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MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index: In Pursuit of Happiness, Younger Generations Prioritize Money over Marriage

September 19th, 2023

Contradictorily, they feel behind in saving enough to retire at an ideal age (60-69)

Springfield, Mass. – Most younger Americans believe financial stability is a stronger determinant of personal happiness than the person they marry, according to the latest Consumer Spending & Saving Index from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). Older Americans do not agree (Gen Z/65%, Millennials/62% and Gen X/54% versus Baby Boomers/41% and the Silent Generation/29%), suggesting a shift in evolving priorities among younger generations who may value economic security and self-sufficiency over strong and enduring relationships.

Despite younger people’s conviction that financial stability is essential to their happiness, the survey reveals many are not practicing what they preach:

  • Nearly half (49%) say they are not saving enough to retire at their ideal age (Gen Z/45%, Millennials/53%, Gen X/53% and Baby Boomers/32%).
  • Over a third with student loan debt used funds earmarked to pay down their debt to purchase consumer goods during the pause in federal student loan payments.

“Investing in yourself through wise financial choices today is a commitment younger people can make to secure a more stable financial future,” said Paul LaPiana, CFP, head of MassMutual brand, product and affiliated distribution. “As with most healthy habits, consistency is key. Good financial habits include saving and spending responsibly starting at a young age, increasing retirement contributions, and broadening your investment portfolio to unlock a financially secure and prosperous future.”

Other notable findings of the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index include:

Nearly half of Americans planning for retirement say they are behind where they need to be to retire at their ideal retirement age (49%).

  • More men (52%) report being behind on retirement savings than women (44%).
  • Two thirds believe that the ideal retirement age is between 60 and 69, with over half expecting to retire around that age (53%) and 20% not ever planning to retire.
  • Among retired Americans, 43% say that their retirement savings are abo¬¬ut what they need, while 21% say that they have more than they need,¬ and 29% say they have less than they need.

Despite the opportunity presented by the pause in federal student loan payments to allocate those funds towards savings or investments, a little more than a third of Americans with student loan debt used those funds to buy consumer goods (36%).

  • 74% with student loan debt are planning to cut back on their spending when student loan payments resume. Over a quarter of those cutting back plan to buy fewer luxuries (27%) while nearly half (47%) are intending to reduce spending on essentials.
  • A majority with student loan debt said that they are somewhat or very concerned about the impact of the resumption of federal student loan payments on their finances (80%).

Millennials are as likely to have taken financial advice from a source on a social media platform in the last three months as they are to have ever met with a financial advisor.

  • Nearly one third of Millennials (31%) and Gen Z (32%) say they have followed financial advice from social media in the last three months. The same number of Millennials (31%) and just 21% of Gen Z say they have met with a financial advisor in the past compared with 58% of Baby Boomers and 57% of the Silent Generation.
  • Among those who say they have followed financial advice from social media in the last three months, the most common sources are Instagram (56%), YouTube (54%), Facebook (49%), and TikTok (46%).

When it comes to Halloween, over two thirds of Americans are expecting to spend either the same amount or less than they did last year (77%).

  • While only 8% of Americans plan to spend more on Halloween this year, they skew disproportionately young—21% of Gen Z and 14% of Millennials say they plan to spend more on Halloween this year. For Millennials, costumes (66%) and attending and/ or hosting in-person celebrations (61%) contribute the most to their anticipated increase in spending.
  • Americans may be tightening their budgets for the upcoming holiday season, with 80% expecting to spend either the same amount or less than they did last year (vs. 76% in Q3 2022).

Peering into 2024, Americans are slightly less concerned about a recession and have mixed feelings about how the U.S. political climate and 2024 presidential election will impact their finances.

  • The upcoming 2024 presidential election also looms large in the collective consciousness, with 75% expressing anxiety over how the result will impact their finances.
  • Americans expressed a slightly reduced level of concern about a recession compared to last quarter (77% in Q3 2023 vs 81% in Q2 2023) and they are now equally as concerned about a recession as they are about the U.S. political climate (78%).

“The most recent findings from the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index highlight the resolve of the American consumer to build a resilient financial future for themselves and their loved ones despite collective anxiety about anticipated political and macroeconomic headwinds,” says LaPiana. “By adapting to evolving market and political trends, including an upcoming presidential election and an evolving global economic landscape, Americans can weather any financial uncertainty that heads our way.”

The MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index tracks financial outlooks and behaviors in a changing economic environment. It offers an in-depth snapshot of people’s saving and spending behaviors and examines sentiment and attitudes toward navigating the changing state of the economy with an emphasis on inflation, spending and changes in interest rates. Commissioned by MassMutual, the research was conducted online by PSB Insights from August 5- 21, 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults (ages 18+). Research was also conducted with an additional sample of 500 adult Massachusetts residents from August 5-28, 2023..

Links to prior indexes:

June 2023 Index
March 2023 Index
November 2022 Index
September 2022 Index


About MassMutual
MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. Founded in 1851, the company has been continually guided by one consistent purpose: we help people secure their future and protect the ones they love. With a focus on delivering long-term value, MassMutual offers a wide range of protection, accumulation, wealth management and retirement products and services. For more information, visit