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How Gen Z is challenging the taboo of talking about salaries: 'It's important to showcase my finances in a transparent way'

Gen Z creators open up about their payday routines. (Credit: @luvswallet, @asap.kristy, @itslexilarson / TikTok)

While finance is a popular topic across generations and social media platforms, Gen Zers have recently been adding their own flair to the subject — specifically, by sharing not only their salaries but also their investment techniques.

While a 2022 Indeed study revealed that 63% of people have never asked a coworker about their pay, Gen Z appears to be upending those taboos around financial transparency. In fact, many creators’ entire pages are built around the idea that the world should know exactly how much is in their wallets.

Luv (@luvswallet), a 23-year-old personal finance creator, feels it's important that he share not only his $80,000 salary, but also what his bills look like and what he invests in.

“I went to college after high school with the expectation of getting a full time job and to start building wealth,” Luv told Yahoo News in an email. “Once I got my return offer I was presented with 401(k), Health Savings, ESPP [employee stock purchase plan] and so much other stuff that I did NOT understand. SO I decided to break down a paycheck and fully understand where my money is going.”

Commenters on his "payday routine" post were quick to point out how expenses can add up and raise the bar for how much income is needed to be comfortable.

“Dam so u gotta make over 100k just to be ok,” replied @iso_chris.

Some Gen Zers like Kristy Nguyen (@asap.kristy), a 23-year-old finance and lifestyle creator, have even gone a step further and shared their entire investment and retirement portfolio. According to a recent Fortune survey, individuals in their 20s feel they need $1.2 million to retire, and Nguyen's portfolio is one example of how to get there.

“I think gen Z is making a profound impact online by being so open about one’s finances,” Nguyen, who claims to have a net worth of $150,000, told Yahoo News in an email. “I feel it’s important to showcase my finances in a transparent way because so many people aren’t transparent about their finances which makes it difficult for people to truly grasp how to budget, save, invest, and so forth.”

She also stresses in her videos that she isn’t trying to “flaunt or show off,” but rather offer “transparency” into a topic that can be difficult to navigate.

“The younger demographic is becoming increasingly open about their financial situations compared to previous generations of Americans who tend to be tight-lipped about money and salaries," David Straughan, MarketWatch Guides personal finance writer and researcher, said in a statement to Yahoo News.

What matters to Gen Z when it comes to money

As Gen Z becomes further entrenched in the workforce, two priorities have stood out for them, according to a survey from online writing platform EduBirdie, reported by Fortune: “enjoyment” and making more money. Furthermore, the study revealed that about 83% of Gen Z participants want to earn as much or more as their parents and become wealthy.

“Culture shapes our behavior, and when transparent money conversations are part of the culture, we feel less alone in our challenges and feel like we can ask questions and seek advice instead of struggling in silence,” Katie Gatti (@moneywithkatie), a 29-year-old finance adviser, told Yahoo News. “The old methods of building wealth are on their way out the door, if not gone already."

One popular strategy for allocating paycheck funds is the 50/30/20 method, according to NerdWallet. This method earmarks 50% of your paycheck for essentials, 30% for things you want and 20% for savings and debt repayment. However, while these percentages add up to an arguably well-rounded financial system, the numbers don’t always work out when inputting actual salaries.

Lexi Larson (@itslexilarson) shared exactly that in a TikTok post showing what's left over from her paycheck after paying bills.

“This is the most realistic payday routine I’ve ever seen thank you,” replied @mellrose66.

“We are being real,” Luv said. “It also puts things into perspective for everyday people because not only are you struggling, but so is everyone else.”