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12 Gen Z Money Phrases — and What Their Meanings Say About Teens Today
Maybe it happened at Starbucks. Or maybe it was on the street. The details vary, but older generations across the country have reported the same experience: passing a group of teenagers and overhearing words that they couldn’t understand — at all.
Are schools teaching a new foreign language these days?
Beyond their love of finstas and all things retro, Gen Z has collectively penned a slew of new additions to the lexicon. One of the topics that turns up again and again? Money.
We spoke to Mark Beal, author of the new book “Decoding Gen Z,” about Gen Z slang and the ways young people are reimagining their relationship to money. Here are 12 finance-related Gen Z sayings in addition to Beal’s thoughts on what they mean for the cultural moment and the future of personal finance in America.
Gen Z money slang
Bougie / Boujee
Someone with expensive, lavish taste.
“There’s no shame in being bougie. Everyone deserves to enjoy the finer things in life.”
“Good, because I can’t live without Whole Foods, charcuterie boards, and Coach purses.”
Bread is made of dough, which is another common slang term that means money. Bread is money.
“I do it for the bread.”
An adjective used to describe someone wearing expensive items, like diamond jewelry, or to describe a nice outfit, in general.
“Have you seen his new music video in Las Vegas? He’s dripping.”
To trick someone into giving you something.
“Joanne the Scammer cannot be outfinessed.”
To show off possessions. Knowledge, or other intangibles, can also be flexed.
“Look at these new Yeezys, I’m flexin’.”
When someone looks better or has a better lifestyle than they did before.
“Have you seen Ashley recently? She’s an influencer now with her toned abs, sponsored posts, and flat-tummy tea.”
“Oh really? The glo up is real!”
Something to aspire to. It can be used in reference to many areas of life — relationships, friendships, careers, or finances, among others.
“John Legend and Chrissy Teigen are serious relationship goals.”
Pronounced ‘gwop,’ guap means lots and lots of money. Seriously. A ridiculous amount of money.
“I just got my first paycheck! Do you see me getting all of this guap right now?”
Derived from the high-end fashion brand, to be Gucci means you’re doing well.
“Hey, how are you?”
“I’m Gucci. Just busy lately.”
Let’s get this bread
A motivational phrase that means to go after money and success.
“Sales are at an all time high, team. Let’s get this bread!”
Live your best life
Enjoying life to the fullest, usually in an individual, unique way.
“I’m living my best life.”
Secure the bag
Getting money, but it can refer to accomplishing goals in general.
“I see you working a full-time job and side hustle. Secure the bag, sis!”
The Gen-Z money mentality
So what do these phrases suggest about the financial mindsets of young people today? And what does this new mindset mean for the financial future of America? Author and Rutgers professor Mark Beal has a few thoughts. Here’s what he had to say.
Living in a cashless world
Generation Z lives, thrives, spends and saves in a cashless world.
According to the 2017 Accenture Driving The Future of Payments: 10 Mega Trends, 69% of Gen Z-ers use a mobile banking app daily or weekly. When I ask Gen Zers if they have cash in their wallet or purse, they respond by asking if I accept Venmo. One Gen Zer I interviewed for my book commented, "Our generation hardly ever carries cash and we rely on mobile technology like Venmo, which makes it very easy to pay someone."
The concept of adopting and using technology to conduct financial transactions supports two of the six pillars that are consistent with the majority of Gen Zers – they value immediacy and convenience – and that applies to money whether they are spending it or collecting it.
Experiences, not products
When it comes to spending their money, Generation Z prioritizes people, places, and experiences over material goods.
One Gen Z college student I interviewed for my book stated, "We spend more of our money on experiences rather than products, ultimately trying to strike a balance between now and the future when it comes to our finances. While we may not be as focused as previous generations on saving every dollar for retirement or large future investments like a home, we try to balance the dollars we do have on memorable experiences we can enjoy today with friends while saving for experiences in the future."
I found the Gen Zers I have interviewed specifically about the topic of money and finances are not frugal. They are smart with their money and spend it reasonably. They are very practical when it comes to spending their money and they will spend money very carefully on what they want.
One recent college graduate told me, ‘We are on such limited budgets that we are not just giving our money away. Brands and companies should be on notice that we will conduct extensive, in-depth research before we make a purchase. I will only invest my money in quality products that have received positive reviews from my Gen Z peers, family, and media.
Marriage, family, and home buying
The majority of Gen Zers I have interviewed do not plan to follow the traditional path of their parents when it comes to marrying young, starting a family, and purchasing a home. In their 20s, they are prioritizing travel and experiences and they will delay investing their money on a home and family until they enter their 30s.
For now, they want to spend their money on experiences that help them flourish, learn, and evolve as individuals and as part of communities where they share passions with other like-minded Gen Zers.
A new generation of young people is changing language, culture, and how we think about money. So step aside, millennials. Gen Z’s time has come.
Mark Beal served as a public relations practitioner and marketer for nearly 30 years, developing and executing marketing and public relations campaigns for category leading companies and brands around such major sports and entertainment platforms as the Olympic Games, Super Bowl, World Series, U.S. Open Tennis and The Rolling Stones. Beal collaborates daily with Gen Zers as the first full-time professor of professional practice in public relations in the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information. It was Beal’s Gen Z students who inspired him to write his first book, “101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College,” which was published in 2017 and his second book, “101 Lessons They Never Taught You In High School About Going To College,” which was published in 2018. “Decoding Gen Z: 101 Lessons Generation Z Will Teach Corporate America, Marketers & Media,” has captured the attention of media, marketers, and employers nationwide as Generation Z became the largest consumer segment in the United States in 2019. “Decoding Gen Z: 101 Lessons Generation Z Will Teach Corporate America, Marketers & Media” is available on Amazon.