Will Zoomers and millennials marry for love or money?
It was an interesting evening. This was his first date in almost a year that made him laugh and forget the time. He had almost given up on finding a girl he liked, but this one had just the right mix of confidence and vulnerability that made her different.
As the waiter walked toward their table, he idly wondered if all servers in fine dining restaurants with steak that costs P3,480 for a 200-gram silver striploin were trained to move in a certain way. He tucked away a mental note to ask his friend in the food and beverage industry in case he pushes forward with investing in a colleague’s restaurant.
As he checked the bill for errors, his date picked up her phone to pay for her share. He smiled and waved the phone away. He loved the date; he will pay for the entire bill. And probably ask her out again. For the second date, they will split the cost.
He looked at her and noted her dainty jewelry and her massive grin. She was talking so charmingly about how she and her friends were booking a trip overseas looking for best value-for-money tickets and accommodation. From the looks of it, she was stylish but practical, successful and financially smart. She’s an investor, too.
What these two have seems to be rare among today’s young ones. The dating scene is littered with more than 1,500 dating apps and very few happy stories beyond the ones featured on news sites. Zoomers and millennials’ marriage decisions are massively different from their parents.’
It is not very difficult to see why.
Zoomers or Gen Zs (born between 1997 and 2012) and millennials (born 1981 to 1996) seem to be the most financially traumatized generations of all time, even including those who lived through the Great Depression. Economic crises, like hurricanes, have been happening more often, with more serious intensity since the late 1990s. These two generations have lived through the Asian Financial Crisis, the Great Recession, a global pandemic and now, continued layoffs around the world.
This has made Zoomers and millennials very practical with their marriage decisions.
This is what it means to be financially woke. Cara Eriguel-Rabat, a professional model, event host and social media content creator, got married at the height of the pandemic to Paolo Luis Rabat, chief of staff at the Office of the Mayor of Mati in Davao Oriental. She says millennials invented the “intentional delay” to reach a level of financial stability to “put a stop to generational financial traumas over marriage.” But for Zoomers, she believes many will even question the need to marry.
I’ve asked Nicole Alba, a Gen Z entrepreneur and content creator, probably one of the youngest, most successful financial content creators out there. Her Youtube channel has almost half a million subscribers and over 15.7 million views.
Alba says the Gen Zs she knows have “very strong independent girl boss with I-don’t-need-no-man” vibes. She says Zoomers will need both love and money, but if it comes to a toss-up, most would rather marry for money or not marry at all if there will be a money problem.
“In this economy, it better be both because love is not enough,” Alba notes.
Jigo Reloj, digital strategy and intelligence director of Hakuhodo Philippines, points out that among Zoomers, only 53 percent still see themselves legally getting married in the future while 28 percent say they are open to the possibility.
“There are changing times and changing motivations. Marriage is not really for money or not, but a journey to fulfillment,” Reloj says.
Media entrepreneur Ceej Tantengco-Malolos says the changing times mean things don’t “just work out” for today’s generation. “We have to be intentional and deliberate to reach our goals. So it’s important to marry someone who is responsible, goal-oriented and shares your personal and financial goals,” Malolos says.
“Life is hard these days and we don’t have the same security or safety net that our grandparents had that allowed them to get married earlier, have lots of kids and just figure things out along the way,” she says.
Malolos is head of partnerships and business development at PumaPodcast, an award-winning podcast and production house that’s locally grown but with a global footprint. Her own podcast, “5 Minutes Lang” is designed for Zoomers. Her podcast often includes financial tips, like choosing between being an entrepreneur and being an employee, having multiple gigs and buying your first car. This practicality is the complete opposite of Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), whose generation was defined by love that survived against all odds. Think “The Sound of Music” and “Love Story.”
Ali Sanggalang, cofounder of the wildly popular T-shirt and media brand Linya-Linya, says that both Zoomers and millennials fall in love with each other but also need to fall in love with their future together. “Hindi na pwede yung pure love na parang bahala na. Pikit mata na lang dahil mahal ko. (We know we can’t have love that throws caution to the wind, the kind that dictates us to just close our eyes from reality because we love the other person.)”
“The Gen Z is the self-worth generation. They know what they are worth and that is why they know what they need from their partner,” he says. Sangalang says money is part of his conversations with his current partner. “We both want to know if we will have a secure financial future.”
Going back to the couple on their soon-to-be second date and those who are reading this, the following information may be useful.
Juggling financial problems is easier for couples than for a single person. It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that bills are easier to pay for a two-income household than one, assuming that no one in the marriage is a freeloader. This, plus the emotional and mental benefit of having someone to talk to, shows that love makes life financially better in the end. Hugs are free, after all.
The financial benefits of getting married disappear when there is no planning about having children. The addition of each child impacts education planning needs from cradle to college, the size of a house, the number of cars and the amount of monthly living expenses, among others. It is a huge multiplier. Couples have to plan their income growth to plan the family’s headcount growth. Normalize financial planning and financial conversations for couples and children, if you decide to have one. Talk about debt, budgeting, even retirement. This way, there are few surprises. —Contributed
Salve Duplito is a registered financial planner, print and broadcast journalist, financial educator, and president and CEO of Empower and Transform, OPC. Email [email protected]