When It Comes to Money, No One is Being Honest: 85% of Gen Z and 83% of Millennials Admit to Pretending All is Well with Finances in front of Family and Friends

Accrue Savings Survey Uncovers Generational Divides in Savings and Spending Behavior Amid Looming Recession

NEW YORK--()--Accrue Savings, the merchant-embedded shopping experience that rewards consumers for saving, today released findings from a national survey of over 1,000 consumers conducted with Decode_M, a momentum strategy firm that uses a diverse range of methodologies and data sets to decode data into action.

The results demonstrate how younger Americans have struggled with a cycle of financial dysmorphia and anxiety, and how older generations have benefitted from comparatively flush periods of growth and calm.

“Millennials and Gen Z have experienced constant economic uncertainty: entering the job market during a massive economic downturn, Millennials have struggled to gain financial stability and have been hit with tidal wave after tidal wave of world-shaking events. Gen Z has had to cope with technology pushing perfection, head-spinning U.S. and global politics, and a looming recession,” said Michael Hershfield, founder and CEO, Accrue Savings. “Consumers want to prepare for an uncertain future, but the effect of the financial crunch younger generations have felt is also very clear: they are spending beyond their means, they feel pressure to keep up appearances, and they are anxious about saving.”

Findings include:

Financial Deception is Almost Universal

Younger generations are more susceptible to the toxicity of self-deception about their financial status, and are more likely to buy items outside of their budget - leading them to financial insecurity.

Everyone is lying - at least sometimes. Only a small percentage of younger generations says that they never lie about their financial situation:

  • 15% of Gen Z
  • 18% of Millennials
  • 27% of Gen X
  • 58% of Baby Boomers

Younger generations are also more likely to make purchases outside of their budget - with only a small percentage citing that they “Never” knowingly purchase beyond their means:

  • 5% of Gen Z
  • 5% of Millennials
  • 16% of Gen X
  • 22% of Baby Boomers

Meanwhile, significant portions of those generations struggle with financial dysmorphia - often spending beyond their means:

  • Gen Z: 28%
  • Millennials: 22%
  • Gen X: 13%
  • Baby Boomers: 5%

Fear and Loathing about Finances

Younger generations are struggling with saving and impulsive spending behaviors, while older generations have it built into their DNA.

  • 50% of Millennials, and 43% of Gen Z, state that they are overwhelmed by saving money
  • Meanwhile, almost half (49%) of Baby Boomers simply save, without a specific goal in mind
  • Of the 50% of consumers that engage in risky financial behaviors, those behaviors include:
    • 19% of consumers have drained their savings accounts,
    • 18% have avoided paying bills
    • 18% have taken on too much credit
    • 10% have taken bad advice
  • 16% of Millennials taking risky financial behaviors cite the source of their risk as “taking on too many student loans”

Buy Now… Pay Never?

Consumers increasingly use Buy Now, Pay Later apps for purchases - giving more air between the joyous rush of purchasing and pain of repayment - but this has negative consequences:

  • One third of consumers have used a Buy Now, Pay Later platform - and most likely for small purchases: Clothing (for Gen Z and Millennials) and electronics (Gen X and Baby Boomers)
  • 44% of consumers using BNPL have missed a payment

Younger generations will often use credit to pay down loans: Over one-third of consumers surveyed use credit cards to pay for Buy Now, Pay Later purchases (with Millennials using credit cards almost half of the time):

  • Gen Z: 38%
  • Millennials: 44%
  • Gen X: 36%
  • Baby Boomers: 21%

Retailers take note: For successful impulse purchases, charge $49.99 or less:

  • The magic number where consumers will begin to pause before purchasing: $50

Windfalls play a critical role in purchasing behavior:

  • 28% of consumers will finally hit “buy” on a high value item after receiving unexpected income

Savings Behaviors

The majority of people are saving for a purchase over $500, including travel plans, home goods, or major milestone purchases like cars and homes:

  • Over half of all consumers are saving for a major purchase:
    • Baby Boomers and Gen X are most likely saving for vacations and cars
    • Millennials and Gen Z are focused on saving for education and home payments
  • 3 out of 5 consumers have successfully saved for a major purchase in the past year
    • Gen Z was most likely saving for clothing
    • Millennials for electronics
    • Gen X and Boomers for a vacation

Medical care is considered something to save for:

  • One-third of consumers save for over a year for major purchases including a car, home, or medical care

Download the full report HERE.

Launched in November 2021, Accrue Savings empowers consumers to save for a product or service while earning cash incentive rewards from the brand along the way. Brands can finally reward customers who choose saving over debt by making cash contributions to a customer’s Accrue Savings FDIC account when customers meet milestones on their savings journey. Partner brands where Accrue is available include Aurate, Smile Direct Club, American Signature, Poly & Bark, Casper, Tire Agent, Eterneva, The Clear Cut, Mark Henry, Ettitude, Heli, and Grind.


Survey insights were collected via online questionnaire from May 20 - 26, 2022, among 1,009 consumers in the U.S. ages 18-65+ through Decode_M, on behalf of Accrue.

About Accrue Savings

Accrue Savings is a brand-embedded savings account that provides a sustainable, credit-free payment option for customers. With Accrue’s savings-oriented experience, customers are empowered to make their purchases on their own terms. Accrue can turn passive shoppers into active buyers, reduce advertising costs for your brand, and help lock in predictable revenue for your business. For more information, please visit www.accruesavings.com

Accrue Savings is a financial technology company and is not a bank. Banking services provided by Blue Ridge Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.


Sara Zick

Release Summary

Accrue Savings Survey Uncovers Generational Divides in Savings and Spending Behavior Amid Looming Recession


Sara Zick