In a nutshell, a new study is showing that young adults are feeling empowered by their credit card and education debt. The study reveals that the more credit card and education debt held by these 18-27 year olds, the higher their self-esteem and the more they felt in-control of their lives. The kicker? These feelings were the strongest among those in the lowest economic class.
I’m surprised because I felt the exact opposite way in college. I was getting by on a patchwork of loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study. “In-control” was hardly how I would have described my feelings—slightly panicked and wholly focused on finishing in four years is more like it. I had no credit card debt to speak of (which wasn’t uncommon in the early 1990s).
And I have to say, back then most of my friends who were borrowing money for college felt the same way I did.
Another interesting finding is that the oldest of those in the study (age 28-34) were the only ones who were beginning to show some stress about their debt levels. Again, this is the opposite of how things went for me. By my late 20s, I was feeling very relaxed and confident about my ability to pay off my loans. I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel by then, and my earning power was increasing.
So, what gives? What do you think about this study? Can you relate?