🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now
Ask Money

A quick finance guide for millennials

David Lazarus Feb 21, 2014
Ask Money

A quick finance guide for millennials

David Lazarus Feb 21, 2014

You’ve recently graduated, or are about to graduate college … congratulations!

Sorry to be a downer but as soon as the ink dries on your bachelor’s degree, your student loan lenders will come knocking. And if you are one of the many who’ve borrowed, you’re probably noticing big numbers on your loan statements.

And that money has to come from somewhere. Erin Lowry, the founder of BrokeMillennial.com, says “one of the big concerns is the fact that [college graduate are] delaying for retirement, they’re delaying saving for an emergency fund.”

$1.2 trillion

The total of outstanding student loans in the U.S. Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau*


The average amount of student debt, when divided among 40 million borrowers. Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


The amount of student loans that are 90 days past due or in default. Source: The Federal Reserve of New York

7 in 10

The number of college graduates who now leave school with any amount of debt. Source: The Federal Reserve of New York

1 in 5

The number of households that carry student debt, double the amount from 20 years ago. Source: Pew Research Center

Lowry also gave us a few tips to guide us through the millennial finance minefield:

Create a budget: Seriously, do it already

Lowry: “The first thing you do is set some sort of budget for yourself. You need to realize how much money you have coming in, how much money you have going out. Every single week. Every single month.”

Retirement: Save for it ASAP

Lowry: “As soon as you have your foot in the working world, and you have the option to contribute to a 401k, particularly if your employer matching it, you better be contributing. Because you are literally throwing away free money if you’re not. There are very few circumstances where you should be delaying saving for retirement.”

Re-evaluate extravagances

Lowry: “One of the first things I personally did is just cut the cord. Do you really need cable?”

We know Game of Thrones is great, but the $30-$40 a month it takes for cable adds up fast and could be better served in your Roth IRA. How about we compromise and you sign up for Netflix or Hulu instead?


A quick way to save money, stay healthy, and become significantly more attractive to potential romantic partners is to learn how to cook! Bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out can save you $2,500 a year

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.