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Gen Z would rather live in the now than run behind dreams that might never come true

Gen Z has developed a unique relation to saving that stands apart from other groups, focusing more on wish fulfillment.

Gen Z would rather live in the now than run behind dreams that might never come true
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Rakicevic Nenad; NBC | Rue Crowder

The spending patterns of the present generation are drastically different from that of their parents. While their parents were all about saving it up and enjoying the fruits of their labor in their golden years. The current lot moves differently. They are more in favor of living in the now. Gen Z is more focused on near-term expenses rather than life savings, per NBC News. Most of them aren't sure if they'll ever own a home, but may travel to multiple exotic locations. Some don't mind their decision because they have lived through a different life than their parents. The group has gone through a pandemic, horrible economic downturns and insane periods of instability. All of this has taught them that tomorrow is no guarantee, so it's best to live for today.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

The pandemic was a huge financial barrier that left many disillusioned. Slowly, as the world got back on track, so did people's net worth. According to the report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the net worth of people from ages 18-39 increased by 80%. Though, this increase was not equitable for every group. Despite this increase, people never got back to the practice of saving they had before the world shut down. Most of their wealth is going towards pricier everyday expenses, from essentials like rent to luxuries, such as leisure travel. This pattern can be attributed to people feeling FOMO (fear of missing out) because of being shut in one place and also to the fact that even though net worth has increased, so has the cost of long-term investments.

Moreover, job instability is at its highest. If people focus on these long-term commitments rather than indulging themselves when they can with their salary, they will be disappointed when they are let go. They will lose on both fronts. Hala Easmael, a 32-year-old pharmacy technician in Philadelphia, shared how their generation always lives on the edge, "We're the generations that got stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want to enjoy our lives, but we're always waiting for the shoe to drop." Even though she is not making a satisfactory income by her standards, she still devotes $300 to $400 a month to her fashion needs to feel good in her skin. Any desire she can fulfill, she is doing so rather than getting cooped up in one place for a dream that may not even materialize despite all her efforts.

Savings are not an immediate concern for Gen Z. In such pressing circumstances, they are prioritizing their own happiness. CNBC survey revealed that 50% of the population, even with their increased income, cannot cover more than one month’s expenses if unemployed, and only 11% could do so for a year. It has led to a call for concern on social media, with many influencers asking people to save money and providing easy methods to do so like loud budgeting. In this method, people decline invitations to spend money while giving a reason to their acquaintances. In the past, talking publicly;ly about your financial struggles was deemed inappropriate. But this generation disagrees, they want to enjoy the show rather than let it go in the rearview mirror.

Morning Consult Report found that Gen Zers were willing to spend over $400 a month on non-essentials, which is almost double what Gen X and baby boomers were giving away. Rue Crowder put it perfectly, “if you go to a dark place, you can stay there. I try to live in the now. Like, I already believe I’m wealthy.” He joined his friends on a cruise ship despite having less-than-desirable savings. He has faith in himself that he will be able to get the money in his account again with his entrepreneurial skills, but the opportunity of this experience once gone, will never come back.

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