The Emotional and Financial Stress of Millennials

Just this past weekend I read an article in the NY Times that confirmed US Millennials are worse off than previous generations at their age by comparing them across multiple economic measures. While federal aid and economic stimulus is decreasing, many are starting to feel some sort of economic relief. However, recovery is still lagging behind for Millennials who, unfortunately, entered into the work force during the Great Recession.

"According to the latest census data, nearly 16 percent of those in their mid-20s to mid-30s were in poverty in 2012, compared with just above 10 percent of Gen Xers in 2000 and baby boomers in 1980. Nearly 14 percent of that age group were living with their parents in 2013, a higher percentage than in previous generations. And of those living at home, 43 percent (2.5 million people) would be counted as being in poverty if they were on their own. Only 38 percent of those who were on their own were homeowners, compared with 46 percent from this age group who were on their own in 2000."

There was another article, that posted on the same day decreeing US Millennials' inability to save for retirement will pose a serious problem later in life.

Both articles cited high student debt as a contributing factor to many of this generations financial issues. To find out more about Millennials' thoughts and feelings related to student debt, we conducted our own Student Debt study of 501 U.S. residents, ages 21+.

In order to understand the emotions and feelings respondents associate with debt, we asked them to create an online collage that illustrates their feelings about the opportunities and challenges in their life as they relate to their student debt. A few examples of these sentiments are included below:

student debt collage examples

An initial look at these images reveals strong negativity that largely reflects the stress, both emotional and financial, that stems from carrying debt. Images also expose a common struggle respondents face in having to assess and balance wants versus needs given their limited budgets.

Click here for more information on our Student Debt study.