By now we've all heard the term OK Boomer. There's a long string of commentary surrounding the apparent financial differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials.
It always seems the two groups are being pitted against each other. But really, there's a lot more in common than we think when it comes to money habits.
Last year's Reserve Bank official cash rate (OCR) and bank capital raise adjustments amplified this perceived intergenerational money habit divide.
Interest rates are scraping the bottom of the barrel, creating a challenge for both generations. At its current level, the Reserve Bank's message to Kiwis seems to be borrow, spend and invest more, and save less.
Older Kiwis are most impacted because they love term deposits the most. Two-thirds of those over 65 said they'd look at putting surplus cash into term deposits, compared to a quarter of under 30s.
Those Baby Boomers' retirement budgets probably relied on average interest rates of 5 per cent. Now they are lucky to be getting half that, and that's before inflation.
Meanwhile, younger Kiwis are slightly more likely to consider putting extra income into shares. A third of under 30s invest, compared to a quarter of those 65-plus.
This reliance on deposit income does speak to a wider economic problem for New Zealand. For too long we've neglected investing in companies and shares. Instead, we've all favoured property and savings accounts.
The reality is we all experience money challenges and opportunities in today's low-interest environment.
There's no doubt that property has been great for the wealth of many Kiwis. But it does seem warped that our property market is valued at more than $1 trillion, while our capital markets are probably closer to $300 billion. Especially, when you consider it's our (work-funded) salaries that pay for our homes, not the other way around.
It's also clear there are a lot of Boomers are still haunted by the 1987 stock market crash. As a result, it seems they've passed this risk aversion onto future generations.
But avoiding risk leaves us unable to enjoy the benefits of higher returns.
The returns from saving versus investing shows Kiwis have an opportunity to make their money work harder for them, regardless of age.
We calculated that investing $50 in the NZ Top 50 each week for the past five years, instead of saving it, could have added nearly $14b to Kiwi's wealth. That's more than $5000 for every working New Zealander.
That's something everyone would welcome.
Don't get me wrong, there's always a place for a bank. You need somewhere to transact from and to cover rainy days. But diverting even some long-term cash into non-bank investments is a no-brainer for everyone who has it, and at almost every life stage.
It all starts by building investment knowledge and confidence for everyone.
Both generations believe they weren't given enough financial education at school. So, it's vital we correct this and make sure the financial future looks better for our kids.
We must also enable more direct control and visibility over KiwiSaver investments. That way, we give people more skin-in-the-game with money they've already set aside.
We found that Millennials are more likely to switch KiwiSaver providers than Boomers. Maybe this is one for the young to teach the old? It's never too late to assess if your KiwiSaver provider is right for you.
So, it turns out there's more common ground between Boomers, Millennials and their money habits than first thought.
Instead of pointing fingers, we should take time to listen and teach each other a thing or two. Because when we get our heads in the game on how to make the most of our money together, we'll all be better off for it.
Leighton Roberts is co-founder of investment platform Sharesies. All statistics are from Sharesies' Investor Survey 2019 on Kiwis' attitudes to saving and investing.