U.S.A. Today is featuring a six-week series following five twenty-somethings and their adventures in debt. Debt seems to be the primary concern of most people as they emerge from their undergraduate education and begin working or continue onto graduate education.
One of the first articles in the series, Young People Struggle With the Kiss of Debt, provides a number of statistics pointing to the higher debt (from tuition and credit cards), lower starting salaries, and highest cost of living, adjusted for inflation, that people in this age bracket are facing. The article also points out misconceptions older individuals have of twenty-somethings.
” ‘Quit whining’ — I’ve heard that a lot,” says Tamara Draut, who is director of the economic opportunity program at Demos, a public-policy research group. “Someone sees a 25-year-old buy a plasma-screen TV at Best Buy, and they think every 25-year-old is buying a plasma-screen TV at Best Buy.”
“There’s the common misconception that they have these debts because they’re buying iPods or cable TV,” [William] Strauss says. “It’s not that. It’s student loans and housing.”
Who are buying all the plasma-screen TVs? Obvisouly, I cannot speak for entire cross-sections of the population, only what I see. The only people I know who own large, wide-format televisions, whether plasma, LCD, or otherwise, are people much older than twenty-something, retired or coming close to retirement. I do have a friend with a projection screen in his basement, but he’s an enthusiast in the audio/visual business.
However, almost all of my friends have iPods, while I do not. I don’t think that the purchase of an iPod, the most expensive at $350, would put any of my friends into debt. If they were twenty-somethings still in college, then perhaps it would. I would buy an iPod if it weren’t tied to a proprietary format and store. I’ll only buy an MP3 player that plays any MP3 or flac file, regardless of “digital rights.”
I’ll write about more of the U.S.A. Today series as I find interesting tidbits.
Published or updated November 21, 2006.