💰 How many millennials are in debt? 💰
About 90% of millennials have non-mortgage debt, owing an average of $90,590. About 70% of millennials are currently living paycheck to paycheck.
Scope of Millennial Debt | Why They’re in Debt | Credit Card Debt | Student Loan Debt | Bankruptcy Risk | Paycheck to Paycheck | Spending on Nonessentials | Savings and Salary | Underperforming vs. Boomers | Unaffordable Housing | Financial Regrets
Millennials entered adulthood as the most educated generation in American history. Now, they’ll need every bit of brainpower to overcome unprecedented levels of debt.
About 90% of millennials have some form of non-mortgage debt, with an average balance of $90,590, according to a new survey of 1,000 millennials from Real Estate Witch.
Student loans make up a disproportionate share of that sum, with the average millennial in 2023 owing $56,538 in student loans.
About 70% of millennials live paycheck to paycheck, with most saying they struggle to afford bills (56%) and nearly half saying they struggle to afford housing (47%).
The results illustrate how unlucky millennials — born from 1981 to 1996 — have been. Compared to baby boomers, who were born from 1946 to 1964, millennials have faced lower earnings, higher housing prices, and a less reliable job market.
At the same time, millennials admit they’re somewhat complicit in undermining their financial security. Nearly 51% regret not saving enough money, and many dine out (59%) or make impulse purchases (44%) at least once a week.
To learn more about millennials’ finances, Real Estate Witch surveyed them about their debt, income, and economic situation.
Millennial Debt Statistics 💸
- 90% of millennials have non-mortgage debt, with an average balance of $90,590. Jump to section 👇
- 86% of millennials say a major life event, such as a medical emergency (42%) or job loss (31%), contributed to them going into debt. 👇
- 36% of millennials say their debt puts them at risk of bankruptcy. 👇
- 70% of millennials live paycheck to paycheck, including 74% of millennial women. 👇
- 56% of millennials say they struggle to afford bills, and 47% struggle to afford housing.
- 44% of millennials say they cannot afford a $500 expense out of pocket, including 49% of millennial women. 👇
- The average millennial has $42,948 in savings — about $6,500 less than they had in 2022. 👇
- The typical millennial makes $74,106 per year but says they need $119,406 to live comfortably.
- Just 27% of millennials say they’re doing better than their parents were at their age. 👇
- 96% of millennials have financial regrets, with the most common being not saving enough money (51%) and going into debt (34%). 👇
- 53% of millennials say it’s impossible not to have any debt.
9 in 10 Millennials Have Non-Mortgage Debt
About 90% of millennials carry non-mortgage debt, up from 72% in 2022. About 3 in 5 millennials (57%) have credit card debt, making it the most common form of debt.
Millennials say they have:
- Credit card debt (57%)
- Auto loan debt (43%)
- Medical debt (30%)
- Student loans (25%)
Additionally, 1 in 3 millennials (32%) have mortgage debt.
Staying out of debt is a serious challenge for this generation. Only 4% of millennials say they’ve never had any non-mortgage debt. Of those not in debt, most (52%) say they aren’t very confident they’ll be able to stay out of debt.
86% of Millennials Say a Major Life Event Has Landed Them in Debt
Although millennials have a reputation for being frivolous spenders, most millennials say they ended up in debt because of a major life event, such as sustaining significant medical costs (42%) or suffering a job loss (31%).
Millennials say the following events caused them to go into debt:
- Medical costs (e.g., accident, illness, injury, health issue, etc.) (42%)
- Job loss (31%)
- Having children (24%)
- Legal costs (e.g., dispute, lawsuits, bail, etc.) (20%)
- Wedding (14%)
- Divorce (9%)
Some of these costs, including medical costs or job loss, often come as a surprise, upending millennials’ budgeting or borrowing plans. About 57% of millennials say they’ve been denied a loan or line of credit because of their debt, and 60% say their debt prevents them from living the life they want.
Millennials Average More Than $8,000 in Credit Card Debt
Higher living costs in 2023 have almost certainly contributed to the surge in credit card debt among millennials. As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to combat inflation, credit card interest rates are rising, too, adding to outstanding balances.
Overall, about 57% of millennials are in credit card debt, with an average balance of $8,463 — up from $5,349 in 2022. More than 1 in 5 millennials (22%) currently owe at least $15,000 in credit card debt.
