The millennial generation is typically the children of boomers born between 1981 and 1996 – which means the oldest members are starting to turn 40. One of the statistics about this generation is that they are, on average, holding more debt than their forebears.
Today’s podcast looks at the millennial generation and their relationship with money. Matthew Fader, Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Allan Marshall & Associates, delves into what kind of debt is incurred by different age groups, and why. He also explores:
- The difference between how millennials versus boomers perceive money
- What is different today in the kind of debt millennials carry
- The solutions and options available when they reach out for help
- How money has become easier to spend when the physicality has been removed
Whatever your age or generation you belong to, if you are dealing with unmanageable debt it may be time to reach out to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. They are federally regulated and are the only debt professionals with access to all debt relief options.
Read the Transcript
Wayne Kay 0:04
Welcome to another episode of the Debt Matters podcast where we help Canadians find solutions to their debt with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada. I’m Wayne Kay. Today, a great topic. We’re going to talk about millennials and their financial problems.
To help us out with this I’m joined by Matt Fader with Allan Marshall & Associates located in maritimes offices in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and expanding into Alberta as well. Matt, thank you very much for being here.
Matt Fader 0:35
Good to be here, Wayne. Thank you very much.
Wayne Kay 0:36
All right, millennials so I get all confused. What age are the millennials?
Matt Fader 0:41
Beats me. I don’t know. I just know, I’m not one. That’s about it. And that seems to be the crown, unfortunately. Seems to be that sort of age where you’re not of the chosen boomer generation. And you don’t seem to be the offshoot of the boomer but the offshoot of the offshoot of the boomer. I don’t know for sure though, the internet is good for finding out that stuff.
Wayne Kay 1:12
Do you find that since the show is all about debt and money problems – and that’s why we talk with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across the country, because this is what you specialize in. You are regulated by the federal government to help in certain ways with people who are having some serious problems. Are there certain debt problems that happen for millennials, or boomers, or whatever other generations are out there?
Matt Fader 1:40
Yes, there is. Your older generation tends to get into trouble with more typical classical bank debt, your credit card, your lines of credit, things of that nature. What we see arise, especially with younger 20, to sort of the 20 to 30 group – that we’re running into now, a lot more higher risks, or utility type of debt.
What I mean by utility type of debt is we’ll see somebody who’s got a bunch of cell phones that haven’t been paid for. We’ll see a lot of payday loans or cash stores, finance company loans, like high interest finance companies. And that seems to be that they’ll have maybe one or two small credit cards, very little bank debt. In a lot of cases, maybe an overdraft, but the majority of it ends up being an awful lot of small debt, which is very different. Because you could say, well, I’ve got one person who has a $30,000 line of credit, but then I could have, someone who might be a boomer or whatever.
Whatever it is, generations that are y or whatever generation I am in – the 40 ish range. We might have a credit card and a line of credit, and a personal loan. But then you take somebody who’s in their 20s, and they might have the exact same dollar value – $15 or 20,000, but there are four payday loans. There’s a personal loan from a finance company, and a bunch of cell phone bills, and they all add up to the same, but they have so many different hands. There’s so many people that are fighting for their money, that it’s a lot more overwhelming – than it is to just say, Well, I have one loan with one bank, the same dollar amount. But more hands mean, harder to maintain. And we see that a lot now – an awful lot.
Wayne Kay 3:35
Why would that be? What would be the major difference here?
Matt Fader 3:38
Well, it starts off. I don’t know what it was like when you went to university Wayne, assuming you went to university. I know my first day at University, all the main banks were there – apply for your credit card. Yes, we know your student, but you can use your student loan to pay for it. You know, let’s use debt to pay debt. That’s a great idea.
So, what we end up seeing a lot is that sort of accumulation of I got to go out, I got to get the newest phone. They go to their TELUS or the Rogers, or whatever it is, and they get their phone, and they get their data plan, and they’ll get the iPad, they’ll get all the other stuff on it. And yes, it’s one easy payment of $90 a month. Fine. No problem. And if that’s your only bill, that’s great.
