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Here's 3 Personal Finance Tips You Need to Know

By AJ Watts

It’s been years since we began discussing the financial conditions and concerns of Millennials. But now, a new generation is just finishing school and entering the workforce in large numbers – Generation Z.

Interestingly, while Millennials often felt blindsided by such issues as the Great Recession, difficulty finding work and the near-impenetrability of the housing market, there is evidence1 that Generation Z is more aware of these problems, perhaps because it watched and learned from its Millennial older siblings. “Gen Zers” have also been shaped by the realization of their Generation X and Baby Boomer parents that retirement would be more difficult than they thought. Debt – whether of the Millennial student loan variety or the Gen X and Baby Boomer mortgage type – is a constant concern within their families. Watching how debt and low spending power has bogged down older generations, Gen Zers fear they will be unable to save and plan for the future as the costs of education and housing rise2.

But this bad news is also good news, in the sense that Generation Z’s wariness can be transformed into proactive preparedness for oncoming financial challenges. To that end, I would like to offer three personal finance tips for Gen Zers who are currently worried about what they will face taking their first financial steps out into the real world.

  1. Do your best to save any excess funds/gift money. If you’re lucky enough to have generous relatives, you may periodically get money from them to help with your getting started in life. This can be for birthdays, holidays or just because they like you. Do yourself a favor – don’t treat these as “free money” to spend. Seeing as how a good amount of your income will be eaten up by bills, rent (if you’re not living in your parents’ house), daily expenses and student loan payments, it’s rare that you’ll have the chance to put a sizable amount of money away. Try to get in the habit of seeing gifts as an opportunity to put aside some cash towards some real goals instead of spending it on things you might not need.
  2. Create a weekly or monthly budget to serve as a guide for your expenses so you can stay on track. Budgeting is a key aspect of adulthood (though some adults have yet to master it). So, it’s definitely a good idea to get started early. Get in the habit of sitting down each week or month and devising a spending plan that factors in both mandatory bills (i.e., car, rent, loan payments, food, etc.) and discretionary spending. Figure out exactly how much you have to spend on what you need, how much you can save and whether you have enough left over to spend on something you want but isn’t absolutely necessary.
  3. Learn how to make your money work for you – and ask for more personal finance tips. Investing is often seen as something that rich old people do. Indeed, the participation of young people in the stock market has fallen3 in recent years. But a huge amount of wealth that’s made in our economy comes from stocks and other investments, and your retirement funds – as many older people who relied on Social Security and 401(k)s are now finding out – will likely need extra passive income to be sustainable.

 

Luckily, Gen Z-friendly apps have been introduced that make learning about investing and getting started on it easy and fun. The app Acorns, for example, allows you to round up each purchase you make to the next highest dollar, and then invests that money in a portfolio of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). You can adjust the degree of risk you’re willing to take, easing the process so you aren’t jumping into the investment game too fast and getting in over your head. Aside from these convenient apps, you can consult your bank or credit union’s investment advisors for education, advice and tools for beginning the process. In fact, feel free to speak to a financial advisor at your bank or credit union for advice about your financial needs!

Generation Z is justifiably concerned about its future, but that future need not be scary or bleak. Taking these steps and committing to ongoing financial education can prepare you for the trials and unexpected occurrences of life.

1Retrieved from https://www.visualcapitalist.com/why-gen-z-approaching-money-differently/

2Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2019/02/26/millennials-and-gen-z-are-facing-more-than-1-trillion-in-debt/

3Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/16/gallup-why-younger-americans-arent-investing-in-the-stock-market.html

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made.   - See more at: https://www.affinityfcu.com/tips-and-tools/affinity-connect-blog/2017/acronym-101-the-low-down-on-segs.aspx#sthash.HNRlWMk2.dpuf