Many Teenagers Are Stressed Out About Money. Here's How to Help Yours.

It's not an easy time to be a teenager. There has always been peer pressure and bullying. And now there's social media, too, with various surveys suggesting that social media harms the mental health of millions of teens. On top of that comes news that many teens are also stressed out about money.

According to a survey by fintech company Greenlight Financial Technology, "76% of Gen Z teens are just as stressed about money as their Millennial (76%) and Gen X (75%) parents." (Gen Z encompasses those aged 12 to 27 these days.) Here's a look at how stressed they are -- and what you can do to help any teen or young adult in your life.

Person with pink hair looking thoughtful.

Image source: Getty Images.

Survey says...

Here are some of the findings from the survey:

  • "60% of Gen Z teens report experiencing financial stress on a daily or weekly basis, on par with Millennial (61%) and Gen X parents (58%)."
  • "The top three financial stressors across generations include inflation or shrinkflation (53%), lack of emergency funds or savings (46%), and gas prices (42%)."
  • "The top three financial goals across generations include (1) saving money, (2) having a well-paying job or owning a business, and (3) owning a home."
  • "75% of Gen Alpha kids and Gen Z teens want more personal finance education..."
  • "Half of Gen Z teens (50%) report learning about personal finance on social media, along with 31% of Millennial parents."
  • "Gen Z's #1 social media platform for financial education is TikTok (59%) followed by YouTube (51%); half of Millennial parents turn to YouTube (50%) followed by Facebook (41%)."
  • "All generations (72%) are worried about learning inaccurate financial information on social media, yet half of Gen Z teens (50%) still say they have taken financial advice from social media influencers."

Help your young people worry less -- through conversations

That's a lot of worry and stress, and it applies to millions of people in every generation, not just teenagers. One of the best ways to address it is through simple conversations. If you take some time to regularly chat with the young people you care about, you may be able to ease many of their concerns.

Here are some suggested topics and points to make:

Discuss your own financial concerns and plans

You might start by sharing that even you have financial concerns and worries -- and then proceed to explain how you're addressing them. (Indeed, it might be your own financial angst that has led your youngsters to worry, too.) You might explain, for example, how you've set up a family budget, how you're saving money regularly in order to meet certain goals, and how you're avoiding or digging out of credit card debt.

Offer better sources of information

While there can be solid financial information found on social media, it can be hard to tell what's accurate and what isn't. Introduce them to reputable information sources, such as respected personal finance blogs, well-known financial websites (including Fool.com), and helpful books, such as:

  • I Want More Pizza: Real World Money Skills For High School, College, And Beyond by Steve Burkholder
  • The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of by David and Tom Gardner with Selena Maranjian
  • I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi

Talk about inflation

Tell them that inflation is something that can hurt your finances, but it fluctuates over time and isn't always as high as it has recently been. Explain that while prices tend to rise over time, so do incomes, and they might want to set their sights on lucrative professions.

Explain how gas prices can be dealt with

Many young people have their first car or truck and are realizing how costly it can be to keep the gas tank full. You might point out ways to save on gas, such as seeking out low-cost fuel stations, driving less aggressively, and, when possible, opting for hybrid or electric vehicles. Note, too, that gas prices also fluctuate -- and might be significantly lower (or, yes, higher) next year.

Explain how college can be affordable

College must be a scary prospect for many young people, as there has been so much attention in the media to how millions of graduates are saddled with massive and long-lasting student loan debts. There has been some relief on that front, with the Biden administration focusing on forgiving many loans. Additionally, there's a lot more financial aid available than many people realize, and lots of scholarships to be found online, too -- and not just for geniuses, either.

Explain how they may be able to buy a home

Many young people are seeing home prices rise quickly, and assuming they may end up unable to become homeowners. That's not necessarily the case, though. Explain how mortgages work and that there are multiple programs to help first-time homebuyers.

Explain that many good jobs are out there

While many high school graduates can make a good living, particularly in trades such as plumbing and electrical work, explain that for most people, a college degree means a higher income. According to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, "College graduates are half as likely to be unemployed as their peers who only have a high school degree...Typical earnings for bachelor's degree holders are $40,500 or 86% higher than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma."

Certain degrees and professions are more lucrative than others, but hard work and determination can lead most of us to good jobs with good incomes.

Explain how they can grow rich, via investing

Finally, remind your young people that they're in an enviable position to make a lot of money by investing in the stock market, as they have something older investors don't have: A lot of time for their money to grow. Explain that it's very likely they can become multimillionaires if they save and invest throughout their working lives.

The more teenagers and other young people know about money matters, the less they may worry about it -- because they will be aware of ways in which they can control and improve their financial futures.

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