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COVID-19 uncovers youth’s fear of running out of money

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The ongoing pandemic has taken several good night’s sleep from Mary Anne Lucero, 28. “The anxiety,” she said, “brought by uncertainty is a powerful stimulant”.

Filipino millennials and Gen Zs are afraid of running out of money during the pandemic, thus becoming more financially conscious.

With an unsure future before her, the communications associate made several changes in her life that she said she “probably” wouldn’t have done if not for these challenges.

What once was a spender, Lucero now saves more than she did two years ago. She invests in several financial instruments, from variable unit-linked (VUL) products to cryptocurrency. She also spends less, “but I still do, especially if I know the purchase will make me happy”. Lucero said, “Grab every opportunity that brings positivity, even just a bit, into your life. We all need it.”

Like Lucero, many millennials (aged 25-40) and Gen Zs (15-24) have become more financially conscious during the pandemic, driven by fear of “running out of money”. 

According to a study conducted by insurer Manulife, titled Know Your Ys and Zs: A closer look at the financial and mental well-being of Filipino Millennials and Generation Z in the time of COVID-19, millennials and Gen Zs are also worried about “getting sick”, “losing their lives or their loved ones”, “declining mental health”, and “drowning in debt”. 

Sixty percent of millennials are investing in cryptocurrency. 

As many believe the pandemic has reduced their funds and job opportunities, 77 percent of the 500 respondents prioritize spending more on necessities than wants. Majority or 82 percent don’t want to incur debt or take loans as much as possible, and 82 percent save money every pay period or every month. 

Understanding that saving is not enough, millennials and Gen Zs have started taking steps to secure their future financially. More than half or 67 percent of surveyed millennials are investing in financial instruments, including insurance (79 percent), government savings programs (78 percent), and  cryptocurrency (60 percent). 

Their younger and not-as-financially-stable peers, on the other hand, plan to purchase an insurance plan in the next one to two years, with VUL products as top consideration.

“While millennials and Gen Z may have different priorities and goals, depending on where they are in their life journey, what is common is that the challenges brought by COVID-19 have accelerated their desire for financial stability.” noted Melissa Henson, chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines. 

Mental health issues also affect working Gen Zs, mainly due to worries about debt and the possibility of job loss. 

To look after their mental well-being, Gen Zs practice various ways to improve their health, such as getting enough sleep (84 percent), enjoying a proper meal (76 percent), talking to friends and family (74 percent), making time for hobbies (74 percent), and being active through fitness activities and exercise (62 percent). 

“Millennials and Gen Zs’ most formative years have been marked by hyper-digitalization, easy access to information, rapid social, political and economic shifts, environmental issues, and unprecedented global change,” said Henson.

“Because of the pandemic, what should have been an optimistic period in their personal and professional lives has become a chapter filled with uncertainty and concern,” she added as the insurer bares plan to introduce more products that cater to the young generations’ needs.


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