You have got to remember that. A lot of times these guys are coming out of school, they’re coming out of school with entry level jobs. We know it’s not getting cheaper to live by any stretch of the imagination. So as a result right away, they’re sort of behind the eight ball. Rent is expensive. Food is expensive. Utilities are expensive. But I have got to have a phone so I get a phone.
And then they end up saying I need to be able to supplement my income in some way, shape or form. And in supplementing my income in some way, shape or form they’re falling back not on credit cards or lines of credit, but they’re going to possibly get a payday loan, or they’re going possibly to one of these finance companies to say, Oh, I need a bridge loan, because what I’m getting from my main employment isn’t quite enough to cover me.
So, it gets packaged in smaller manageable pieces. And that’s really the problem with it. It’s like, oh, it’s one low payment of blaa, whatever amount. And again, that one low payment of whatever amount, if it’s, by itself, isolated, it’s not a problem. But when you pile another one on, and another one on and another one on, that one easy $100 a month payment is easy. But take that times eight, and I’m done.
So that becomes the issue that you run into – a lot of overextension. I have access to far more credit than I reasonably have the ability to pay. And because of that, it’s borrow from here then to pay over there to then re-borrow. And it becomes a very detailed juggling act, to try and stay on top of everything.
Wayne Kay 6:14
There must be a difference in how a millennial perceives money, as opposed to a boomer.
Matt Fader 6:21
There very much is. I look at it more in saying that the older generation views money as the commodity to hang on to. When I think of my grandparents who came from the depression era. They wouldn’t spend a dime, they were cheap. And I want to say cheap, but you know, frugal, or whatever, a lot of them were. Because they said, Well, I don’t know when the world is going to explode. I will need to have this nest egg to be able to survive off of.
So they develop a very compact, very efficient for them, type of living scenario – where they live on the least amount of money possible, and bank the rest. And that would be like my parents, parents – but then my parents when they came in, they had a different concept of money, a little bit more free spending. They say, well, you know, there are some things out there – I don’t want to be like my grandmother, who would buy a secondhand vacuum, because they didn’t want to buy a first one. No, I’m going to go out and I’m just going to buy a good one. I’m going to pay more money for it, but it’s going to last 20 years. So the mindset sort of changed to say, well, I’ll buy quality, I’ll spend more, but I’ll buy quality.
They still had the idea, that notion of being able to withhold to save, to say, Well, if disaster strikes, I have to be prepared for it. But a little bit more liberal with the spending. But then finances changed. And when finances changed when money became convenient, and easy to spend, that just threw everything up in the air.
When you think that Wayne, you and I we’re old guys. We can go back to the days when your boss would say, Wayne, thanks for working for me – shake your hand and give you your paycheque. And you say, Oh, thanks, man. It’s like three o’clock on a Thursday and for whatever reason the banks were only open till 3:30. So yes, you would jump out and you had to go to work, go to the bank, and you’d stand in that line to cash that cheque.
Now you remember that there’s a big line – and that pen that you had to fill in that weird paper with that giant blog ink stain on the back and fill it out and wait in line. And you’d say pay this bill, pay this bill and give me cash. That’s how we operate. We operate on cash. You always knew where you were. If you ran out of cash, you stopped spending because if it was three o’clock in the morning and you wanted a piece of pizza? Well, there was no such thing as an ATM. And nothing was open anyway. So you didn’t get your piece of pizza.
But then the world changed. And money became convenient. And what we’re seeing as far as millennials are – millennials are children of that convenience, of that world of convenient money spending. They don’t know how to deal with cash. I shouldn’t say I mean, I don’t mean to paint all Millennials with the same brush. Yes, a lot of them are super intelligent. And I’ve met some wonderful people that are way smarter than I am and way better with money than I.
But at the same time, we’ve been there at the grocery store, when we hand somebody cash, and then we watch them stare blankly at it. You’ve made the change in your head, you’re like, well, it was $14.80 I just gave you $20.00 – so you give me back $5.20 Chief, that’s all you got to do. $5.20 But they’re standing there, you know trying to figure it out.
