Young Americans are so obsessed with being rich it’s now distorting their views of their finances — here’s why ‘the norm’ no longer seems ‘normal’

young americans are so obsessed with being rich it’s now distorting their views of their finances — here’s why ‘the norm’ no longer seems ‘normal’

Young Americans struggling with money norms

Evelyn Hidalgo is a 29-year-old full-time content creator who posts about being a mom on a budget — but she says her TikTok feed often shows her a lifestyle that feels impossibly out of reach.

“It doesn’t feel like the norm is your normal,” Hidalgo told the Wall Street Journal.

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Hidalgo, who lives in Nashville and was laid off from her job as a social strategist about a year ago, says when she looks at her social media, her feed feels “split in half” between folks who are struggling and those who appear to be living their best lives.

She’s not the only one who’s feeling the disonnance — in fact, a recent study from Credit Karma reveals over 40% of Gen Z and millennials report experiencing “money dysmorphia.”

It’s a term financial advisers have coined to describe a feeling of insecurity when it comes to your financial well-being, even if you’re not actually faring as poorly as you believe.

Gen Z and millennials obsessed with being rich

Nearly half of Gen Z and millennials admit they’re obsessed with the idea of being rich, according to the Credit Karma study.

It’s not hard to guess why. While scrolling through their For You pages, young Americans are likely to spot social media influencers posting videos of stunning vistas on their global travels and unboxing hauls of their favorite makeup and clothing brands.

“Money dysmorphia is kind of like today’s version of keeping up with the Joneses,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma, in the press release. “A lot of people are examining their finances and comparing themselves to their peers, people on social media, and even celebrities, which is bringing up feelings of inadequacy.”

Caitlyn Sprinkle, a 27-year-old financial analyst based in Nashville, tells the Journal she uses a budgeting app and has started cooking at home more to save money — so that she can afford other things, like a pair of Lululemon leggings, for example.

“Between TikTok and having your friends around you, you’re pressured to buy the things because you want to fit in,” she says.

But these pressures can come with major consequences. A massive 95% of respondents who experience money dysmorphia in the Credit Karma study say it negatively impacts their finances, like holding them back from building savings and buying a home or leading them to overspend and take on more debt.

‘Keep your eyes on your own paper’

Alev says this “distortion between perception and reality” could be causing many Americans to fall behind on their financial goals.

For other young people, she recommends they “take an honest look at your finances, set clear goals, make a plan, and, most importantly, keep your eyes on your own paper.”

So if your goal is to build up your savings, start by tracking your finances, finding places to make room in your budget and scheduling automatic payments from your paycheck to keep you accountable.

Many young Americans are already on board with budgeting, including making use of the trendy cash stuffing method, which involves taking your paycheck in cash and dividing it into different envelopes customized based on your specific spending and savings categories.

So, as an example, if you (or someone in your family) is really dying for that pink Stanley tumbler, you’d have to check whether you’ve got enough room in your discretionary budget envelope before taking that coveted cup to the cash counter.

It can also be helpful to chat with a professional. The right financial adviser will help you evaluate your financial situation and get you on a sustainable path to meeting your money goals.

However, if you’re dealing with anxiety and other complicated feelings when it comes to finances, such as money dysmorphia, you might want to consider seeking out a financial therapist as well.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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