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The Unlikely Pair: TikTok and FinLit

Kriti S, 16 yo, USA. // The social media platform, TikTok, has taken the world by storm. For those of you who don’t know much about this app, TikTok is a video sharing social network used to make short videos about anything ranging from dance to comedy to education to vlogs. Think karaoke and ‘Just Dance’ merged to form an app for this new digital GenZ age. Over the past two-ish years, we have been tossed into a world filled with content creators, content houses, viral trends, viral music etc. It’s honestly hard to imagine a world without hit dances like the “Renegade” or “Old Town Road” becoming one of the biggest songs of our generation. While some content creators/ influencers have become quite synonymous with the app itself, (think Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, Dixie D’Amelio, LilHuddy, Avani, Josh Richards etc) there is a whole new world out in the TikTok verse comprised of financial literacy TikTok!

I might be one of the only people who I know who doesn’t have TikTok (lmaooo), but for this post, I downloaded it just to dig a bit deeper into this thriving community of social media financial education. According to website Oberlo, almost 41% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24. Since financial literacy should start young, the TikTok FinLit influencers have captured the target age range.

Here are some of the biggest FinLit influencers on the app:

Humphrey Yang has 1.1 million followers on the app, and is one of the most popular FinLit influencers. His videos are in a comedic style, and by the end of the 30 to 60 seconds, he teaches the user a financial lesson ranging from Tax loopholes, credit unions vs banks, hedge funds, loans to SO MUCH MORE. One of my favorite videos he created was when he compared buying an Avocado Toast (what millennials splurge on) at a restaurant to making one at home. By the end, the user who most likely buys avocado toasts from restaurants, goes home knowing that if they buy one twice a week, they will spend over $1000 a year vs. $200 dollars if it was homemade. In addition to advice, he also posts financial news. A favorite of mine was his video on the Gap X Yeezy deal, where the Gap stock boosted upwards and he discussed if this business move is going to help or hurt the two companies.

Another big influencer in this community is Taylor Price, who specializes in GenZ Financial Literacy and focuses on young women. Some favorite videos of mine are “How to change your broken a$$ mindset to a wealthy one” and “how to invest and be conscious of the earth”. Coupon Katie has over 1.1 million followers on the app. As you can see from her handle, she is an extreme couponer who shares tips on how to use coupons and not overspend. She posts her share of informational clips but also extremely funny videos such as her trying to seduce the cashier to not hassle her about her coupons.

Something really interesting, even out of the ordinary for a social media superstar, is that according to TIME, Charli D’Amelio (over 100 million TikTok followers) is promoting the personal finance app, Step Mobile, a banking app for teens to help manage and send money. This app claims to help build credit scores and teaches kids about financial responsibility. The response to Charli’s partnership with Step Mobile, has been tepid, probably because she is not known for finances. We cannot know for sure the motives behind this, but perhaps she got a good deal, or maybe she is generally interested in promoting financial literacy. Regardless of her motivation, Charli has had a profound impact on GenZ and millennials throughout the globe (she is probably one of the most influential and famous people in the world), so hopefully her partnership will spark interest in teens to improve their financial literacy so they can achieve financial independence.

All in all, it is really great that millennials and GenZ are using the app not only for funny content and dances but also for educational purposes. According to the NY Times, 21 states mandate that some sort of personal finance course be taught in high schools, and that is just not enough. I really believe that financial literacy will help you in your life, and if it does anything at all, it will decrease your stress level. In this age of heightened stress-levels and always trying to play ‘catch-up’ being financially savvy will definitely create more calm in your life.

So it is imperative that young people get some sort of form of financial education, whether that be through books, podcasts or even TikTok. Hey, so next time you are on TikTok, try searching #PersonalFinances, #FinLit or #FinancialIndependence and see if you can just learn a little something more, so that hopefully you won’t have to live in your parents' basements when you’re older!

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