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Published: Feb 18, 2022 4 min read
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TikTok is so 2021. Gen Z's new hobby is saving for retirement.

New data from Fidelity Investments indicates that Gen Z (ages 10 to 25) is focused on building wealth for the long term — even decades from now. The number of individual retirement accounts among Gen Z investors grew 146% to almost 275,000 at Fidelity Investments in the last year, the financial services firm reported Thursday. Meanwhile, 53% of Gen Z workers increased the contribution rate to their 401(k)s in 2021, according to Fidelity, one of the largest providers of retirement accounts.

The increase in retirement accounts among young people overlaps with a rising interest in investing in general. New investors poured money into financial markets during the pandemic as lockdowns kept people from their offices, school and usual hobbies. For young people, trading stocks and crypto proved to be a good way to fill the void that the cancellation of sports and other after-school activities left. Investing apps like Robinhood allowed young investors to make trades easily via their phones.

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“People who I’d never even talked to about investing are now suddenly much more interested than they were just a year ago,” Bennett Dickerson, a high school junior who co-founded an investing club at his school, previously told Money. “We’ll text back and forth during the school day about certain stocks that we’re looking into that are making big moves.”

While much of the buzz has been around the exciting price movements of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and meme stocks like GameStop, Fidelity's new report illustrates an interest in a healthy financial future for the long term, not just earning a quick buck. And with people living longer as health care costs continue to rise and Social Security's future grows more uncertain, it's more important than ever for young people to save for retirement.

Thanks to the compound interest retirement accounts benefit from, setting money aside for the future now can help ensure you have enough money to live on when you're ready to quit your nine-to-five for good.

Here's an example from Vanguard of how compound interest works: Earning 6% on a $10,000 investment will net you $600 in the first year the money is invested. But then you're starting off the second year with $10,600, and the 6% return will get you $636. By the time the 20th year rolls around, your earnings will be $1,800, and you'll have increased your balance by more than 200%.

"The sooner you start, the more your money is going to be working for you," Sri Reddy, senior vice president of retirement and income solutions at Principal Financial Group, previously told Money. "You can make it up over time if you start later, however you’re going to have to save exponentially more to end up with the same kind of outcome.”

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