Graduating college with student loans often means having to make sacrifices to keep up with that debt. But a recent TD Ameritrade survey of millennials aged 22 to 28 reveals that younger Americans are putting off major life milestones because of the amount of money they owe following college. Here's what they're delaying.
1. Moving out of their parents' homes
An estimated 31% of younger millennials continue to live with their parents rather than move out on their own. That living arrangement may not be ideal for everybody. But it can be a smart idea for those who are saddled with student debt. Living at home as a young adult often means saving lots of money on rent, utilities, and even entertainment (many households already have cable or streaming services). The result? An easier time paying down student debt.
2. Buying a home
It's not surprising to learn that 47% of younger millennials are delaying homeownership because of their student debt. Though it is possible to qualify for a mortgage with student loans, having one existing monthly debt payment to grapple with means it's probably wise not to take on another in the form of a mortgage. The problem, however, is that many millennials risk throwing away money on rent for years before getting to invest in properties of their own, so while waiting to buy can be a smart idea, it's also a mixed bag.
3. Getting married
High levels of student debt mean 21% of younger millennials are waiting longer to tie the knot. This could stem from a number of factors. First, getting married costs money, and those already in debt might hesitate to, say, charge wedding expenses to a credit card and risk more debt. And saving for a wedding is tricky for those on the hook for monthly student loan payments. Furthermore, some borrowers may prefer to wipe their slates clean before entering a marriage and bringing their debt with them.
4. Having children
A good 21% of millennials are delaying having kids due to their student debt, and again, that's not shocking news. Given the cost of childcare, it stands to reason that those folks don't feel comfortable taking on an added expense when much of their income goes toward debt payments.
5. Saving for retirement
It's disturbing to hear that 40% of younger millennials are delaying retirement savings because of their student debt. Those intent on living comfortably during their golden years should give their savings as much time to grow as possible, which means cutting back on other expenses to make it possible to keep up with student loan payments as well as funding an IRA or 401(k).
What's your student debt stopping you from doing?
If your student debt has prevented you from achieving any of the above milestones, you're clearly in good company. But while it may not hurt you too much in the long run to wait to move out of your parents' house, buy your own home, tie the knot, or start a family, delaying retirement savings is a dangerous move that could harm you financially down the line.
Your best bet, therefore, is to make your existing student debt as manageable as possible. If you're paying a lot of interest, which could be the case if you're dealing with private student loans, consider refinancing to a lower interest rate. At the same time, get yourself on a tight budget to eke out savings for retirement. Contributing even $40 or $50 a month to an IRA or 401(k) is better than socking away no funds at all, and if you manage to adjust your spending habits in favor of a more frugal lifestyle, you just might manage to knock out your student debt sooner as well.