From V-Bucks to Venmo… it’s complicated

For Gen Zs making money and spending it in a digital world, financial literacy needs a major level up

0:00 / 0:00

Remember the old days, when a dollar was a dollar? You could save that crisp, green piece of paper in a bank, grow it in a government savings bond, or cash it in for 100 penny candies. 

Times have changed, and so has the dollar. Currency has gone digital. For a generation of digital natives, money is easy to move, and harder than ever to hold onto. 

Young Gen Zs convert allowance into Fortnite V-bucks. University students with the stomach for it, trade and buy blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, and any of the 2786 others. 

Gen Z’s repay their friends using Venmo and Interac. They buy what they can’t afford using instalment loan credit alternatives, such as Affirm and Afterpay.

This easy, digital flow of money, combined with the rising costs of living, mean that the average Gen Z already carries $14,700 in debt before they’ve secured their first job. 

Gen Z will make up 40% of all consumers by 2020, and consumption has never looked more like a bloodsport. Thanks to Facebook, 22% of the average Insta feed is now #ad posts. Experts believe the average American sees between 4000 and 10 000 ads a day.

So, sure, it might be time to get an ad blocker, but the assault on the Wallets of Zs runs deeper still. As is the modern rite of passage, Zs struggle with student debt. It’s more expensive than ever to go to school. The Royal Bank of Canada found tuition at Canadian universities is 2.7 times what it was in 1990. In the US, prices have doubled, or tripled, since the ‘80s.

This all might be manageable if a debt-saddled graduate could find a cheap place to live.


The average price of a single-family detached home in Greater Vancouver is more than 10 times what it was in 1980. In Toronto, it now takes 32 years to save enough for a downpayment. San Francisco is notorious. Median rent in that city is $3700/month. Buying a house requires an annual income of at least $172 000 USD.

Generation Z knows what it’s facing. In fact, they’re probably more informed about themselves than any generation that’s come before. Young people are asking for financial literacy in school, but it’s no longer enough to cover the basics in class. For Zs, financial literacy has to become a full time commitment. Because that’s how often their wallets, and their futures, are being targeted.