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Kyla Scanlon on Gen Z’s divided investing attitudes

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The woman behind "the vibesession"

Economic commentator Kyla Scanlon is noticing a potentially worrying trend in the investing outlook among younger generations.

“It’s a bifurcated world,” she told CNBC’s “ETF Edge” this week. 

Scanlon, 26, who rose to prominence through her social media videos on the market and economy, explained why some members of Generation Z are aggressively saving for milestones like retirement, while others are taking a far more lax approach. 

“You do have these people who are maxing out their 401(k)s. They’re doing everything they can to plan for retirement,” she said. “But then you have the other side, which is an element to financial nihilism, where people don’t want to save for retirement. They don’t want to save money in general because they don’t believe the future is there.”

Scanlon is aiming to bridge Gen Z’s divided financial attitudes with her new book, “In This Economy? How Money and Markets Really Work.”

“Financial education is always going to be an uphill battle, just because money is such a personal subject. But it’s important that we give people the tools that they need to start somewhere,” she said.

She points to the housing market as a prime example of where young people are falling behind. Gen Zers represented just 3% of total home buyers in 2023, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors — a statistic Scanlon attributes to higher interest rates.

“The younger generation definitely wants [homeownership], because there’s a lot of financial benefit to having equity,” she said. “People are just trying to figure out how to do that financially right now, considering where mortgage rates are, considering where home prices have been. It’s difficult.”

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