Why Gen Z is right to worry about money
In 2021, Lauren moved from Birmingham, UK to London to advance her early healthcare career. Before moving, Lauren, 25, worked for the NHS as a theater support worker, a position paying £20,000 ($22,380). His new London-based job has boosted his salary to £38,000. But even with the pay raise, Lauren still struggles to balance her finances.
As the cost of living and inflation soar in the UK, Lauren says she is still unable to put money aside – or is even interested in trying to save – and that she is often overdrawn in her bank account for basic purchases. “I was basically on minimum wage. Now I have a pretty decent salary, especially for my age, but I still have an overdraft,” Lauren says. Her salary may be “decent,” but it doesn’t. isn’t enough for London – and not because Lauren spends frivolously.”I’ve been in London for a year, mid-month, using my overdraft, and I’m pretty comfortable with that now.”
Lauren plans to buy a house as she gets older, but she’s unsure how — or if — she’ll be able to make it happen. Her financial situation prevented her from planning for the long term. “I don’t think massively of too many years in the future… I’m going to keep working, and maybe I’ll buy a house at some point somewhere, and that’s about the limit of what I kind of get myself.
The story is largely the same for young people in other countries who are also feeling the effects of the rising cost of living. Maddie, a 25-year-old woman based in Pennsylvania, USA, works as a wellness coordinator at a retirement home. Despite her degree in exercise science, her paycheck doesn’t go far enough.
“I only get paid $17 an hour, and my maximum hours are 35 hours a week. My rent is $850 a month. Plus my car, my internet, everything you need to live. It’s like I’ve been barely getting by lately,” Maddie says. She considers taking a second job in the gig economy to supplement her salary, but the price of gas near her is high enough that she wonders if it’s worth it. “It feels like there’s no end in sight and it’s never going to get better.”
Around the world, many Gen Zers, like Lauren and Maddie, find themselves in similar financially insecure situations and report feeling the strain of the current economic instability. Data from Deloitte’s 2022 Global Gen Z and Millennial Survey shows that a third of Gen Z respondents worry about the cost of living above all other concerns; 45% live paycheck to paycheck and just over a quarter doubt a comfortable retirement.
Although the effects of an unstable economy affect everyone, Gen Z – those born approximately between 1997 and 2012 – are particularly concerned about money. Just getting settled, their finances are taking a hit in the short term, which could impact their ability – or inability – to navigate their way and plan for the future. And unfortunately, say the experts, they are right to worry.