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The invisible money generation

Today’s kids have a different concept of money to previous generations. Instead of using coins and bank notes, this generation has grown up watching people buy things by tapping and swiping or clicking buttons online. They live in a world where in-app purchases, electronic bank transfers and digital currencies like bitcoin are as common as piggy banks were back in the day.

So it’s no wonder that research from the Financial Planning Association (FPA) revealed two in three Australian parents say it’s difficult for their children to grasp the actual value of money. 

Digital natives

Generations Z (born 1995 to 2009) and Alpha (born after 2010) are the invisible money generation – citizens of an increasingly digital world with the Internet at their fingertips. They’re savvy with technology because they’ve been using it all their lives, and having ready access to all the information they want has made them more curious in matters of money and life than any previous generation.


These digital natives don’t just learn about money from their parents. They gather their information from a wide variety of sources, including grandparents (63%), teachers or coaches (59%), peers (26%) and social media (18%).1

Many kids are using digital money from as young as nine years old:1

How children use digital money
Ages 9-13
Ages 14-18
Make online purchases for themselves or their family 30% 68%
Buy a mobile app or in-app purchase, or a console in-game purchase 48% 66%
Transact with debit/credit card or other form of digital money 31% 65%
Make a purchase using a mobile phone 24% 44%

More confident, but worse off

The FPA research showed parents recognise that their children are more engaged with money than they were at their age. Compared to their own childhoods, 69% of parents say their children are more confident asking questions about money and 57% feel their kids are more financially literate.1

Yet, 62% of parents believe their children’s generation will be financially worse off than they were.Uncertain economic conditions and the growing cost of living play a part in this belief, but for many this fear goes beyond external influences. More than two in five parents are concerned that their kids won’t have the financial skills they will need as adults to become financially successful.1

Financial stress and uncertainty

It’s possible that financial stress and limited financial literacy are affecting people’s confidence when it comes to talking about money. Almost two in three young parents (aged 18-29) say they are very or somewhat stressed, while that number is closer to one in three for those aged 60 or over. People living in regional or remote areas are more likely to be financially stressed than their city-dwelling counterparts, and single parents report a much higher level of stress (67%) than those who live in two-parent households (47%).1


Parents who are financially stressed are less likely to talk about money to their kids compared to those who don’t feel stressed – with 32% admitting they’re reluctant to have these conversations because they don’t want their kids to worry about money. But the FPA report revealed that children who participate in conversations about money are more curious, confident and financially literate than those who don’t – even if the conversations aren’t always positive.1

Building the next generation’s financial literacy

The FPA Share the Dream report shares advice about how previous generations can talk to younger kids and teenagers about money and role model good money behaviour. Children learn habits from everyone around them, so it’s imperative to get them started on the right path from an early age. By working together and making sure kids get the information they need, we can all help the invisible money generation become financially-savvy adults.

Want to know more?

Seeking advice from a financial adviser can build your financial literacy and confidence. If you would like to know more speak to your financial adviser.

Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (Colonial First State) is the issuer of the FirstChoice range of super and pension products from the Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust ABN 26 458 298 557. Colonial First State also issues interests in products made available under FirstChoice Investments and FirstChoice Wholesale Investments. This document may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Financial Services Guide (FSG) carefully, assess whether the information is appropriate for you, and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. The PDS and FSG can be obtained from or by calling us on 13 13 36.