It is so rare that we hear other peoples money stories, so once a month I like to share an inspiring money story written by the person themselves so you can get a real insight into their money mindset, their challenge and the successes they have made.
With Summer break nearly here and thoughts turning to University this is invaluable reading for would be students and anyone with kids. Read on to learn some more….
This months Money Story blog is from the amazing Todd Brison.
“Student debt is suffocating my country. What started off as a good idea to level the educational playing field has turned into a nightmare for the average American.
We’ve borrowed 1.2 trillion dollars for school as a nation.
My friends across the pond are struggling with the same issue. The majority of University students in England will be paying back loans in their 40s and 50.
This has to stop.
First off, let me clear all the “skeletons” out of my closet so you know my history: I am a white male who lives in America. That alone lands me in a pretty good position in the world. I’m not confused by the fact life has been easier for me than it is for some.
But it’s not like my parents passed down massive wealth. They were both teachers. Early in my high school career, my mom left the public school world to tutor privately. She made less, so we cut deeper.
On several occasions during this time, our family ate beanie weanies – a bowl full of beans and chopped hot dogs – for dinner. Not for a snack. That was it. That’s all we had. So that’s what we ate.
Because of those sacrifices, I had $14,000 saved for my college career.
I then enrolled in a university…
and promptly used $9,300 the first year.
At this point I learned a lesson most don’t learn until much later:
The money you spend in college is actual, real money.
I know, I know. Groundbreaking, right? It so simple, but while everyone grasps this concept on an intellectual level, nobody seems to be getting it emotionally.
There’s a funny thing about buying something with cash. Whenever you give dollar bills to a cashier, they give you the item you paid for, but they don’t give you your cash back. I know. It’s crazy.
When you pay for that same item with a debit card, they give you the item AND they give you the card back. Now you have two things. That’s why we spend more with plastic than paper.
So imagine, with this information in mind, that a young student walks into an admissions office. The nice lady tells him he can pay for school with (can you believe it??) just a couple signatures!
But this young student is no dummy. He knows he’ll have to pay that back. But then the primitive part of his brain, the one who likes two things more than one, gets loud:
“Well I do have to pay for school.”
“It’s not like I’ll have to pay it back all at once”
“They wouldn’t offer me this if I didn’t deserve it. They want to keep me here”
Now the student is only one logical step away from (at least) 10 years’ worth of non-bankruptable debt. What’s even scarier is the degree alone barely means anything when it comes to success.
It’s the non-bankruptable part that scares me most. If you are an 18-year-old signing on to, say $12,000 dollars in debt to pay for your school, guess what? If your finances go south, that money won’t be forgiven.
So instead of accepting the loans which everyone tried to “give” me, I did a complete about-face. If 15-year-old Todd could survive on beanie weanies, surely 19-year-old Todd could make sacrifices too.
I gave up my spot on the golf team, and changed to a public school.
I got a job during the summer so I could pay bills. I enrolled in the choir so I could get a scholarship. I worked at a newspaper on campus.
I chose to live cheap, take fewer classes, move off campus, and graduate (finally) debt-free.
Now, free from a student loan, I’ve been able to invest in my company’s 401K pension (sitting at $7,018.64 at time of writing). I’m about to pay a pretty decent down payment (just over $4,000) on a house my wife is in love with.
I don’t make crazy money, but I’m happy. I (usually) don’t stay up at night worried about money.
And you know what? Along the way I ate lots of beanie weanies.
They tasted better than you can possibly imagine.
Todd is a writer and who loves his redhead, Chacos, and sweet potatoes. He provides inspiration to young students and professionals who realize life isn’t exactly going the way they planned. He has recently started bringing his talk “Writing, Social Media, and Life” to college students. Get inside his head over on Medium.
Liked what Todd had to say?
What’s your experience with student debt?
Did you flip your money mindset or wished you had?
Love to hear your experiences and comments below.
P.s Interested in doing a guest post for the monthly money stories? Do let me know.