Additionally, about one-quarter of millennials (26%) say they do not pay off their credit card balance in full each month, and 47% of millennials say they have missed a credit card payment at some point.
Despite significant credit card debt, most millennials (59%) insist they have good money habits. But many might not be as financially savvy as they think. For example, 27% of millennials say they don’t know their credit score.
Millennials Owe More Than $56,000 in Student Loans on Average
Now in 2023, one-quarter of millennials (25%) have student loans, with an average balance of $56,538. About 1 in 6 millennials (16%) say they owe at least $150,000.
Asked whether going to college was worth the debt, it comes down to a coin flip. About 48% of millennials say college was not worth the trouble of student loans.
36% of Millennials Say They’re at Risk of Bankruptcy Due to Debt
Debt is so ubiquitous for this generation that 7 in 10 millennials (69%) say getting out of debt is their biggest financial goal. But some are pessimistic about their chances.
In fact, more than one-third of millennials (36%) say they’re at risk of bankruptcy because of their debt.
Even if they avoid bankruptcy, millennials acknowledge that it’s going to take a while to get their finances back on track. About 43% of millennials with non-mortgage debt expect it to take at least five years to get out of the red, and 1 in 20 millennials (6%) say they’ll never be able to pay off their debt.
To pay off their non-mortgage debt, millennials think it will take:
- Less than one year (10%)
- 1 to 5 years (47%)
- 5 to 10 years (28%)
- More than 10 years (10%)
- They don’t think they will ever be able to pay off their debt (6%)
70% of Millennials Currently Live Paycheck to Paycheck
Although the inflation rate is declining, it remains about double what it was before the pandemic.
As a result, the high cost of living is still straining Americans’ finances, and 70% of millennials say they live paycheck to paycheck. That includes nearly three-quarters of millennial women (74%).
Additionally, 56% of millennials say they struggle to afford their bills, and 47% struggle to afford housing.
Millennials struggle to afford the following expenses:
- Bills (56%)
- Non-essential purchases (e.g., entertainment, travel, dining out, etc.) (53%)
- Medical care (48%)
- Housing (47%)
- Gasoline (44%)
- Food/groceries (42%)
Roughly Half of Millennial Women Could Not Afford a $500 Expense Out of Pocket
About 44% of millennials cannot comfortably afford a $500 expense out of pocket, but women are much more likely to struggle to afford such a bill.
About 49% of millennial women say they cannot comfortably afford a $500 emergency expense out of pocket, compared to 37% of millennial men.
That gap is consistent with data showing millennial women trail men significantly in both salary and savings. About 50% of millennial women say they feel hopeless about their financial situation, compared to 43% of millennial men.
About 22% of millennials say they aren’t saving anything for an emergency fund, with women (29%) twice as likely as men (14%) to say they aren’t saving.
Millennial Spending: About 3 in 5 Dine Out Weekly
Somewhere along the way, millennials earned a reputation for excessive spending on Starbucks and fancy toast. Although some of millennials’ financial struggles can be attributed to harsh economic conditions, there might be some truth to talk of unnecessary spending.
About 59% of millennials dine out once a week or more, and more than 1 in 10 (11%) say they buy a cup of coffee every day.
Millennials say they do the following at least once a week:
- Dine out or order food delivery for a meal (59%)
- Buy a cup of coffee (56%)
- Shop online (51%)
- Buy alcohol/drinks (46%)
- Make impulse purchases (e.g., purchase from a social media ad, an item at a convenience store, etc.) (44%)
Millennials Saw Their Savings Drop by an Average of $6,500 in the Last Year
Higher costs have decisively dashed Americans’ ability to save, with the U.S. personal savings rate just half of what it was before the pandemic.
Millennials in particular have seen a significant dropoff. The average millennial has about $42,948 in savings — a decrease of roughly $6,500 or 13% since 2022.
Millennial women are notably behind men in terms of both salary and savings, trailing men by about $15,000 in each category.
|Average Salary||Average Savings|
Across both men and women, nearly all millennials (86%) are saving less than the recommended 15% of their income for retirement, including 26% who aren’t saving anything for retirement.
On average, millennials say they earn $74,106 per year but say they need a salary of $119,406 to live comfortably. That may be why 45% of millennials believe they chose the wrong career.
