First Person: Money Mindsets of Generation Z

Yahoo Contributor Network

When it comes to money, my Generation Z sons are driven to save for the uncertain future. A recent survey by Ameritrade is shedding light on the financial worries of those born between 1990 and 1999. According to a recent CNBC article, Gen Z is a mixed group with a lot of competing priorities. My sons' money habits were shaped by the Great Depression, but they were also influenced by having parents who are not particularly materialistic. Our 19 and 20-year-old sons aren't worried about having a lot of stuff as much as financial security and fulfilling careers.

Starting at the bottom

My sons have had to start at the bottom in order to earn money for college. The job market is not especially welcoming to Generation Z just as it was not welcoming to Generation X. Because college is so expensive, my sons are being forced to save at an early age. According to the survey, 34 percent said if they were given a random $500, they would save it for college.

Living at home

According to the survey, 63 percent of respondents said they could move back home after graduating from college. My younger son commutes to his college classes. Once he starts working in a career, he plans to take online classes to complete a higher degree program offered by the state university. In fact, most wouldn't be embarrassed to stay at home until age 28. By living at home longer, my sons are able to save up more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home.

Being reluctant to invest

My older son is reluctant to invest in the stock market after the value of his small portfolio plummeted on paper during the Great Recession. My younger son never looked at his stocks, which I managed. His investments bounced back. If I could do it over again, I would have told my older son to simply invest a small amount every month and only look at the statement once a year. Experts say many Gen-Z kids think the best way to save for retirement is with a savings account. I'm encouraging my sons to save up at least $10,000 in a savings for emergencies before saving for retirement.

If I look back on my financial mistakes, I realize that my Gen-Z kids are on a better path. I could have lived with my parents for even just a few months after college to save up money and pay off debt. If I had worked my way through college, I wouldn't have wasted an entire decade trying to back my student loan debt. I also could have saved up money in an emergency fund instead of investing in the stock market and losing it during the dot.com bubble. Although some experts criticize Generation Z, maybe they are right to be so financially cautious.

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