How Gen Z’s View on Money is Transforming the Financial Space
As a Gen Z college student inching closer and closer to the impending reality of adulthood, money is a topic I tried to push to the back burner for as long as I could. Depending on your upbringing, money may or may not have been a topic of conversation at the proverbial dinner table. Some view money as debt and doom, while others view money as an asset and tool if managed properly.
Most school systems do not properly equip students to confidently manage their money, so they are left to take the test of life and just figure it out. It has become easier than ever to make an income with the continuous development of the internet, social media, and AI, which means that Gen Z has more resources at an earlier age than their parents and grandparents ever did. All these factors, in combination with the information overload the internet provides on how you should manage your money, leave young people confused and worried about their financial future. This is why financial literacy is so important and why Gen Z’s prioritization of this literacy is transforming the financial space.
“Money talk” isn’t just for the adults. According to a recently published study from Northwestern Mutual, Gen Z believes parents should start discussing money with their kids at age 15, compared to the average American’s answer of age 17. It is never too early to plant the seed of wise financial decisions and encourage more knowledge of the subject. The National Millennial and Gen Z Community (NMGZ) recently visited the Northwestern Mutual headquarters in Milwaukee, where we evaluated each person’s level of financial literacy, current financial decisions, and general knowledge of major financial resources.
A consensus of the group was the belief that those who grew up talking about money in their homes were more likely to be financially literate in college and beyond. I grew up knowing how important it was to save money since it never came in abundance, but I had no idea what that meant besides putting it in a savings account. Future planning was foreign to me until this year, and I’ve had to venture out on my own to educate myself about investing, 401Ks, and even the insurance options I will be presented with when I start my career. I wish I had known this information earlier in life so I could start putting my money in places where it would give me the highest return.
Because the internet has bridged the communication gap for people around the world, Gen Z has utilized the Internet and stories of other people’s experiences to make more educated financial decisions. I have found it extremely useful to watch videos on TikTok and Instagram of other people who have more financial experience. They discuss different kinds of credit cards and savings accounts, then provide the audience with their recommendations, and share the mistakes they made along the way. It is almost like a “try before you buy” interaction. You can see someone else do something before you commit.
Gen Z is always on the hunt for resources that can give helpful information on finances. However, the market can be over-saturated with companies convincing you to invest before providing a strong financial foundation, which could leave people confused and more hesitant than ever to do anything with their money. The best path to financial literacy is a strong set of basic financial information that each person can build upon. Then, they can dive deeper into the areas where work needs to be done.
Things like high-yield savings accounts, 401Ks, and different kinds of life insurance are staring Gen Z in the face right now, and we must be prepared to make the best and most educated decisions for our future.
Financial literacy can transform a person’s way of life, and Gen Z’s openness to discussing money online can encourage others to venture out into the scary space that is finance and figure out what is right for them. The camaraderie of Gen Z “just trying to figure it out” inspires all other generations to break the idea that money talk is taboo, so everyone can benefit from being smart with their money. A financially literate society is a better one, and I am excited to see how we can all help each other get to that place.
You can read more of Northwestern Mutual’s Planning and Progress study and learn more about Gen Z’s view on money here: https://news.northwesternmutual.com/2023-11-07-Northwestern-Mutual-Study-Finds-Gen-Z-Wants-to-Talk-About-Family-Finances-Far-Earlier-than-Previous-Generations.