NEW GEN Z 101: Unlock & Outlast Microtrends

Gen Z & Millennials’ Top Financial Goals Right Now

Apr 05 2022


Young people are still recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic, while recalibrating their life plans. So, what are their financial goals for this year?


TL;DR:

  • Young consumers are focused on saving money and increasing their income
  • Gen Z is more likely to prioritize finding a job or buying a new car
  • Millennials want to be debt free or buy a house / apartment

Two years into the pandemic, many young consumers are starting to recover from its financial impacts, and spending is trending up. But these generations have been finding new priorities, making new life plans, and changing career tracks during this time of upheaval. YPulse research has found that 65% say their life plans were disrupted by COVID, and 45% say their goals have changed because of it.

As these generations move into the future with recalibrated norms and preferences, we are watching how their financial decisions are being impacted. YPulse’s recent finance and spending monitor dives into Gen Z and Millennials’ spending, savings, bills and more to see where they stand today. Every year, we also examine their financial goals, asking the open-end question: What is your top financial goal for 2022? In the midst of their financial recovery, here’s what they told us:

Their Top Financial Goals for 2022
Among 13-39-year-olds 

  1. Save money
  2. Increase income
  3. Live comfortably / Financial stability
  4. Be debt free
  5. Find a job
  6. Buy a house / apartment
  7. Invest
  8. Buy a car
  9. Become rich / millionaire
  10. Start a business / company
  11. Financial independence
  12. Pay for school / university
  13. Bills / Rent / Expenses
  14. Build good credit score
  15. Manage my money better

Saving money is the top financial goal for young people today

“Save money” and “increase income” are at the top of Gen Z and Millennials’ financial goals for 2022, while getting to a spot where they have financial stability took the third spot. Of course, we’ve been telling you that the pandemic financially impacted young consumers in a negative way. But the crisis also highlighted the importance of having emergency savings for many. Some respondents are saving in case of unexpected downturns, or other events. As one respondent put it, “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a real eye opener in regards to future and security that comes along with it. Having an emergency fund has really enable[d] me [to] get by during hard times.”

But many young consumers tell us they’re saving for something very specific, and have a very specific number in mind as their savings goal. Travel and specific products were mentioned by many as the objects of their savings desires, with one respondent noting “because unfortunately you can’t get amazon wishlist stuff for free.” It’s an indication that financial brands should be finding ways to help these generations work towards their short-term goals. Of course, moving toward major milestones like buying cars, houses, and going to college are also encompassed in the goal of saving money.

Some Gen Z and Millennials are trying to teach themselves more about finances in order to achieve their financial goals. Our Self-Taught trend research found that one of Gen Z and Millennials’ top skills this year is to learn financial / money management, which Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say they want to learn—and financial institutions and brands from Charles Schwab to Chime have been finding ways to support young people and educate them on how to be more financially savvy.

Gen Z and Millennials’ financial goals aren’t identical
Saving money and increasing their income are top financial goals for both Gen Z and Millennials. But thanks to life stage, some of their other top goals are unique:

Finding a job is one of Gen Z’s top priorities
Since most of them are still in high school or college, they’re in a phase of life when they’re looking for jobs for extra income or entry-level roles or internships after high school or during their undergraduate studies. Some companies and brands have even been creating dream jobs for Gen Z to support them. The gen is more likely to have buying a car as their financial goal. While Millennials are more likely to have the finances to purchase a car, most of Gen Z is at the starting age when they can first actually drive a car, so it makes sense they would want to buy one—and of course, they’re being realistic when it comes to budget. In fact, our auto report found that Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to want a pre-owned/used car.

Millennials are more likely to say being debt free is a goal
However, Millennials prioritize being debt free as one of their top financial goals. Millennials are at a later stage in their lives compared to Gen Z so of course they’re more likely to have loans–but this generation has been notoriously burdened with them. (As we’ve discussed before.) For some older Millennials, paying off student debt is actually delaying them from buying homes and starting families. According to Harris Poll, the majority of 33-40-year-olds are still working to pay off their student loans, with 11% reporting they have paid off nearly all of their loans, and 40% have over half of their total balance still left. However, while nearly a third of them have reported completely paying off their student loans, they still feel “the ripple effects of debt burden.” A separate survey by CNBC+ and Acorns found that nearly half of people under 35-years-old who have student loans say it’s delayed them from buying a home and investing their money.

But home ownership is still in their sights
But even with student debt and loans still bogging down Millennials, they’re also more likely to say they want to buy a house / apartment. During the pandemic, more Millennials have been able to buy a home, while the desire to do so has grown as well. A CoreLogic report found that Millennials accounted for more than half of all home-purchase loan applications last year, and they accounted for 67% of first-time home purchase applications and 37% of repeat-purchase applications in the first eight months of 2021. Some have been putting the money they saved during the pandemic into a down payment for a home.

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of financial goals that 13-39-year-olds have now—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred

YPulse Business users can access the full Finance/Spending behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.

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