Gen Z Teens Exceed Past Generations in Financial Literacy

Teenage boy lying on his bed while concentrating on homework for his exams.
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Financial services company Step recently conducted a survey of Gen Z teens and young adults and found them to be more willing to discuss money and more concerned about financial literacy than generations prior. 

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The Gen Z cohort, which comes after millennials and describes people born in 1997 or later, seems to know more about money than one might expect for people their age. 

According to the survey, which polled 1,290 teens ages 13 to 17: 

  • 70% know what a credit score is
  • 56% are aware of cryptocurrency
  • 55% understand how the stimulus bill works

More significantly, 97% say financial literacy is important.

Gen Z: Let’s Talk About Money

To contrast, a 2019 T.D. Ameritrade survey conducted by Harris Poll revealed that people would rather discuss politics, health or religion than talk about money with their peers. Time and the pandemic may have changed these views slightly. In a 2020 survey, 78% of adults said they could benefit from advice and answers to financial questions from a professional. Nonetheless, only 25% said they would seek help from a nonprofit credit counseling agency if they needed help, indicating a continued reluctance to talk about money with strangers. 

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Gen Z, on the other hand, seems to show little hesitation when it comes to learning more about managing their finances, and 38% find themselves lacking the educational resources they need to achieve financial independence.  

“Teens need products that can be easily embedded within their daily lives and prioritize education as much as functionality,” said Step Founder and CEO CJ MacDonald in a press release. 

How Teens Define Financial Independence

Just like adults, teens have varying definitions for financial independence. According to the survey, 40% classify financial independence as “not having to rely on their parents for money.” Another 22% have longer-term financial goals and view financial independence as the ability to “pursue their dreams without restraint.” 

For some teens, this could mean continuing their education without starting their life with financial debt. For others, it could mean starting a business. 

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What Teens Wish Banks Knew About Their Money Views

As members of Gen Z seek better ways to manage their money, many struggle with finding the right bank to meet their needs. They don’t want to settle for putting their money in the same bank their parents use. The survey discovered that teens are seeking financial institutions that are: 

  • Trustworthy (34%)
  • Built for teens (26%)
  • Fee-free (24%)  

The survey indicated that Gen Z feels today’s banks may not understand their needs and may harbor misconceptions about today’s teens. For instance, 42% of those surveyed say banks think teens don’t care about their financial futures, while 25% say banks don’t think they make enough money to be seen as valuable customers. Finally, 20% of Gen Z says banks think their generation is “okay with paying fees.” 

As avoiding fees is an important step toward better budgeting, money-conscious GenZers would prefer a fee-free bank that provides more than just a safe place to hold their money, such as financial tools and educational initiatives to help this generation carve out a brighter financial path than their parents. 

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
Gen Z Teens Exceed Past Generations in Financial Literacy
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