Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Middle Class "Trap"

I suppose my first real post will be the thing that annoys me the most about financial aid. The so-called middle class trap. (Really though, this can be extended into the middle upper class too). So many schools advertise that they are need blind. They have initiatives to make sure students don't graduate with too much debt! That's awesome for families who truly can't afford it. And let me make myself clear that I don't begrudge them their financial aid: if they come from difficult circumstances or low income backgrounds they do deserve the assistance. But what about those of us beyond the cutoff of meaningful need based financial aid, but not nearly wealthy enough to pay full price? And I think there's a misconception that only the truly middle class has this problem. Trust me, they don't. Even people in the $200,000+ bracket have this problem. (Trust me, I know quite a few wealthy people who had to skip going to their dream school because they couldn't afford it.) In total, my family is expected to put half their earnings towards me and my sibling's college educations. In what world is that reasonable? You know, my parents do have to save up for retirement, and pay their mortgage, and all other sorts of expenses.

In any case, my parents have asked me for my sophomore year to take on a much bigger debt load (how much I am not exactly sure yet). They're hoping my student debt will be an investment for my future.

Ah. What a crappy position to be in. Oh well, such is the plight of being in the middle class trap. I guess I could always transfer next year.

Happy Trails,

Lesson Learned: Don't Buy Sh*t you Don't Need

As a senior in high school, a wise recent graduate gave me this piece of advice: Don't buy shit you don't need. It sounds simple but it's oh so true. As you may have seen in my profile, my bank account has never had more than $600 at any one time. Such are the trials of being a broke college student. This gives me little room to buy even the stuff I need. But, I've found a way to waste money on stupid things like candy and posters. I'm not saying not to treat yourself every once and a while. Hey, after getting that first big paycheck why not splurge on something you've been wanting? I think the key though is time. Have you been wanting that DVD set for some time? Did you see the dress of your dreams and have been waiting until you had enough money to buy it? In that case I say go for it. As a general rule though I like to keep such "reward" type purchases to less than %10 of my funds.

Those purchases are, however, very different from your typical college impulse buy. I once spent $30 on Halloween candy. Quite frankly, that is just shit nobody needs. As a college student, no one is trick or treating, and there is already so much out there threatening you with the freshman 15 -- why bother? Now your tendencies may be a bit different. You may impulse buy clothes for example. While it's easier to defend an impulse purchase of clothes than candy, it's still not a very smart buy. Put simply, there's only so much clothing you will actually wear. If you actually want to save money -- don't buy new clothes too often. If you still really like shopping (which is totally understandable) limit yourself to a monthly budget. (And make sure to give away clothing that you don't wear anymore. Charity is a good thing even for the broke :) ).

So my fellow broke college students, I urge you to think about what you're buying the next time you're out shopping. Is it something you truly need to buy? If not put it back and see if you're still thinking about buying it in a few days or so. You will save yourself the frustration (and money) of making impulse buys.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Going for Broke or How I'm Betting it all on Student Loans

Right so, this isn't my first time blogging, but I've never seemed to be able to keep up with it. Some things you should know about me: I'm a sophomore in college. I can't afford my $50,000+ a year Ivy League education. And yet, for some reason I'm still there. I guess I figured I'd blog about my journey through taking on humongous student loans (yikes!) and just in general being poor in college. So, here it is, my first post. For all 6 people who will see this blog, I hope it's entertaining.

Happy Trails,