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Gen Z vs Millennials: How Do They Think Differently About Money?

Research shows that Gen Z thinks much differently about money than Millennials

Everyone tends to see Generation Z as the “younger sibling” of Millennials. So wouldn’t these two groups think about money in the same way? Apparently not! A new national study from The Center for Generational Kinetics reveals that Gen Z thinks very differently from Millennials when it comes to money.

In fact, the 2017 study titled The State of Gen Z® shows that in several key areas—from money to wages—Gen Z members view money and their financial futures very differently than the Millennials.

Generation Z

Although members of Gen Z did not experience the Great Recession as working professionals, which Millennials clearly did, Gen Z did witness how their parents lost their homes, their jobs, and their retirement. Since then, these emerging adults have been well educated about financial matters and are already handling their own money much differently than Millennials did when they were their age. In fact, the study The Center led reveals these facts about Gen Z:

  • 20% of Gen Z stated that debt needs to be avoided at all costs
  • 56% of Gen Z have talked about saving money with their parents within the last several months.
  • 21% of Gen Z opened a savings account by age 10.
  • 12% of Gen Z is already saving for retirement. Wow! And these are adults age 21 and under!
  • Many members of Gen Z under 18 are already working part-time or freelance jobs, and 24% of Gen Z plans to continue working through college.


Older Millennials are still recovering from the Great Recession. And although Millennials, like Generation Z, are postponing making expensive purchases—such as buying a home—they’re not as optimistic about their financial futures as Gen Z. Here are some ways that Millennials think about their money:

  • Although Millennials know that they need to save money, they’re more eager to spend money on social life and exciting experiences.
  • Millennials may still hold considerable debt from credit cards and student loans, and know they need to resolve those issues.
  • A lot of Millennials realize that they will have to postpone retirement—or even forget about it completely. Many seek flexible, entrepreneurial jobs doing what they love as they believe they’ll have to work long after they reach retirement age.

So why do Millennials and Gen Z think differently about money? Because members of Gen Z saw the Great Recession but were too young to have it hold them back. At the same time, Gen Z sees how Millennials are buckling under the weight of their student loan debt. Combine that with Gen X parenting and its clear to see that Gen Z is taking much more steps towards saving money and is more pragmatic about their spending. For Gen Z, working and saving in an improving economy gives them both stability and options. For Millennials, on the other hand, when it comes to having money for home ownership and their retirement years, they face an uphill battle.

From delivering custom research that uncovers hidden trends to acclaimed keynote speeches that inspire audiences of every generation, we help you solve your toughest generational challenges.

Contact us to see how we can help you solve your generational challenges and unlock the potential of every generation.

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