Yes, or worse yet, you give them the change and give the 80 cents on top of that. You say well now you just give me $5.00 and $1 back to get $6.00. And we know that because that’s what we are a product of right. But when you’re tied to electronic money, when you’re tied to tapping – when you’re tied to being able to spend money on your phone, you don’t even have to carry a wallet anymore.
You have got your phone. You don’t even need your phone. You have got your watch. You have all these ways to say – it’s that much easier to spend money. So that has changed the way a millennial perceives, but it’s not physical. And when we remove the physicality of money, surprisingly, it gets easier to spend. Yes, when you make money easy to spend, guess what happens?
Wayne Kay 10:29
You spend it, you spend it? Yes, absolutely.
Matt Fader 10:33
And that spending again, becomes that snowball effect. As far as tracking, it’s difficult to track. You can build all these wonderful apps on your phone and things like that to look at. But people are lazy by nature. So they don’t want to go and check those apps, they’ll forget about it. And it does become a very big problem.
So the real perception, and it’s not only with millennials, because the further removed we get from the physicality of cash, the shorter our memories are. I deal with a lot of older people now, when I have these conversations with them about getting back to those basics – when it comes to their budgeting, do a weekly cash budget, take the money out that you need, spend only what you have in your wallet, leave the rest in the bank.
You can see the light go on in their head that they’re like, Oh, yeah, I remember when I used to do that. I remember when I had the envelopes, and I partitioned all my money up and I did all that. And yeah, they remember it. And then you say, Well, did it work back then? And they say yes. And I said, Well, why wouldn’t it work now? You know, back then, like I said, it wasn’t as easy to spend your money as it is now.
I remember growing up in Halifax, there was one McDonald’s in the peninsula. There was one Tim Hortons and that was it. And now there’s a Tim Hortons across the street from the Tim Hortons. You know what I mean? There’s just so much more opportunity to spend. And it’s become that much easier to spend that you don’t even have to leave your house. You can drop $1,000 bucks sitting on the toilet as long as you have your phone with you.
Wayne Kay 12:15
Absolutely. It’s kind of scary, isn’t it?
Matt Fader 12:19
It’s terrifying.Yes. Well, once upon a time, it was illegal to shop on Sundays. Again, and now while I was here – up until probably about 15 years ago. When you make spending easy, when you make it convenient – it changes the perception of money. It changes the concepts of being able to save.
It’s put a lot of millennials in a dire sense where they’ve come to realize the fact of the concept of, what I guess my parents or their grandparents, had of what retirement is. I think we spoke about it in one of our last podcasts. It doesn’t exist anymore – that Millennials saying I’m not going to get to retire. So why bother saving? Why not live for today?
Wayne Kay 13:09
Yikes. That is a scary thought. So you’re seeing that there are a lot of millennials that are running into financial trouble? When is the point when they make that phone call and say, oh, you know what, I need to get out of this. I need to get on track. I need Matt. How do I get a hold of Matt? When do they call?
Matt Fader 13:31
I mean, I’m pretty easy to get a hold of.
Wayne Kay 13:35
But for them, what’s the point when they say okay, I’m thinking I need some help here.
Matt Fader 13:40
People hit their bottoms at different speeds and different depths, of course. We have people that we’ll deal with that have been dodging debt for years and years and years. And eventually, I don’t know if it’s the light turns on or whatever it is, but they think, Oh, my God, I’m getting older, I’m starting to build a family. I need to solve these problems of my youth – and these problems that they have in their quote, unquote, youth.
You have got somebody who’s 25, who says, Well, I gotta clean up the mistakes I made when I was younger. I’m like, Oh, you’re still calling me young, dude. But, you know, I get it. When you were 17, when you’re 18, you didn’t understand and then you just ignored it. Because you said, Well, it’s not really impacting me and people are leaving me alone. And yes, I can’t get a car. Or if I do, it’s at a high interest rate – so I’ll just ride the bus. And they make these sacrifices.
