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Using under-60-second videos, TikTok is changing the financial education landscape for the next generation. But it's got scammers, too—here's what to watch out for.

By Tori Dunlap
March 16, 2021
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Turns out, TikTok isn't just for dancing. With over 500 million active users, TikTok is one trend that isn't going anywhere. And while Gen-Z makes up the dominant audience, there are folks from every generation on the platform—and more and more, it's where people are turning for money advice.

TikTok, as a platform, is incredibly creator-friendly. (Facebook, on the other hand, has become more and more business-focused.) There are thousands of financial education videos on the platform, providing advice and guidance to pay off debt, save, invest, and more. The majority of these videos—my own money education videos included—are passionate about financial education as a form of protest, and making money conversations inclusive.

TikTok is the only main social platform that currently has more people consuming content than creating it—and it's the future of personal finance education. Here's why.

It's meeting people where they are.

Instead of businesses and creators waiting for Gen-Z to find them, TikTok brings that business to Gen-Z. TikTok is growing fast, and it's a chance to reach younger audiences and teach them about finances in a quick, easy, and trendy way that grabs their attention. After all, showing up in the places your audience already hangs out is a powerful way to connect with them. Another great thing about TikTok is that it's full of everyday individuals with their own history, shame, and ideas about money. By approaching them in a way that is non-judgmental and understanding, TikTok financial experts can meet viewers regardless of where they are in their financial journey.

It's offering young people much-needed information.

Mixing personal finance education with the latest TikTok trends has enabled creators to educate Gen-Z on things like why having emergency savings is so important, the best credit cards for beginners, how to start saving money and pay off debt, and how to crush your interview and land your dream job. Being able to relay this information in the fast, quippy, creative way that TikTok allows is key to capturing the consumer's interest.

With over half of Millennials and Gen-Z feeling clueless when it comes to money, accessible finance education via TikTok shows them that it's never too late to start. After all, most school curriculums overlook the importance of teaching students topics in financial education, so they hit a roadblock later on in life. TikTok money experts expose teens to crucial money conversations—nipping that roadblock in the bud while also setting an individual up for financial success as early as possible.

It's a platform that discusses justice and equality.

Financial education is a form of protest. You can't talk about money without mentioning gender inequality, the gender pay gap, the racial wealth gap, and other systemic issues. TikTok is at the forefront of these diversity and inclusion conversations, and by adding an inclusive approach to content, it's not only reaching a wider and more diverse audience; it's helping break down systemic barriers while simultaneously helping those who most need to build wealth do so (without shaming them).

But, there are dangers, too.

While the majority of financial content on TikTok is useful and accessible, some of it can be very damaging. Like any online platform, consuming content that has not been fact-checked is a dangerous game, especially for young people who might not know better.

Personal finance is just that: personal. Many of the most suspicious TikTok videos about money promise one-size-fits-all solutions, "get rich quick" methods or content that feels too good to be true. So how can you spot these kinds of videos before you take their advice?

Make sure that the creator is credible.

An easy way to do this is to simply google their name. Do they own a business? Do they have a presence on another social media platform? Have they been featured in reputable news publications? It's important to make sure the voices you are listening to are reliable, and you can easily do so by looking at what others are saying about them and their level of expertise. 

Listen to your instincts.

When it comes to financial advice, you just have to trust your gut. If a money hack or something similar seems too good to be true, it probably is. If an individual is promising "get rich quick" results with little to no effort, be wary.

Ask yourself: Does this creator share your values?

You always want to ask yourself, "does a business or person I support have a mission I believe in?" Too many financial experts use shame and judgment to further their causes, and often blame you for your financial problems (without acknowledging systemic issues.) Ask yourself if this is how you want to be spoken to or approached, and watch a few of their videos to get a sense of their brand before you follow.