4 Healthy Ways Gen Z and Millennials Can Cope With Financial Stress

Man stressed while working on laptop.
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If you are feeling the strain of financial stress and anxiety this holiday season, you aren’t the only one. According to a recent survey conducted by Robinhood, 84% of Americans aged 18 to 57 reported that they were feeling financially stressed about money.

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Unfortunately, no one is immune to financial stress from time to time — no matter what tax bracket they might be in. Even high-income Americans experience financial stress 80% of the time. While middle and low-income Americans are experiencing more financial stress, at 87% and 85% respectively, financial stress impacts almost everyone. 

Financial stressors also differ by generation. While 45% of Gen Z and 41% of millennials feel stress while thinking about the future, Gen X is more financially stressed by parking tickets, unexpected medical bills and other unforeseen expenses. Due to Americans feeling the strain of finances on their mental well-being, here’s a look at some additional survey insights — along with four healthy ways for millennials and Gen Z to handle the financial stress they are feeling.

One In Three Millennials Are Drinking To Cope With Financial Stress 

Different generations react differently to financial stress. The study revealed that one in three millennials drink to cope with financial stress. Other generations are impacted by financial stress in different ways. Forty-eight percent of Gen Z, 52% of millennials and 41% of Gen X make or amend their budget due to financial stress. 

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With December being a high-spending month for many American families, now is a great time to check on your financial health and reflect on the money habits that are benefiting you — and the ones creating more financial stress. Here are four ways you can cope with financial stress in a beneficial way.

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Healthy Option #1: Boost Your Income

If you’re feeling some serious financial stress, cutting coupons and opting out of family travel may not be taking the edge off. Finding creative ways to boost your income instead can be the key to being able to sleep soundly at night. Here are a couple ways to do that.

Take On a Side Gig

Taking on a side gig can be a great choice for those looking to supplement their income. Some popular side gigs include dog-walking, tutoring, coaching, food delivery and running a blog. These jobs can offer more flexibility while adding to your paycheck from a full-time job.

Negotiate Your Paycheck

With inflation and a competitive labor market, your employer might be more likely than usual to offer you a raise. Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about a pay increase in light of the current economic climate.

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Healthy Option #2: Avoid Comparing Your Finances 

While comparison is the thief of joy, it can also be the enemy of progress. By avoiding comparing your financial situation to those around you, you can feel empowered to focus on your own financial journey. 

“The truth is that many people are doing better than you, and many are doing worse,” said Jay Zigmont, Ph.D., CFP® and founder of Childfree Wealth. “You should only compare your finances against your goals. If you are making progress toward the goals that matter to you, then that is good. Start by figuring out the life you want to live, and then make your finances fit.”

Healthy Option #3: Improve Your Financial Literacy

Sadly, very few Americans learn how to budget or prepare for retirement in high school or college. With formal financial education left out of the American educational system, many are left on their own to develop the financial skills that work for them.

“Start by reading books like the Simple Path to Wealth, or The Total Money Makeover,” Zigmont said. “Learn how to budget and get out of debt. Don’t worry about the past or mistakes you made, just focus on making improvements for the future. The best investment you can make right now is learning how to manage your money.”

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Healthy Option #4: Automatically Add to a Savings Account

A great way to avoid spending beyond your means and landing in a stressful financial situation can be to meet with your employer’s payroll department.

“Many employers have the ability to send your paycheck to more than one bank account, said Herman “Tommy” Thompson Jr., a financial planner with Innovative Financial Group in Atlanta. “Choose a dollar amount and have this routed directly to your savings account with the remainder to checking. This is a simple and easy way to ensure that when a financial emergency occurs, there is an emergency fund available to fall back on.”

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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