By: Janna Adams
Last week, I went through the exit interview for one of my student loans. It told me all about how I’ll have a few months of interest-free time when I don’t have to pay anything. And then, like a ton of textbooks, student debt will hit me with a monthly bill for the rest of my life.
The second end-of-college surprise I recently came into contact with is student loan debt. Wow, cool, thanks for the education, government, but you can have your $30,000 back when I start making $100,000 a year and not a minute sooner, thanks. I don’t know why throughout my schooling I didn’t consider the fact that I’ll be kicking myself for living on campus rather than commuting for the next ten years of my life. “It’s the experience,” they said. I say, I’d like to experience life without crying every billing cycle. However, this is yet another wonderful part of becoming an adult and taking responsibility for your actions (even if those actions were literally getting a good education, but hey, whatever guys, call me irresponsible).
Here’s the issue: I don’t even make $30,000 a year, (see previous post about my current career standings) much less have the ability to pay it off all at once. This is the point of a loan, obviously, but paying large chunks of what I am paid every month for my riveting job as a quick food service employee (fancy) doesn’t relieve my doubts about living comfortably as a human being. I have bills to pay besides these loans: my car payment, insurance bills, my rent, my food for the week, gas money, new tattoo funds, you know, necessities.
Coming from someone who has always had a savings account, these worries may seem trivial. But I never realized how much it costs to just live. My car recently had some mechanical issues that came out of nowhere, and there went a few hundred dollars that I hadn’t planned on spending. We had to buy a new (used) refrigerator, washer and dryer, dining room table + chairs, and add in the security deposit for our new house. My father reminded me that he’s going to be taking my car insurance bill for the year out of my finances in the next few weeks. These things add up, and faster than I’d like to think about.
Financial situations take courage. This is growth that I’ve haven’t had to face head-on until this point in my life, and it scares me to no end. On top of everything else, now these student loans will be looming over me monthly, probably for at least the next ten years of my life. It is my responsibility to make ends meet, and I don’t think a lot of people realize just how much self-regulation it takes to deal with financial situations. It takes courage not to freak out when you think about your bank account falling below a certain number. It takes courage to pay a bill on time when you don’t know if you’ll be able to afford to go to the beach with your friends the next week because of it. It takes courage to have faith that money isn’t everything. These are new territories that I am working on currently.
Growing in my ability to calm down and think rationally is my number one priority in the financial department. What can I do to budget myself on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis? Which aspects of my life are worth paying serious money towards, and which can I think about spending less on because they are not as important? Money is a terrifying reality, but remembering that it is a part of life is crucial. Being comfortable financially is not the same as being well off. Spend wisely and efficiently, but remember that you are earning your money as well, so don’t feel like you don’t deserve to feel good about the purchases you make when you make them. And remember that student loans will, eventually, go away. Unless you decide to go to grad school, then no promises.
Now, how much do you think being a professional snarky sarcasm expert pays?