Young people are almost as likely to consult fortune tellers as financial experts and are more familiar with Elon Musk’s net worth than their family’s, new study shows

April 19, 2023, 1:00 PM UTC
Businessman Consulting a Glowing Financial Crystal Ball
One in four millennials is consulting with a fortune teller for financial advice.
VallarieE—Getty Images

Welcome to the world of millennials, who mix access to cutting-edge technology and always-on information with mystical sources for financial wisdom.

This generation of workers and rising leaders are incorporating zodiac signs into hiring practices and working with Reiki healers to de-stress.

And, as it turns out, they’re also turning to unorthodox measures when it comes to managing their money. 

Financial planning firm, Empower surveyed 2,000 Americans for its Money Talks report and found that one in four millennials is consulting a fortune teller for financial advice (30% turned to a financial advisor). 

They are the generation most likely to ask a psychic about their money, with 17% of Gen Z doing so, compared with 6% and 1% of Gen X and boomers, respectively.

Millennials are also the most likely generation to turn to Google for money matters, with 50% of them relying on search engines. In contrast, only a third of millennials admitted speaking to a financial advisor and the same percentage of this generation turn to social media for tips. 

People aren’t talking about money—they’re searching it

According to Empower’s research, over 60% of people believe more open conversations about money are the key to financial freedom and closing the gender wage gap.

Yet speaking candidly about their own finances remains elusive: Almost the same percentage of people (62%) don’t talk about money at all. 

Surprisingly, large majorities won’t discuss financial matters with their family (63%) or friends (75%), with over a third preferring to chat about politics and even death. 

People may not be talking about wealth, but the research shows they are searching it. 

Although millennials are the most likely to rely on search engines for financial advice, the researchers found that the general population isn’t immune to using Google—with terms like “how to buy bonds” and “how to be rich” more sought-after on Google in 2022 than “how to be smart.”

The survey revealed that the very questions people are asking online are the same ones they’re avoiding talking about in real life. For example, almost a third of respondents want to know how much money they should invest in the market, yet 49% say they never talk about investing. 

“Paradoxically, money is on the mind, but it’s not on the tip of the tongue,” the researchers highlighted—and it’s leading to a generation of people knowing more about celebrity finances than their own.

When people are more likely to turn to research about money than talk about it with their loved ones, it’s no wonder that younger generations (who are most likely to turn to online resources for financial advice) admitted to being more familiar with the net worth of Elon Musk, Beyoncé, Jeff Bezos, and Kim Kardashian than that of their own family’s.

The cost of silence

“Conversation is a currency on the pathway to financial security, and open discussions about money can have a truly transformative effect on society,” says Carol Waddell, president of Empower Personal Wealth. 

The research shows that growing up, less than a quarter of respondents discussed saving money, negotiating a salary, or investing in the stock market. However, these conversations might have alleviated some anxiety in their adult years.

It could explain why younger generations (Gen Z and millennials) and women are considerably more stressed about their personal finances. 

Despite being more likely to call themselves an “open book,” younger generations are likely to have been raised by Gen X and boomer parents who were most likely to avoid talking about money matters. Meanwhile, according to the survey, women are less likely to understand how the likes of the stock market work, showing that an education gap could be to blame for increased financial anxiety.

It’s why, amid the cost of living crisis and as society aims to close wage inequalities, Waddell stresses that “staying tight-lipped about money is something people can no longer afford.”

“Our study shows people believe that clarity about their financial picture, talking to an advisor, and financial education are key to achieving financial success.”

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