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Gen Zers Shy Away For Talking About Finances

It’s no secret that this generation finds themselves in a uniquely tough financial situation. With the concept of home ownership unlikely for many, job security non-existent, and the future in turmoil, it isn’t surprising that Gen-Zers would rather talk about the most controversial topics instead of their finances.

According to a new survey by financial technology platform Intuit, the company behind software like TurboTax, Credit Karma, QuickBooks, and Mailchimp, Gen-Zers, identified by those born in 1997 up to about 2012 (the next generation is known as Alpha), believe they are falling behind their peers financially.

The generation, which is also the first generation of digital natives, are more than twice as likely to compare themselves to others on social media, which is likely what’s fueling the feelings. These 18-to-25-year-olds, in fact, say they would rather talk about politics, parenting struggles, sex, and infertility than they would about debt, their salaries, and bad investments.

Contrary to the Millennial generation before them that focused on the F.I.R.E. (Financial Independent, Retire Early) mantra along with hustle culture and a Girlboss ethos, Gen-Zers are more into “soft saving” and living the “soft life.” This is characterized by being comfortable and minimizing stress, and the trend has been taking over social media platforms like TikTok.

As a result of this, three-in-four Gen Zers say they would rather have a better quality of life than extra money in the bank. In fact, experiences matter more than money to Gen Z, as 68% say they are only interested in finances as a means to support their current interests.

Gen Z has more access to financial information than any other generation, which may be contributing to their feelings about the future and approach on life. However, access to information doesn’t always translate to good decision-making. Having so much information at their fingertips coming from all ends, ranging from TikTok to Reddit forums, Gen-Zers feel paralyzed by conflicting advice.

Nearly three in four say they know how to make a budget and track their income, but haven’t done it (74%). Nearly three in four also know it’s important to invest, but they don’t know how (73%). Sixty-five per cent say they have financial knowledge but are unsure how to use it.

Perhaps most shocking (or not) is that nearly half of Gen-Zers bought cryptocurrency even though they don’t fully understand blockchain (49%). Clearly the purchases were made because someone, somewhere, told them it was a good investment and they followed through. Further, two-thirds say they’re not sure they’ll ever have enough money to retire (64%) and 62% feel like they will never have the things they want because of their financial situation.

The financial anxiety is so pronounced, in fact, that 70% of Canadian Gen-Zers feel anxious going with friends to restaurants and bars they know they can’t afford. This is compared to 59% of Canadians overall. The majority (67%) are even worried about having to give gifts for a special occasion, believing it would put a strain on their monthly budget, as opposed to just 53% of all Canadians (which itself is still a pretty high number). Because of these financial constraints, 45% of Canadians overall and 56% of Gen-Zers have spent less time with friends and family.

“The economic shocks of the last few years have transformed how Gen Z views success, and this survey revealed that prosperity means something different to everyone, particularly Zoomers,” says ​Brittney Castro, Intuit Consumer Financial Advocate.

The Intuit Prosperity Index Survey was conducted December 2 through 9, 2022, via a 15‑minute online questionnaire. Intuit surveyed 1,500 Canadians ages 18+ plus an additional oversample of Gen Z (ages 18-25) to discover current attitudes around money and personal finance.

It’s worth noting that the oldest of the Gen-Z generation are about 26 right now, which means many of them are either still in post-secondary school or have just recently started in the working world. It will be interesting to see how the survey results would compare with a group of Millennials, who would be from 27 to 42 right now.