The High Cost of Being a Millennial


This is a guest post from David Carlson, writer at Young Adult Money. If you are interested in writing a guest post please see the guest post policy.


A majority of millennials – those who fall in the 18 to early 30s age range – will go through some major life events within a relatively short period of time. Not only are these life events usually incredibly expensive, but they also come at a time when salaries and pay are relatively low compared to later in life. Usually the first decade or so out of college is filled with “paying your dues” and trying to figure out what you want to do career-wise for the rest of your life.

Today I want to look at some of these major life events and how they impact the finances of those in their 20s and 30s.

College Education

Most young adults choose to go to college after high school. Problem is, the cost of attending college is rising at a meteoric rate. Not only is tuition higher than ever, the costs of housing, text books, food, transportation, entertainment, etc. all have to be factored into the equation. Most finance their college education through student loans. While there is plenty of debate about whether young adults are taking out too many student loans, the reality is that many graduate college with a sizable debt load.

Even if you are able to land a good job after graduation, student loan payments have to be factored into the budgets of many college grads for years after graduation. Let’s not forget the fact that many career tracks also require graduate school, advanced degrees, and expensive professional certifications.


Most people see themselves getting married one day. While people are getting married later in life than they have in the past, many still get married before the age of thirty. Unless you have parents bankrolling your wedding, you likely will need to come up with $10,000+ in financing (not counting the engagement ring, fellas!). While your wedding day certainly will be one of the most memorable of your life, it’s important to factor in all the costs and consider different ideas for keeping costs down.


Most people have children when they are in their 20s and 30s. Not only do children cost a ton of money over the course of their lives, but they also require a lot of time. There are some bloggers out there who work full-time, blog on the side, and have children, I have to believe that my blog work would have to be scaled back if I had children. What would I do without my beloved side hustles? I also am amazed at people who are able to work full-time, pursue an advanced degree, and raise children all at the same time.

I know I’m not hitting on the specific costs involved with having children but I think it’s pretty undeniable that they are an additional expense that need to be factored into your budget.

Buying a House

Buying your first home, whether it’s a single family home, condo, or townhouse, will be one of the biggest purchases you will have made in your life. As you can imagine – or maybe even have experienced yourself – there are a lot of advantages to owning a home. You build equity instead of paying rent, usually get a lot more space than you would renting, and have a place to call your own.

The costs involved in purchasing a home can add up quick, and they don’t stop once you close on your house. Consider the following expenses:

  • Down Payment
  • Closing Costs
  • Unexpected Expenses
  • Decorating/Furnishing
  • Upkeep
  • Insurance
  • Renovations

The costs add up quick. Combine these expenses with all the other expenses that young adults face and you can see why so many have trouble keeping their personal finances straight.

The Good News

Despite the high costs of being a millennial, there is plenty of good news:

  • Time – While it may be hard to come up with money for a retirement fund with so many expenses, millennials have a long investment horizon where compound interest can work in their favor.
  • Income will Increase – In your 20s and 30s you are likely making the least you will make in your career; your income will increase over time. While this is not always true, it is for most people. This means if you can balance your budget today, it will only become easier over time.
  • Major Expenses are usually Worth It – Your wedding will be one of the most memorable days of your life. Your education will open up doors for you and likely increase your income.

If you are a college grad, gotten married, have kids, and/or bought a house, how did you plan and deal with the costs involved? How are you planning ahead for these costs?


David Carlson writes at Young Adult Money where topics include saving money, making money, real estate, health care, careers and more. You can find him on Twitter @DavidCarlson1 and also follow Young Adult Money on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by stopnlook


22 thoughts on “The High Cost of Being a Millennial

      • This is true – I’ve been to 5 or 6 weddings this year and I don’t think any of them have had any change left over from $20,000. I think the number of guests really makes the cost add up quickly – especially when you start adding up extended family. My parents have 4 siblings each, as does my partners. My parents have divorced and my dad has remarried. By the time we invite parents, uncles and aunties we’re at 37 people already! Add in grandparents, the bridal party and some close friends and we’ll be struggling to come in at under 100 people.

        • It is pretty intimidating to think about. I recently heard about a couple doing a honey moon fundraising. They basically created an online account where people could donate to their honey moon cost instead of buying presents. Maybe this could be an idea adapted for the actual wedding?

  1. I really liked the good news section. As a recent grad with no other real responsibilities other than myself and my finances, I try not to think about the other stuff quite yet. But I am currently just working on being financially stable and growing my business now so in ten years when I want to get married, have kids,n buy a house, I’ll have all savings n debt cleared up n I’ll be working for myself. As for wedding cost I plan to get married in Vegas for $

    • That’s great you have a business you want to run. Good luck to you! I hope its a big success.

      I also like how David leaves off with a message of hope. Yes, there are lots of expenses and there always will be, but there’s always good to be found too.

  2. Hate to break this to you, but this article should have been titled “The High Cost of Being an Adult.” I came here expecting to see some unique expenses of coming into adulthood now compared to 30 years ago when I did, and all I found were the usual suspects – education, family, home.

    Welcome to the world of taking care of yourself.

    Still, it was well written and did a good job of laying out for your peers what lies ahead.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment.

      Yes, I agree these are not necessarily Millennial only costs, but it is good to start thinking about. These are some of the first real expenses Millennials are going to face, so I’m happy David chose to wrote about this topic.

      • Totally agree – it is an important topic, and I’m also glad there are young people paying attention to this sort of thing. Too many people of ALL ages don’t consider these things.

        And it is probably a good thing for other Millennials to hear this from a peer rather than an old fart like me. Hopefully my kids have heard the message and taken it to heart. I THINK so, but you can’t always be sure.

    • Sorry for not making it a comparison from now and 30 years ago, though I can certainly see how you would think this article potentially could have been about that. The expenses haven’t changed per se, and I certainly would categorize 18-33 year olds as adults!

      • Oh, you misunderstood what I said, I didn’t mean that I expected you to make a comparison between now and then, but I can see how you might think that’s what I meant. I only meant that I thought it would be about expenses that were unique or particular to one of the Millennial generation, and only found the usual suspects. Just to give some examples – between my freshman year in college and my senior year, tuition doubled; when I bought my first house interest rates were double what they are now, and only 3 years after I graduated the stock market dropped nearly 23% in a single day.

        I also would characterize 18-33 year olds as adults, I hope I didn’t convey otherwise. And I also hope you’ve now seen my other comments, where I made clear that I found your article to be informative, well written, and a good thing for all Millennials (and also GenX, GenY, Baby Boomers, The Greatest Generation, and any other generational grouping there might be that I’ve lost track of) to read. I’ve looked over your site, and you have some good stuff there. I plan on reading over more of it, hopefully you’ll have some things to teach an old guy like me.

  3. Pingback: The High Cost of Being a Millennial | Young Adult Money

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