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How to Pay Off Millennial Debt on a Low Income

Living on a low income requires young women to make conscious choices about where their money goes. As a millennial, your debt stress might come from trying to repay student loans or credit cards balances — or you might be living on student loans and/or part-time work and using credit cards to supplement. Whatever your situation, having a low income makes it more difficult to pay down debt.

Women of all ages are vulnerable to having a low income

In its 2018 publication, The Economic Well-Being of Women in Canada, Statistic Canada reported that women might have low incomes because they are:

  • Paid less than men with the same qualifications, even when they work the same number of hours
  • Overrepresented in low-paying occupations
  • More likely than men to care for children and elderly or disabled family
  • More likely than men to reduce their work hours or take time off to care for family


From our most recent polling, we also found that women are more likely than men to carry heavier debt and to struggle with affordability. We also learned that over half of Canadian women admit they’re poorly or terribly prepared for home ownership, retirement, financial emergencies and having children.

Millennials face significant financial challenges such as high housing prices and insufficient incomes. Additionally, a full 34 per cent told us they’re overwhelmed by their debt and don’t know what to do about it. Being on a low income makes dealing with these issues difficult.

How low-income millennial women can tackle debt

It may seem simple, but if you don’t already have one, the first step is to create a budget. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a comprehensive budgeting tool that will help you track and control spending.

When setting up your budget, be honest about your expenses and remember to include small costs. Look for expenses that can be cut or reduced (even temporarily) so there’s room in your budget for debt repayment.

Costs of living can be especially high for women. Unfortunately, women aren’t only a prime target for marketers; they also pay more than men for basic necessities like toiletries (and often get less product for their dollar). Ignore the marketers’ attempts to get your money. Instead, buy products marketed to men, or look for deals to reduce your spending.

You can also consider ways to increase your income so you have extra money for repaying debt. Mel at Broke Girl Rich has some great ideas!

Step two is to research debt repayment strategies and select one that works for you. If you can’t find a workable strategy, there are still options.

If student loan debt is making it difficult to make ends meet, review the student loan debt relief options available to you.

If you’re dealing with overwhelming consumer debt, talk to a professional. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) can help you understand your options and create a plan that helps you reduce your debt and ensure you avoid taking on debt in the future.

When you’re a low-income millennial, debt can seem like it’s going to be part of your life forever — especially as a woman already facing increased financial challenges compared to your male counterparts. But debt doesn’t have to be a life-long problem. There are ways to reduce and eventually eliminate debt regardless of your financial situation. The sooner you take action, the faster you’ll be debt free.

How is having a low income and dealing with debt affecting you? What are you doing about it? Tell us your story on Twitter. #LeaveDebtBehind #BalanceforBetter #Millennials

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