The Financial Literacy of Generation Z
In a recent report, Zoot pulled back the curtain on Gen Z, history’s most diverse and most educated generation.1 It covers everything from their spending habits and learning styles to credit usage and digital preferences. Gen Zs Credit Averse? Hold that Thought explores the intricacies of their financial habits and summarizes their outlook on the future.
WHO IS GEN Z?
Across the financial industry and beyond, Generation Z is broadly labeled as debt-weary and credit averse. But is that accurate? To separate fact from fiction, one must start at the beginning and ask: “What do we actually know about Gen Z?”
Preceding Gen Alpha and following Millennials, Gen Z refers to those born after 1996 and before 2013.2 In the U.S., this generation is made up of approximately 68 million tweens, teens and young adults.3 Only 43% of Gen Zs are over age 17. Which means, though often considered credit averse, almost 39 million (57%) members of Gen Z have yet to even graduate high school.4 Nicole Spector of Yahoo Finance aptly captures the potential flaw in this one-size-fits-all approach. “Given the wide age range, this demographic defies blanket categorizations — after all, what does a 23-year-old have in common with a 9-year-old?”5
“Given the wide age range, this demographic defies blanket categorizations — after all, what does a 23-year-old have in common with a 9-year-old?”6
CURIOUS AND SAVVY
With a smartphone in hand since age 11, these digital natives are self-taught and driven by curiosity.7 Gen Zs reflexively use their technology savviness to seek out information on their own. It may sound unorthodox, but over 41% of Gen Zs say they learn about personal finance from TikTok, YouTube and Reddit-like platforms.8 They are highly engaged with video, and influencers like Roaring Kitty, Andrej Jikh, Tori Dunlap and Taylor Price have their attention.9
“Gen Z is the first generation to grow up swiping left on a screen, rather than having to turn a physical page.”10
Apropos of their adept digital skillset, it has been suggested that Gen Zs have a short attention span – maintaining focus for a mere 8 seconds before moving on. This statement often lacks context and is worth considering through a different lens. Additionally, there is no published scientific evidence supporting the 8-second theory (for Gen Z, the human race or even the oft-referenced goldfish).11
Ready Education recently challenged the negative connotation associated with the suggested short attention span. “The reasoning behind it is not so pessimistic. Gen Z is the information generation. They are the first generation that has never had to search for information in a physical book while writing a paper in high school.” The report also points out that Gen Zs could use an 8-second filter to manage an unceasing information stream “fed directly into their pocket.” This technique allows them “to see as much information as possible… and if it does not pique their interest, they move on…”12
WHAT THEY WANT
Gen Zs function in the digital world – reliant on mobile banking, avid about P2P payments and keen on BNPL. Whether sharing photos, booking travel, banking, etc., they expect seamless interactions. Are Gen Zs credit averse? Or do they simply prefer a frictionless financial experience?