Soft Saving: Gen Z’s Shift towards Quality of Life over Money

Younger Workers Challenge Traditional Saving Habits with a Focus on Present Enjoyment

In a world where financial security and early retirement have long been considered the ultimate goals, a new trend is emerging among younger workers. Soft saving, a term coined to describe the act of putting less money into the future and prioritizing present enjoyment, is gaining traction. Leading this wave is Generation Z, a generation that values experiences over money and seeks a “soft life” characterized by comfort, low stress, personal growth, and mental wellness. A recent report by Intuit sheds light on this shift in financial attitudes and explores its implications.

The Softer Approach to Investing and Personal Finance:

The Prosperity Index Study by Intuit reveals that Gen Z’s approach to investing and personal finance is softer compared to previous generations. Rather than solely focusing on monetary gains, younger investors are more inclined to invest in causes that align with their personal values. They also prioritize emotional connections with brands and professionals they engage with, seeking authenticity and purpose in their financial decisions.

Changing Saving Habits:

The Intuit report highlights that three in four Gen Z individuals prioritize a better quality of life over accumulating extra money in their bank accounts. This sentiment is reflected in the personal saving rates among Americans, which have been declining in recent years. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the personal saving rate was at a significantly lower 3.9% in August, compared to the 8.51% average of the past decade. The rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, increased spending to make up for lost time, and the impact of inflation are cited as factors contributing to this decline in personal savings.

Retirement Concerns:

Retirement, once seen as the ultimate goal for workers, is now a source of concern for many. A report by BlackRock reveals that only 53% of workers believe they are on track to retire with the lifestyle they desire. Factors such as a lack of retirement income, market volatility, and high inflation contribute to this lack of confidence. Interestingly, younger workers, including Gen Z, share similar concerns about retirement. However, many are also looking to retire early or retire differently. The definition of retirement itself is evolving, with a growing number of individuals planning to continue some form of paid work during their retirement years.

Balancing Present Enjoyment and Future Security:

While Gen Z and millennials express a desire to enjoy life now, they also recognize the importance of saving for the future. Fidelity’s retirement analysis reveals that these younger generations are actively participating in retirement savings plans, such as the 401(k), and experiencing significant increases in their average balances. This suggests a conscious effort to strike a balance between present enjoyment and long-term financial security.

Spending on Passions and Hobbies:

As individuals save less and spend more, the study by Intuit reveals that millennials and Gen Z are more willing to allocate their money towards hobbies and non-essential purchases compared to older generations. Approximately 47% of millennials and 40% of Gen Z prioritize having money to pursue their passions or hobbies, compared to 32% of Gen X and 20% of baby boomers. Travel and entertainment are among the non-essential experiences that the younger generation prioritizes, with spending on entertainment increasing in recent years.

The rise of soft saving among younger workers, particularly Gen Z, challenges the traditional notions of saving and retirement. With a focus on quality of life, personal growth, and mental well-being, this generation is redefining financial priorities. While concerns about retirement persist, there is a growing recognition that retirement may no longer mean complete withdrawal from the workforce. Striking a balance between present enjoyment and future security becomes crucial as individuals navigate the evolving landscape of personal finance. As the financial attitudes of younger generations continue to shape the future, it remains to be seen how this shift towards soft saving will impact the broader economy and society as a whole.