Gen Z would rather talk about anything but their finances

A new survey from Intuit reveals Gen Z finds politics and sex easier to talk about than finances, and how a TikTok trend is shaping the way they save…or don’t save.

Technology doesn’t always equal transparency, especially when it comes to Gen Z. When you’ve grown up with the ability to digitally alter your life and appearance with the click of a button, being honest gets lost in the code. This is particularly true when it comes to finance. 

Questions like “what is your salary?” or “how much is in your savings?” feel taboo and even rude, but are they? Why does discussing one’s financial state strike fear into the heart of so many?

A bar graph with the title: How comfortable is Gen Z discussing the following topics? In descending order, the bars read relationship drama 32%, politics 30%, sexual experiences 29%, parenting struggles 25%, infertility 23%, and credit card debt 23%.

Just as heavily doctored images of beauty on Instagram contribute to insecurities, “filtered finances” are having a massive impact on 18 to 25-year-olds. Increasingly, honest conversations around formerly taboo subjects are the norm. But new data shows that Gen Z would rather talk about politics, parenting struggles, sex, and infertility than debt, their salaries, and bad investments. In fact, despite their modern lives, they are part of the 50% of Americans who would rather talk to their children about sex than speak to them about their own finances.

A pie chart featuring two graphics reading: 73% of Gen Z say they feel they're falling behind in their life goals when others around them are succeeding so easily.

Survey data also identified a new trend: “soft saving” – the financial spinoff of the boundary-setting “soft life” trend focused on comfort and minimizing stress. Currently taking over TikTok feeds, this philosophy extends to money. A stark departure from the F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement, hustle culture and the Girlboss ethos dominating the past decade, Gen Z is embracing “soft saving.”  

Nearly 3 in 4 Gen Zers say they would rather have a better quality of life than extra money in the bank. In fact, experiences matter more than money to Gen Z, as 66% say they are only interested in finances as a means to support their current interests.

A bar graph featuring the text: 66% of Gen Z say they are only interested in finances as a means to support other interests.

Gen Z has more access to financial information than any other generation, but this doesn’t always translate into decision-making. From financial tips on TikTok to Reddit forums on investing, the survey illustrates that Gen Z is frequently paralyzed by conflicting advice and could benefit from new ways to save:

A pie chart with the words: Two-thirds of Gen Z say they're not sure they'll ever have enough money to retire.
  • Two-thirds say they know how to make a budget and track their income, but haven’t done it (66%).
  • Two-thirds know it’s important to invest, but they don’t know how (64%).
  • 63% say they have financial knowledge, but are unsure how to use it.
  • Nearly half bought cryptocurrency even though they don’t fully understand blockchain (48%).
  • Two-thirds say they’re not sure they’ll ever have enough money to retire (66%).

“The economic shocks of the last few years have transformed how Gen Z views success, and this survey revealed that prosperity means something different to everyone, particularly Zoomers,” said ​Brittney Castro, Intuit consumer financial advocate. “At Intuit, we believe that everyone should have the ability to prosper—however they define that for themselves. Intuit is delivering innovative and personalized financial solutions through TurboTax, Credit Karma, QuickBooks and Mailchimp that our customers need to make more money, save time, and build confidence.”

Additional survey findings include: 

  • Quality of life is being held hostage by poor finances, especially for Gen Z Americans, the generation that values quality of life the most. 67% of Gen Z feel like they will never have the things they want in life because of their financial situation.
  • 57% of Americans feel anxious going with friends to restaurants and bars they know they can’t afford (70% for Gen Z).
  • 54% of Americans say giving a gift for a special occasion would put a strain on their monthly finances (66% for Gen Z).
  • Nearly half of Americans (48%) say they’ve spent less time with friends or family due to financial constraints (61% for Gen Z).

Full survey results can be viewed ​​here

Survey Methodology

The Intuit Prosperity Index Survey was conducted Dec. 2-Dec. 9, 2022, via a 15-minute online questionnaire. Intuit surveyed 2,000 Americans ages 18+ plus an additional oversample of Gen Z (ages 18-25) in order to discover current attitudes around money and personal finance.