Gen Y finance site mixes info and app
American Express' Currency seeks to give advice that Gordon Gecko-era parents can't provide.
A new website wants to teach young adults about personal finance and, in this era of social networking, let them share what they've learned with their friends. They can even earn gold stars for good behavior.
Currency, created by American Express with a team of more than 25 personal-finance writers and bloggers, hopes to fill the gap with a robust website made up of articles, blog posts, online courses and a social networking "game."
Today's young adults are starting their financial lives in an economy more difficult than their parents or perhaps their grandparents have ever experienced, creating the need for different kinds of advice, say Currency's creators.
In a webinar introducing the new site, organizers shared several tidbits of information about Generation Y and money that we found interesting:
- Today's young adults are afraid and, because they're afraid, they're making the wrong financial decisions.
- Unlike their parents, they don't want to do things alone. They want help and advice.
- Their parents, because they came of age in a simpler financial time, aren't equipped to help them.
Manisha Thakor, a financial planner and co-author of "On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance" and "Get Financially Naked" and a contributor to the site, explained why parents can't give their adult children the advice they need:
Their parents came of age in the Gordon Gecko "greed is good" era, the era of "you are what you earn" … (today) the workplace is screaming "I'm just not that into you."
The site provides information on what it calls "Big Decisions," such as buying a home, dealing with student loans and starting a career, and also more mundane advice, such as how to make cocktails at home. It has six courses so far, developed by the University of Pennsylvania business school's Knowledge@Wharton, and plans to add more.
You can't create a Gen X product without an iPhone app, and Currency has Social Currency, integrated with location app Foursquare, so users can earn badges for taking personal-finance courses, check in at various locations, and invite their friends to comment on purchases or items they're considering buying.
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They can, of course, also share articles and comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and earn "stars" for using the Currency site. The organizers say the site will evolve to meet its users' demands.
Being the age of Gen Y parents (or maybe a little older since I came of age in the pre-Gordon Gecko era), I automatically bristle at being told my young adulthood was so simple that I'm not equipped to advise today's young people. But it is true that my generation graduated from college with a lot less student loan debt and fewer credit cards. Plus we didn't have Foursquare, iPhones -- or the Internet.
What do you think? What kind of financial advice does Gen Y need and what's the best way to share it with them? Or are they not listening?
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