Gen Z, and parents, preparing to live financially fit while in college is causing anxiety and stress on the Gen Z population and their parents. How can they prepare better?
It is no longer news that the young Gen Z adults are stressed out and anxious over so many things while in college. This stress and anxiety has resulted in an alarming rise in poor mental health in the United States. About 91% of Gen Z adults have been quoted to have complained about physical or emotional symptoms such as depression or anxiety which is closely connected with stress. Symptoms of their stress include worries about health-related concerns, mass shootings, rising suicide rates, unemployment, sexual harassment, assault reports, with financial worries ranking top. Even the parents of the Gen Z adults are not left out of the financial stress, likely because they experienced financial hardship during the great recession or because the majority of the Gen Z adults still rely on them to help with funding of their college education, which is now very expensive. According to a survey carried out by the American Psychological Association, four out of every five Gen Z adults are worried about money matters.
Who are the Gen Z Adults?
Gen Z is also referred to as Generation Z. They are persons born after 1995 i.e. between 1996 and 2010. They are currently between ages 9 and 23 with the majority of them either considering, applying, attending or graduating from college. Gen Z adults are 18-23 years of age. They are usually referred to as an independent generation who are financially pragmatic, purpose driven, socially smart and possess all qualities of being successful in college but they have grown up in an age rife with financial struggles, high pressure, anxiety and uncertainty.
Many Gen Z adults gain admission into their various colleges without important financial management skills. This increases their anxiety and stress and expose them to financial risk. Many of them lack the skill and ability to balance essential financial management training with common sense pragmatic application. Some of them struggle balancing their studies with college freedom, social engagements and work to financially sustain themselves while in college. Meanwhile some seem academically and socially ready but are challenged psychologically and financially.
Common Traits Associated with Gen Z Adults
Independence and Privacy
The Gen Z adults prefer a life of independence ranging from financial independence, work independence to personal independence. They always want to be in charge of things and situations happening around them. They dislike relying on others for success because of their individualistic characteristics. They also love their privacy and hate intrusion of privacy.
Entrepreneurial in Nature
Gen Z adults are entrepreneurial in nature. They are gradually shifting from the idea of going to school and ending up with desk jobs to having their own businesses and companies. This has been made possible with the internet where they have access to different resources which serve as blueprint for their businesses.
The Gen Z adults are highly competitive in nature. They always want to be the best in all that they do. Competition and impatience seem to be the driving force of this generation.
Where Gen Z Adults Usually Get It Wrong Financially
· Only about 14% of Gen Z adults know that they ought to keep 6 – 12 months expenses in emergency savings.
· Only about 29% of them have the knowledge that anyone with many credit cards must close the accounts to reduce the urge of always using the credit cards.
· About 50% don’t know how to calculate their net worth.
· At least four out of ten don’t understand that late payments remain on their credit history for 6-7 years even after it is paid.
· Many Gen Z adults do not know that inflation is included in their return on savings.
· Four out of every ten student fail to check their account balance.
· They fail to create or prepare a budget.
· Many Gen Z adults buy things they don’t need such as things to improve their mood.
· Most of them buy things way beyond their budget, things they can’t afford.
· Only about six in ten admit to spending less when their resources are low.
What Can Be Done to Help the Gen Z Adults and Their Parents Combat the High Level of Financial Pressure and Anxiety Gen Z Adults Face During College Life?
Gen Z adults must try to avoid debts at all means and build credit. If this is unachievable, you can obtain small and manageable debts. This grants the opportunity to obtain loans and take out mortgages for very important financial decision later in life.
Educating the Gen Z on smart debt management should be made a priority. This will help them manage their finances better and give them a strong foundation for long term financial planning and preparation.
Educating Gen Z adults on Essential Financial Management
Engaging in financial literacy programs especially at early stages of high school or sooner will help Gen Z adults make excellent financial decisions once they enter college and become first-time independents. For instance, many Gen Z adults lack excellent budget skills, so they need to be taught different methods of preparing excellent budgets to help them manage their spending effectively. Being a college student literally means that you mostly use a credit card as a means of financial survival, so you need a good budget.
The Essential financial management program should include the following courses:
· Renting and buying a home
· Automobiles investment and other purchases
· Planning and saving for college debt
· Credit and credit history
· Budgeting covering everyday expenses
· Employment and money management
· Responsible credit behavior like avoiding late payments
Investing in Mental Health and Well-being
Colleges and companies should invest and pay more attention to the mental health and well-being of Gen Zers. They need mental health counseling and open discussions. There are several online therapy apps such as Talkspace, Breakthrough, Joyable etc. that help in offering mental health services and assessing the emotional well-being of humans. This will go a long way in helping Gen Zers ease pressure, depression and anxiety.
Managing Their Money Themselves
The moment Gen Z adults realize that they can’t build their net-worth until they build their self-worth, they will continue to be under financial pressure. They should learn to manage their money themselves by saving at least 20% of their monthly income.
Working as a Student
Another way of relieving stress by Gen Z adults is to work temporarily during their free hours while in college. This temporary work plays important financial roles. Gen Z adults can apply for temporary work at the following companies: Uber/Lyft, Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, Taskrabbit, Ebay, Amazon etc.
Parents also need to put efforts into educating their children about finances at a very tender age to reduce the financial stress and anxiety faced by the Gen Z adults and themselves. They also need to save up adequately for their retirement to be financially independent.
The education efforts include:
· Teaching and helping them to prepare simple budgets.
· Being worthy examples by withdrawing cash to pay for their services rather than the frequent use of credit cards.
Teaching and helping them to save to buy personal stuff by encouraging them to save parts of their pocket money rather than wasting it.