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Doom spending

35% of American Gen Z’s surveyed by Credit Karma admitted to “doom spending,” which it described as a pattern of compulsive spending (think: clothing or high-end skincare products) that helped people cope with anxieties about the economy and world affairs.

Abigail seemed to be on a similar path when she appeared on Financial Audit.

Her college is relatively close to where she lives and is, as Hammer described, “insanely cheap.” Nevertheless, she managed to accumulate $11,000 in student loans — all of which were allocated to fund her lifestyle choices.

In addition, she has $8,000 in auto loans for a car she admitted she didn’t need to buy in the first place.

She also has thousands of dollars in credit card debt, which could have been avoided because her cost of living is lower than the national average. She currently lives with her parents and doesn’t pay for groceries or utilities.

When Hammer asked Abigail if she’d “just given up” she said “probably.”

She added, “That’s been my problem for the past few years: knowing I’m hurting myself and just not doing anything about it. I just feel like I don’t have any self-esteem.”

To make ends meet, she occasionally delivered food via delivery service apps, but only generated $480 a month from this side gig. This isn’t unusual — the gig economy can be unpredictable and often unprofitable, especially if drivers haven’t accounted for accompanying fuel, mileage and insurance costs.

Abigail’s monthly revenue is not enough to even meet the minimum payments on all her outstanding debt — which comes in at roughly $605 a month.

Hammer estimated that her basic survival needs are nearly 300% times larger than this meager monthly income.

To be fair, Abigail did land a relatively better-paid full-time job at a dental clinic recently.

Unfortunately, that job spurred on even more spending. “I was working full-time for the first time and thought I was rich for a little bit, so I got laser hair removal,” she admitted. This cosmetic treatment added another $2,651 to her debt pile.

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Getting back on track

According to Hammer, the only way out of this mess is by working longer hours. He encouraged her to get a steady part-time job instead of relying on food delivery. This should, in theory, allow her to gradually eliminate her car payments and stabilize her monthly income.

He estimated Abigail needed to earn more than $1,476 a month to survive and meet all of her debt obligations. However, based on the $7.25 minimum wage in Fort Worth, she probably needs to work roughly 50 hours a week to meet this target.

This is why debt reduction and a tighter monthly budget are necessary. “You can’t afford a single cent of this!” Hammer told her. “Stop borrowing, you don’t have to!”

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Vishesh Raisinghani Freelance Writer

Vishesh Raisinghani is a freelance contributor at MoneyWise. He has been writing about financial markets and economics since 2014 - having covered family offices, private equity, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and tech stocks over that period. His work has appeared in Seeking Alpha, Motley Fool Canada, Motley Fool UK, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Post, Financial Post, and Yahoo Canada.

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