Gen Z’s Girl Math Compounds Money Worries

New research from ASIC’s MoneySmart reveals Aussie Gen Z women—those in their late teens to late twenties are more likely than men of the same age to feel stressed and overwhelmed about finances and money.

While the majority of Australians are battling the cost of living crisis to some degree, older generations are perhaps better equipped to weather the storm, having gone through the GFC and other economic downturns.

The research showed Gen Z women are more likely than men to:

  • Be severely stressed about the cost of living (87%)
  • Feel overwhelmed by finances (57%)
  • Do no research into ways to grow their wealth (86%)
  • Have no personal savings (men 11%) and
  • Use buy-now-pay-later services (32%).

The findings are in line with international research, such as the OECD which shows women are less confident and knowledgeable with money than men.

Home ownership an unattainable dream

Owning a home used to be considered as standard for Australians, but with the rise in house prices, 18-29 year olds are more likely than other Aussies to say they wanted to own a home but had accepted they will “never be able to afford it” and therefore “don’t think about it”.*

It’s a fair position to take considering that in 1984, the average Australian could buy a home that cost 3.3 times their annual income. But in 2023, the average person is facing house prices that are 10 times their annual salary.

It’s not just home ownership that is causing angst. Persistent issues such as the gender pay gap and trends such as girl math are not helping to break the cycle of financial anxiety and insecurity, especially in women.

The girl math equation

Girl math went viral on TikTok in 2023, with the hashtag amassing millions of views. Girl math is mental accounting where you convince yourself that spending is actually saving.

Some examples are:

  • You’re losing money if you don’t purchase something when it’s on sale.
  • You’re losing money if you don’t spend enough to qualify for free shipping.
  • A $300 designer handbag only costs a dollar a day if you use it every day of the year.
  • Anything under $5 is basically free.

While these are entertaining, it can only be fun if everyone is in on the joke. Rationalising overspending in the long term adds to women’s stresses around money and can detract from their ability to achieve financial security.

Strategies to turn the tables

The good news is, 9 out of 10 Gen Z’s (men and women) have a strong desire and intent to boost their money skills and financial confidence.

They can take control of their finances by improving their financial literacy through free tools and resources available from reputable organisations such as MoneySmart and moneyGPS.

Learning how to budget, build an emergency fund, manage mortgage and debt, and grow their wealth can help empower Gen Z women to feel confident about money.

accountantsGPS and moneyGPS are owned by Fiduciary Financial Services (AFSL: 247344) ABN: 76 003 624 888



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