Financial Literacy for Generation Z

Financial Literacy for Generation Z

by A. Scott White, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®
President, Scott White Advisors

55% of older Gen Z-ers (18-23) say their parents have the greatest influence on how they deal with money.

Were your children or grandchildren born between 1996 and 2010? If so, they’re part of Generation Z—the generation following millennials. Gen Z-ers were the first generation to grow up with computers, smartphones, and the Internet. They have more information than ever at their fingertips—but they typically don’t know about financial literacy.

Financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. A strong foundation of financial literacy can help support various life goals, such as saving for education or retirement, using debt responsibly, and running a business. Early financial literacy teaches children how to have a good, lifelong relationship with money. When they learn financial literacy at an early age, and know proper money management skills, kids tend to keep them and use them throughout their lives.

In “The State of Gen Z,”1 The Center for Generational Kinetics reports about Generation Z:

  • 91% hope to buy their own house someday.
  • 69% think retirement savings should be a personal priority.
  • 66% worry about not being able to pay off school loans—or how to avoid the debt in the first place.
  • 55% of older Gen Z-ers (18-23) say their parents have the greatest influence on how they deal with money.
  • 36% don’t feel prepared to make financial decisions.

Asked if they wanted increased schooling on financial topics, 76% of Gen Z respondents said that they thought their high school should have offered a class on managing finances.2 But most states do not require financial literacy classes in the educational system,3 so it needs to be taught in the home or some other place.

Many Gen Z-ers grew up during the recession and housing bubble burst, see millennials struggling with college and other financial debt, and are increasingly aware of their finances and their need for financial literacy. As a result, a study by Raddon found that two-thirds of a group of 2,500 teens had already opened a bank account. But many face stress related to college savings, getting a job, renting an apartment, buying a home, and paying off debt after college.

Teaching your children or grandchildren good financial habits can help them make future education and career choices, save for retirement or avoid debt, and assist them as they prepare for their first job. Since 2003, the U.S. has recognized April as Financial Literacy Month to raise financial literacy awareness and promote the need for personal finance education among youth and adults.

How can you help your child or grandchild learn good financial habits?
Here are some resources.

Financial Planning for Young Adults: Created by the University of Illinois in partnership with the Certified Financial Planner Board, this Coursera-based online program includes 8 modules and is appropriate for users 12 and up. (free)

Smart About Money: Offered by the National Endowment for Financial Education, this online program offers several courses, including Money Basics, Retirement and Emergency Planning, and is appropriate for users 16 and up. (free)

Personal and Family Financial Planning: Created by the University of Florida and Michael S. Gutter, Ph.D., this Coursera-based online program is best for users 18 and up. (free)

Saving and Budgeting: This Khan Academy online course includes identifying financial priorities, and is appropriate for users 16 and up. (free)

Personal Financial Planning: This EdX-based online course includes discussions, quizzes and videos, and is appropriate for all age levels. (free)

Talking Cents: The University of Chicago’s program of 108 laminated cards that contain conversation-starting questions about money is appropriate for ages 7 and up. ($20)

1Why Gen Z is Approaching Money Differently Than Other Generations (

2Survey: Generation Z Keen on Learning About Personal Finance and Credit – Experian

3National High School Financial Literacy Report: Making the Grade 2017 | Center for Financial Literacy (

4Talking Cents – Financial Education Initiative | UChicago