The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on incomes and livelihood has made millennial and Generation Z (Gen Z) Filipinos aware of their financial health, pushing them to save for future needs, according to a survey conducted by Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (Phils.), Inc. (Manulife Philippines).  

“What we found through the study is that the pandemic, actually, has been a game changer for these two generations. They have become much more financially conscious because their top stressor, or their number one worry during this time, is running out of money,” said Melissa Henson, Manulife Philippines chief marketing officer, in a press briefing on Wednesday.  

The survey also shed light on the financial product types that the millennials and Gen Zs owned, with insurance coming out on top at 79% for millennials and 68% for Gen Z.  

Government savings programs or bonds came second at 78% and 50% respectively, while cryptocurrency was third at 60% and 40%. 

The survey, which covered 200 millennial respondents born from 1981–1996 and 300 Gen Z respondents aged 15 to 24 years old, found that these generations prioritize staying healthy and avoiding illness, with the majority (87%) saying they want to save “in case something might happen to them.” 

Popular saving methods include putting away money every pay period or every month (82%) and following a monthly budget (75%).   

“As we have learned in the past, health concerns lead to greater financial concerns. Plus, the economy and its effect on job loss has led them to shift their priorities a little bit and focus on needs rather than wants,” said Ms. Henson.  

Despite the focus on spending on necessities, findings revealed that members of Gen Z tend to reward themselves more, citing declining mental health due to exposure to toxic social media and peers getting ahead. On the other hand, working respondents expressed more concern over debt and job loss.  

To deal with stress, 84% of all respondents cited sleep as a coping mechanism, with 76% saying they cope by enjoying a proper meal. Interestingly, the survey found that around 25% of Gen Zs purchase K-pop merchandise.  

As a generation born into the digitized world, Gen Z has also made inroads in pursuing financial security earlier, with the average Gen Z starting to save at 17 years old and starting to invest at 21 years old. Meanwhile, millennials surveyed started saving only at 23 years old and investing at 27 years old.  

Both generations, however, have been growing money, with millennials casting a wider net due to age, experience, and business goals.  

“Starting a business is something that emerged quite strongly. These young Filipinos have very entrepreneurial aspirations,” said Ms. Henson. “Because of that, they’re taking a long term, well-balanced approach to not just saving, but also growing their money to make sure that they can achieve those goals.”  

The takeaway from the survey, according to Ms. Henson, is the importance of early financial literacy: “There is so much information accessible [to Gen Z]. They really grew up in an already digitized world so they have become aware much earlier. We need to engage with Gen Zs that are still in school because they’re already showing interest.” — Brontë H. Lacsamana