Millennials have more debt and higher costs of living than any previous generation. The debt we rack up in our early adult lives prevents many of us from making investments later. Over 23 percent of millennials say their credit score has cost them a home, a loan or a new line of credit. This debt is clearly correlated to the rising costs of living and education, even considering other factors, such as inflation.
The average student from the class of 2016 carries $37,172 in student loan debt, but surprisingly, student debt is not the number one source of millennial debt. Credit card debt is the leading source of debt among millennials, followed by student loans, auto loans, car loans, medical bills and mortgages.
The generation is often accused of leading lifestyles they cannot afford, resulting in massive credit card debt. Rather, rising costs of living and education are leaving debt as the only option for many young adults struggling to cover basic costs of living and more notoriously, college. As a result, millennials with college degrees are more likely to have credit card debt, which is not surprising given the lack of money students have to put towards the cost of living since they can’t cover tuition bills, hence the unprecedented amount of student loans. Despite the fact that millennials are better educated, their earnings are lower than the earnings of baby boomers when they were the same age.
It’s not surprising that millennials spend more on shelter and education than previous generations. It is surprising that relative to previous generations, millennials don’t actually spend much on entertainment. Millennials spend less on entertainment than Generation X and baby boomers. With technology becoming more and more centric to our daily lives, it makes millennial spending seem more extravagant than it actually is.
Millennials purchase products and services that were uncommon or unheard of 25 years ago, such as Netflix subscriptions and Apple products. The fact that a large portion of millennials spend money on the latest technologies leads some to say that millennials spend too much, when in reality, we don’t spend much on entertainment. We just are not buying the same things our parents and grandparents did when they were our age.
Our generation is accused of being more reckless with money than previous generations because of their unprecedented debt levels, when we are actually beating the odds of an economy that makes things like going to college and covering basic needs such as housing and medical care increasingly difficult.