Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 22.
Millennials, that cohort born between 1982 and 1998, are a huge generation--bigger than Boomers according to the Pew Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau. They've been defined by the Great Recession and the aftershocks of the lingering debt that came with it. The pay-off could last a lifetime.
"You can't really talk about or understand this generation without talking about how much it collectively owes," said Dan Kadlec, founder of Right About Money, a Web-based platform that promotes financial literacy. "They not only saw friends suffer during the Great Recession but watched their parents lose their homes, their savings and their assets and saw first-hand a dissolving social safety net." With student loan debt at $1.4 trillion, he added, "This affects the way they think about money, but in ways that are not well-known."
Two distinct Millennial segments have begun to emerge: those who worry about their student loans at the younger end and those older Millennials who are just as worried about how their young kids will pay off their own loans when they go to college.
At the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) September conference in New York, Chandra Turner, executive editor of Parents magazine, who, like Kadlec, is a tad too old to be a Millennial, said she's encountered Millinnials with kids through her publication. Rebecca Liebman, CEO and co-founder of LearnLux, finds them in dorm rooms, like the one where she started her company.
"I went to school to study environmental science and had no interest in finance," said Liebman, who graduated from Clark University in 2012. "But my dad got laid off when I was a junior and that lead me to learn about finance," which led to the start-up that became LearnLux. "When I was a senior, I ran the company out of my dorm room. When I graduated, everybody told me to get a real job. I didn't." Boston-based LearnLux is now a technology provider that facilitates financial decision-making for people under 30. "This is all I think about all day," she said.