You might think having a healthy relationship or achieving happiness would land at the top of the list when it came to “most important” goals. But, at least for Millennials, the reality is quite different. Most Millennials have a practical, finance-related top goal: To be debt free.
In a recent poll, over 90% of Millennials skipped over health, relationships, career achievements, and everything else, and instead pointed to eliminating debt as what was most important to them.
Why Are Millennials in Debt?
Millennial wages are 20% less than past generations at the same age (on average), not only that, they also have far more student loan debt. Coming in at a close second behind student loan debt is credit card debt and, after that, comes the more standard fixed-cost expenses like auto loan debt and mortgage payments. The point is, though, that Millennials are both earning less and spending more than past generations. This is not a recipe for success. The result is that at the end of the year many Millennials are left either in the red or with virtually no savings.
Why Being Debt Free Matters
On average, most Millennials are over $40,000 in debt. That amount of debt does a lot to a person, both financially and psychologically.
Over 60% of Millennials report that debt has a negative impact on their daily lives. This impact often comes in the form of negatively influencing their productivity at work while doing damage to their relationships at home.
Rather than catalyzing people to work harder, the pressure of debt actually acts to reduce productivity. When one is overburdened the psychological response is sometimes partial to total shut-down.
Are Millennials Lazy?
The suggestion that Millennials are lazy is nothing short of a myth. While you can always pick out certain individuals within any generation that are lazy, you can also point to hard working ones as well as those who fall somewhere in the middle. In terms of average number of hours worked (per-week), though, it’s worth mentioning that Millennials usually tend to chart higher than past generations.
Either way, the fact is that Millennials are in financial trouble because they are lazy. More legitimate reasons for their financial problems are stagnating wages, increased home costs, and student loan debt. Tens of millions of American Millennials are burdened with student loan debt so, the first thing to understand, is that you are not alone! If you are in debt, that’s okay. There are steps you can take both in the short and long-term to get your financial house in order.
Getting Debt Free
The first step you need to take is to sit down and get a clear picture of your financials. List all of your debts, loans, and expenses out and see which ones have the highest interest rates. Those are the ones you should pay off first. That will give you a good path forward: Start with the highest interest rates and then work your way down.
Next you need to limit your spending. Break your spending up into categories and see where it makes sense to save more and spend less.
Finally, think about your income. Are you making enough money at your job? If not, can you ask for a raise? Can you switch jobs? Can you start a side-hustle?
While you should consider all of these things, you need not worry. Just remember: You can do it. Take it one step at a time!