7 Financial Differences Between Millennials and the Next Generation

By Tim Lemke on 17 July 2017 0 comments

We hear a lot about millennials and their money, but what about the generation behind them? Members of Generation Z are now approaching adulthood, and have their own unique characteristics. They may also have their own unique attitudes toward money. How do millennials and Generation Z differ? The answer to those questions could have fascinating implications for our economy.

1. Generation Z may be more frugal

Members of Generation Z may only now be entering adulthood, but there are indications that they are more conservative with their money than previous generations. Perhaps it's because this generation has grown up at a time of unrest, from the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the aftermath, to the near collapse of the financial sector at the end of the last decade.

The 2016 Annual State of Credit published by Experian noted that Generation Z has an average of 1.29 credit cards, compared to 2.02 for millennials. They also have about half as much debt overall, though it's worth noting that many are entering college age, when debt levels can soar.

2. Generation Z is totally cool with technology

Millennials are pretty tech-savvy, but Generation Z is the first generation that's never known a time without the internet. This means they should be entirely accepting of online banking and investing, using mobile payment apps, and similar innovations — though they will be cautious, due to their awareness of high-profile data breaches. Generation Z will also have no recollection of the tech bubble burst of the late 1990s, so they'll be perfectly comfortable investing in tech stocks.

3. Generation Z wants career stability

There is some evidence that members of Generation Z prefer to go after careers that are solid and pragmatic. The consulting firm Altitude reported that this generation may be less entrepreneurial and more focused on stability and earning enough money to avoid financial struggles.

Another report from Bainbridge Consulting found that more than half Generation Z-ers feel like they need to get work experience as soon as possible in order to succeed. The broader economic implications of this risk aversion will be worth watching in the coming years.

4. Millennials may be less focused on retirement

Even though millennials are the older generation, it's Generation Z that may already be focused on retirement savings. One study from the Center for Generational Kinetics found that about 12 percent of Gen Z-ers already have some retirement savings. Another 35 percent said they expect to begin saving once they hit their 20s. Some of this may be influenced by parents who urged them to save; more than one out of every five people in Generation Z reported having savings accounts by age 10.

5. Millennials are more loyal to brands

Good luck trying to get a millennial to switch from an Apple to an Android phone, or vice versa. But those from Generation Z don't have the same kind of steadfast allegiance to products. A study by IBM said two-thirds of this young generation prefer high-quality products that last, and will do their homework to find the best value, regardless of brand.

6. Generation Z shops smarter

Because of their internet savvy, members of Generation Z know how to comparison shop and get information about products online. Research from MarketingProfs showed that more than half of people in Generation Z use YouTube and other social media sites to research products before they buy.

7. Generation Z is wary of student debt

About two-thirds of millennials say they have more than $10,000 in student loan debt. This reality has led Generation Z to be more thoughtful when examining the value of higher education. One survey by Adecco reported that 21 percent of Generation Z students said they were concerned about the price of tuition, compared to 13 percent for millennials. There are also indications that Generation Z is less inclined to go after a costly advanced degree.

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