While TikTok became a cultural phenomenon for its viral dance trends and comedy clips during the pandemic, the social media platform has evolved into much, much more than that. In the last few years, TikTok has become Gen Z’s search engine of choice and hub for all things information, whether they want to learn how to change a tire, style their hair, or save for retirement.
Enter the world of #FinTok — that’s Finance TikTok — where creators are teaching young people how to manage their money and increase their earnings. Surprisingly — or, perhaps, unsurprisingly — FinTok’s popularity has skyrocketed amongst Gen Z users in the last few years. Read on to learn why.
Why is FinTok so popular with Gen Z?
There are a number of reasons why FinTok has risen in popularity with Gen Z in recent years. First and foremost is the economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic and, of course, the ever-looming recession. Think inflation (the ever-rising cost of groceries and, well, pretty much everything) and the numerous layoffs that hit several industries this Q1.
With all of this swirling in the air, younger people are thinking about money now more than ever. In fact, a 2022 study conducted by Business Wire found that 67% of parents and teens report that money was one their most talked-about topics in the last six months (second only to the pandemic, itself.) In light of these financial anxieties, 93% of teens surveyed also said that they believe they need financial knowledge and skills to achieve their goals.
So, where else would Gen Z turn to but TikTok, one of their favorite places to hang out online? And, it turns out, the place where personal finance creators are there to assuage their anxieties and provide answers to their most pressing financial queries?
A complex subject made simple
Today, 58% of Gen Zers are consuming financial knowledge on TikTok. And it makes sense: TikTok is this generation’s center for digestible knowledge. Essentially, the platform’s key features, like its short-form videos and built-in search engine, makes learning about finances fun, engaging, and, well, easy. With just a few swipes, young people can begin learning how to improve their personal finances, grow their wealth, and save effectively — all from the comfort of their bedroom.
FinTok also makes personal finance information accessible to all. Unfortunately, personal finances and financial literacy aren’t taught in most public schools. Oftentimes, young people who do learn about these topics come from higher socio-economic backgrounds, and are taught about personal finances from relatives. Most people, however, don’t have these advantages. That’s where FinTok comes in. Because it exists on social media, where content is free and readily available to anyone with an internet connection, Finance TikTok removes many of the barriers that people from disadvantaged backgrounds face when it comes to achieving financial literacy.
FinTok also democratizes finance knowledge by breaking down tricky financial jargon and difficult concepts, such as investments and equity, in easy-to-understand explainer-style videos. This type of content allows anyone to understand these concepts and gain the confidence to use their knowledge out in the real world. In fact, some young people have even started investing based on the advice they’ve received through FinTok.
The creators making personal finance accessible
FinTok content creators play a major role in steering the narratives around personal finance for young people (more on them later!), but let’s not discount similar creators on other platforms just yet. Anonymous creators on Instagram, like @breakingthedebtcycle and @savingformybestlife, are giving their followers the nitty-gritty deets on personal finances by divulging their own, like their budgets and expenses, through the app.
The creator behind Breaking the Debt Cycle uploads monthly content about her no spend day challenges where she only spends money on certain days. Similarly, the creator who runs Saving for My Best Life uploads reflective content ranging from things she wishes she knew before starting her debt-free journey, to finance tips she wishes she knew at 18 years old.
These personal finance creators are aware that social media isn’t the ideal (nor perfect) platform to learn about personal finances. And these creators, themselves, recognize that they can’t teach viewers every single thing there is to know about the topic. Instead, they speak on their own experiences and personal finance journeys. It’s this level of transparency within these finance creator spaces that cultivate community, and encourage young people to learn more about their own finances.
Down with the boys’ club: meet the women of FinTok
Traditionally, the domain of personal finance has been a boys’ club, and stats show that women are underrepresented in financial leadership positions. Today, however, there’s an increasing number of female creators on TikTok and other platforms who are shifting that narrative, sharing their personal finance advice and encouraging women to take control of their financial journeys.
In the last few years, a number of female FinTok creators, including Kia Commodore of Pennies to Pounds, Seema Sheth, Gigi Gonzalez of The First Gen Mentor, and Krystal Todd, have blown up on the app. And it’s easy to see why: according to a survey by Fidelity, 55% of women prefer to learn about money from other women.
Creators like Seema Sheth share tips and insights for women looking to reduce their financial anxieties. Sheth’s philosophy is that saving doesn’t need to be a source of stress. And this is where her 30-day financial cleanse series comes in. It’s about taking actionable steps to make your financial journey easier, and has nothing to do with investments, just financial discipline and taking control of your expenses.
Beyond TikTok, Ellie from This Girl Talks Money regularly shares financial advice for women on Instagram and her podcast, encouraging women to own their personal finance journeys. In an Instagram post, she claims that financial literacy is a distinctively female issue. This is because, she argues, women are more financially vulnerable than men, owning fewer assets and being less likely to have pensions. Further, she frames financial literacy as empowering because it is the key not just to financial freedom, but for other doors, like women participating in the (also male-dominated) stock market.
Financial literacy (and FinTok) for all!
FinTok is a powerful democratizing force in the world of personal finance, especially for young people. Today, it’s allowing Gen Zers to take smart steps towards their financial goals, whether they want to free themselves of debt or learn the ins and outs of investing. Talking money can be scary business, but content creators are helping to shift the culture around personal finance. And that’s great news for everyone.