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The Orion

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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Millenials too broke to break up

Photo credit: Jessica Johnson

The cost of living is beyond reach for many millennials. People who are falling behind on their monthly budget might end up leeching off their relationships or being stuck with a person for financial reasons.

No one wants to admit to using their significant other for financial assistance. It’s cruel if you really aren’t in love anymore, but the reality is that people may not know there are other choices if they are held back by not making enough money.

Financial dependency might not be so obvious to recognize. The real issue of staying in a relationship for money goes beyond behavior that some would call emotional abuse. It is survival.

Breaking up isn’t always worth it when half the groceries, car insurance, utilities and rent are at stake.

It has become so normal to rely on family and lovers. It’s easy to convince ourselves this is just how life is. But it wasn’t always this way. Thirty years ago, a summer job could pay for college according to an NPR article.

“For most U.S. workers, real wages have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs,” according to a Pew Research study.

Even accounting for inflation, people are still earning less every year despite working more hours.

Many millennials who can’t afford to live alone are making more than minimum wage. Technically, they can venture into the world solo but would give up saving for a car, house, retirement or traveling.

Without saving money, the risk for further dependency increases. It’s a cycle so powerful and burdensome escaping it seems impossible. It’s why people settle in their current relationship because it’s easier than facing life alone.

Living alone with a $12 an hour job means all earned money goes to rent, bills and food. Student loans make the problem worse since students accrue more debt after graduating.

The average rent in Chico is about $800 for a one bedroom apartment. Splitting it down the middle with a significant other makes the most financial sense for both people because coughing up an entire paycheck for rent feels like breaking the bank. Rent is the highest expense for an individual. Staying together has a greater benefit than splitting up.

The $270 CSU tuition hike isn’t helping people be more independent either. The excess $2,160 that students are spending after four years of college could be better spent in providing basic commodities.

It’s depressing to imagine staying in a relationship because life is too expensive. Everything seems easier when expenses are shared but the true cost is difficult to calculate. There are so many opportunities that could be missed just because staying in a relationship was the more financially viable choice.

Money should never be the driving force for choices in life, but unfortunately, it’s not that easy anymore. Some people are just too broke to break up.

Susan Whaley can be reached at or @TheOrion_News on Twitter.

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