Kids are interested, but not educated
The strong stock market of the past few years has led to a surge of young people interested in stocks and making fast profits. The GameStop fiasco in early 2021 is just one example of the stock-buying frenzies that have been triggered by “memestocks,” corporate shares that suddenly become popular through online buzz.
In a survey from Wells Fargo Bank last spring, 45% of teens reported becoming more interested in investing after the GameStop “short squeeze” frenzy.
The study also found that 35% of teens get financial advice from social media, while 34% have picked up their insights from websites and online articles.
“FinTok” (financial TikTok) is full of posts about how to make or spend money from experts and clout-chasers alike. For the average user, it can be hard to discern whose advice is trustworthy — especially when the bad advice sounds so appealing.
What worries Klontz is that young people may be only setting themselves up for failure — and major losses.
So financial education through social media seemed like an opportunity to counter all that bad advice.
“You’ve got two seconds to get people to stick around to see what you have to say,” says Klontz. “I found it like a professional challenge for me to take personal finance and psychology and money information and try to make short, punchy and entertaining [videos].”
His posts have helped balance out all that bad advice — and they’ve come at just the right time.
Influencing others intentionally
Millennial money expert Jessica Moorhouse started her blog in 2011 as a way of documenting her own journey figuring out her finances, but at a certain point, she turned her focus from her own self-education to helping others in their financial journey.
Moorhouse is particularly worried about the advice people are getting about cryptocurrencies. She says she has been offered “a lot of money” to promote crypto but refuses to do so.
“I'm probably leaving money on the table, but I don't care,” she says.
Since launching her blog, Moorhouse has gone on to add a podcast, Instagram account and a YouTube channel, and financial education has become her full-time job.
"If it seems scammy, listen to that voice inside you ... because that check is usually right," she says. "We all know what a get rich quick scam looks like; they've been around for years. So a lot of it has to do with, internally, what do you feel?"
Helping followers distinguish between good and bad advice
While Klontz says the advice he gives younger generations hasn’t changed in 20 years, the challenges young people face have. Misinformation spreads easily and quickly these days.
“There's no barrier to entry in terms of who can put out a video on any topic,” says Klontz. “And with the younger generation, they don't care about credentials as much as they care about clout.”
On top of that, it’s easy these days to go viral or make a lot of money marketing faulty products or strategies, which makes it harder for consumers to discern between the “good” and “bad” advice they see online.
Moorhouse says that’s why it’s so important to look beyond just social media for information — read books, look into the credentials of those you’re taking advice from, and consume everything with a grain of salt.
“It's kind of like the fitness industry,” says Moorhouse. “You’ve got to be so careful who you follow and trust … are they going to give you bad information about meal planning and diet and exercising because they’re not actually trained to become a personal trainer?”
And the apps themselves are beginning to get in on the conversation. In fact, TikTok has been working with Klontz since 2020 through its #LearnOnTikTok initiative, helping him learn how to get his educational content in front of more eyes.
But the best thing about Klontz’s TikTok fame is how his nephews and other young relatives have reacted.
“'I’m the cool uncle, which is really nice,” says Klontz. “I have some clout — some of my cousin's kids, when I get around them, will be looking at me like I'm a celebrity.”
And even better, they come to him for financial advice, which he’s always happy to share.
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