A guide to personal finance for Gen Z

5 Min Read - By Brian Wong

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It’s been reported in several articles on the internet that Gen Zs are the least financially literate generation and this is a worrying issue as many of them are now reaching or graduating from college. Getting into college and establishing financial independence often means using a credit card primarily for purchases, so budgeting is a crucial part of avoiding unnecessary debt. However, there are other articles claiming that Gen Z adults are more financially savvy than previous generations.

Regardless, As part of our recent collaboration with several personal finance experts, we devised a course that helps Gen Zs understand their finances better. This article was adapted from that course.

Gen Z individuals are highly motivated to become financially literate in order to achieve their goals. There are many ways young people are trying to take control of their financial futures, whether they learn to invest at a young age, play with stocks or even trying out NFTs, avoid debt by taking an alternative route to college, or start a profitable side business.

When it comes to basic finance, there are four areas where Gen Z should focus: 

  1. Financial literacy skills
  2. Understanding debt 
  3. Money management 
  4. Financial planning 

Many Gen Zers still rely on their parents or other authority figures for financial information. Parents, however, typically grew up with different and often less sophisticated information about saving, retirement, mortgages, and loans. While advancements in technology now allow for self-service and approval or pre-approval for mortgages and loans, more individuals are now working as contractors instead of staying with a company for 25+ years to reap the benefits of a matched 401(k). 

This makes modern financial literacy a top requirement for Generation Z. 

Should we offer more financial literacy courses about money management, investing, mortgages, and renting? Tweet us your thoughts after reading this article.

Starting with the basics, Gen Z must understand: 

  1. Money management 
  2. Investing 
  3. Mortgages 
  4. Renting 

To make crucial financial decisions to become independent. 

Money management – the process of tracking and planning an individual or group’s use of capital. This involves budgeting, saving, investing, spending, or otherwise overseeing the capital usage of an individual or group.

Investing – Putting money or other resources into something that will pay off, earn income or generate profit. A successful investment is one that increases in value over time. Gen Z is earning more, investing more, and saving more than previous generations.

Mortgages – Mortgages are loans used to purchase homes or other properties. Failure to repay the mortgage can lead to the lender (usually a bank) taking possession of the property. Many Gen Zers feel that home ownership is out of reach but are working to build credit and equity required to get there. 

Renting – A property (like a house or apartment) is rented to someone in exchange for payment. An agreed sum is paid at fixed intervals by a tenant to a landlord for the possession and use of the property.

The financial habits of Gen Z have been influenced by millennials’ debt and student loan situations. Due to this, Gen Z is often extremely cautious when it comes to taking on debt. While taking on too much debt is often not a good financial choice, there does need to be some debt to build credit (which allows you to make bigger purchases in the future).

Beginning a mortgage or loan later in life requires Gen Z to build credit and manage current debt. Smart debt management is required to build credit. While borrowing money by one party creates a debt, little to no debt should actually be taken on unless the borrower can 100% repay it before the deadline. With a debt agreement, the borrower agrees to repay the borrowed money over a specified period of time, sometimes with interest or a fee. Like credit cards, the debtor is often rewarded for spending borrowed money with points, rewards, or statement credits. Preparing for long-term financial success requires an understanding of debt and how it affects your credit score or credit history. On the other side of debt is money management. Understanding the four pillars (assets & liabilities, income & expenses) of money management in personal finance is essential here. 

Assets 

The assets you own are valuable items that can be traded for cash when needed (meaning they are easily convertible or “liquid”). Including personal cash in checking/savings, 401(k)’s, investments, land, home equity, jewelry, or collectibles. 

Liabilities 

An obligation or item owed to another is known as a liability or a debt. Liabilities are the opposite of “assets” and include mortgages, student or car loans, credit card balances, taxes, bills, and money owed for other services. Assets & Liabilities provide a detailed picture of your overall financial health, whereas Income and Expenses help you consider your money day-to-day.

Income 

Your income is the amount of money you generate. Dividends and interest earned on investments and tax refunds are also included. A person’s take-home pay (and maybe a side hustle or two) typically makes up the majority of their income if they are under age 65

Expenses 

Expenses are all the things you spend money on. To get a precise estimate of expenses, you should establish a budget and keep track of everything you spend.

In our “Gen Z Finance” course, we will discuss the second most important part of personal finance: financial planning. If you are looking to take charge of your finances, download our app and start the course today!

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Brian Wong
Brian has experience managing communities for web3 startups, DAOs, and NFT collections, leading social media efforts for SMBs, as well as working in film production, and talent management roles. He is based in Singapore.