Cost of living as a Millennial: Case of the Disappearing Checks

In the spirit of Sherlock, I often search my transaction histories and attempt to deduce how my funds have left me.  I’m a responsible NYC resident and an accidental hermit so, I should have much more operating income between paychecks.

I budget well- although I can honestly say I have had my share of slip-ups and unexpected withdrawals.  I’ve spent way more than I should on meals and nights out, but those were all sparingly done and supposedly covered by my “just in case” allocations- or so I would like to believe. 

While digging and foraging for spare cash, I discovered truly where my money was going: my overall cost of living.

The average person between the ages of 25-34 makes $50, 620 according to national statistics from the DOL. For educated creatives like myself, NerdWallet reports that Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations have a national average of $58,950 for salaries in those industries- not too shabby right?  Well, it depends.

For residents of major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Miami and my home, New York City, making less than $65K annually can set you on a long track of maintaining life on ever-dwindling savings or strictly living check-to-check until you can either move or find a better-paying position.  The ideas of either choice seem daunting and discouraging enough- adding additional education expenses makes it seem unimaginable to handle.

With roughly 70 percent of students who graduate with undergraduate degrees having loans as a part of their college financing and a national tally of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, the picture painted here is one where the average college grad cannot afford to live in the cities most ideal for starting and furthering their careers.  In my case, making monthly payments totaling $450 a month, paying $1250 for rent and $150 on commuting to work makes even food expenses seem like a luxury.

It’s elementary that the conclusion one can draw is that our national economy isn’t engaging their graduating classes correctly- the disconnect is affecting our lives in the most basic ways- a recent grad shouldn’t have to choose between defaulting on a student loan and ensuring they can eat each night. 

Something has to give.  The case has been solved but, the problems are still wreaking havoc.

*previously posted on*

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