Only 27% of Millennials Say They’re Doing Better Than Their Parents Were at Their Age
One conventional aspect of the American dream is the idea that successive generations should have an easier life than the preceding generation. But outperforming one’s parents has become less and less common over the years.
Just 27% of millennials say they’re doing better than their parents were at their age. Additionally, about 36% of millennials say they’re worse off than they envisioned they’d be at their current age.
It isn’t all bad news, though. Millennials are aging into what have traditionally been high-earning years and are more likely to say they’re better off (29%) than they were a year ago, rather than worse (24%).
About 42% of millennials say they’re doing better than they were five years ago, while 30% say they’re doing worse.
A Majority of Millennials Pay Unaffordable Housing Costs
Nearly 2 in 5 millennials (38%) have missed a rent or mortgage payment at some point. That number becomes less shocking when put in the context of housing costs.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers affordable housing to be housing that costs no more than 30% of a person’s income. But more than half of millennials (57%) spend over 30% of their income on housing in 2023.
The average millennial spends about 38% of their income on housing, and one-third of millennials (33%) spend half their income or more.
About 63% of survey respondents identified as homeowners, but house prices have increased so much that more than half of millennial homeowners (52%) say they would not be able to afford their house if they were trying to buy it today.
Among non-homeowners, 50% say they don’t think they’ll ever be able to buy a home — up from 30% in 2022. In other words, 18% of all millennials in 2023 believe they’ll never become homeowners.
It’s not hard to draw a connection to debt. Nearly 3 in 5 millennials (59%) say their debt has delayed their ability to save for a home.
96% of Millennials Have Financial Regrets
A staggering 96% of millennials regret at least some aspect of their financial situation. By far, the most common regret is not saving enough (51%).
Interestingly, only 34% of millennials say they regret going into debt. That might be because they see debt as a necessary evil that’s often required to afford tuition or other large purchases.
After all, 53% of millennials believe it’s practically impossible not to accrue debt.
Millennials’ most common financial regrets are:
- Not saving enough (51%)
- Going into debt (34%)
- Not investing sooner (32%)
- Not choosing a career with higher earning potential (29%)
- Paying high interest rates (26%)
- Waiting too long to save for retirement (24%)
- Not paying off credit card bills (21%)
- Having kids (13%)
- Buying a house (13%)
- Not buying a house (12%)
The proprietary data featured in this study comes from an online survey commissioned by Real Estate Witch. One thousand millennials were surveyed April 28-29, 2023. Each respondent answered up to 21 questions related to their financial situation, debt, income, expenses, and opinions on other financial matters.
Are you a member of the media interested in learning more about our research? Feel free to reach out! Contact this article’s author here.
About Real Estate Witch
You shouldn’t need a crystal ball or magical powers to understand real estate. Since 2016, Real Estate Witch has demystified real estate through in-depth guides, honest company reviews, and data-driven research. In 2020, Real Estate Witch was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $160 million on real estate fees. Real Estate Witch’s research has been featured in CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise, and more.
More Research From Real Estate Witch
The True Cost of Owning a Home in 2023: About 90% of homeowners say owning a home is more expensive than they expected. Get the facts on the true cost of homeownership.
College Student Salary Expectations (2023 Data): Widespread pay increases have caused three-fourths of undergrads to wildly overestimate their starting salaries. Find out what students expect to earn at their first entry-level job.
Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z (2023 Data): What types of advertising work best with millennials and Gen Z? We polled 1,000 Americans to find out.
Articles You Might Like
How to Sell Your House Without a Realtor (2023 Data): Want to sell your house without a realtor? This guide outlines steps to selling without a realtor, pros and cons, and costs.
6 Best Companies That Buy Houses for Cash: These companies buy houses for cash, helping you sell your home quickly and conveniently — but at a cost!
The Best Discount Real Estate Brokers for Every Budget: Our team spent hundreds of hours researching discount brokers to find the companies that offer the biggest savings.
Frequently Asked Questions About Millennial Debt
What two types of debt are most common for millennials?
The most common forms of debt among millennials are credit card debt (57%) and auto loan debt (43%). About 90% of millennials have some form of non-mortgage debt. Learn more about millennial debt.
How much debt do millennials have?
About 90% of millennials have non-mortgage debt, owing an average of $90,590. Learn more about how debt affects millennials in 2023.
How many millennials are in credit card debt?
About 57% of millennials are in credit card debt, with an average balance of $8,463. Learn more about how debt impacts millennials.