The Truth About Millennial Debt

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Paying off debt sucks. But being debt-free doesn’t.

Student loan debt is what inspired the creation of Money After Graduation in the first place. I was drowning in over $20,000 of student loan debt with no idea of how to tackle the balance. I paid it all off in less than two years, and I love sharing my strategies with other debt-laden new graduates so they can achieve the same financial freedom of a debt-free life.

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The first product I ever created was my free Debt Crusher eCourse, an online program that helps millennials get control of and pay off their debts. If you haven’t yet had the chance to check out the Debt Crusher eCourse, you can sign up here!

One of the coolest things about the free Debt Crusher eCourse is there’s a short set of survey questions for students to fill out about their debt before they begin. To date, more than 400 people have answered these questions which gives me a TON of insight as to what kind of debt millennials just like you are carrying. And I thought you’d like to see the results!

How much debt do you have?

Most people have between $10,000 and $50,000 of debt, which seems pretty normal given the average statistics for student loan and household credit card debt.

However, 1 in 3 people are carrying over $50,000 of debt. And as many as 1 in 6 carry over $100,000. If you have a HUGE student loan balance, you’re not alone!

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The most popular types of debt

Almost everyone is carrying more than one type of debt, with credit cards and student loans as the two most common types of debt.

This is followed by car loans, lines of credit, and personal loans. I was relieved to see only 1% of survey respondents had payday loans!

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Given the high-interest cost of credit card debt, it’s unfortunate that it’s something the majority of us have had or are currently having to deal with.

Paying 20% interest on anything is way too expensive, and it’s even worse when the things we bought were shopping sprees or vacations. If you have any high-interest credit card debt, paying it off should take priority when it comes to setting your financial goals.

Where does the debt come from?

Just like most people are carrying more than one type of debt, most people have more than one reason for accumulating it.

Nearly two-thirds of people confess they are at least partly to blame for their debt because they made poor spending choices. And more than half say they couldn’t have attended school without borrowing money. 1 in 5 people are carrying debt from a personal or medical emergency. And 6% lent money to someone who could not pay it back.

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Looks like the majority of us are guilty of buying things we should have with credit, and now are being forced to finally pay our dues (with interest added!)

When will you be out of debt?

Nearly one-third of people expect to be debt-free within 3 to 7 years, which is a perfectly reasonable timeline! 44% will be debt free in less than 3 years, and 21% expect it to take longer than 7 years to pay off their debts. Only 5% of respondents said they don’t believe they will ever be able to pay off their debts.

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It’s important to note that these results don’t necessarily represent all millennials. But, it is interesting to consider and compare debts among varying generations!

Not only that, but analyzing your debts even on a personal level can help you prioritize them and adjust your debt repayment strategies accordingly. Having the solidarity of knowing others are experiencing the same financial issues as you can be both comforting and motivating. 

Let these statistics motivate you to take a closer look at your debts, why/ how you got them, and how you can plan to free yourself from them. Whether that be from changing your means of repayment, or even altering your budget, you should handle your debt with care!

 

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About Author

Money After Graduation Inc. is a financial literacy website dedicated to helping Millennials and Gen Z pay off debt, invest in the stock market, and afford the life they want!

10 Comments

  1. This is full of fantastic resources and insights. I love it! Our mortgage is the only debt we have (and we are so fortunate), but I would be lying if I said that $180k+ wasn’t a little soul crushing at times. Paying it down aggressively is so rewarding. There are sacrifices involved, for sure, but it’s so worth it! Thank you for creating so many resources and continuing to have these really vital conversations!

  2. Great snapshot. The course was a very important catalyst for me earlier this year. I’ve since paid off over half of my student line of credit and hope to continue to make wonderful progress. It’s really difficult to stay positive sometimes, and I’ve definitely noticed the way I’ve become a recluse as a means to avoid social situations where I’m spending money. But, I’ve kind of adopted a minimalist mindset and realized how much of my spending habits were rooted in mindless consumerism: buying overpriced clothes to make myself feel better; trying to built self-esteem through having the perfect professional wardrobe. I’ve calmed that down now and there are many additional benefits besides the fact that I’m #payingmyfuckingdebt.

    Thanks as always 🙂

    • That’s great to hear Alyssa!! I’m so glad you found the course useful =) The minimalist mindset definitely does good for your mind & wallet. It’s so easy to purchase things because we want to be what we think they symbolize or convey — I really didn’t learn how little impact clothes had until I started wearing the same thing everyday and NO ONE NOTICED. Now my wardrobe is streamlined and it’s easier for me and my bank account.

      Unfortunately the social recluse part never really stops. Going out is expensive haha.

  3. I know I’m a very old Millennial (Dec 1982 birthdate), but I was surprised that mortgage debt was not cited, unless that was not an option. Fortunately I was able to pay off my student loan debt of ~$15k about a year and a half early, then paid off my car loan (Thanks, Bank of Grandma!), but I am still carrying a mortgage balance of approximately half of the purchase price from 10+ years ago. I’m finally in that point in the mortgage payoff cycle where my principal payments are almost as large as the interest payments, so I’m beginning to make a big dent in the balance. I just wish I could make it go away faster without sabotaging my other savings/retirement goals.

    • Yah! I thought it was interesting.

      I imagine it’s probably urgent incidents — like maybe a friend’s car broke down or a family member had a medical emergency. And since they didn’t have access to credit to go into debt themselves, they borrowed from friends/family…
      Not a great situation, but it’s hard to say no to people you love even when you can’t really afford to help them.

      Congrats on paying off your debt!

  4. Great insights!! Although if I was filling out your survey, I would’ve never said I made poor spending choices because I used to do a marvellous job at justifying my poor spending choices!!

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