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1 in 3 Gen Z borrowers can’t afford to go home for the holidays

Some members of Gen Z may not make it home for the holidays this year.

With federal student loan payments having resumed in October, 32% of Gen Z Americans — those ages 18 to 26 — with student debt say they won’t be able to afford to travel home for the holidays on top of their payments, a recent Credit Karma survey found.

More than 1 in 4 borrowers say their payments are making the holidays unaffordable altogether, Credit Karma found. Nearly 1 in 3 borrowers say they wish the holidays were canceled because of the cost.

Of those who are planning to go home, many have their parents to thank. Just over a third of Gen Zers overall say they’re relying on mom and dad to pay for their travel.

However, receiving familial help isn’t the reality for many. The majority of Gen Zers, 66%, plan to take on debt to get through the holiday season, Credit Karma found. About 33% of those planning to take on debt cite traveling to see their family and friends as the reason.

“While the holidays are often considered to be a happy time of the year, they can cause a lot of financial stress to those struggling to make ends meet,” Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma, tells CNBC Make It.

How to find holiday cheer without breaking the bank

Although there’s often “no place like home for the holidays,” as the song goes, it might not be possible for many young people this year. But there are a few ways to ease the financial burden if you’re struggling.

“If you’re stressed about money this holiday season, there may be some trade-offs you can make in order to have some semblance of a celebratory holiday,” Alev says.

For starters, the holiday season is ripe with side hustle opportunities, such as house sitting or temporary retail work. If you have time to spare, this could help you earn some extra cash to put toward gifts or travel.

You can also utilize perks you’ve already earned. Nearly 40% of Gen Z travelers will use credit card rewards and points to pay for their holiday travel.

And “if being with your family is your No. 1 priority for the holidays, forgo other holiday-related expenses such as giving gifts if it means freeing up money to put toward travel,” Alev says.

But, if travel is simply out of the question, you can still find ways to have a special day on your own or with other local loved ones.

“If you can’t afford to travel home, treat yourself to a nice meal, or join a friend whose family may be local,” Alev says.

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