Millennials, Down Payments and the Struggle to Save

Posted on Aug 22 2014 - 4:29am by Suzanne De Vita

Cheerful young couple moving to new apartmentIn not so surprising news, the concept of homeownership consumes much of my day. I read numerous tips for this and advice for that, scan lists of do’s and don’ts, and peruse real estate blogs on a daily basis. I’ll admit, I haven’t crammed everything into my brain, but I have made mental notes of things that I think may affect me. And, I’ve locked away enough info to strike up a conversation with the poor schlub who hops on the treadmill next to mine.

As long as that person doesn’t ask me about my house.

Considering the wealth of real estate knowledge at my fingertips, it’s actually kind of incredible that I haven’t thought about buying my own house. I’ve placed greater importance on scrounging up $20,000 so George R.R. Martin can kill my character off "Game of Thrones." Or snatching up another one of those absurdly overpriced Nike wristband things.

You guessed it - I’m a Gen Y’er.

As in, Y wouldn’t I continue subscribing to Netflix? Y can’t I get my Starbucks fix every day? Y not pre-order the iPhone 6? Y should I save for a down payment that’s lightyears away?

I’m Team Millennial through and through. I enjoy my (double) chocolate chip frappuccino and binge-watching “Orange is the New Black.” But I’m also a realist. And the reality is, so many of us already saddled with crushing debts from college continue to make poor financial decisions. (Yes, those fresh Jordans qualify as a poor financial decision.)

I’m aware that down payments won’t be on every millennial’s radar, and that’s fine. High unemployment rates and low paying jobs certainly don’t help matters. But we’re part of the most highly educated generation, with access to the most advanced technology. Why are we falling short on something as simple as saving? The neuroscience crowd will tell you it’s because the adolescent phase in our brains now lasts up to age 25. Or that most of us are hanging onto the idea that our parents will cough up the dough when it’s time to invest that 20 percent. (Trulia recently reported that almost half of millennials plan to ask their folks.)

Whatever the case may be, I know we can do better.

Saving is no cakewalk, but there are ways even the least money-minded of us can reserve some extra cash for a down payment:

Sell Your Junk: One person's trash is another's treasure. Hocking stuff on eBay or Craigslist is a great way to earn a few extra bucks.

Offer Up your Social Media Savvy: There are lots of companies in dire need for a social media pro. Try getting a part-time freelance gig and put your Facebook and Twitter knowledge to good use.

Pare Down the Starbucks Runs:  The struggle is real!

Put Off Buying That New Phone: Wait until you're in dire need of a new phone rather than buying one for a couple new, fancy features.

Oh, and open up a low risk savings account. Set up automatic transfers. As Nancy Grace would say, “Case cracked!”

Suzanne De Vita
is RISMedia’s Online Associate Editor and social butterfly. Her obsession with frozen pizzas has majorly cut into her down payment savings plan.

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Beverly August 22, 2014 at 10:58 am -

    Excellent article Suzanne. As I tell my children who are around you’re age whenever they ask my advice on if they should buy something I tell them to write an essay on why they need this particular item and how it will benefit there overall life. If I think the item is a waste, I proudly tell them like Suze Orman that they’ve been denied.