I caught a Yahoo article this week entitled Baby limbo: Millennials struggle to find the right time for parenthood. As I will mention in my upcoming WND column for this weekend, the article detailed how many young couples find themselves so saddled in student loan (and other) debt that it literally paralyzes their financial position for decades to come –- including during that critical window in life when they would otherwise be buying homes and starting families.
The article highlights some high school sweethearts named Mandy and Nathan. "By the time they graduated college in 2009, both with degrees in English, they were already married. They had talked about having children for years, but with graduation came an unwelcome reality check: a combined $60,000 worth of student loan debt."
After giving the statistics on how Millennials are putting off traditional adult benchmarks such as buying homes and having babies (due to a combination of debt and a poor economy), the article gave some advice for young couples wanting to untangle their financial knots and plan for a future family:
1. Practice living off of one salary for at least a year.
2. Make lifestyle adjustments now, not later.
3. Review your health insurance policies.
4. Balance your savings needs with your children’s savings needs.
5. Plan your transition away from and back to work carefully.
While I don't necessarily disagree with these bullet points, I have a feeling the problems with the Millennials goes deeper.
It saddens me to see so many young people starting out their adult lives as slaves... because make no mistake, debt on the order of $60,000 (or more) is little more than a slave collar around their necks. It makes me want to shake them (or their parents) for encouraging or accruing that kind of debt to begin with, particular in a fragile and shaky economy.
As carefully as this article suggests planning out one's future, it never touches on what got this couple in trouble in the first place: poor planning for their future. Mandy and Nathan accrued $60,000 studying a subject (English) for which there is no appreciable demand.
It's not that I object to studying English -- far from it, I take great delight in writing and literature -- but Mandy and Nathan should have been advised to match supply and demand before spending that kind of money (see this blog post for a better explanation). There are far more English majors (supply) than there are jobs to support them (demand). And while they are actively working to build their careers (kudos), student loan repayments wait for no man. And now this young couple's future is trashed because of it.
If I could make some possibly unfair assumptions about Millennials, one of the problems is they've never been told "no." They've never been told it may not be a good idea to major in English or Psychology when there are no English or Psychology jobs available. They've never been told NOT to "follow their heart" when it comes to studying useless subjects in college and then wonder why they emerge with $60,000 in student loan debt that haunts them for years to come.
If you're at the juncture of your lives where your future may literally hang in the balance -- namely, graduating from high school and contemplating entering college -- think very very carefully about the path before you.
You don't want to end up like Mandy and Nathan.