With salaries averaging $40,000 for young adults, coupled with 69% of millennials having less than $1,000 in their savings account and student debt soaring to $30,000 on average per person, adept money management is a core tenet for any successful relationship. Add to that the fact that, according to a recent Experian survey, nearly 60% of divorced couples attribute their breakup (at least in part) to financial issues.
Yet somehow, our schooling doesn’t really prepare us to be masters of finance. If anything, much of it “protects” us from learning these skills until we’ve already made decisions that will impact us well into our adulthood (eg. student loans or getting married). Many individuals and couples hack together their financial education with advice from their parents (warranted or not), their friends, or Google searches.
Four years ago, I started teaching personal finance to young adults at General Assembly. I wasn’t trying to start a movement — just trying to help a few people get smarter about how they spent their money. But what blew me away wasn’t just how little young people knew about finance, but also how well the financial industry had taken basic concepts and turned them into fancy terms that made people nervous. Many young people would later tell me how my class had helped them see that personal finance could be “way less scary."
Two months ago, I decided to focus on this idea full-time and kicked off a journey to better understand how couples approached their personal finances. What I learned was that young couples are looking for better ways to coordinate, plan, budget, and invest their money together. Yet most couples either avoid thinking through their financial plans or are offered fragmented tools and sales-heavy services that don’t fully meet their needs or garner their trust. Thoughtful financial planning is usually reserved for high-net-worth couples through traditional banks or advisors.
I’m founding Zeta to change that. At Zeta, we believe that personal finance is a core life skill. With a combination of education, advice, and accountability, we want to help 19 million American couples get ahead of their finances. From planning for your first paycheck to paying for college debt, saving for your first house to prepping for child #1, Zeta’s mission is to help couples get smarter about money.
Our first product is learning-based — helping couples learn the basics of sound financial planning while setting goals and creating action plans. If needed, couples can “upgrade” to working with a Certified Financial Planner and get expert advice along the way.
While these are our early days, I am really excited at the prospect of empowering many millions of people with the skills to achieve financial freedom — whatever that may mean to each of them.
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