What Will Gen Z & Millennials Spend Their Stimulus Checks On?

Mar 11 2021

With a new round of stimulus heading to bank accounts, today we asked Gen Z and Millennials exactly what they’ll spend their checks on…

Congress just passed a COVID-19 relief bill that could send eligible Americans a check for $1400. YPulse’s most recent finance and spending report detailed the impacts that COVID has had on young consumers’ economic wellbeing and employment—and many in these generations have been hit with financial strains during this time. The stimulus payments could be arriving in bank accounts as soon as this weekend, so today we used our on-demand survey platform PULSE to ask young consumers what exactly they’ll be spending that money on, and whether it will make a difference in their lives.

But before we get to that, exactly how many young people expect to get the stimulus payment?

The majority of 16-34-year-olds believe that they will be getting this upcoming stimulus check, and a little over a quarter are unsure if they will receive it. Millions of Gen Z and Millennials could be getting the checks—so, what do they plan to spend them on?

We included a variety of response options for this question, ranging from frugal-minded to more frivolous, but young consumers’ stimulus check plans lean practical: 42% say they plan to save the money, 29% will use it to pay bills, and 28% say they’ll use it to pay off debt. When stimulus checks were sent out in April of 2020, we asked this question as an open-response, and food and groceries ranked at the top of the list. That of course was in the earlier days of the pandemic, when panic-buying canned goods was still a major trend. In the almost year since then, priorities have shifted, and clearly saving money is a major concern. In fact, our recent finance report found that saving money is the top financial goal that young people have for 2021.

Interestingly (especially in the wake of the GameStock scandal) our PULSE survey found 18% of young people plan to use their stimulus for investing or stocks. It’s been reported that 25-34-year-old online investors plan to spend half their stimulus on stocks—and our data shows that could very well be the case. Prepare for the flurry of stock market activity among young investors that we saw after last years’ stimulus to be repeated.

But clearly most young people plan to give their financial stability a boost with these checks by using them to pad savings or pay down debts. But will it be enough to make a difference? We asked:

The majority (65%) of young people surveyed in our on-demand PULSE say that the stimulus will make a difference in helping their finances, while about a third say that it’s not enough. CreditCards.com recently reported that over half of Millennials have accrued more credit card debt as a result of COVID, and YPulse data shows that savings rates have dropped for many. While the stimulus might not be enough for everyone to regain some financial stability, it’s clear than many young people believe that it will make a difference for them.

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