In some ways, millennials have had it great.  They have not only enjoyed a massive level of peace and prosperity, but they have also been the first generation to enjoy the massive benefits of the digital age in general and the internet in particular.  In other ways, life has not been so kind to them.  They have also been the generation which has had to navigate massive social changes and to learn, sometimes the hard way, that technology has hits dangers as well as its benefits.

Taking this into consideration, it becomes more understandable that increasing numbers of them are running into financial difficulties and more and more of them are actually becoming insolvent.  Here are some of the specific issues they are facing.

Lack of financial education

Up until relatively recently, the UK (and indeed the world) was a cash-based society and most people worked on the basis that they could only buy what they could afford out of their paycheck or their savings.  On the one hand, this did limit their opportunities for progression, for example, it made it very difficult, if not impossible, for people on lower incomes to buy property.  On the other hand, it did limit people’s opportunities for getting into debt.

The parents (and grandparents) of millennials who grew up in this environment were, therefore, not really very well-placed to teach their children and grandchildren the financial skills they would need to navigate the modern world.  In principle, there were and are plenty of internet sites where millennials could have learned these, in practice, financial-management sites are not necessarily the sort of sites young adults are going to visit for a bit of light reading and you only think to visit a site for education if you know you need to be educated, which millennials possibly didn’t.

Predatory marketing

While high-interest lenders (especially payday loan companies) may be the most obvious manifestation of this, they were certainly not the only ones.  Many brands target the young-adult/millennial market with varying degrees of subtlety and in the full knowledge that even though they are out of their teenage years, many of them are still highly susceptible to peer pressure.  This is exactly why some brands place such a high value on young-adult/millennial social-media influencers.

The cost of education

You could make a strong case for arguing that millennials are the “university generation”.  Prior to them, university was for a minority of people, tuition was free and students received grants.  They then graduated, debt-free, into almost guaranteed employment.  Since the millennials have passed through the education system, younger people have become more aware of the fact that university is not necessarily the right choice for everyone and even if it is, a degree itself will not necessarily guarantee you a job.

Millennials, by contrast, were often encouraged to go to university (especially by parents and grandparents who would have loved to have gone themselves).  They shouldered the costs of this themselves and graduated into a harsh job market.  Even though student loan repayments are based on income, commercial loans are not and millennials often had to resort to them just to get by, especially if they were studying in an expensive part of the country (like London).

The cost of housing

For some millennials, getting on the property ladder is the least of their worries, just keeping a roof over their head can be enough of a struggle.  When you’re at the start of your career, you often need to go where the work is and if you’re a young professional, that typically means a city or decent-sized town, where accommodation is at a premium and thus extremely expensive.  Even though this, in itself, is nothing new, the issue has been getting worse over the years and millennials have arguably taken the brunt of it.

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