Let me introduce you to Generation Z, a group of young people with serious (and untapped) potential.
Gen Z is the generation born between about 1996 and 2014 – give or take a few years. The oldest members of this population are just now starting to graduate from college and trickle into the workforce. Millions strong, Gen Z makes up 26% of the total U.S. population – a larger percentage than Millennials at 22%.
Some experts project that Gen Z has a better handle on their finances than any other generation. Here’s why:
They Know What Can Go Wrong
According to the New York Times, Millennials “were raised during the boom times and relative peace of the 1990s, only to see their sunny world dashed by the Sept. 11 attacks and two economic crashes.” Gen Z learned from this.
As a result of hearing about the economic strife in their not-so-distant past, Gen Z generation is more likely to be thoughtful about spending and their career choices. Think about it. The oldest members of Generation Z were about 10 years old when the recession hit. They were old enough to see their parents struggle and to understand why times were financially troublesome. So, it’s no surprise that Gen Z tends to be more responsible about money and future choices than previous generations.
To boot, Gen Z is more in tune with world news due to their ever-present smartphones. They don’t live in a bubble. When you understand from a young age that the world is unpredictable, you’re more likely to make wise decisions about your financial future. Because of this, the Gen Z generation is particularly interested in working hard and saving for the future.
They’re Wary of Student Loan Debt
Those in the Gen Z population are growing up wary about student loan debt. This is a far cry from the way in which many Millennials, myself included, approached student loans. In fact, most Millennials went into the college loan process without a clear understanding of how student loans work. I remember not even knowing how to find out how much money I borrowed after I graduated. In fact, I had to call my college’s financial aid department and ask how to figure that out – embarrassing!
Gen Z is different. This generation is concerned about student loans. They know college is expensive, and they’re even carefully choosing their careers based on how much money they’ll spend to get there. Because of the magnitude of media coverage about student loan debt, Gen Z is also more educated and prepared to deal with student loans. In some cases, they even choose alternative and less costly educational paths. A recent survey even showed that Gen Z is more likely to save on college costs by attending community college first.
They’re Not Afraid of Hard Work
According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, “Fifty-four percent [of Gen Z] have already taken jobs to earn money for higher education.” And, Mashable claims that Gen Z “might be the hardest workers yet.”
To boot, Gen Z is less concerned about work-life balance than the Millennial generation. To me, work-life balance is everything (as I sit in Starbucks writing this post and wait to pick up my kids from school.) Yet, Gen Z would rather work longer hours and make more money to secure their future.
So, it’s no surprise that employers are excited to hire members of Gen Z and looking forward to the work ethic and creativity they will bring to the table.
They’re Actually Frugal
You would think that the generation who grew up with smartphones would be interested in the latest and greatest technology. However, according to Fast Company, Gen Z is adept at “resisting the allure of snatching up the latest, priciest products when there is a constant stream of new, inexpensive options.”
Because they are so tech-savvy and oftentimes frugal, these young adults and teens know how to look for the best deals. They are also wary of big brands and more trusting of individuals than large companies.
They Love Saving Money
Did you know that 60% of the Gen Z population already has a savings account? That’s pretty good for a generation made up of mainly kids and teens.
If Gen Z savers keep up this trend, they’ll be much better off financially, especially if they can avoid student loan and consumer debt. In fact, we can all learn a thing or two about saving for the future from this money-savvy generation.