Written by: Graham Shaw
If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s financial stress. And this is no different for members of the youngest generation, Generation Z.
Despite having just entered the workforce, a whopping seven out of 10 Gen Zers say they’re moderately to very stressed about finances. This is according to a new survey on Gen Z’s financial wellness by my team at Lifeworks.
Top Stressors and Obstacles
Millennials face a unique set of challenges and financial wellness covers several aspects of one’s ability to manage money. As the youngest generation in the workforce, Gen Z has both short-term and long-term concerns.
According to our survey, the financial situations they’re most concerned about include the following:
- Purchasing a house
- Living paycheck to paycheck
- Building emergency fund and savings
- Starting retirement planning
- Managing student loan debt
- Creating an investment portfolio
Not only are they counting down to payday, but also they worry about their future, in terms of retirement, real estate, and general investments.
This is no surprise when you consider the fact that wages are stagnant and cost of living is soaring. Not to mention, Gen Z employees are likely carrying student loan debt. In fact, our survey found that cost of living and student loan debt are the two most pressing obstacles they’re facing.
As if this all wasn’t bad enough, a March 2018 study from LendEDU found nearly 40 percent of Gen Zers say they either don’t believe or they’re unsure they’ll be able to fully repay their student loan debt.
The Professional Impact
The workplace is stressful enough as it is, but add financial stress into the mix and it becomes even harder to focus.
According to our survey, distractions and health concerns related to financial wellness are prevalent among Gen Z employees. Forty percent of Gen Zers say they’re distracted and even handle financial matters during the workday, and 19 percent say they miss work because their financial stress is impacting their health.
And if employees stall professionally, that further hurts their financial health, as they won’t earn promotions or pay raises as quickly.
How to Take Back Control
Employees struggling with financial wellness want help, and fortunately, employers are taking action.
The 2018 Health and Well-Being Survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health found that a whopping 90 percent of employers are including financial wellness programs as part of their benefits package. This meets the growing demand for financial wellness programs by today’s youngest employees.
Our survey found that 84 percent of Gen Zers say it’s important that employers offer financial wellness programs. However, these programs are just one piece of the puzzle. Members of Gen Z (and every generation) need to also be willing to help themselves. Here’s how:
Take it one day at a time
Start with the day-to-day. Every month, establish a budget along with a spending plan. This gets you in the routine of checking your money on a daily schedule. The more you engage with your finances, the more aware and mindful you are with your spending.
Focus on longer-term goals that address your top stressors. For example, many people don’t have enough to cover emergencies. In fact, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that two-thirds of Americans would struggle to get $1,000 to cover an emergency.
Your stress is telling you it’s time to take action. Start automating transfers into your savings account. Even if it’s only a few dollars every paycheck, you want to start ‘paying yourself’ first.
Another common stressor is student loans. According to Make Lemonade research, the average student from the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in loans. This is a big pile of debt to get out from under.
Find a repayment strategy that fits your monthly budget but also chips away at your principal faster. A common approach is making payments to your lender twice per month. Simply split your monthly payment into two installments and submit your payments bi-weekly.
Your financial wellness is important for your present and future self. Take action today so you can enjoy a less stressful tomorrow.
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