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What it means to be a “broke” Millennial

“I can’t go out tonight. I’m broke.”


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this throughout my life. It mostly made its appearance during uni, but it’s started popping back up as of late.


I hate saying that I’m “broke” because it’s not technically true. I’m not showing zeros in my bank account, I’m not declaring bankruptcy, and I haven’t maxed out several credit cards.


When I say that I’m broke I really mean that I just can’t afford to go out and spend money on things that aren’t necessities. Rent trumps going out to dinner and paying back student debt is definitely higher on my list than going to the movies.


When I talk to my friends or just overhear convos on transit the phrase, “I’m broke” comes up very often, especially with millennials. Sure we have higher incomes than our parents did 30 years ago, but we also have more debt than them.


When we make the decision to go out we have to take our finances into consideration. If I go out tonight will I be able to make next month’s car payment? Will I have enough to pay back OSAP next month? Sure, some millennials are all about living in the moment and not thinking about their future finances and their growing debt (they should be), but they definitely will have to face it soon.


The fact that many of us are constantly exclaiming that we are too “broke” to be able to do anything is usually met with rolled eyes and annoyance. Don’t get me started on what happens if you say that phrase to a baby boomer. Good lawd, the conversation that follows most likely starts with a, “back in my day…” and goes on and on.


I want to pose a challenge to all millennials who have used the phrase, “I’m broke.” My challenge for you is to try to change your dialogue. Instead of just throwing around the word broke, try to actually have a conversation about why you really can’t go out. Change “I’m broke” to “I’m on a budget” or “I need to save for income tax time.”


If we start real conversations about our money situations we can begin helping each other. Just knowing that you aren’t alone in your situation can make it feel less overwhelming.

Good luck!



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