cards can be a very good deal.
The wealthy almost always incorporate credit cards into their overall financial strategies — but they almost never pay finance charges, which is why they focus on rewards instead of interest rates.
While millionaires are less likely to have cash-back cards, they’re much more likely to have travel rewards cards, balance transfer cards, gas and grocery cards, 0% APR cards and brand or store-specific cards.
Rich baby boomers seldom use plastic to splurge on things they can’t afford, but they do use it to build wealth and improve their lifestyles at no charge by leveraging credit cards for:
- Fraud protection and security
- Complementary insurance
- Easy and safe international spending
- Special access to events
- Airport lounge access, priority boarding, complimentary Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and other travel perks
- Concierge services
- Hotel room upgrades
- Rideshare and rental car credits
“This approach shows they’ve got some financial savvy from a lifetime of money lessons, helping them hold onto their wealth and grow it,” said Whaley. “They’re keeping their money safe by making thoughtful financial choices, avoiding unnecessary interest costs.”
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