Why millennials aren't buying cars, homes

Amanda Hill, 27, deals with big student loan debt by doing everything she can to keep her other bills small. 

“I have cut out all the things that aren’t absolutely necessary,” Hill said. 

She eats out maybe once a month. She limits her driving to control how much she spends on gas. She lives in an apartment. 

She avoids getting her nails done or shopping. She buys clothes about two times a year.

Hill – who is juggling $90,000 in student loan debt after graduating in 2015 from Hampton University in Virginia – figured she didn’t need a car payment on top of her monthly student loan payments. 

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So she bought a 2005 Saturn Ion last year from a woman at her church.

She paid $500 for her car.

“And I was surprised it actually worked,” she said. “But I had to learn how to drive a stick shift.”

Amanda Hill, 27, poses next to her 2005 Saturn Ion she bought last year in order to avoid car payments. She paid $500 for that car but she's dealing with $90,000 in student loan debt. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Dreaming of buying a new car when you get that first job out of college? Or maybe buying your first house? It used to be a rite of passage. Not so much any more.

“It’s not going to be you’re 30 and you’re married and you’re going to have kids,” said Hill. 

She has no timetable for when she’d like to buy a house or make other big purchases. She still hopes to go to graduate school but has delayed that until she has a better handle on her college debt for her bachelor of arts degree. 

Right now, she said, it’s more about trying to stay afloat.  

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About $1.46 trillion in student loan debt has many millennials, as well as others, hiding their wallets and putting big ticket commitments on the back burner.

Plain and simple, many young consumers just aren’t ready to consume. And many sure don’t want to shop until they drop like their parents. 

“This is really a pervasive trend and it will not be reversed any time soon,” said Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers. 

Amanda Hill, 27, bought a 2005 Saturn Ion last year in order to avoid car payments. She paid $500 for that car but she's dealing with $90,000 in student loan debt. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

In a special report released in late February, the U-M research team noted that consumers younger than 35 aren’t terribly optimistic about making big purchases – unlike previous generations. 

In the past decade, younger consumers have viewed buying conditions for homes, cars and other large household items far less favorably, the U-M survey noted. 

The survey, which monitors consumer attitudes and expectations, has been conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor since 1946.

What’s going on here? Some of it is, no doubt, all that college debt. But other factors may be coming into play, too. 

One reason many young consumers are holding back their spending is that they’re frequently worried about taking on new debt, according to U-M report released Feb. 22. 

College debt holding consumers back

Student loan debt in total is intimidating. 

Outstanding student loan debt stood at $1.46 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

Those ages 18 to 29 had the most college debt – more than $1 trillion. 

“Average student loan debt at graduation is going to continue to increase,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research for Savingforcollege.com.

The average debt at graduation is a bit under $30,000 for bachelor’s degree recipients, Kantrowitz said. 

