Conversations about money can be quite awkward. Personal finance is, well, personal. Money impacts almost every major decision and aspect of our lives, and conversations about it can cause us to feel anxious, shameful, or embarrassed.
Recent studies have found that most Americans are more comfortable talking with friends (and even strangers!) about other vulnerable topics—such as relationship troubles, infidelity, and politics—than they are talking about money. Another study found that 70% of Americans think it’s “rude” to talk about money and see it as a taboo topic.
But thanks to Gen Z, those statistics are set to change. Gen Z is the fast-growing, diverse generation born after 1996. We might be your kids or grandkids, and we are talking about money in ways like never before.
Every day, Gen Z-ers like me across the world are having conversations about money. From how money impacts us personally, to socio-economic issues like the wage gap, student loan debt, and systemic inequality, we’re discussing these issues mostly right from the devices at our fingertips.
Here are three ways that Gen Z is disrupting conversations about personal finance and what other generations can learn from them:
1. Financial Literacy Can Be Fun and Relatable
Gen Z’s increased desire for financial education coupled with the dominance of social media has ushered in a new wave of influencers: financial influencers.
Young creators like Haley Sacks (@mrsdowjones aka “the financial popstar”), Tori Dunlap (@herfirst100k), and a handful of others have built massive followings online through creating content that largely consists of TikToks and memes about financial topics such as budgeting, loans, wall street, stocks, ETFs, and more.
Their content is informative yet humorous and relatable, often including references to pop culture and current events.
Through its Willow Spotlight series, Willow is also sharing the unique money mindsets and stories of women from various industries and walks of life. These casual conversations remind women that it’s okay to talk about money and to advocate for yourself.
The key takeaway? Conversations about money and teaching financial literacy don’t have to be dry and boring. In fact, this approach to making these conversations relatable and fun can bring more perspectives to the table, even if that table is your family dinner table. Start with simple topics like budgeting and why it’s important. You’ll be well on your way to creating a safe, open atmosphere to talk with your kids and grandkids about money.
2. Money Apps Can Limit Judgement
It’s time to take judgment out of money conversations and social interactions. One way that Gen Z approaches this is through use of apps like Public (a social network-like app where people can connect and learn about investing and the stock market) and Venmo (an interactive payments app used to pay others or request money).
These apps have further opened up the conversation by enabling people to comfortably have discussions about money with friends, family, and even strangers on the internet. Venmo has become so popular that it’s even become a commonly used verb. People Venmo each other for anything from a bag of chips to monthly rent payments.
The result? Normalizing conversations about money. So the next time your child or grandchild talks about something they’d like to buy, open up the conversation to talk more about how money can help us achieve our goals.
3. We Can Use Our Dollars to Make A Difference
For centuries, money has often been associated with greed and corruption. It’s no wonder the topic can be difficult to discuss.
But money doesn’t have to just have negative connotations. One way Gen Z is bridging the gap between money and meaning is by leveraging a combination of the tools at our fingertips. Many people who post on Instagram consistently include Venmo names and information about charities and causes that people are raising funds for, making donations easy and more personal.
By realizing the impact that money can have for good, we can help improve our relationship with it and with each other. Talk to your friends and loved ones about the power of money to help advance causes they are most passionate about. Ask what their favorite organizations to support are.
If we shy away from talking about money, we can negatively impact our financial health. From accessing more earnings to building better daily habits, having open conversations about money can have huge benefits across generations.
Gen Z is talking about money in ways that no generation has previously. We hope that our approaches to having candid conversations make it easier for others to open up about money, too.
Next time you’re talking to a Gen Z’er, ask them about how they discuss finances with their friends. You might come away with a few more tips to talk with your friends, and ultimately improve your financial health. Together we can turn this once taboo topic into a fun and inclusive one, and ultimately empower our own finances.
Miracle Olatunji is Willow’s Gen Z Advisor. She is the founder of OpportuniMe; has been featured in Forbes, Technical.ly, Business.org, ReadWrite, and more; was named to BostInno’s 25 Under 25; and is a Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) career prep fellow. Miracle is studying Business Administration at Northeastern University.