The Dark Side of Millennials and Gen Z Finances: 85% and 83% Engage in Financial Deception

Ever scroll through social media wondering how your friends can afford luxurious trips or the latest gadgets? Well, the truth is they probably can’t and are struggling to keep up with appearances.

Unfortunately, money is often shrouded in secrecy, and the taboo surrounding money discussions can lead young Americans to suffer from anxiety and dysfunction when it comes to money.

Financial Dysfunction and Anxiety

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According to a new survey released today by Accrue Savings, the “save now, buy soon” startup, young Americans are struggling with a cycle of financial dysfunction and anxiety, and older generations have benefitted from comparatively flush periods of growth and calm.

Millennials and Gen Z need to save for housing and education, while Boomers and Gen X need to save for vacations and new cars.

“Millennials and Gen Z have experienced constant economic uncertainty: entering the job market during a massive economic downturn, Millennials have struggled to gain financial stability and have been hit with tidal wave after a tidal wave of world-shaking events. Gen Z has had to cope with technology pushing perfection, head-spinning U.S. and global politics, and a looming recession,” said Michael Hershfield, founder, and CEO, of Accrue Savings.

“Consumers want to prepare for an uncertain future, but the effect of the financial crunch younger generations have felt is also very clear: they are spending beyond their means, they feel pressure to keep up appearances, and they are anxious about saving.”

Financial Deception Is Almost Universal

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Younger generations are more susceptible to the toxicity of self-deception about their financial status and are more likely to buy items outside of their budget – leading them to financial insecurity.

Everyone is lying – at least sometimes. Only a small percentage of younger generations say that they never lie about their financial situation:

  • 15% of Gen Z

  • 18% of Millennials

  • 27% of Gen X

  • 58% of Baby Boomers

Younger generations are also more likely to make purchases outside of their budget – with only a small percentage citing that they “Never” knowingly purchase beyond their means:

  • 5% of Gen Z

  • 5% of Millennials

  • 16% of Gen X

  • 22% of Baby Boomers

Meanwhile, significant portions of those generations struggle with financial dysmorphia – often spending  beyond their means:

  • Gen Z: 28%

  • Millennials: 22%

  • Gen X: 13%

  • Baby Boomers: 5%

Fear and Loathing About Finances

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Younger generations are struggling with saving and impulsive spending behaviors, while older generations have it built into their DNA.

  • 50% of Millennials and 43% of Gen Z state that they are overwhelmed by saving money

  • Meanwhile, almost half (49%) of Baby Boomers simply save without a specific goal in mind

  • Of the 50% of consumers that engage in risky financial behaviors, those behaviors include:

    • 19% of consumers have drained their savings accounts,

    • 18% have avoided paying bills

    • 18% have taken on too much credit

    • 10% have taken bad advice

Buy Now… Pay Never?

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Consumers increasingly use Buy Now, Pay Later apps for purchases – giving more air between the joyous rush of purchasing and the pain of repayment – but this has negative consequences:

  • One-third of consumers have used a Buy Now, Pay Later platform – and most likely for small purchases: Clothing (for Gen Z and Millennials) and electronics (Gen X and Baby Boomers)

  • 44% of consumers using BNPL have missed a payment

Younger generations will often use credit to pay down loans: Over one-third of consumers surveyed use credit cards to pay for Buy Now, Pay Later purchases (with Millennials using credit cards almost half of the time):

  • Gen Z: 38%

  • Millennials: 44%

  • Gen X: 36%

  • Baby Boomers: 21%

Savings Behaviors

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The majority of people are saving for a purchase over $500, including travel plans, home goods, or major milestone purchases like cars and homes:

  • Over half of all consumers are saving for a major purchase:

    • Baby Boomers and Gen X are most likely saving for vacations and cars

    • Millennials and Gen Z are focused on saving for education and home payments

  • 3 out of 5 consumers have successfully saved for a major purchase in the past year

      • Gen Z was most likely saving for clothing

      • Millennials for electronics

      • Gen X and Boomers for a vacation

12 Frugal Hacks That Make All The Difference

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A Reddit user who started the frugal journey with his wife a couple of years ago wanted to know the frugal hacks people had that made all the difference.

According to the OP, shopping grocery sales every week and planning their meals helped cut their bill from $250 to $100 per week. Other users shared their stories about frugal hacks they had that made some difference in their lives. Here are some of the best ones.

12 Frugal Hacks That Make All The Difference 

12 Items Frugal People Proudly Exclude From Their Shopping List

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Frugal people are known to spend their money wisely. They live within their means and don’t spend a lot of money. According to a thread on Quora, here are some common things frugal people never buy.

12 Items Frugal People Proudly Exclude from Their Shopping List

23 Side Hustles You Never Considered That Make More Than Your 9 to 5

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Have you ever wanted to make a lot of money from a side hustle and quit your 9 to 5? You may know about the typical side hustles, but I bet you never even heard of these lucrative side hustles!

23 Side Hustles You Never Considered That Make More Than Your 9 to 5

9 So-Called “Frugal” Habits That Are Actually a Waste of Time and Money

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Not everything is frugal! I am sure you have read articles and tips that promote frugal living and give some ideas that are just not frugal! These frugal myths float around and sometimes even cost people a lot of money!

9 So-Called “Frugal” Habits That Are Actually a Waste of Time and Money

10 Stupid Scams People Won’t Stop Falling For

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It seems like every day there is a new scam popping up, promising to make you rich or solve all of your problems. Yet, despite the prevalence of scams and the numerous warnings about them, people still fall for them.

10 Stupid Scams People Won’t Stop Falling For


Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.