Personal Financial Planning for Every Generation

Every life event requires time, money, and financial planning to tie everything together. A life event could be anything from buying a home to getting married and starting a family to partaking in a dream vacation. But here’s the thing: your Excel budget sheet isn’t enough to adequately cover financial planning. Plus, personal financial planning looks different depending on your generational status.

Don’t know where to start? Keep reading — we’ll cover personal financial planning for baby boomers, millennials, Gen Z, and Gen X. The goal is financial freedom, and personal financial planning helps you get there. Learn more below!

What is personal financial planning?

Personal financial planning is creating strategies and plans to align your financial scenario with your life goals. It covers everything from day-to-day budgeting, savings targets, investments, real estate, debt management, and long-term desires. 

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Why is learning about personal financial planning important?

Learning about personal financial planning promotes overall well-being. For instance, Forbes tells us that financial health reduces the risks of bankruptcy, stress, overspending, divorce, depression, and overall poor health. 

Imagine the stress you feel when you’re overwhelmed with financial worries now. Imagine that same stress creeping into retirement. Where you’re not as energetic or able to work as you did in your younger years. Personal financial planning is an insurance policy not only for your finances, but also for your health and happiness. 

What is the main goal of personal financial planning?

The main goal of personal financial planning is to achieve financial freedom — or to reach whatever life goals you think will make you feel happy and fulfilled. If that looks like maintaining one home to pass down to your children, personal financial planning helps you reach that goal. Similarly, perhaps your life goals include the ability to live in Toronto well into your old age. Or, you’d like to take a vacation for three months each year. Or you crave hobbies that require a financial investment — all of these goals are reached with sound personal financial planning. 

However, these objectives are only achievable with financial freedom which is why that’s the ultimate goal. Financial freedom is defined as the ability to have enough income or wealth to pay for the desired cost of living without dependence on an employer or other people.

Related Reading: What is Life Insurance?

Personal Financial Planning for Every Generation

A 21-year-old student will certainly have different financial goals and priorities than someone in their mid-40s. Likewise for people approaching retirement, to those even later in life considering the next steps for their estate. 

When in life would you consider RRSP contributions, university savings, childcare, or travel expenses? These priorities vary from generation to generation, each demanding unique personal financial planning tactics. In addition, the current events going on around us, whether on a personal or global scale, can impact financial plans. The diversity of financial priorities is also a stark reminder that financial planning is dynamic. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it solution that can apply for your entire lifetime. Rather, it’s something to be revisited as you go through life and your objectives change.

Not sure where to start? Check out the best personal financial planning considerations for every generation below. 

Generation Z

Generation Z refers to anyone from 1997 to 2012, aged approximately 7 to 22. Of course, the younger end of Generation Z isn’t really involved in personal financial planning yet — they’re bundled in with their parents’ financial planning strategies. However, even in your teenage years, you can start thinking about finances. In fact, making mistakes and learning from them is best done when you’re young and have less to lose!

Generation Z often thinks about the following personal financial planning areas: 

  • Education: How will they pay for college? Teenagers and early adults might plan out contributions into educational savings accounts, such as an RESP, with their parents. Personal financial planning for students also includes every day budgeting for transportation, textbooks, school supplies and equipment, room and board, and ancillary fees outside of tuition. Funding sources might be a mix of part-time job income, parent support, OSAP, and scholarships. 
  • Career planning: Personal financial planning and career planning are linked for Generation Z. They’ll consider which career paths will allow them to pay off student debt and afford them the lifestyle they want. This is also the phase to do some soul searching, what kind of career can you pursue that’s both profitable and a dream job?
  • Living arrangements: Will you live with your parents or rent a room with friends? City or suburbs? Living arrangements affect your financial planning as many Gen Zs are stepping into their first addresses outside their parents.
  • Emergency fund: Only 38% of Generation Z have at least three months in emergency savings — the lowest across all generation groups. A TFSA is a fantastic way to start building an emergency fund.
  • Common mistakes: CPA Canada tells us racking up credit card debt is one of the most common mistakes made in your 20s. Another common pitfall is the absence of an overall goal or budgeting plan to manage your finances. This lack of direction is particularly harmful to Generation Z because it becomes harder to build these habits later in life. 


Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1996, aged between 26 and 41. Their personal financial planning might encompass more responsibility than Generation Z. Considering factors like acquiring assets, starting a family, and living a more comfortable lifestyle. Unlike Generation Z, Millennials might experiment more with investments and start considering retirement plans in early stages. 

Here are some personal financial planning areas common for Millennials to consider: 

  • Retirement: Millennials might open an RRSP or have a regular history of contributions in anticipation of retirement. On top of that, they likely regularly contribute to another, more accessible investment account like a TFSA.
  • Stocks and other investments: As you get older, you become more conscious of inflation’s effects on your finances. Millennials might consider combatting that inflation by investing in securities like stocks or bonds, whether they’re blue-chip Coca-Cola stocks or more risky cryptocurrency holdings. 
  • Real estate: Since Millennials have had more time to save than Generation Z, they’re more likely to plan for a real estate purchase. Still, this is becoming even harder for Millennials with rising housing prices. Fifty-six percent of Toronto Millennials are homeowners, though many account for relocation plans to find cheaper living costs within their personal financial planning.
  • Life events: Within this demographic, many Millennials are getting married, starting families and achieving other big life goals. While these are all fantastic events to experience, they’re not free. If you want a big wedding, you’ll have to figure out how you’ll pay for it. Or if you want to have many children, you’ll need to budget more for your living expenses and plan for their financial futures too. Even though these life events are exciting, it’s important to set a financial plan to ensure you don’t run into problems in the process.

Related Reading: Top 10 Retirement Planning Tips for Canadians

Generation X

It’s easy to skip from Millennial to Baby Boomer, but we’re not quite there yet. Generation X is the age group sandwiched between 39 and 54. These are individuals with a bit more flexibility in their personal financial planning. In addition, this generation likely took advantage of the lucrative bull market booms in their careers and their incomes will reflect that.

They might be well-versed with RRSPs and TFSAs, already maxing out contributions and contemplating other investment tactics to save for retirement. They might have already built equity in real estate. Then use financial leverage on that equity and restructuring their debt to make more investments. 

Pro-tip for Generation X? Embrace apps and technology. You might have a sound financial planning strategy, but you didn’t grow up with the same apps that Millennials and Gen Zs did. Consider using online banking tools, virtual calculators and applications for budgeting and investments to streamline your personal financial planning efforts. 

Baby Boomer Generation

Baby boomers are born between 1946 and 1964, spanning from ages 55 to 73. Personal financial planning for boomers should center around retirement and subsequent lifestyle choices to be comfortable once they stop working. If they’re already retired, personal financial planning would cover budgeting strategies to work with CPP and pension income. As well as managing wealth and estates. 

One important financial planning tip for boomers is to consider their living situation now and in the next 10 to 15 years. They might need to plan for downsizing, making their home more accessible, and strategizing ways to afford travel and supporting their children, in some cases. Lastly, this demographic should consider costs for medical care as they age. Including how they will pay for it and what kind of care they’d like.

Related Reading: The Best Finance Industry Events and Conferences in Canada

Financial Freedom is Possible at Any Age

No matter what generation you’re in, financial freedom is attainable with personal financial planning. Even if you’ve missed some of the financial milestones at your current stage of life, it’s never too late to start personal financial planning. If you’re intimidated by the process, consider speaking with a financial advisor to help you out.

Read More: How to Create and Build Generational Wealth in Canada

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