Michael K. Spencer
The Convenience Paradox UtopiaPress


Photo by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash

As of May 2019, Millennials are $1 trillion in debt — more than any other generation in history.

This isn’t exactly their fault.

Over 44 million Americans have student loans, with the average debt hovering around $33,000 (2018). Yet even worse, they tend to suffer even more from credit card debt.

The Great Recession of 2008 has created a generation where:

  • Hitting pause on major life events: owning a home, getting married and staying single longer.
  • Living paycheck to paycheck. Almost two-thirds of millennials say they’re living paycheck to paycheck and only 38% feel financially stable, according to a new survey from Charles Schwab.
  • The Financial crisis reaped a generation of renters (Wall Street Journal), with significant barriers to entry to own a home for people under 40.

It’s not happily ever after if you can’t afford a life with the basics of owning a home, a car and starting a family. How can it be?

For Millennials in the dating market too, it’s not about how you look but about if you own property. A generation of in debt means women are even more picky about the economic stability of their mates.

I find this particularly sad, that more millennials base dating decisions on propertybuying prospects than looks, survey suggests. I live in Canada, so I’m looking at my own life.

It turns out that Canadian millennials are more likely to pick a future partner based on shared home-buying aspirations than on good looks, a new survey has found (CBC). I’ve struggled with debt my entire life, maybe I would too.

Beyond the Bricks, a survey commissioned by HSBC, found just 2.8 percent of respondents said that appearance was their top consideration when choosing whom to date, compared to 12.7 percent who said a property-related quality topped their list. What does this say about the economic climate we live in?

Common financial goals, in general, are just big in general for a generation still recovering from the 2008 recession. I know my career was cut short by it, putting me in a perpetual game of catchup. Maybe you can relate?

According to data of May, 2019 indeed Millennials have now racked up over $1 trillion of debt, according to the New York Federal Reserve. This is a 22% increase in just five years, which is more than any other generation in history. How do Baby Boomers or even Gen Z natives fathom what Millennials have gone through? Certainly, some of my older Gen X friends don’t really get it.

How do you explain to a potential dating partner that you want to have a relationship with what you have been through? The poverty, the trials, the rejections, the unemployment? How do you share those experiences of why you are where you are? I just don’t know.

Let’s get real, I mean 1 in 5 millennials with debt expect to die without ever paying it off. I’ll likely never have a pension, I won’t work for the Government, I’m used to living in a scarcity economy based on subsistence levels of income to debt ratios. Welcome to my life.

It’s not rocket science, people who came of age in the crisis and its immediate aftermath had no bargaining power when they entered the job market, crimping their earnings ever since. Going back to school and doing University didn’t pay off for me, like millions of Millennials can attest to. Nothing protects you from that kind of a recession. It’s timing. Life is all about timing.

There’s a reason Millennials have kids later or not at all, or get married later or stay single. A lot of it has to do with economic sustainability. What are my dating prospects in a world where being in financial debt is normal?

Millennials, more than any other generation surveyed by Schwab, feel the most insecure when it comes to their finances. That’s according to roughly 380 millennials (ages 23 to 38) surveyed for Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth report. Millennials aren’t just misunderstood, they are screwed by a system that has exploited them.

A quarter of millennials — those 18 to 34 years old — are over $30,000 in debt, including 11 percent who are over $100,000 in debt. Only 22 percent of millennials are debt-free.

How do you not hit pause in such a life? How do you not remain single? How does a woman take on your financial baggage? Mostly, they don’t. What scares me is my peers have credit card debt. Credit card debt (CNBC) is the most prevalent type among the group, while just two in 10 millennials say they have a mortgage or home loan. We fear it but we cannot avoid it.

To get matches on Tinder I need to pay for it. But why would I do it when my financial situation prevents me from even attaining prospective long-term relationship opportunities? Millennials with college degrees are more likely to have credit card debt (56 percent) than those without college degrees (40 percent). A college degree never got me a job or helped me gain opportunities in this job market.

By putting pause on so many things in my life, I live with a bit less hope each day. It doesn’t matter how hard I work, it doesn’t matter who I try and date? I’m just resigned now to never owning a home and likely never having a family, getting married or even owning a car. I know that’s a bizarre confession to make.

Now, as memories of the crisis fade, they want to buy homes but are finding themselves priced out of the market. Home prices have risen across the board but most steeply among the starter homes first-time buyers can afford. The idea of owning a home is far-fetched to me.

But the crisis of my unfulfillment is not fading. I’m part of the lost generation. I don’t even want to blame the financial crisis, but I’m starting to better understand how it played a major role in it.

Sixty-two percent of millennials owe more in debt, overall, than they have in a personal savings account. Only about a quarter (24 percent) have more money in their savings accounts than they owe in debt.

The average price of lower-priced homes rose by 64% from early 2012 to late 2018, according to mortgage-data tracker CoreLogic , while the price of higher-end homes rose just 40%. This year there’s a housing shortage in the city where I live in Montreal, Canada. It’s been nearly impossible to find a new apartment even when a divorce necessitates it.

How do you rationalize a world of the economic press where those older and those younger than you seem to be doing fine, but you are not? Where as a man you know you will be judged by your poverty and not by your ability, talent, hustle or kindness? My dating prospect pool is a retreating market of embarrassment.

When asked about their top goals, the most popular response, given by 54 percent of those surveyed, was saving enough to afford a major milestone, such as getting married or buying a house. Less than half of those surveyed, 49 percent, mentioned debt repayment among their answers.

We just want to live our lives, but sadly many of us are not able to.



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