Dreaming of retirement? Student loan debt may actually help you, not hurt you

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Have that one friend on Instagram that gives you constant FOMO because it feels like they are always on vacation? Find yourself day-dreaming about a life of leisure, where these pesky “work days” are a thing of the past, but have no clue how you could ever possibly afford to retire? Don’t panic. You are not alone. 70% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have not started saving for retirement. And with the daily stresses of paying for rent, transportation, groceries, bills, student loans and the occasional fun, saving is the last thing on most of this generation’s mind. But it is possible, no matter what your financial situation is. To find out how, a group of young professionals in NYC bared their finances to The Financial Gym founder Shannon McLay as Fusion’s Alicia Menendez provided moral support.

“Retirement is so far away for the millennial generation. I mean you talk about [being] 60 or 70 years old when they’re thinking about a formal retirement plan -that's double their lifetime,” McLay said. “It’s very difficult to think double your lifetime right when you graduate college or are starting out.”


College affordability is by-far one of the biggest hurdles to saving money. Research shows 73% of Americans say they have put off saving for retirement because of their student loan debt. According to Student Loan Hero, the average class of 2016 student will graduate with more than $37,000 in debt, up 6% from just last year.

“I think student loan debt definitely has a significant factor in defining the American Dream for the millennial generation…[it] is something that the boomer generation didn't have to deal with,” McLay told Menendez. “I have clients who are putting off marriage because of debt and also not dating people because of debt or feel undateable,” McLay said.

But there is a light at the end of that student-loan-debt-ridden tunnel: your discipline in paying it off might end up helping you instead of hurting you.

“For better or worse student loan debt sucks,” McLay said. “Nobody wants to have it but the process of having to pay it and having that responsibility to pay it actually builds a great foundation for financial responsibility at an early age. My clients who have student loan debt are actually better with their finances out of necessity than my clients who don't.”

For more episodes of Chasing the Dream, click here.