Of all the things I wish they taught in school, I wish there were a better understanding of budgeting and debt.
I graduated high school with a ton of bad advice on establishing a credit rating and almost no concept of financial planning beyond “How to Operate a Savings Account.” At the age of 19, living on my own and working to pay bills, I had to take a crash course in money management 101—the hard way.
In some ways I was lucky! I had to figure out how to be financially responsible and develop money management skills without throwing school into the mix (I was 22 when I finally went to college). School’s expensive, and there’s a lot of work to worry about even without adding the worry of buying groceries and paying utility bills and student loans. By the time I got there, I already understood budgeting for my transportation costs, housing and food.
Still… because I was going it alone, there are some things I never figured out.
What I didn’t know cost me. I shouldered the entire debt of my school books, housing, transportation costs, and classes… just because I didn’t even know where to look for help. As a mature student, I might have been eligible for scholarships and bursaries from charities, businesses, foundations, or even the school. At the very least, I could have probably obtained a student loan to help defray the costs.
You might ask why my parents didn’t explain all these things better to me. Well the truth is that they didn’t know.
School costs so much more these days, and there are many more programs available than there used to be.
If you, or one of your kids, are headed off to university this fall, you should know you can have access to more information and help than I had. You don’t have to be like me, learning money management 101 in a trial by fire, or being ignorant about where to get some help.
For instance, we love this great Back to School Money Saving Guide For Students with information on where you can find student aid, best places to find affordable housing around campus, how not to get burned on transportation costs, tips for saving money on food, the low-down on how to set up a budget for yourself, and advice on keeping your day-to-day costs under control. It’s a great read and well worth the study!
I graduated college back before there was so much great information available on the internet. Think about it… I started back to school in 2003. Facebook came out while I was in university!
Why not take advantage of all the resources I didn’t have? It will get you started on the right track as you figure out what questions you need to ask of others to make sure you come out in the best, most stable financial position you can while holding your degree!