Zoomers Aren’t Waiting for a College Degree to Secure Their Financial Future

Americans born between 1997 and 2012, otherwise known as Gen Z or zoomers, appear to be in a hurry to make money.

After witnessing millennials drown in debt over college, 67% of zoomers say their top concern is being able to afford higher education. Furthermore, one in every five zoomers say they want to avoid debt at all costs. Following a frightening 2020, in which members of Gen Z were the most impacted mentally and emotionally, the fear of being caught in another crisis without enough cash in hand may have helped them look at money with a new set of eyes.

According to a recent Barclays survey, young Americans are not wasting their time by using market opportunities as they arise. But in this thirst for making short-term profits, they are also picking up bad investing habits. As some learn the trade and get solid investment strategies down, however, some make a name for themselves as “finfluencers.”

Against all odds, zoomers are becoming more financially savvy than millennials, even among those who are open about their losses.

Playing the Short Game

Ignoring established investment experts, young investors are trading often and taking bigger risks than their older counterparts. They are also keeping a close eye on their portfolios, hoping to be able to jump on opportunities as they present themselves.

According to Barclays, 21% of Gen Z investors are in the game to take advantage of the market whereas at least 16% say they are in it for the short-term gains, trying to “play the market” to get rich quick.

Investing more speculatively and taking higher risks for bigger gains, young investors are ignoring advice from established sources. To some, that means a frenetic investing mode that isn’t here to stay, with 49% of Gen Z investors telling Barclays they are playing on investing money for just 2 to 5 years.

But what happens to those who do well?

Influencers Share Their Magic

Following the pandemic, an increase in retail trading has given rise to a new type of influencer, the “finfluencers,” or financial influencers who use TikTok to share tips on how to make the best out of their money.

While not financial professionals, these influencers use what they have learned to help guide others into short- and long-term success. Some of these trend setters are also Gen Z investors.

Miss Teen Crypto, an 18-year-old investor who became a major adherent of bitcoin, is one of them. She urges young Americans like herself to explore everything cryptocurrencies can provide. Instead of simply being in it for money, she told reporters, her goal is to help educate others to take advantage of the technology. With 47% of Gen Z investors holding cryptocurrency, it is clear that her message is getting through.

But investing alone isn’t the only thing that makes zoomers stand out. They are also more likely to take the do-it-yourself approach to many of their needs, which helps them save more in the long run. Having more pocket money to spend ends up becoming a good way to test out their investing skills, and a good way to stay financially aware.

Unlike millennials, zoomers feel the pressure to stay afloat and not fall into debt. Apparently, they are acting accordingly—a lesson they probably picked up by watching millennials struggle despite being college educated.

Will Zoomers Get America Back in Shape?

Following the decades of heavy-handed federal intervention in the markets, which made virtually everything from housing to education prohibitively expensive, could zoomers end up forcing politicians to think twice before ramping up interventionist practices?

It depends.

Long before the pandemic, zoomers had already learned to love the government. Blind trust in bureaucracy made them and millennials “dystopian socialists” who were quick to defend welfarism and federal intrusion in private matters. During the pandemic, however, many began to question their blind trust. The fact many are looking for their own way of making money early is a good way to tell that not all young Americans believe Uncle Sam will be there for them.

It will be a matter of time before we know what zoomers’ impact on politics will look like. Until then, we can at least rest assured Gen Z won’t be sitting around waiting for a government check to get things done.

Chloe Anagnos is the Director of Marketing, Outreach, and Sales at the Independent Institute.
Posts by Chloe Anagnos | Full Biography and Publications
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