Thursday, January 31, 2013

Post-College Financial Lessons

My post-grad experience has been typical of many of my friends, complete with college debt, no money, and certainly no money to jump into being able to pay for an apartment or put a down payment on a house. My friends and I share our experience with thousands, of college grads all over the United States who are living at home to save money and pay off any debt before really settling down. Graduating from college comes the pressure to know exactly what you want to do and how to get there. But the reality is that it isn’t that easy. Many of us don’t know what we want to do with our lives, and statistics about people like us that surface the internet simultaneously give us comfort that we are not alone, while also putting added pressure on us to defy the stereotypes placed on us.

I don’t want to spend time feeling sorry for myself or my fellow peers in writing this blog, because truly, that won’t get any of us anywhere. What I would like to do instead is to explain what I would do if I could do it all over again.

These are my mistakes. This is what I would do differently:

  1. I would live at home throughout college. If I did nothing else different, I would have half of the debt I have now.
  2. I wouldn’t have spent half my savings my sophomore year of college. I would have significantly more money now and life would be so grand.
  3. I would have gone to a tech school to get my associates before going to a 4 year college. If I did that, and lived at home all through that time, I would have have ¼ of the debt I have now, maybe less.
  4. If I did number 3, coupled with working throughout college and paying my tuition as I went, I would have NO debt! No debt! People do it every day, and it is amazing!
  5. I would have majored in something really really awesome that I love! I wasn’t crazy about my major and I put myself through a lot of unnecessary stress because of it. If I went to get my associates first, that would have given me time to figure out my passion (which I have learned a lot about over the past several years). I say that only because I don’t plan on getting a job in what I majored in, and I almost knew that from the beginning. I am one of the thousands of people who don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their life, and that really affected me in college. I would have been able to pinpoint a job with my degree a lot better had I majored in something I planned to use.
  6. I would have gone to a tech school and been done. Maybe I would have done graphic design or welding. I don’t know.
  7. I would have done more research when I was applying for college. Enough said.

I thought I knew everything when I was in high school and college. Turns out I was wrong. These ideas are ways I could have saved money, but I didn’t do it all wrong. Here are some tips that worked for me:

  1. When I wasn’t spending, I was saving.
  2. I worked in college so I didn’t use my refunds from my loan to live off of. Sending my refund checks back really cut down on my total loan cost.
  3. I lived at home 2 out of 4 years of college which saved on dorm and apartment costs.
  4. I went to a state school. Private schools are quite expensive.
  5. I joined a program after college that would help pay my student debt.
  6. I continue to live at home and defy social norms post-college to save money.
  7. I never buy anything full price.

Just some things to think about as you go to school, graduate, or start living on your own. I am always interested in financial lessons learned by others if you are willing to share. What is your story?

1 comment:

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