These posts are inspired by a comment left by Living Almost Large.
(This is part 1 of a 2 part series)
I’d like to know how to start out life without any debt at all? And no parental help.
Wow, this is a very interesting question. First, a few thoughts about my situation, and then some thoughts about what I plan to do to help my own kids avoid the credit trap.
My parents worked very hard to provide for me and my sister. They purchased automobiles for us when we were in school. As for college and college loans, I never had any and I never needed any. Why? I didn’t GO to college. 🙂 So, that’s ONE way of avoiding student loan debt. (I say this, of course, tongue-in-cheek. Most modern jobs require a college degree (or technical degree) of some kind. I am planning for my children’s education expenses, and I fully expect them to attend college.)
If I were a student, here’s what I’d do to avoid going into debt.
1. I’d work. Simply put, if I were a single guy in college, I’d go to class, do my school work, and then have as many “part-time” jobs as I could find.
2. I’d focus on getting my education, not on the “college experience”.
3. I’d live a spartan, frugal lifestyle.
4. I’d try to find roommates who were just as “focused” as I am.
5. I’d refuse to sign up for a credit card, just to get a silly hat!
6. I’d find successful people in my career field, talk to them, and take notes!
7. I’d prioritize my life, giving myself time for school, work, church, and friends.
8. I’d only pay for college with money that I had earned or with grants or scholarships.
9. I’d realize that I did not “have” to finish school in 4 years. I could take 6. I could take 3. I would work at the pace which allowed me to PAY for my college without taking out school loans.
10. I’d apply for every scholarship, grant, or fellowship known to man.
As for purchasing an automobile, that’s a “tough one”. I have an old truck that, if I were to sell it, might bring me $2000? I am sure that there are working, not-so-awesome-but-gets-me-where-I-need-to-go automobiles out there. (In fact, in our local paper, there are 4 cars listed under $2500!) So, it starts to be about the “choices” that we make.
If you DO decide to borrow money for school or for college (as most people do) then I strongly encourage you to PAY OFF THAT DEBT as soon as possible. I find that, for most people, if they would focus on paying off their debts, they could be debt-free and then begin to plan for future purchases. The people who let their debt “hang around” for years, like I did, are the ones who can get into trouble.
Again, these are just a few “ideas” from the mind of a 32 year old father of two. I realize that my priorities (now) are completely different from the priorities that I had when I was 19 years old. At 19, I had no idea that living “debt-free” was possible, so I borrowed money, over-used my credit cards, and figured that “this was what you had to do”. It took me 10 years to figure out that I could live without borrowing money. Is it more difficult to live without borrowing money? From time to time, YES! But, to quote my man Dave, “I choose to live like no one else, so that, one day, I can live like no one else!”
One more note: What I write here at No Credit Needed is a mixture of what I did (or do) and my general ideas about personal finance. I realize, now more than ever, how blessed I have been in my life. I have never gone to bed hungry, or afraid, or worried that the roof over my head “might not be there when I wake up”. For those of you who are deeply in debt, or struggling with your finances, I encourage you to be strong and to press forward, examining EVERY avenue that might be available to you.
I’ll be back with “Part 2” in a little while…
To read Living Almost Large’s entire comment, please click here and scroll down.