Debt

Oh, the millennials and our debt. I think this has to be one of the most mutually agreed upon issues we face as adults in this world… particularly in our generation.  Other generations, however, are calling “us” frivolous spenders- going to elaborate happy hours, spending thousands on bags, vacations, and a lifestyle we “haven’t earned yet…” and not investing into our future. I’ll be honest… I DON’T KNOW ANY OF THOSE PEOPLE. WHERE ARE THEY? (Instagram…)

We work hard in grade school, to go to a good college. We go to said college, to get a degree, to get a great job.  We graduate, and spend the next 30 years paying off the debt that we thought would help get us the job that would miraculously make our debt disappear.

I have student loan debt that is the equivalent of a home loan. $1250 a month... and some of that is even on an income-sensitive loan program. (Thanks, Obama!)  My college did not have much in the way of scholarships, due to its private-school ways. I couldn’t afford a financial advisor when I graduated to help me figure it all out.  I just… started plucking away at it, grand by grand. I deferred one year, because I was really struggling… and stacked on almost an additional 10k in interest… and had no idea that’s what happened when you were “deferred”.

In what world is it okay to loan an 18-year old $100,000+ and expect them to understand the weight of that debt? Has anyone thought about the lack of education in financial planning for young adults? Why are there no classes in high school that really help us to understand the LIFELONG responsibility of taking on such an extreme amount of debt? The class, you know, “Life 101.”

The cost of living, as well as a good education, has skyrocketed.  America is at a shocking $1.4 TRILLION in student debt. Not to mention personal credit cards with “fluctuating interest” are handed out like candy.  (Just under a year ago, I racked up $14,000 in credit card debt from the ending of my previous relationship, moving out of our home, and basically buying an entire new life... all while on "Rehearsal pay" for my new job (umm... about half-pay.) Proud and exhausted to say that, to date, only 4k of it is left!

“The American Dream”- you can do and achieve anything, as long as you aren’t from a seemingly to-do middle class family who doesn’t get FAFSA help, not some interesting ethnicity or even have a handicap.  What about the plain ol’ ordinary people wanting to create extraordinary lives? (Not to say that the people I mentioned above shouldn’t get those wonderful benefits- they absolutely should- but shouldn’t we all? How?)

 Is this the government’s way of keeping “classes” separated? Not to get too political, but to me this seems like a way to keep a circulation of the “working class”, like I said before. You get an education, to learn a trade, to get a job. The job doesn’t pay enough to adjust to inflation, so you’re stuck spending the money you earn from your job to pay off your debt. Rinse and repeat.

Are the “Baby Boomer” parents responsible for the lack of communication with their children on this? Is the education system at fault? Is it entirely our fault? Students are too busy taking 353945389 AP credits, juggling 4 after-school activities, and working part-time to even think about asking these questions… who should be helping them? Have we turned into an “everyone for himself or herself” society starting at the age of 16? 

This debacle has become the reason for the influx in the self-employed, and the most start-up companies in decades. Why go to college when you can learn a trade from the Internet? Pyramid-style businesses are making a major comeback because people are desperately searching for a way to make extra money in order to stay afloat. Everyone is searching high and low just to make ends meet… no matter your tuition cost.

Personally, In 6 years, I have paid off a total of $40,000 in my original debt. The rest I've paid disappeared into the interest. (Oh yeah- there was a lot more.) What’s frustrating to me is how “on top of it” I feel.  You know those “how to help get yourself on your feet financially” books? I’ve read them. I don’t spend a large amount on happy hours or vacations.  I don’t buy (more than one) Louis Vuitton bag.  I am not late on my payments (most of the time) and make them in full, and I have a steady job that allows me to prove my responsibilities are handled… and I am STILL struggling. Hard.  I haven’t been approved for a home loan yet due to my debt-to-income ratio being, basically, a wash. Here I am, almost 30, with a great career, my credit card debt teetering around 8% of capacity, a decent retirement fund started, but no personal savings. No savings, because all I am focused on is clearing the hideous CREDIT RUINING stain of money off of my social security number.

My “baby-boomer” mom always says to me, “I know so many of my friends have kids in the exact same boat.  This is just how it is.” But was it for our parents? I’m not so sure.  So where did it all go wrong?

This post isn’t as much of a bitch-fest about just my experience as much as it is a conversation starter for a SOLUTION. What do you think is the missing piece that will help our generation tackle our debt, in order to create a more sustainable, attainably better life? I would love to read your CONSTRUCTIVE feedback in the comments below.