Financial advice for high school and college students

Congratulations to the class of 2016!  You have graduated high school and very soon you will begin your adult life.  Whether it be college, community college, trade school, or jumping right into a job…. you will be experiencing so many new things.

Congratulations to the class of 2017!  You are almost done with high school!! This means you are preparing to apply to colleges and plan your “after high school” future!

One area of life that MANY young adults don’t have much knowledge about is money.  How many of you got your first credit card right after high school and quickly maxed it out?

I know I did.  I was never told how money works and what to do or not to do in classes in high school.  I was taught how to write a check and balance a check book.  That’s about it.  There are many things I, and countless others, wish we had known earlier so we wouldn’t make the mistakes we have.

I asked a large group of people this question:

What advice do you have for students that YOU wish you had been given?

Here’s a good variety of their answers:

  1. “When in doubt about a degree, get a business degree. As much as you say you don’t, you will one day want to have kids, and the decision you make now will affect your precious family life with them. Sure, you can be anything you want to be, but sometimes what you want to be doesn’t earn you enough livable wages.”
  2. “Every high school grad should be given and should read TMM (Total Money makeover)”
  3. “2 year community college and work. Figure out what you are good at and enjoy and transfer to a reputable state college to complete your degree. No person that does not have a trust fund or scholarship needs a private education.”
  4. ” Don’t ever use credit cards or student loans.  “
  5. “Apply for any scholarship you qualify for. A simple essay can be worth $100s, nothing is too small. Also stay with state schools for undergrad.  “
  6. “Don’t assume you will finish college or that the job you get after you finish will pay enough to easily pay your student loans…it probably won’t.”
  7. First and foremost, I would say, if you are given scholarships to specific schools, even if they aren’t your number one pick, as long as they are good schools, accept them and go there. Being in debt for 30 years isn’t worth it if you could have gotten most of your education covered.”
  8. “I wish someone had told me payments are stupid. I wish credit cards/credit wasn’t sold to me as a necessity by my parents and big business. “
  9. “Advice I’d give to a student is don’t get a loan, get a job. Get an internship in your chosen field if you can. But if you can’t get a paid internship in your field, get an unpaid one and work at Starbucks part time. One thing I DON’T regret about my college experience is that I never took out a student loan.”
  10. “Living off students loans is not a good idea”
  11. “You most likely can’t afford your parents’ lifestyle immediately after college…they had to work hard and save to get to where they are, and you will too.”
  12. “start saving now.”
  13. Planning & having a budget and having sinking funds makes a difference to how far my money lasts!”
  14. “Avoid debt at all costs, if you must go into debt, pay it off as quickly as you can. “
  15. “Invest in your first jobs 401k even if it’s just a few % to get into the habit and take advantage of compound interest.   “
  16. “Dont use credit cards. If you borrow money from family make sure you always pay them back and avoid that too when possible. Dont borrow large amounts such as over $5,000 ever, unless it’s for a mortgage. Make sure you thank them for helping you out. Mom just told me one of my good qualities is I always remember to pay people back money I owe–usually I owe small amounts $20 or less to people.”
  17. “Save & pay cash for your first car. Not EVERYONE has car loans.”

 

Many of the people that I’ve talked to that are, or have been in debt, all agree that students should be REQUIRED to take a financial class similar to Financial Peace University prior to graduating from high school.  If you start your adult life with the knowledge of how money works, what you should and shouldn’t do, and how to live your life debt free….you are starting your life with the best foundation.

As Dave Ramsey would say, “Debt is dumb”.  It really really is.  Educate yourself, ask for help, and be smart.

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