And then they get to the point where they say, well, maybe I would like to start a family. Maybe I would like to buy a house, maybe I would like to go back to school. Then they’re really smacked with these problems of saying – this is an obstacle to me moving forward with my life.
So the hope is that when they come into those financial obstacles, that they pick up the phone and they give somebody like me a call. Because as you mentioned, we’re regulated, we’re licensed by the federal government. My job is to say, Okay, tell me your problems. And now let’s go through every possible scenario that we can think of, to say here are avenues for you to get out of.
It’s not just that you walk into my office, and I’m going to put you through a Bankruptcy or proposal. We’re going to talk about all the options, because the reality of it is, if somebody can do the job, if they can help you in a way that is more beneficial to you, than the help I can give to you, then that’s what I need for you to do.
If you need my help, I’m going to help you. But if you’re not quite there, I’m going to say, okay, here are the other ways, these softer, more gentler ways for you to handle this problem. So there’s a large level of strategy that comes into it.
But ultimately, people come to that awakening. And the hope is that when they do, they reach out again, to somebody who’s licensed, not an unlicensed, not unregulated, not somebody who you’re never going to be able to sit across the table from and look in the eye, or do everything off the internet.
We have to be cautious, especially when we’re talking about our debt in our lives. Because one wrong move, one wrong piece of advice can have lasting negative consequences. And a lot of times the damage can’t be undone easily. So we have to be cautious.
And if it means get a second opinion, then you get it. Pride gets in the way for a lot of people. They don’t want to walk through the door, they don’t want to see that pride is impacting their ability to be able to say, well, maybe I failed. But you know, the adage of surrender to win is a powerful concept to say, Well, maybe it’s time to give up that fight.
Wayne Kay 16:53
You know, what’s funny, though, as you’re saying that – they may not want to see you but after they see you, they’re thrilled that they saw you because they walk out the door with options. And that’s the most important thing they can have when it comes to their debt.
Matt Fader 17:08
Well, yes, that’s one of the rewarding things that we do run into in my industry – is that we do take people who are coming to you, they haven’t slept in months, they’re 40 pounds overweight, they’re fighting with their spouse and everything, and they have no hope. And they just think my life is over. And I’m going to have to file for Bankruptcy. And that means that you’re going to brand me with a big ‘B’ on my forehead, and I’m going to be on the side of the road wearing a barrel like Fred and Barnie used to. And the airplanes are going to fly through the sky with a banner behind it that says you went bankrupt with Allan Marshall & Associates, and all that stuff.
And that’s what they think. And then they come in, and they’re like, Okay, when we talk, and we talk about solutions, we talk about options. And they come in a lot of times saying, I have no hope. And I have no options available to saying: Well crap, now I have to make a decision, because you just laid out four options. And each and every one of them is an out for me that I didn’t have an hour ago.
I can’t undersell the value of just either picking up the phone and making that call. I tell people all the time, you have got an hour of your time to lose, but you can gain your life back.
Wayne Kay 18:29
And it’s easy, as you said, Matt, you can go to the website, wecanhelp.ca Check it out – wecanhelp.ca. Matt, thank you as always, for all the great information.
Matt Fader 18:41
Thanks, Wayne. I don’t know how long it was. But hopefully somebody got the message and we’ll see what happens.
Wayne Kay 18:46
Oh, I think it was terrific. So Matt, who’s with Allan Marshall & Associates. Again, the website wecanhelp.ca. And that is it for our podcast for today. It’s called Debt Matters podcast and we’d love it if you could subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcasts from.
If you know somebody who’s in financial trouble, please share this podcast with them as well. And if you want more information, you can always check out debtmatters.ca Thanks so much for listening.
About Matthew Fader
Matthew has worked in the insolvency field since 2005 and joined Allan Marshall and Associates in 2017. His positive outlook helps reassure his clients with any financial insecurities they may have. Matt’s goal is to ensure that everyone has the best possible experience and is treated with respect.