Less debt for the next generation?

by Nick on February 22, 2013

Happy Friday everyone!  I know, I know.  It’s been a while, right?  I’m sorry.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I swear!  For the old school readers of SAFTM you’ll know that sometimes I disappear for a few weeks or a couple of months.  Usually the reason is because the day gig turns into a “day and night” gig and then sometimes a “seven day and night” gig.  Well this was one of those times where since October it’s been a “seven day and night” gig.

But I finally got a break.  And I’m back.  I’ll be making sure to check in pretty regularly these days and will touch in even when work’s kicking my tail on a regular basis even to just say hello.  It’s funny – I don’t want to just post some crap I throw together in ten minutes just to keep in touch with “y’all,” so I just don’t post.  Then every once in a while I look back at my posts and it reminds me that even when I take my sweet time putting the posts together, I write like a six year old… but I guess that’s my charm, haha.

Anyhow, what got me fired up enough to check back in is something I’m sure has been kicking around cyberspace for the last day or so.  Turns out Americans who are 35 and younger are carrying substantially less debt than they were before the 2008 crash, at least according to this article over at CNBC. Really.  Cool.  Stuff.

But before you get too excited, it’s not all “wise spending” that’s going into the trend (the article points this out, too).  For example, people are postponing getting married and having kids more, which means fewer home purchases and mortgages.  Also, banks are more hesitant to lend, so it makes it a little tougher to get into debt.  Also, people are keeping their cars and other big-ticket items longer, putting off borrowing to make those purchases.  (This, for my Spanish friends, me gusta.)

But the news isn’t great for the older folks – over 75.  Apparently their debt has doubled on average.  Ouch.

From my perspective, as a “barely” under 35 year old, I definitely have a lot less debt than in 2008.  I still have (but have saved up enough to pay off) my student loans.  (Here’s why and a bit more about my debt).  But the regular payments have paid them down significantly since 2007.  We also sold my wife’s condo and paid down my mortgage I have on an investment property a bit.

But we have a “grand plan,” which should be settled in the next six months or so.  Once the dust settles on some lifestyle design issues we’ll be ready to announce it here.  It’s a ways away for now though.

Until then, things seem to be trending in a good direction for the 35 and under crowd.  It’s possible that it’s all “access” and “fear” that’s reducing the borrowing.  Let’s hope there are also a few “lessons learned” factors built in.

What about you guys?  Owe more or less than you did pre-2008?  Why?

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Image: ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellis February 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I think I technically have less debt than I did in 2008, though I have substantially more credit card debt (an attempt to pay off two other cards by transferring a balance… uh… backfired eventually). I have however paid most of my student loans, the largest chunk of the debt, down significantly. I have to say that regardless of the increased credit card debt, I do feel more stable financially overall than I did in 2008 (though perhaps not as well as I felt in 2011). Anyway, this article has made me feel quite a bit better, as I was in the midst of some “acute financial anxiety” when I found it. Thanks! (bookmarked, and all that)
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Wayne @ Young Family Finance February 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm

We owe less than 2008, but only because we’d finished making all the big purchases. We’d bought a house and finished our masters degrees. There isn’t much else that necessitates debt.

I do wonder if the declined in debt has more to do with pessimism about future financial state than a desire to change spending habits. If things ever turn around, debt might be back in style.
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Brent @ Save on Money March 6, 2013 at 4:39 am

Teach our kids to start saving up as early as we can. With proper money management, we can reduce the chances of getting in to debt.
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