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Coughing up cash for non-essential purchases

Some younger Americans are falling prey to pricey fads, with a substantial 38% of Gen Z respondents confessing to buying a viral item like a Stanley water bottle just so that they could post about it online.

But others are also paying for convenience, with 70% of Gen Z and 68% of millennials relying on food delivery services because they felt too lazy to cook. By comparison, less than a quarter of baby boomers admitted to doing the same.

Nearly half of millennials are splurging on guilty pleasures such as subscription streaming services or clothing, while others say they’ve spent funds on lottery tickets and scratch offs.

In the meantime, nearly a third of baby boomers say they don’t spend money on guilty pleasures at all, while the majority of those who do splurge on occasion shell out less than $100 a month for these non-essentials.

Still, it’s not all unsustainable spending for young Americans — Gen Z and millennials were actually the most likely to take actions to improve their financial wellness, at 83% and 84% respectively, compared to 72% of boomers.

Here are three key actions young Americans are taking — that baby boomers aren’t.

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1. Loud budgeting

Gen Z isn’t trying to gatekeep their money hacks — in fact, they’ve taken several tips and tricks to their TikTok platforms and are more likely to share their budgeting habits with friends and family compared to older generations.

Take loud budgeting for example, the recent viral trend that encourages folks to be more transparent about what they can’t afford when it’s not in budget.

Or, cash-stuffing — a trendy name for the traditional “envelope stuffing” hack — where you take your paycheck in cash and store funds into various envelopes customized for your different spending and saving categories.

Younger generations are also less afraid to speak up and say no, such as requesting to pay for only the things they ordered at a group dinner, instead of splitting the bill equally.

2. Prioritizing their mental health and self care

Across generations, millennials were the most likely to say they prioritize their mental health over financial concerns. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Many young Americans are choosing to “soft save” instead of embracing hustle culture and experts say this can be a smart move if executed responsibly. The goal is to save and spend with intention instead of feeling anxious about your money.

Nearly 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials also report spending on “self care,” compared to just 18% of boomers. It’s important to consider your mental and physical wellness while taking care of your finances as well.

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3. Seeking out financial advice

Young Americans are also more likely to seek out financial advice from others. This can include friends and family and financial influencers they follow on social media — however, Gen Z and millennials are also more likely to work with professionals.

According to the survey, 10% of younger generations have hired an accountant or financial planner, roughly double the proportion of Gen X and baby boomers who reported doing the same.

Getting an extra pair of eyes on your financial situation, especially with an expert, can help you set reasonable expectations and work toward your money goals, whether that’s paying down your debts, reeling back your spending or saving for retirement.


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Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.


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