10 ways to explain saving and finance to Millennials and Generation Z


Teaching financial responsibility to young adults can feel like an impossible task, especially given today’s younger generations tendency to eschew face-to-face communication for chat sessions and text messaging. How do you teach financial strategies, goals and the basics of a 401(k) to someone who has completely different priorities, communication styles and life experiences?

First things first: scrap the golden rule. It’s not about teaching how you wish you’d been taught. It’s about relaying the information the way they want to learn it. With this in mind, here’s a list of 10 ways to effectively explain saving and finance to Millennials and Generation Z.

1 Keep it short

Have you ever seen the initials “tl;dr”? It’s short for “too long; didn’t read.” These generations are used to being given information in bite-sized chunks — which allows them to move on whenever they want. Avoid tl;dr by keeping your financial education short, snappy and to the point.

2 Keep it visual

Millennials and Gen Zers are visual learners. They’re not receptive to long articles that feel like assigned reading. It’s best to visually explain the point you’re trying to make. Take a page from a way they like to learn by using infographics and videos.

3 Embrace and incorporate technology

Surprise, surprise: Millennials and Gen Zers love technology. Why not leverage that love to teach them about creating a budget? There are many financialtracking apps available. Familiarize yourself with these apps now to speak knowledgeably about them later.

4 Focus on the future AND the now

Financial conversation can get very focused on the future. But when you’re young, retirement couldn’t feel further away. Millennials and Zers need to understand how it benefits them to be financially savvy now. As you explain the long-term benefits, find ways to incorporate and illustrate immediate wins as well.

5 Share personal stories or experiences

Neither Millennials nor Gen Zers want a canned speech on how to create a budget or why a 401(k) is important. (In truth, no one wants a canned speech.) Give them something tangible to relate to by sharing your personal financial stories or experiences. Not only will it be more fun to listen to, but it will also be more memorable and effective as a teaching tool.

6 Don’t patronize them

They may be young, but the same rules apply to Millennials and Generation Z as everyone else. If they feel they’re being talked down to, you risk negative reactions and a very unproductive conversation. Instead, be straightforward and honest, and check in every once in a while to make sure they’re still with you.

7 It’s not about hearing just from experts

It’s also about hearing it from their peers. Having Millennials or Gen Z meet with an advisor is great, but they may pay more attention when meeting with a peer who has successfully implemented a financial strategy. Bring them together to show how other Millennials and Zers are accomplishing financial goals.

8 Ground finances in a practical outcome

Don’t paint too rosy of a picture. The upcoming generations are proving to be very pragmatic, and won’t take you seriously if you’re too aspirational. They know the Great Recession isn’t the only recession they will likely encounter in their lifetime. And when the next one hits, they might be adults fending for themselves. Show them strategies on how to get by when times get tough.

9 Let them bring their voice to the table

Only listening with no participation is going to get dull — and quick. Start by asking what they want to learn and what their goals are. With this information, customize what you teach them so they not only get essentials but also learn about topics that appeal to them.

10 Drip, drip, drip

All the financial wisdom you’re hoping to teach doesn’t have to be imparted in one long meeting. Sprinkle information in bite-sized lessons over time. It’ll feel more informal and less like an intervention.

Some of these tactics may work better than others, but there’s no one magic trick for transferring all your hard-earned financial wisdom to the next generation. It takes patience and understanding to get your point across. But by using these 10 techniques, you’ll be able to approach financial education through a more effective generational lens.

This information is prepared in part by an unrelated independent third party, BridgeWorks, and is provided for informational purposes only. Ivy Distributors, Inc., believes the information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.