How College Debt is Changing Millennial Lifestyles

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

It’s no secret that millennials live lifestyles that are vastly different from previous generations. They have access to technology that is far beyond anything that has ever been available before. They are also burdened with more college debt than any generation has ever had to deal with. These factors are shaping the world that millennials live in and creating a new lifestyle that older generations may not fully understand. Keep reading for just a few of the ways college debt is affecting the lives of millennials.

They’re delaying major milestones

One of the biggest differences between millennials and previous generations are their family lifestyles. While most baby boomers spent their twenties quickly building their families, many millennials are postponing getting married or having children and 31% cite the economy as the main reason. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 the birth rate in the U.S. dropped 3% from 2016 to a new record low.  As a result of their lack of spouses and children, young adults are living a “college style” lifestyle later into their twenties. Sharing apartments with roommates, living with parents or holding several part time jobs are not uncommon. As millennials age into their 30’s, become more secure in their financial situation, and tackle their debt, they finally begin to feel stable enough to commit to milestones like marriage and having children.

They’re spending their money differently

We’ve all read the articles about which new industry the millennials are supposedly “killing” but the reality is that this generation does spend their money very differently. They’d rather order a product or service through an app than interact face to face, but they also want lightning fast service. The result is that companies like Uber, Birchbox and Blue Apron, deliver services right to your front door, and have skyrocketed in popularity. Millennials are not only interested in the product, but if the product is delivered in a way that makes their lives easier.

They’re not saving for retirement

One characteristic millennials share with their older counterparts is that neither are adequately saving for retirement. 33% of baby boomers and 39% of millennials have less than $10,000 saved. While there are varying rules on what the right amount to save for retirement is, it’s safe to say that neither generation is well prepared. However, boomers are hindered from saving by their current bills, while millennials are focused on paying off student debt before they build up their savings.

They’re looking for solutions

Although they’re saddled with more debt than previous generations, millennials are proactive about finding creative solutions for their financial situations. Many run their own business, freelance or have a small side hustle using the internet to market their skills and make extra income. Millennials are also more trusting of online solutions for their finances, whether it’s getting started with investing or refinancing their student loans to get a more favorable rate. Student debt is a big roadblock to traditional financial achievements for millennials, but they are finding ways around it. Although this younger generation has not had much control over the rising student debt crisis, they are regaining control of their situation by innovating new solutions.

They’re more comfortable in the digital world

This millennial generation has grown up with the internet, so although they do remember the days when you had to use a landline to get in touch with someone, they’re perfectly comfortable in the digital world. When it comes to meeting new people and dating, many prefer to use apps over old fashioned methods. This generation also uses the tools of the internet to access information and educate themselves. After all, think about the last time you saw an encyclopedia compared to the last time you Googled a question. These technological advancements have made a wealth of information available at our fingertips and millennials are experts at accessing it.

This post was updated March 4th, 2022.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.