As a late millennial, I’m surrounded by Gen Z friends. I’ve found that Gen Z is one of the best generations at asking why things are the way they are and challenging norms. Gone are the days of stuffy business professional office attire and accepting the answer “that’s just the way we do things”. Gen Z, defined by the adoption of social media, relies heavily on social media and financial influencers for advice about money according to Charles Schwab’s 2023 Modern Wealth Survey. This is a guide from a financial professional’s perspective to personal financial planning for Gen Z.
Who To Trust For Financial Advice
With so many people out there giving advice, it’s important to understand how to discern the people offering good advice from those advocating for potentially harmful actions. Here are some sources to look out for that may offer helpful advice:
- Peer-reviewed academic resources and studies
- Professionals with designations directly related to financial advice (CFP®, CPA, CFA
- Reputable fund rating agencies (Morningstar)
Here are some signals that you may want to proceed with caution and use a second, reputable source, before taking the advice of the person offering money tips:
- The person is using blanket statements and absolutes
- The person is creating a sense of urgency with their advice
You Are Unique, Your Plan Should Be Too
According to Pew Research, Gen Z is on track to be the highest-educated generation of all. The learning style is markedly different from prior generations, potentially due to factors like the impact of digital learning during the Covid-19 pandemic and the wealth of information sources available today. Being part of Gen Z, you might prefer an independent learning style and to learn through visuals and by doing more than prior generations.
If that sounds like you, take charge of your financial future by writing down your financial goals, making them as specific as possible, adding visual representations, and ranking them in priority order. This will act as a financial vision board. Plan to revisit those goals at least semi-annually to track your progress and adjust as needed. If you have trouble with accountability, consider working with a qualified financial planner to keep you on track.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Many of the people in Gen Z that I speak with are planning on ways to work smarter, not harder. A trendy phrase called “soft saving” is emerging among Gen Z, referring to saving minimally for the future and maximizing lifestyle in the present. While the phrase “soft saving” is new, the concept is not. For generations, many Americans have spent their excess income on lifestyle expenses and dedicated nearly nothing toward the future, but this approach could be harmful to your financial future.
You don’t need to live in scarcity to save a little toward the future. Keep a budget that makes sense for the lifestyle you’d like to live, then save whatever small excess you have toward your top financial goals. Not keeping a budget at all can cause lifestyle creep, meaning that your lifestyle expenses always increase to match your income, causing you to live paycheck to paycheck.
The power of compounding interest means that saving a little bit can go a long way if you’re making your money work smarter and not just holding onto cash. If you saved a little bit and got a 10% hypothetical return, you would have about eight times your money after 21 years. Doing something small now can support you immeasurably in the future.
I hope that with all the positive changes coming about by Gen Z entering the workforce, that this highly educated generation can find out the right resources to achieve financial security. It’s important to discern which sources to trust for information, create a plan tailored to you and your learning style, and get your money working for you.
This informational and educational article does not offer or constitute, and should not be relied upon as, tax or financial advice. Your unique needs, goals and circumstances require the individualized attention of your own tax and financial professionals whose advice and services will prevail over any information provided in this article. Equitable Advisors, LLC and its associates and affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice or services. Equitable Advisors, LLC (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI and TN) and its affiliates do not endorse, approve or make any representations as to the accuracy, completeness or appropriateness of any part of any content linked to from this article.
Cicely Jones (CA Insurance Lic. #: 0K81625) offers securities through Equitable Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC (Equitable Financial Advisors in MI & TN) and offers annuity and insurance products through Equitable Network, LLC, which conducts business in California as Equitable Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC). Financial Professionals may transact business and/or respond to inquiries only in state(s) in which they are properly qualified. Any compensation that Ms. Jones may receive for the publication of this article is earned separate from, and entirely outside of her capacities with, Equitable Advisors, LLC and Equitable Network, LLC (Equitable Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC). AGE-6157628.1 (12/23)(exp. 12/25)