Download our latest Gen Z report to learn more about how young consumers feel about their finances, spend money and plan for their financial future.
The financial stress gender gap starts young.
Women have consistently expressed more financial worries than men. While these worries are typically brought on by elements such as the gender pay gap, taking on greater caregiving responsibilities, and carrying more of the burden of family expenses and purchasing, new Morning Consult research shows that women’s financial concerns aren’t reserved for adulthood.
Gen Z women are less optimistic about their finances than Gen Z men
Young women (ages 13-26) are less likely than their male counterparts to say they’re doing well financially.
Gen Z Women Are Least Likely to Say They’re Doing Well Financially
Asked to rate their financial situation, 38% of female Gen Zers say they’re “underwater” or “barely scraping by,” 8 percentage points higher than male Gen Zers. Young women are also less likely to express the highest confidence in their finances. Just 5% of female Gen Zers say they have more than enough money for their wants, needs and savings.
And it’s not just present money problems that young women are more likely to express, this gap extends to feelings about their future finances too. While a majority of Gen Z women do believe they’ll do better than their parents financially, consistent with all Gen Zers, they’re more likely than men to say they won’t. About 3 in 10 Gen Z women (29%) said they won’t do better financially than their parents, 7 points higher than Gen Z men.
Female Gen Zers are more worried about keeping up financially with friends than male Gen Zers
While all Gen Zers are clearly stressed about the economy and their personal finances, young women are more worried than young men.
What’s Financially Stressing Out Gen Z Women (It’s A Lot)
Concerns about affording basic needs are nearly universal for female Gen Zers. Roughly 8 in 10 female Gen Zers said they are concerned about grocery prices (83%), housing costs (80%) and gas (79%), 8 points higher than male Gen Zers. Their worries extend beyond basic needs. Gen Z women expressed higher concerns on nearly every economic or personal finance topic we asked about.
Notably, the widest concern gap is related to keeping pace with friends. Female Gen Zers are 15 points more likely than male Gen Zers to say they are concerned about keeping up financially with their friends or peers.
Gen Z women’s spending habits differ from that of Gen Z men
One big factor that could be contributing to young women’s financial stress is their spending. Unlike financial concerns and worries, there’s a smaller gap between what Gen Z women and men say they’re purchasing. Across 20 spending categories, the average gap between female and male Gen Zers who say they made a purchase in the past month was 4.15 percentage points.
Young Women Are More Likely to Purchase Apparel, Personal Care Items Than Young Men
And there are key categories where Gen Z women are more likely to say they made a purchase than Gen Z men. For example, 57% of female Gen Zers said they purchased apparel or clothing in December 2023, 13 points higher than men. Female Gen Zers were also more likely to purchase personal care items or services, like shampoo and hair cuts, than male Gen Zers. About 6 in 10 female Gen Zers (57%) made a purchase like this in December 2023 compared with about half of male Gen Zers (49%).
This heightened spending on apparel and personal care compared with men may not all be a choice. Societal pressure and expectations drive many women to spend more in these categories. Products in these spaces that are specifically designed and marketed toward women also tend to come with a higher price tag, also known as the “pink tax.”
Early financial education is key for Gen Z, regardless of gender
A proper financial literacy education could help alleviate some of these financial anxieties.
Budgeting is a great place to start given half of female Gen Zers say they do not use a budget to organize their spending. But it’s not just young women who could benefit from this type of education, young men can too. Over 4 in 10 male Gen Zers (44%) also said they don’t use a budget to organize their spending.
Financial providers that help support young consumers with budgeting tools will best prepare them for future planned and unplanned expenses, and have a greater opportunity to win loyal, responsible customers.