Study finds Gen Z is stressed out about money

Cecilia Figueroa, left, and Erica Florencio pick up camp counselor employment information from the Woodcraft Rangers booth as they join the hundreds of attendees at a COC job fair. Jobs actually aren’t at the top of Generation Z’s list of concerns, but there’s a number of opportunities in a “gig economy” for folks to make money that can really help pay off student loans, according Status Not Quo founder James McKinney — which is a top concern. Signal photo | Dan Watson

A recent Turbo survey found that Generation Z’s top money problem is student loan debt, but James McKinney, with Status Not Quo in Valencia, shared ways the future workforce can start relieving some of that financial stress, now.  

The report, dubbed “Top Causes of Gen Z’s Financial Stress,” was delivered by Turbo, a financial service tool by Intuit Inc. It surveyed those born in or after 1997, which are considered to be a part of the age group called Generation Z.

“There’s still a lot to learn about this new generation, so we decided to find out how they feel about money by surveying them about their biggest financial stressors,” read a section of the report.

Survey responses revealed three major findings: members of Generation Z are mostly concerned about student loans, aren’t prioritizing debt properly and consequently, feel stuck in an unhealthy cycle of stress.

In a scale of “least concerned about” to “most concerned about,” student loans was far out on its own as the biggest stressor, followed by paying for health care. The housing market, car expenses and credit card debt were far out on the left as the least of their worries. 

The survey found that one-quarter of respondents placed paying for student loans at the top of the list and “it makes sense,” the report noted, as many members of Gen Z are still in college. But 20 percent of respondents said their number one worry was the price of health care. 

Dan Watson Some of the hundreds of attendees fill out application information at the Spring 2015 Job & Career Fair held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on wednesday. 041515

This is due to major stressful current events such as mass shootings and sexual assault, according to the “Stress in America: Generation Z” study from the American Psychology Association. Data found that the young adults are 1.2 times as stressed about their health as adults are, as well as 27% most likely to report their mental health as “fair” or “poor” than millennials (born between 1981 to 1996) and Generation X (born between 1965 to 1981). 

While mental health treatment is available, it’s not always the most affordable to all. On average, costs could range from $50 to $240 for a one-hour session. 

As a result, the Turbo survey found that Generation Z is trapped in an unending rotation of stress, saying this cycle creates “health problems that need medical treatment, but paying for that medical treatment only causes more stress.” 

Generation Z represents the future workforce in the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, this group and millennials will comprise the largest segment of working adults age 18 and over by 2020, according to Dr. Mariane Doyle, director of Career Technical and Adult Education in the Career and College Readiness Department of the William S. Hart Union High School District. 

But until then, Generation Z is still in the college-age range, meaning side gigs play a vital role financially. 

“In today’s gig-economy there are so many ways to alleviate some of the financial pressures that we all experience,” said McKinney, vice president of strategic growth with Valencia-based Status Not Quo, as well as creator and host of “The Startup Story” podcast, which shares the entrepreneurial journeys of some of the most successful companies in the world. 

Driving apps, such as Lyft and Uber, are a popular way for students and recent grads to earn up to $500 a week or more. Signal photo | Tammy Murga

Here are some tactics McKinney recommends that can help bring an extra $500 a week: 

  • Drive for Uber/Lyft:This is still a viable source for additional income, especially for those who reside in the Southern California area that has multiple airports to work with, he said. 
  • Fiverr.com or Upwork.com:These sites are used to leverage for project-based professional services and are ideal for creative people with graphic design skills and, as McKinney said, “spreadsheet ninjas.” 
  • TaskRabbit: Signing up with this online and mobile marketplace works for those that consider themselves “handy,” yet not really desiring a career as a tradesman, he said. 
  • eBay: Many believe eBay is no longer irrelevant, but McKinney said this is untrue. He suggested the Gary Vaynerchuk garage sales challenge, which involves buying products for cheap and selling them high. 
  • Amazon: Most people purchase from the site, but there are multiple ways to make money, too. These are three ways McKinney suggested: 

Amazon Merch:You simply uploads designs and people can buy merchandise with your designs on them

Amazon affiliate or influencer: This is a great resource if you have a decent social media following

Dropship: Find a product that is a hot seller, find a distributor and set up a shop on Amazon. 

“There are so many ways to bring in the extra income we all need to help relieve some of the financial stresses we may be experiencing,” said McKinney. “Each of these methods can be done in the empty hours of your schedule or as a complete side-hustle. The only thing stopping you is you. Don’t overthink it, just start.”

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About the author

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga covers city hall and business for The Signal. She joined in the summer of 2018, previously working in Northern California as an assistant editor and reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee. In 2016, she graduated from Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles. Have a story tip? Message her on Twitter or at [email protected]