For years, millennials have gotten a bad rap. They’re described as entitled, impulsive, restless, and wild. On the other hand, loyalists, fearless, wiser, and strategic are also words synonymous with this generation. What does this have to do with millennials and bankruptcy?
As I have had consults with more millennials than ever over the last year, I can attest to the terms “wiser” and “strategic.” Why? Because they don’t fear the stigma that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers associate with bankruptcy. Instead of feeling the sense of failure or shame previous generations have felt when they couldn’t manage their debt, this generation looks for an efficient way to handle their financial situation. For them, filing bankruptcy is sometimes the answer to a better quality of life and a path to financial freedom.
Not Like Mom & Dad
I’ve heard countless stories during consults of how their parents lost their home in the Great Recession of 2008-2009. When a parent was laid off, it ruined their family’s financial security. Even how their parents used retirement money to help them with college. Still, they have tens of thousands, sometimes even hundreds of thousands, of dollars in student loan debt. It all leads to not wanting to live that American Dream. My millennial clients tell me that their parents did not screw them, but the system screwed their parents – and it trickled down to them.
Also, millennials have lived through 9/11, gun violence, and a global pandemic. They see and feel the rising costs of housing, health care, insurance, and more. Further, they see stagnant wages and exorbitantly high interest rates, from default credit card rates of 29% or more, to payday and other usurious lenders charging default rates of interest up to even 700%!!!! Basically, they know a lot of problems in the world and not many solutions. Therefore, millennials understand that falling into crippling debt is often out of their control and not entirely their fault.
In other words, the system was broken over the course of generations before them, only to leave them holding the bag.
So, circling back, from my experience, millennials see the system as broken. However, they see a solution in the system. That solution is the bankruptcy process. I’ve come to a place of tremendous respect for their thinking in this regard. I also respect that they tend to care about themselves and not about appearances. Millennials are much more likely to eat healthy and exercise in order to live longer, rather than to fit into Sassoon jeans (yes, I am dating myself that’s ok too). To me, this is a welcome shift from past generations. These factors all make the bankruptcy system the perfect tool for millennials.
I guess older folks may frown upon these attitudes. But I do not judge, for I have not walked in their shoes. When they tell me the credit card companies are the bad guys, I listen. When they are frustrated that they feel they will never get ahead no matter what, I understand. And when I explain how they can balance their income to debt ratio and improve their credit score by filing for bankruptcy they listen. It’s not the avocado toast and $5.00 cups of coffee that is causing their financial distress, it’s high interest rates and limited access to those six-figure jobs they were promised by the institutions of higher education they owe their first-born child to! In all seriousness, I appreciate their brutal honesty with themselves and with me. Again, I for one do not judge them: I applaud their courage, wisdom, empathy and loyalty.
So millennials, if you have any questions or want to discuss your financial situation, call me. I will listen to you and help you. There is a place for millennials and bankruptcy.