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Student Loan Debt and the Minimalist Movement: Is There a Link?

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” - Will Rogers

Tiny houses. More experiences, fewer possessions. Simpler living. Uber versus owning a car. The so-called “minimalist” movement has gained steam in recent years as people seek to simplify living spaces, wardrobes, budgets and more. They want a more uncluttered existence--hopefully, a happier one.

Generationally speaking, no group of people has embraced minimalism more wholeheartedly than millennials.

Is Student Debt to Blame?

What role, if any, has the growing amount of student debt played in this trend? Plenty, according to some.

“Millennials have a unique set of values around how they choose to spend their money,” writes Deborah Weinswig in Forbes. “They grew up during the recession, entered a struggling job market and must now pay off record amounts of student debt.”

“This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population, but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life.” They kind of have to be, but I’m glad they are embracing it.

Student loan debt is the second biggest debt, next to mortgage debt, in our country. That means (for so many) that the debt is their second biggest expense per month, next to housing costs.

Meanwhile, wages have continued to stagnate. The average millennial must find room in the budget and stretch their money.

Becoming Minimalist agrees, citing student debt as a factor driving the minimalist movement: “Most economic studies would indicate this generation is entering one of the worst working environments in modern history burdened with more student loans than ever,” the website states.

A Different Kind of Freedom

According to some, the rise of minimalism doesn’t stem from poverty, but responsibility: It’s a way to gain control over one’s financial destiny. It’s about setting long-term financial priorities over short-term expenses and whims.

Millennial minimalists like myself are thinking twice about how we make money and where we spend it. We're after jobs that we enjoy and we're buying less and choosing the items we do buy well…. I've come to embrace and love a life where shopping is curbed so that I can work on things like paying off debt, padding my savings account and investing in things that matter like my health, retirement and experiences.

I truly do love this shift in priorities. The younger generation is less obsessed with “stuff” than, say, the Boomers. However, I wish it hadn’t taken a crisis—in the form of overburdening student debt and poor income—to trigger the change. Millennials may find relief in the minimalist lifestyle. But for many, it’s just one step on the road to financial security. Fortunately, simplifying isn’t the only strategy available to reduce or eliminate debt.

If you want to be a minimalist, wouldn’t it make sense to save as much money as possible on your student loans? I’m not just talking about making minimum payments. I’m talking about creating a plan using proven strategies to reduce payments and to get a significant amount of debt forgiven.

College Loan Freedom can help if you feel buried by your student loans. To learn more, give us a call today.

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