From lives in Candy Crush to TikTok “pink sauce” — the controversial condiment made from dragon fruit and sunflower seed oil — Gen Z is easily swayed into spending money on frivolous finds they see online.
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A study from financial services company Bread Financial revealed 28% of Gen Z have made purchases within a video game, like Sims add-ons or extra lives in Candy Crush, that they don’t want other people to know about.
And 22% are embarrassed they’ve bought trending TikTok products like the viral Amazon "butt-lifting" leggings, pink sauce or ring lights.
But what’s most alarming is that this younger generation appears to have a spending problem in general. About a third of Gen Z spend more money than they make, while nearly the same amount don’t budget at all, compared to 25% of total respondents, according to the Bread Financial study.
Baby boomers, on the other hand, are the most likely to budget and far less likely to fall victim to funky fads — here are a few lessons their younger counterparts can pick up from them.
Be more intentional about spending
It’s important for young Americans to be more deliberate and thoughtful when it comes to their everyday spending, says Nick Antonelli, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Bread Financial.
He explains that these small online buys may seem insignificant, but people often don’t realize how frequently they make them — or how they can add up over time.
Meanwhile, according to the Bread Financial study, boomers are less likely to make impulse purchases and more likely to plan for their expenditures.
Antonelli says planning is the first step towards making healthier financial decisions. He recommends building a budget to keep account of all your purchases and to plan for bigger expenses.
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Pay down debt
Credit Karma recently analyzed credit card use by generation. And while Gen Z may carry the smallest amount of debt, they’re also racking it up faster than any other generation — increasing their average balances by 5.9% between May and December 2022, according to Credit Karma’s report. Meanwhile, over that same period, boomers avoided significantly adding to their debt, with the second smallest percentage increase of all generations at 2.11%. (The silent generation managed to keep their balance increase average to a modest 0.86%.)
That being said, regardless of age, dealing with credit card debt is a top priority. Once you clear that credit card balance, you won’t have to worry about accruing high interest on your monthly bills anymore and you can free up space to save or spend on things you need.
And it has an effect on your whole financial picture: Having a lower debt-to-income ratio also boosts your credit score — meaning you’ll appear more reliable to a potential lender when you apply for more credit or loans, like a mortgage.
Depending on your situation, there are a number of ways to tackle your debt. You might start with your highest-interest debt first and work your way down or do the opposite by getting smaller debts out of the way first.
Another option if you’re having trouble keeping track of your various lines of credit is to roll all your balances into a lower-interest consolidation loan.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might be helpful to consult a qualified professional adviser to help get you on the quickest path to financial freedom.
Start planning for the long-term
Plenty of boomers may already be well into their golden years — but how did they get there? By preparing. So if Gen Z wants to retire comfortably one day, they better start building their wealth now.
If you're not sure where to start, do your research, set up a brokerage account or try out an investment app and develop a well-balanced, diversified portfolio.
Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to dump into an investment account, you can start off small with just a few dollars. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to watch the magic of compound interest grow your balance over time.
A high-interest savings account could come with a 4% interest rate (compared to a traditional savings account, which is typically just 0.42%). And some CDs are currently offering an even greater yield.
Antonelli recommends starting off by opening an account and scheduling in small increments based on your personal cash flow and financial situation. Automatic deposits are another great way to keep yourself on track — you can always adjust the amount when your income or priorities change.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.