This one is a long time coming.
A lot of people are discounting the current financial crisis, saying that the average American isn’t seeing the problem “in their own wallet.”
My generation, the 18-30-somethings out there now, have been suffering through the last eight years more than we know, and I realized that as soon as I graduated from college.
The highest percentage of Americans ever is currently attending college, but financial aid just hasn’t been there for many.
And I do not count federal loans as financial aid. Those are exactly what they claim to be: loans, from the government, that you have to pay back, with interest.
So we’re all going to school, absorbing the loan debt because accountants and financial professionals are saying “it’s good debt.”
My primary degree is in journalism. My job offers upon graduation ranged from $25,000 to $35,000, and now I freelance my ass off to try to make a living as I put myself through grad school (more loans and “good debt”) so that I can have a graduate degree and one day teach in my field.
I am making better than that $35,000 a year we just talked about between freelancing and a little bit from Blast, but let me give you the run down that the average recent college grad living in Massachusetts has to deal with:
Electric and gas (landlady won’t pay):Â $100Â
Cell phone: $120 ($99/month unlimited? yeah, right, Verizon)
Cable and internet:Â $120 ($69/month?!? yeah, right, Comcast)
Federal student loans:Â $140
MEFA/ACS student loans: $140 and parents pay $500/month for now (thank you mom and dad)Â
Credit cards (personal): $300
Credit cards (Blast/business): $150
Auto insurance: $60
Renter’s insurance:Â $20
Health insurance:Â $200Â (part-timers pay more!)
Now, let’s add gas to the equation. Thankfully, the Boston Globe does pay my mileage when I’m on assignments, so let’s call that half.
Gas:Â $300/month – $150 = $150 * 12 = $1,800/year
So before I go out, have a beer, see a movie, buy cat food for my little monsters or do really anything else, about $30,000 is already spent.
For a lot of people, forget working at a non-profit or pursuing your art or taking a year off to volunteer or do what you “want” to do.Â
Now, I’m not starving or out on the street, but that’s $30k gone just to live! My my parents weren’t there to pay that $6,000/year, I don’t know what I’d do. My point is, I graduated from college with a mortgage! But I can’t see how someone can classify that as “good debt” because I can’t sell the “house!” And if everyone is going to go to college by default this generation, that piece of paper that says “Bachelor” on it is going to be as worthless as my high school diploma.
So, like Wall Street, my investments are over-inflated and decreasing in value.
But my debts aren’t.Â
John Guilfoil, writer of PRrag, is the Editor of Blast Magazine and a former staff reporter for the Boston Globe.