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<p>On average, Americans owe $6,354 on bank-issued credit cards. At the state level, average credit card debt per capita varies substantially. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average bank card balance from creditcards.com to identify the states with the most credit card debt.</p>On average, Americans owe $6,354 on bank-issued credit cards. At the state level, average credit card debt per capita varies substantially. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average bank card balance from creditcards.com to identify the states with the most credit card debt. SIphotography / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>1. Alaska</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $8,515<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 5.4 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 668<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.91. Alaska• Average credit card balance: $8,515• Cost of living: 5.4 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 668• Average number of cards: 2.9 Chilkoot / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>2. Connecticut</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $7,258<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 8.7 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 690<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.22. Connecticut• Average credit card balance: $7,258• Cost of living: 8.7 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 690• Average number of cards: 3.2 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>3. Virginia</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $7,161<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 2.3 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 680<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.1</p>3. Virginia• Average credit card balance: $7,161• Cost of living: 2.3 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 680• Average number of cards: 3.1 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>4. New Jersey</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $7,151<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 13.2 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 686<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.5</p>4. New Jersey• Average credit card balance: $7,151• Cost of living: 13.2 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 686• Average number of cards: 3.5 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>5. Maryland</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $7,043<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.5 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 672<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.2</p>5. Maryland• Average credit card balance: $7,043• Cost of living: 9.5 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 672• Average number of cards: 3.2 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>6. Hawaii</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,981<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 18.4 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 693<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.3</p>6. Hawaii• Average credit card balance: $6,981• Cost of living: 18.4 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 693• Average number of cards: 3.3 Eric Tessmer / Wikimedia CommonsFullscreen<p><strong>7. Texas</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,902<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 3.1 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 656<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.1</p>7. Texas• Average credit card balance: $6,902• Cost of living: 3.1 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 656• Average number of cards: 3.1 RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><b>8. Colorado</b><br /><b>• Average credit card balance:</b> $6,718<br /><b>• Cost of living:</b> 3 percent more than Average<br /><b>• Average credit score:</b> 688<br /><b>• Average number of cards:</b> 3.1</p>8. Colorado• Average credit card balance: $6,718• Cost of living: 3 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 688• Average number of cards: 3.1 f11photo / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>9. Georgia</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,675<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 7.9 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 654<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.0</p>9. Georgia• Average credit card balance: $6,675• Cost of living: 7.9 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 654• Average number of cards: 3.0 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>10. New York</strong><br /><strong>&bull; Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,671<br /><strong>&bull; Cost of living:</strong> 15.6 percent more than Average<br /><strong>&bull; Average credit score:</strong> 688<br /><strong>&bull; Average number of cards:</strong> 3.3</p>10. New York• Average credit card balance: $6,671 • Cost of living: 15.6 percent more than Average • Average credit score: 688 • Average number of cards: 3.3 Terabass / Wikimedia CommonsFullscreen<p><b>11. Washington</b><br /><b>• Average credit card balance:</b> $6,592<br /><b>• Cost of living:</b> 5.5 percent more than Average<br /><b>• Average credit score:</b> 693<br /><b>• Average number of cards:</b> 3.0<br /></p>11. Washington• Average credit card balance: $6,592• Cost of living: 5.5 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 693• Average number of cards: 3.0 evenfh / Shutterstock.comFullscreen<strong>12. New Hampshire</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,490<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 5.9 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 701<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.112. New Hampshire• Average credit card balance: $6,490• Cost of living: 5.9 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 701• Average number of cards: 3.1 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>13. California</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,481<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 14.4 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 680<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.2</p>13. California• Average credit card balance: $6,481• Cost of living: 14.4 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 680• Average number of cards: 3.2 Art Wager / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>14. Illinois</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,410<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 1.1 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 683<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.1</p>14. Illinois• Average credit card balance: $6,410• Cost of living: 1.1 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 683• Average number of cards: 3.1 lhongfoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><strong>15. Nevada</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,401<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 2.6 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 655<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.2</p>15. Nevada• Average credit card balance: $6,401• Cost of living: 2.6 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 655• Average number of cards: 3.2 f11photo / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>16. Arizona</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,389<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 4.1 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 669<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.016. Arizona• Average credit card balance: $6,389• Cost of living: 4.1 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 669• Average number of cards: 3.0 Zereshk / Wikimedia CommonsFullscreen<strong>17. Florida</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,388<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 0.3 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 668<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.217. Florida• Average credit card balance: $6,388• Cost of living: 0.3 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 668• Average number of cards: 3.2 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>18. Rhode Island</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,375<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 0.4 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 687<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.318. Rhode Island• Average credit card balance: $6,375• Cost of living: 0.4 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 687• Average number of cards: 3.3 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>19. Delaware</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,366<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 0.2 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 672<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.119. Delaware• Average credit card balance: $6,366• Cost of living: 0.2 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 672• Average number of cards: 3.1 DenisTangneyJr / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>20. Massachusetts</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,327<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 7.8 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 699<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.220. Massachusetts• Average credit card balance: $6,327• Cost of living: 7.8 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 699• Average number of cards: 3.2 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<b>21. New Mexico</b><br /><b>• Average credit card balance:</b> $6,317<br /><b>• Cost of living:</b> 6.4 percent less than Average<br /><b>• Average credit score:</b> 659<br /><b>• Average number of cards:</b> 2.821. New Mexico• Average credit card balance: $6,317• Cost of living: 6.4 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 