Generation Z grows up

By Nicky Sullivan

We’ve all spent so long obsessing about of the ways in which millennials are so prodigiously lazy/creative/productive/restless/stuck/spoiled/hard-done-by and all of the other things they are exalted for/accused of; that it’s easy to forget that their little brothers and sisters have been quietly growing up.


In fact, they’re already old enough to be lending money to their financially strung-out older brothers and sisters. 


'Generation Z’ is defined as those who were born after 1995 and there are already more of them than there are millennials. In fact, at 25% of the US population, it is expected that they will account for 40% of US consumers by 2020.


This is the generation that found their way out of the womb using Google Maps and has also been variously referred to as Gen Tech, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Gen Wii and the iGeneration, or iGen. Are you detecting a theme here? 


Unlike their Gen X parents, who can only be shaken out of their exhausted torpor when someone throws on Smells Like Teen Spirit and cranks it up, or their millennial siblings, the iGen doesn’t really remember a world in which 9/11 hadn’t happened, or the iPod didn’t exist. But they did grow up watching their families freak out over the worldwide financial crisis and it’s taught them a thing or two. So, who is paying attention to how they’re responding? 


Well, we are for starters. In more than one sense, they’re iamMoney’s perfect customer. Having witnessed the knots their parents and older siblings got themselves into, Generation Z peeps are an abundantly cautious bunch. They use their technology not just to book cheap taxis, order cheap food and organise cheap travel; but also to check and compare prices on everything they buy on those occasions when they do cross the threshold of a bricks and mortar shop. 


The iGeneration is acutely aware of the importance of education and they’re willing to work hard to get one. They also seem to take a more pragmatic approach to it. An education is a path to making money, not to intellectual enrichment. Expect applications for Philosophy and English Literature to fall while more vocational degree courses quickly fill up. Personally, we think the world is a richer, more understanding place with a healthy share of philosophers and critical thinkers, so we hope that the balance will even out over time. (Imagine a world populated almost entirely by dentists, bio-technicians and marketing managers. What would we ever talk about?)

To help secure that education, or secure their path out of education without debt, many from this generation are already saving, or working on strategies to help them save. More than 25% expect to graduate debt-free. According to another survey, 64% have already begun researching on their own or talking to others about financial planning. Now, Gen Xers out there, put your hand on your heart and tell us whether you were that far up the curve before you were 24. We won’t judge you, we promise… 


Which is not to say that money is not a problem for the iGeneration. In fact, it’s a big one. This generation is a cautious one, savers rather than spenders, and constantly on the look-out for efficiencies. These are all great, but essential financial management skills are still lacking, which creates exposure to financial risk.


The good thing is that Gen Z already knows this is a problem. The even better thing is that we are here to help with acres of financial education courses and tools - and they’re all free. If that’s not a great deal, we can’t tell you what is.