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    16 Millennials Shared Their Debt Struggles So Gen Z Can Learn From Them

    "I 'borrowed' pretty much all of the money in my 401(k)/IRA when I wasn’t working and had to have surgery. Big mistake."

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    According a past study, about 80% of Americans are in debt. And while carrying some debt might seem normal, the consequences of making a mistake can take you by surprise. So we asked the millennial members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the debt mistake they hope Gen Z'ers avoid.

    Here's what they had to say:

    1. "If you start a business, have a tax accountant teach you what is expected of you from the very beginning."

    2. "Be mindful of who you trust to pay you back."

    "I got a sob story from an ex. I felt bad and paid [their debt] with my emergency credit card. [The relationship] didn't work out, and now I am stuck paying it off. Just because it's available for you doesn't mean you should use it for others' debt."


    3. "I took a credit card with a $7K limit to college for 'emergencies.' By the end of my four years, it was maxed out because 'emergencies' quickly started to mean 'pizza and beer.'"

    4. "Get tips on filling out your FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid]! No one helped me, and I qualified for ZERO public assistance even though my parents were at the poverty line. Now, I'm stuck with these private loans that can't be forgiven or consolidated."


    5. "I wish I had taken a second to read the paperwork or made sure I understood what I was getting into when I got my student loans."

    6. "I regret waiting too long to seek real help for my credit card debt problem because of pride."

    "I struggled for years to manage everything and tried to pay off chunks of the debt. But I would slide back into even more debt. I finally reached out to a financial counselor through a free city program (I'm in NYC). They were completely nonjudgmental, helped me put together a budget, and connected me with Consolidated Credit, a legit debt relief company. It's taken about four and a half years, but I was able to avoid bankruptcy, and this spring, I will have officially paid off about $50,000 in credit card debt."


    7. "I took out almost $60,000 in private student loans because I didn't qualify for any others when I went back to my dream school at age 24. I had to have a relative cosign."

    Model wearing a backpack

    8. "I 'borrowed' pretty much all of the money in my 401(k)/IRA when I wasn’t working and had to have surgery. Big mistake. Big penalty."

    "My retirement savings are pretty much depleted. I only recently started making enough money to rebuild it. Now I’m worried about growing older."


    Wanna know more about saving for retirement? Check out these helpful facts about 401(k) accounts.

    9. "I thought my first credit card had a $900 limit. Turns out, it was a $3,000 limit. I ran it up in just three months (I had just moved into my first apartment and needed furniture)."

    10. "Don't marry or settle down with someone who is hugely irresponsible with money."

    "Or, at least keep your money and bills separate! Four years after getting a divorce, I am finally financially stable, have minimal debt, and have decent savings."


    11. "Don't treat credit cards like free money! I used my cards for everything and just didn't understand how the interest would start to pile up."

    Model holding a credit card

    12. "Don’t ever cosign for someone because you think you're being nice or because you trust them!"

    "Ninety-nine percent of the time, they will default on payments and your credit will suffer because your name is on their loan."


    13. "Learn about the overdraft options on your debit card! My bank told me that if I was short money, my account would overdraft and I would be charged a fee — NBD, I thought. Except the bank doesn’t tell you when you overdraft."

    14. "Don't get store cards. The interest rate is always higher than that of traditional credit cards."


    15. Don't underestimate the importance of an emergency fund. Having savings on hand can help prevent you from going into debt.

    16. And, "don't write off trade schools as an inferior career/higher education path."

    "You can go for a fraction of the tuition of a four-year college and come out pretty much employed with a trade that likely makes you good money. Plus, there's job security. The world will always need electricians and mechanics!"


    "Not considering technical or trade school is a mistake. I think university is emphasized so much these days, but trade school jobs are equally important and fulfilling."


    Has debt personally affected you? Share your story in the comments below.

    And while you're here, you might as well check out more of our personal finance posts.