659• Average number of cards: 2.8 DenisTangneyJr / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>22. Oklahoma</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,296<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 11 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 656<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.722. Oklahoma• Average credit card balance: $6,296• Cost of living: 11 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 656• Average number of cards: 2.7 Majestic_Aerials / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>23. Wyoming</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,245<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 3.3 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 678<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.823. Wyoming• Average credit card balance: $6,245• Cost of living: 3.3 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 678• Average number of cards: 2.8 undefined undefined / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>24. South Carolina</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,157<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.7 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 657<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.924. South Carolina• Average credit card balance: $6,157• Cost of living: 9.7 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 657• Average number of cards: 2.9 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>25. Pennsylvania</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,146<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 1.6 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 687<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.125. Pennsylvania• Average credit card balance: $6,146• Cost of living: 1.6 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 687• Average number of cards: 3.1 f11photo / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>26. North Carolina</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,117<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.1 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 666<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.026. North Carolina• Average credit card balance: $6,117• Cost of living: 9.1 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 666• Average number of cards: 3.0 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>27. Kansas</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,082<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.5 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 680<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.827. Kansas• Average credit card balance: $6,082• Cost of living: 9.5 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 680• Average number of cards: 2.8 ricardoreitmeyer / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>28. Louisiana</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,074<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.6 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 650<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.828. Louisiana• Average credit card balance: $6,074• Cost of living: 9.6 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 650• Average number of cards: 2.8 GregJK / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>29. Oregon</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $6,012<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 0.2 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 688<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.029. Oregon• Average credit card balance: $6,012• Cost of living: 0.2 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 688• Average number of cards: 3.0 4nadia / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>30. Tennessee</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,975<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.8 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 662<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.830. Tennessee• Average credit card balance: $5,975• Cost of living: 9.8 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 662• Average number of cards: 2.8 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>31. Alabama</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,961<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 13.4 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 654<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.731. Alabama• Average credit card balance: $5,961• Cost of living: 13.4 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 654• Average number of cards: 2.7 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>32. Utah</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,960<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 2.7 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 683<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 3.032. Utah• Average credit card balance: $5,960• Cost of living: 2.7 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 683• Average number of cards: 3.0 johnnya123 / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>33. Vermont</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,924<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 1.6 percent more than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 702<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.933. Vermont• Average credit card balance: $5,924• Cost of living: 1.6 percent more than Average• Average credit score: 702• Average number of cards: 2.9 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<b>34. Minnesota</b><br /><b>• Average credit card balance:</b> $5,911<br /><b>• Cost of living:</b> 2.5 percent less than Average<br /><b>• Average credit score:</b> 709<br /><b>• Average number of cards:</b> 3.034. Minnesota• Average credit card balance: $5,911• Cost of living: 2.5 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 709• Average number of cards: 3.0 RudyBalasko / Getty ImagesFullscreen<b>35. Missouri</b><br /><b>• Average credit card balance:</b> $5,897<br /><b>• Cost of living:</b> 10.5 percent less than Average<br /><b>• Average credit score:</b> 675<br /><b>• Average number of cards:</b> 2.935. Missouri• Average credit card balance: $5,897• Cost of living: 10.5 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 675• Average number of cards: 2.9 f11photo / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>36. Montana</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,845<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 5.9 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 689<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.936. Montana• Average credit card balance: $5,845• Cost of living: 5.9 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 689• Average number of cards: 2.9 TheBigMK / Getty ImagesFullscreen<p><b>37. Ohio</b><br /><b>• Average credit card balance:</b> $5,843<br /><b>• Cost of living:</b> 10.7 percent less than Average<br /><b>• Average credit score:</b> 678<br /><b>• Average number of cards:</b> 3.0</p>37. Ohio• Average credit card balance: $5,843• Cost of living: 10.7 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 678• Average number of cards: 3.0 Sean Pavone / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>38. Idaho</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,817<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 7 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 681<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.938. Idaho• Average credit card balance: $5,817• Cost of living: 7 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 681• Average number of cards: 2.9 knowlesgallery / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>39. Maine</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,784<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 1.6 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 689<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.939. Maine• Average credit card balance: $5,784• Cost of living: 1.6 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 689• Average number of cards: 2.9 SeanPavonePhoto / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>40. South Dakota</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,692<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 11.7 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 700<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.840. South Dakota• Average credit card balance: $5,692• Cost of living: 11.7 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 700• Average number of cards: 2.8 EunikaSopotnicka / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>41. Arkansas</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,660<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 13.1 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 657<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.841. Arkansas• Average credit card balance: $5,660• Cost of living: 13.1 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 657• Average number of cards: 2.8 Belinda Hankins Miller from U.S.A., upload by Herrick 10:33, 15 November 2007 (UTC) / Wikimedia CommonsFullscreen<strong>42. Nebraska</strong><br /><strong>• Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,630<br /><strong>• Cost of living:</strong> 9.5 percent less than Average<br /><strong>• Average credit score:</strong> 695<br /><strong>• Average number of cards:</strong> 2.842. Nebraska• Average credit card balance: $5,630• Cost of living: 9.5 percent less than Average• Average credit score: 695• Average number of cards: 2.8 ChrisBoswell / Getty ImagesFullscreen<strong>43. Michigan</strong><br /><strong>&bull; Average credit card balance:</strong> $5,622<br /><strong>&bull; Cost of living:</strong> 6.7 percent less than Average<br /><strong>&bull; Average credit score:</strong> 677<br /><strong>&bull; Average number of cards:</strong> 2.943. Michigan• Average credit card balance: $5,622 • Cost of living: 6.7 percent less than Average • Average credit score: 67

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