How Gen Z’s money mindset differs from that of millennials
August 7th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

How Gen Z’s money mindset differs from that of millennials

Financial habits do vary by age and there’s even a generation gap between the two youngest generations of American adults. Ahead of National Financial Awareness Day, YouGov explores Gen Z and millennials’ views towards money to identify any similarities and disparities in their financial behaviors and attitudes.

The millennial generation, born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, witnessed the dramatic transformation of financial systems. They grew up watching the shift from widespread use of cash to the rise of online banking, credit cards and digital payments.

Gen Z (born in 2000 or later), on the other hand, grew up with smartphones as their virtual bank branch and for their entire adult lives, cashless and contactless payments were already the norm.

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Research from YouGov reveals that despite their experiences with money being shaped by technological advancements, millennials and Gen Z have distinct spending habits and financial views. Below are a few key differences in the two generations’ money mindsets.

  • Financial confusion: By 62% to 54%, Gen Z is more likely than millennials to agree money matters confuse them.

  • Cash is back: Along with thrifting and channeling the return of ‘80s and ‘90s fashion, Gen Z is also bringing back the use of cash. Over two in three (61%) say they like to use cash when making purchases (vs. 56% of millennials). Their affinity to cash may also be linked to a significant share of Gen Z saying they do not have a bank account (13%).

  • Risk tolerance and impulsive purchases: Gen Z also over-indexes in their likelihood to say they tend to make impulsive purchases (60% vs. 57% of millennials) and that they don’t mind taking risks with their money (54% vs. 50%).

  • Financial vigilance: Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say they regularly check credit card and bank statements for suspicious transactions (78% vs. 71%).

  • Weathering a financial storm: Millennials tend to be more confident they can handle a personal financial crisis (54% agree compared to 48% of Gen Z).

  • Keeping up with the economy: By 62% to 58%, millennials are more likely to take into account news about finance and the economy before making big purchases.