Finance expert advises students on debt

Katie Christiansen

Personal finance expert and Author of ‘Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young,’ Anya Kamenetz, 28, spoke at the USU on Thursday as part of the Speak Your Mind series.

‘ ‘This couldn’t be more timely and relevant,’ said Dr. David T. Russell, assistant professor in the finance department.

Kamenetz talked about the challenges facing young people in today’s economy.

Kamenetz, who currently writes an online column for Yahoo Finance, explored both the causes for the current financial fiasco as well as what young people, those she deems the millennial generation, can do to assert themselves as financially independent and intelligent.

Kamenetz clarified details of the $700 billion bank bailout, and what she called the housing bubble and credit crunch.

‘We’ve never had a world economy so dependent on debt,’ said Kamenetz. ‘Debt has become a consumer product, like kid’s toys, but now there is an absence of demand for it, and no one is lending money.’

Kamenetz then explained why our generation is at risk.

‘It’s harder to get by in this country today than it was 30 years ago,’ said Kamenetz.

People are not making as much money. There is a mismatch between people’s need and people’s means.’

But it’s not needs alone that has driven the millennial generation, and much of America, deeper into debt, she said.

‘(The financial crisis) is the culmination of three decades during which American consumers have spent beyond their means. That era is now coming to an end.

Consumers have run out of ways to keep the spending binge going,’ said Kamenetz, quoting a New York Times article by Robert Reich.

With all the talk of problems in the national economy and those facing the millennial generation, few specific solutions were offered, but rather broad advice that would be beneficial regardless of financial standing.

Kamenetz advised getting smart about work before and after entering the workforce. Internships and practical experience were promoted as well as an overlooked piece of advice to know one’s self.

Kamenetz said she wouldn’t advise every student to look into jobs where the market is currently growing regardless of their abilities and interests. Instead, she recommended pursuing interests and knowing what one is good at.

Citing facts that students have an average of $2,864 of debt and those between ages 25 and 34 have a balance of $4,000, Kamenetz stressed the importance of taking responsibility for finances and refusing to be swayed by commercial enterprises.

Next speaker in the series, Juliet Schor, will speak about children in America’s consumer culture. The event will be in February.