by AINSLEY LAWRENCE
Millennials are often known as the generation with a lot of debt. That tends to give them the reputation of not being good with money management. But, when you consider the financial struggles many members of the generation have to go through, money management has little to do with it.
First, Millennials carry an average balance of nearly $40,000 in student loan debt. With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the job market, especially in the South, it’s harder than ever to pay off that debt.
But, student loans are the only issue the millennial generation faces. Let’s look at some of the common financial struggles Southern millennials have to face, and how you can cope if you’re a part of this generation.
A Seller’s Market
It’s not uncommon for people in their 20s and 30s to want to buy their own homes for the first time. Unfortunately, we’re currently in a “seller’s market,” which means home prices have skyrocketed. That’s especially true in the South since millions of Americans migrated during the pandemic to get away from busy metropolitan areas. Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas became some of the most popular states for those looking for a location change.
So, not only is it harder to find housing because of the influx of people, but the market is expensive. For many millennials, that means it’s not the right time to buy a house. Many Millennials are choosing to rent rather than buy thanks to:
- Higher housing costs
- High levels of debt
- Tighter lending standards
- No need for so much space
For many in this generation, owning a home isn’t as important as investing in things like self-care or other major purchases that can better their lives. It will be interesting to see if these trends change when the real estate market flips and favors buyers once again. For now, though, if you’re a millennial struggling to find a good home for sale, it’s a perfect time to consider a rental.
People are waiting longer to get married. The average age right now is 32 compared to the average age of 27 just 12 years ago. Millennials, in particular, seem to be waiting longer to get married to focus on their careers or becoming financially stable.
Let’s face it, weddings can cost a lot of money. That’s especially true if you’re a heart-and-soul Southerner who knows the importance of a big wedding with family and friends. But, for a generation that is already in debt, has a hard time finding a job, and may not even be able to afford a house, a big wedding can easily become a financial struggle.
If you’re engaged or trying to plan a wedding, you can still host a great party with Southern flair while keeping things sensibly budgeted. Use the following tips to avoid overspending:
- Understand your financing
- Estimate the guest count
- Plan out every cost
- Research different options and vendors
- Save money where you can (DIYing as much as possible!)
As a millennial, you don’t have to wait longer than you want to to get married. Even if you wish you were in a better place, financially, marrying the person you’re in love with can put you both in a better financial situation and give you a partner to lean on. If you’re willing to cut back on a big wedding, you can start the more important part – marriage – out on the right foot.
Millennials and Business Plans
About half of new entrepreneurs are in their 30s – within this generational range. Many millennials want to start their own business because of the limited options available to them in the job market.
The average small business can cost thousands of dollars to get off the ground. But, there are some that you can grow immediately with very little money:
- Cleaning services
- Pet/house sitting
With so many options, it’s no wonder why many millennial business owners are doing well. The same generation that struggles with financial stereotypes and debt is also the generation that spends the most money – in a more responsible fashion than they get credit for. Not only are Millennials driven to earn more, but many of them are set to earn a lot of money from their parents as an inheritance. What’s more Southern than that?
About 60 percent of millennials identify themselves as entrepreneurs. With that in mind, it’s time to stop the stereotypes surrounding the irresponsible fashion habits of this generation. Most millennials are aware of their financial roadblocks and are willing to find workarounds (renting instead of buying, creating better budgets, and starting their own businesses). Whether you’re a millennial who has recently migrated to the South or you’ve been here your whole life, take heart when it comes to your own financial struggles. You’re not alone if you’re dealing with debt, and there are certainly options that can improve your financial situation.
As the country looks toward post-pandemic life, the economy, housing, and job markets are bound to change. Millennials in the South can take advantage of those changes by paying attention to financial trends and breaking free of generational stigmas.