How millennials and Gen Zs spend their money in South Africa

 ·23 Jun 2024

Millennials are prone to saving and investing for the future, while Generation Z is more inclined to splurge their money.

According to Marnus Mostert, Franchise Principal & Financial Adviser at Consult by Momentum, millennials, typically born between 1981 and 1996, are cautious with their spending and strongly inclined to save and invest.

Their financial behaviour is influenced by the Global Recession of 2008.

“While they were trying to get a foothold on adulthood, the world’s financial systems collapsed around them, taking with it the housing market,” said Mostert.

“This instilled a sense of financial insecurity, as the safety nets millennials were told to expect in life – job security, trustworthy banks – evaporated.”

“That’s why this generation tends to prioritise financial stability, often using budgeting apps, tracking expenses, and investing in retirement savings through vehicles like retirement annuities and tax-free savings accounts.”

“Additionally, the rise of the gig economy has pushed many millennials to seek multiple income streams, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and a careful approach to debt management.”

In contrast, Gen Zs, those born between 1997 and 2012, have grown up in a digital-first world, which makes them more comfortable using apps for banking, investing and crypto.

“They prioritise convenience and instant access to goods and services, often facilitated by buy-now-pay-later services.

“This generation is more likely to seek financial education online and through social media influencers, which has shaped their approach to money management.”

“Gen Z values financial flexibility and tends to save for immediate goals such as travel, technology, and education rather than long-term investments.’


Millennials often focus on long-term financial security, with the aim of buying homes, saving for retirement, and investing in stable assets.

Although they value experiences, they are willing to save for these rather than seeking immediate gratification.

Gen Z often invests in new technology and cryptocurrencies over traditional financial products.

Many feel inclined to spend it on immediate needs and desires, highlighting their preference for short-term rewards.

Marnus Mostert

Gen Z uses apps and online platforms for budgeting, investing, and financial education, making financial management more accessible and efficient. They are also good at gaining access to financial resources via digital content, such as social media, blogs and podcasts.

They also focus on sustainable and ethical investing.

“However, Gen Z needs to work on balancing their preference for instant gratification with long-term financial planning. While their embrace of technology and innovation in finance is commendable, it can sometimes lead to impulsive spending and inadequate preparation for future financial needs,” said Mostert.

“Developing a stronger focus on long-term savings and investments and understanding the importance of financial buffers would help them build more robust financial security.

Mostert gave the following six tips for Gen Z to manage their money better:

  • Balance immediate and long-term goals: Enjoy the present while planning for the future. Allocate a portion of income to long-term savings and investments.

  • Stay informed: Learn about financial products, market trends, and money management strategies. Use online resources and seek advice from certified financial advisors.

  • Build an emergency fund: Create a financial safety net to cover unexpected expenses and avoid high-interest debt – you should aim to have a few months’ expenses saved.

  • Avoid impulsive spending: Be mindful of spending habits, especially with buy-now-pay-later services. Prioritise needs over wants.

  • Invest wisely: To mitigate risks, diversify your investments. This means considering a mix of innovative and traditional investments.

  • Find a trusted financial planner: A certified financial planner can help you meet short-, medium-, and long-term needs.

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