The idea of college is often viewed as a double-edged sword. On one hand, you’re receiving an education that you should not only be proud of, but one that you should pride yourself in having the dedication to complete. However, everything in life has a balance, including college, so there surely is a downside as well. On the other hand, you’re digging a deeper hole of debt for yourself with every semester you take.
So as you approach the finish line and graduate from college, you successfully find a job (hopefully), and now you’re off to the races. You’re making more money than you’ve ever made before in your life. But now, Sally Mae is knocking on your door reminding you about all those lengthy calls to and from financial aid during the last four years. She wants her cut, and she’s not playing. If that sounds all too familiar, here’s how to escape college without debt and avoid having put yourself in that situation. It isn’t fun.
Avoid Financial Aid
Okay, before you say it, I understand this point is completely dependent on your circumstances. Not everyone can afford to advance through college without the help of financial aid, and I get it, believe me. I, myself, am not exempt from this.
But if you can help it, by all means, pay for school out of pocket. Do not allow yourself to accept financial aid just because you’ll be saving money on the front end. Yes, you have an extra few thousand in the bank at the beginning of each semester, but each semester surely adds up, so just imagine how what the bill will look like by the time you graduate. Not pretty.
Save Your Refund Checks
This point is catered more toward the students who do use financial aid throughout their college career. Normally, after a month or so into a semester, you’ll check your bank account before a trip to Chick-Fil-A and be pleasantly surprised to see an extra $1,500 in your savings (the amount may vary). Now, instead of getting a plain old #1, you have enough to add cheese.
This is what not to do. Well, maybe adding a little cheese won’t hurt, but you get the point. I understand how tempting it can be to blow through your entire refund check the minute you get it, because in the moment, it’s essentially viewed as free money. But it’s not! Think long-term when you happen to get a refund. If you get in the habit of putting them to the side and acting as if they don’t exist, they’ll add up the same way debt does, and by the time you graduate, it’ll be a lot easier on your end knowing you already a couple steps ahead in paying down what you owe. Don’t buy materialistic things that won’t last five years from now. Think about your future.
In your early 20’s, it’s completely understandable to feel as if it’s way too early to start saving for your retirement. I mean, you haven’t really even settled into your career yet.
But the reality of things is it’s never too early to start saving for your tomorrow. The earlier you get in the habit of budgeting in being responsible with your finances, the more natural it’ll come to you as you continue to mature. This is especially true in college as well. The stigma of college students being broke isn’t a joke, nor is it a myth. The most effective way to combat that is budgeting, allocating money to the side for things to come and remaining consistent in that practice.
Implement these three tips into your lifestyle. Cement them into your mind. It’s nothing wrong with having fun with your money while you’re in college, but always balance the fun with responsibility. You have control of your life and what it’ll look like when you graduate. Don’t let yourself down!