Interviewer: If you're in your 20s or 30s and are full of optimism about your future, you may want to sit down. Today's 20- and 30-somethings are more likely to be farther in debt, thanks to student loans, credit cards and obligations, than any other generation before. In fact, many are stuck on a financial treadmill that isn't getting them anywhere. Is there anything they can do about it? Tamara joins us with more on that and perhaps some good news.
First of all, you're no stranger to financial problems. You and your husband were flat broke at the age of 30. What happened?
Tamara Draut (Director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos): Well, we found ourselves a couple of days away from payday and very short on cash, so we basically decided to sell some CDs to get us through to the next payday, so we could get something to eat. And, you know, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry because, here we are, 30 years old, I have a master's degree at this point, he has a college degree, you know, we should be getting ahead at this point; we're 30 years old. So we took a long pause and said, “Well, if we're having such a hard time making ends meet, what's happening to those people out there who aren't as fortunate, who don't have college degrees?”
Interviewer: Well, I think your story resonates with a lot of people out there. Why are so many 20- and 30-somethings that have college degrees…why are they so financially strapped?
Tamara: Well, you know there's a whole combination of things happening. One is they're now entering the real world with lots of student loan debt. You know about 2 out of 3 college graduates have student loans and they're carrying about $19,000 on average. The cost of housing. To be a college grad today means most likely you're gonna need to move to a high cost area because, unfortunately, that's where all the jobs are.
Interviewer: Right. Well, you said the economic situation is bleak but it's not hopeless. So what can they do? What can you do to turn it around, start turning it around?