Who knew that after graduating from college with tens of thousands of dollars, younger Americans would face another financial crisis - how to pay for all those Starbucks runs, Uber pickups and iPhone apps.
Yes, it isn't easy paying for the Millennial lifestyle. And based on a new study from GOBankingRates, it takes a lot of work hours to cover the costs of life as a Millennial, including basic needs, like rent, utilities, groceries and more.
GOBankingRates uses the standard 40-hour workweek to calculate how many work hours one would need to work to afford some "necessary" expenses Millennials face in 2016. In its study, GOBankingRates calculated the median weekly earnings for people ages 16 to 34 ($619.50) and divided this number by 40 to calculate the median hourly earnings of those individuals ($15.49). The cost of the item was then divided by $15.49 to find the number of work hours cited in the study.
On a per-month basis, you'd have to work the following hours to handle certain lifestyle costs:
* On average, monthly rent is going to take 68.41 work hours per month to pay.
* Utility costs would entail 9.45 hours a month.
* Health insurance requires 20.27 work hours a month.
* Groceries require 21.57 hours a month.
* Filling the gas tank? Add another 2.15 hours.
* The typical student loan monthly payment, at approximately $280, requires the equivalent of working 18.08 hours.
Overall, it requires 139.93 hours a month - three and a half weeks - to cover all the above costs, which don't even include discretionary costs like a new pair of Nikes (4.8 hours per month) or a new iPhone 6 (41.90 hours.)
"While many Millennials fork over half of their income - or more - per month for rent and other bills, there is always a band concert or iPhone upgrade looming in the distance," explains Kristen Bonner, lead researcher on the GOBankingRates study. "We hope that our study findings will put into perspective the true costs associated with being a young adult today, and help Millennials struggling with a budget to realize that some of those 'essentials' might just not be worth it."
Is all that workplace effort worth it? Not so much say some financial experts, who say Millennials will bear the burden anyway.
"The Millennial lifestyle is just nuts, but it is real," says Benjamin Surman, founder and CEO with Fortis, a brand management firm in Houston. "It's a lifestyle highly driven by a new era of FOMO (fear of missing out), which is causing Millennials to live a longer and better lifestyle. That's why so many will work an extra shift just to pick up a new pair of shoes."
The long term ramifications of chasing an upwardly mobile lifestyle at a young age is a foreboding one, others say.
"It's crazy when you look at how many hours people have to work to just for the things most of us would consider necessities such as housing, food, or an iPhone," says David Rae, a financial planner with Trilogy Financial Services, in Los Angeles. "For many people, trying to keep up with the Millennial lifestyle will mean mountains or credit debt."
Rae says Millennials can cut back on expenses in a variety of ways. "Rent is often the biggest bill for many people," Rae says. "This is also one of the best areas to save money. Living alone in a one bedroom most likely means you will go broke in other. Look for a roommate, your rent can drop in half, or more, along with your utilities costs. That's how I was able to save enough for my house down payment in my 20's."
Scott Cody, a financial advisor with Latitude Financial Group in Denver, advises cost-conscious younger Americans to abide by the 50/30/20 rule. "There, your needs should be no more than 50% of your net income (i.e., your take home pay), your wants should be limited to no more than 30%, and savings and debt repayment should beat 20%," he says. "Live by those numbers and you'll be fine."
Some Millennials are getting the message.
"I'm 28 years old and self-employed, and I run an information technology consultancy," says says Chris Shupe, founder of Advanced Excel Optimization, which builds Excel templates, macros, and Access databases for companies. "After having paid off all my debts -- except mortgage -- I'm able to live off about $2,000 a month, including mortgage for a nice condo in a high demand area of Tampa, which is a medium sized city. At my normal hourly rate of $80, that requires 25 hours of billable work per month. If I assume a one-to-one ratio of billable to non-billable work -- marketing, accounting, etc. -- that's 50 hours per month.
As a self-employed individual, Shupe says he saves $10,000 in taxes each year and also saves "quite a bit of money" on gas and tolls since he doesn't commute to work. "I also save quite a bit of money on food by cooking for myself instead of going out, and buying food in bulk and freezing what I can't use immediately," he says.
That's some smart budgeting right there, and it's also proof positive that young urban professionals can have a good work-life balance, and without going broke in the process.