The Freep Is Sending Me Mixed Signals On How To Spend My Money

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It's hard being a "millenial" in Detroit because we're broke in a broke city. Harder, still, is trying to figure out how best to navigate our brokeness when relying financial advice from our local news.

Detroit Free Press business columnist Susan Tompor penned a piece last week on what to do when you are young, in debt and planning to get married. It's like Tompor was reading my mind because, I, an engaged millenial with lots of student loan debt, am looking for just the right kind of direction for what to do in this situation.


Like my millenial brethren, I despise the term and that hatred increases tenfold when I see baby boomers telling millenials how they're going to change society and whatnot. But there's some pretty good millenial advice here:

The couple say they’ve been careful not to overspend while dating, too. Fisher cooks a lot of “date night” meals instead of going out, Matusz said. Neither has credit card debt. Couples need to share that credit report information with each other to get a plan going to tackle any problems.


That's good. So, what are we broke newlywed millenials going to do about co-habitation after nuptials?

About two-thirds of college grads in the Class of 2013 will leave with some student loan debt. The average debt is about $28,000.

“Sometimes, to be flexible, the best thing is not to buy a home,” said Titus, the financial adviser.


OK, why shouldn't I buy a home?

Lauren Locker, a certified financial planner and chairwoman of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, said anyone who is getting married needs to discuss how they’re going to deal with debt.

The average wedding costs $28,400 — close to the average amount of student loan debt. If couples borrow for the wedding and one has the average amount of student loans, they could be $56,000 in debt before they share the first slice of wedding cake.

For many young couples, she said, expectations for how much money one can make or how well one can live are not in line with real life. She blames the beautiful lifestyles often shown in the news media. Most of the country cannot afford to live like that without going too deep into debt.


OK, got it — not going to buy a home right away while I'm young because the news media told me it's too glamorous and I can't afford it. As a regular reader of the Freep, this is helpful.

Then, I just remembered I'm a regular reader of the Freep, and, just a month ago, the Freep told me it was perfectly fine to be young and spend a ton of money on a house when you're fresh into marriage. Remember that? Let's refresh from the cached version of the headlined story, "Young metro Detroit couples buying big, pricey starter homes":

When did a new, $300,000, four-bedroom house become a starter home? It's a shift in the housing market that arrived with this millennial generation, according to real estate professionals.

Today's young buyers often vault right past their parents' traditional first house — the tiny bungalow or mini-ranch — and grab the house they really want.

"They want granite in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances. They like the hardwood," said Stuart Michaelson, president of Windmill Homes, which builds houses in western Wayne and western Oakland counties.


And why are young married couples buying $300,000 houses?

The fact is many of today's young buyers can afford to buy this big. A generation of sweeping social changes has resulted in people marrying later, having kids later and being more likely to have two incomes. For example, over the 50 years from 1962 to 2012, the average marrying age jumped roughly six years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


But wait! I thought millenials were thrifty, debt-ridden sad sacks who should rent until the time is right. Did so much change in a month? I AM SO CONFUSED RIGHT NOW. Are granite countertops and stainless steel appliances part of the beautiful lifestyles the news media portrays as being too glamorous?

What to do? Should I buy a big, expensive house right now because the market is low and the opportunity won't present itself again, or should I pay off my debt and have "money dates" instead? What am I supposed to do, Free Press? What am I supposed to dooooooooo?