Gen Z Has the Least Amount of Debt — Here’s How They Can Keep It That Way

A happy young adult woman enjoys time at a park with her standard poodle, running, playing, and relaxing with the dog.
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Debt has a huge impact on Americans today, so much so that President Joe Biden has been trying to forgive a significant amount of student loan debt to relieve some of that pressure.

A recent GOBankingRates survey found that the majority of Gen Z (53%) have less than $1,000 in debt, including student loan debt. This makes sense seeing as zoomers are still quite young, the youngest of them having been born in 2012. Compare that to the 35% of all Americans with less than $1,000 in debt and the 41% with debt up to $25,000. It seems that the older we get, the harder it is to avoid accruing substantial debt. There is still a significant portion of Gen Z with mounting debt; already, approximately 5% have over $75,000 in debt.

To help those of us with debt and those of us who wish to avoid it, here are a few tips to help you achieve a debt-free lifestyle.

1. Limit Student Loan Debt

Student loans are available to make higher education possible for everyone, but they tend to add up very quickly. And as inflation continues to increase the price of living, more and more students will need to borrow money to cover their school and living expenses. Before deciding to take out another loan, consider looking up scholarships you could qualify for. According to a report by Forbes, over $100 million in scholarships goes unclaimed each year. Take advantage of the resources out there for students. Do your research and avoid taking out more debt that you have to.

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2. Make Payments on Time

Most people will have to take on debt at some point in their lives, be it for school, a house or a car. One of the best things you can do for your future credit is to make payments on time. This will prevent any dings on your credit report and any late fees that might be associated with the bill. Consider automating your bill paying to make it even less likely you’ll miss a due date. Check with your service companies, and find out if they provide auto-pay. Usually, it’s as easy as visiting their app or website.

3. Don’t Make Purchases You Can’t Afford

It can be hard to rock hand-me-downs when people around you are in the latest (and most expensive) new trends. But don’t let FOMO (or the Fear Of Missing Out) force you into debt. Rather than use credit or loans to buy a new MacBook Pro, make it a savings goal. It may take a little bit longer to make the purchase, but your bank account and credit score will appreciate it.

4. Build an Emergency Fund

The unexpected always seems to happen at the worst times. Whether it’s a fender-bender on your way to work or an emergency vet bill, life is full of these surprise expenses. And if you don’t have enough in the bank to take care of those expenses, you’ll end up carrying that debt and accruing interest until you can. The best way to keep that from happening is to have an emergency fund. Most experts say to put away enough money to cover three months of living expenses, but that number can seem daunting. Choose an amount that works best for you, and stick to it.

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