How Millennials and Gen Z Approach Money
24 Jun, 2024


Marnus Mostert, Franchise Principal & Financial Adviser at Consult, by Momentum


From saving to splurging – here’s how millennials and Gen Z handle money differently


One generation still holds on to their skinny jeans, while the other only thrifts for vintage clothing. One grew up without the internet, the other doesn’t know what a flip phone is.


But Millennials and Gen Zs differ in more than their cultural tastes and touchpoints – they also approach money differently. Marnus Mostert, Franchise Principal & Financial Adviser at Consult by Momentum, offers insights into these generational contrasts and the factors driving their financial decisions.


Millennials: Came of age during economic turbulence


Millennials, typically born between 1981 and 1996, display cautious spending habits and a strong inclination toward saving and investing. Their financial behaviour is significantly influenced by the Global Recession of 2008.


“While they were trying to get a foothold on adulthood, the world’s financial systems collapsed around them, taking with it the housing market. This instilled a sense of financial insecurity, as the safety nets millennials were told to expect in life – job security, trustworthy banks – evaporated. That’s why this generation tends to prioritise financial stability, often using budgeting apps, tracking expenses and investing in retirement savings through vehicles like retirement annuities and tax-free savings accounts.


“Additionally, the rise of the gig economy has pushed many millennials to seek multiple income streams, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and a careful approach to debt management,” he adds.


Gen Z: Digital natives with a focus on instant gratification


In contrast, Gen Zs, born between 1997 and 2012, have grown up in a digital-first world, making them more comfortable with using fintech apps for banking, investing and even cryptocurrencies.


“They prioritise convenience and instant access to goods and services, often facilitated by buy-now-pay-later services. This generation is more likely to seek financial education online and through social media influencers, which has shaped their approach to money management. Gen Z values financial flexibility and tends to save for immediate goals such as travel, technology, and education rather than long-term investments,” Mostert explains.


Millennials: Focus on long-term financial security


Millennials often focus on long-term financial security, aiming to buy homes, save for retirement, and invest in stable assets. They value experiences but are willing to save for these rather than seeking immediate gratification.


Gen Z: Want financial independence and flexibility – but spends impulsively


This generation often invests in new technologies and cryptocurrencies over traditional financial products. They are more inclined to spend on immediate needs and desires, reflecting their preference for short-term rewards. Gen Z uses apps and online platforms for budgeting, investing, and financial education, making financial management more accessible and efficient. They are also adept at finding and using financial resources and advice from a wide array of digital content, including social media, blogs, and podcasts, says Mostert.


Additionally, their focus on sustainability and ethical investing is something other generations can learn from. “However, Gen Z needs to work on balancing their preference for instant gratification with long-term financial planning. While their embrace of technology and innovation in finance is commendable, it can sometimes lead to impulsive spending and inadequate preparation for future financial needs.


“Developing a stronger focus on long-term savings and investments and understanding the importance of financial buffers would help them build more robust financial security,” he adds.


Mostert offers six tips for Gen Z for better money management:


  1. Balance immediate and long-term goals: Enjoy the present while planning for the future. Allocate a portion of income to long-term savings and investments.
  2. Stay informed: Learn about financial products, market trends, and money management strategies. Use online resources and seek advice from certified financial advisors.
  3. Build an emergency fund: Create a financial safety net to cover unexpected expenses and avoid high-interest debt – you should aim to have a few months’ expenses saved.
  4. Avoid impulsive spending: Be mindful of spending habits, especially with buy-now-pay-later services. Prioritise needs over wants.
  5. Invest wisely: Diversify your investments to mitigate risks. This means considering a mix of innovative and traditional investments.
  6. Find a trusted financial planner: A certified financial planner can help you achieve your short, medium, and long-term needs.




@Marnus Mostert, Consult by Momentum
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