BABL 078: Paying for School Like a Boss with Jocelyn Pearson, Founder of The Scholarship System

Imagine leaving college, having lived abroad for a semester, studied, played and had as many experiences as you wanted, and owing not one red cent!

Jocelyn Pearson did exactly this. As the oldest of 5 kids, one of the first in her family to pursue a 4 year degree, and knowing that her family didn’t have the money to cover her entire tuition, she set out to find free money in the way of scholarships and grants enough to cover her entire college career.

As a junior in high school, Jocelyn began submitting applications into those bogus scholarship drawings, believing that if she just applied for as many as she could she would eventually win some of them. After an entire year of not winning, she decided to change her strategy and go after the applications that had an essay as a component (having won the ONE essay application she turned in as a junior). That’s when her winning streak began.

As a senior, Jocelyn won a number of smaller awards, and took those winnings to heart by continuing apply all the way through her senior year in college.

Fast forward to graduation, Jocelyn found herself working for a large multi-national company in a leadership rotational program. While she loved the people and the challenges, the work itself left her somewhat uninspired, and the raises had very little to do with her overall productivity. That, in the end, was what made her decide to pull the ripcord and leave the comfort of the corporate plane she had been riding in for the past couple of years. For Jocelyn, the key for her was to find something that allowed her to provide an amazing service, to make money based on her activity, and ultimately control her future.

To make the leap from corporate life to being self-employed, Jocelyn says she minimized her expenses to the minimal level, figured out how much she needed to last for 6 months with no income, and set a plan to replace her income in the first 6 months. After that, it was all about hustling to make it happen. And she has, within the first year, Jocelyn has replaced her income from that corporate job and helped hundreds of families find tens of thousands of dollars in free money.

The big picture for Jocelyn is she’d like to see her program and book The Scholarship System in front of as many students as humanly possible. Parents will often approach Jocelyn at speaking events or on webinars and ask what should they do given that they themselves are still paying off debt and now have students that need co-signers. The challenge, it seems, is growing from one generation to the next.

Around the 21:00 mark, I asked Jocelyn what kind of mindset shift she had to make in order to make the leap from corporate to solo. Her interesting answer included not pursuing her own passion, seeing a structure that no longer promises safety and security, and wanting to get paid for the work she did.

The one book that Jocelyn credits with changing her mindset over all others is The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. On the day she left her job, she pulled out the book and flipped to a page that had the following line highlighted: Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty. Whether it was cosmic or karmic or whatever, Jocelyn said it spoke to her immensely.

Books recommended by Jocelyn:

The Millionaire Messenger by Brendan Burchard

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The Bible by … oh, you know.


For more information about Jocelyn and her programs, check out:
www.TheScholarshipSystem.com

BABL 074: Making Money Saving Money with Lauren Greutman, I Am That Lady

Lauren Greutman, otherwise known as ‘That Lady’ from IAmThatLady.com, and her husband Mark are in the middle of building the New American Dream. Working side-by-side on a daily basis, the Greutmans made a decision to “retire Mark early” from his job as an actuary and focus on building their business, their blog, and their podcast at IAmThatLady.com.

What started as a part-time blog for Lauren, writing about extreme couponing, money saving principles, and how to raise a family on less is now a thriving business that supports Lauren and her family of 6.

Check out Lauren’s Financial Renovation Course! In the free course, she’ll share:

√ Learn how to create a budget

√ Learn how to stick to that budget

√ Learn a complete financial blueprint for success

√ Talk about how to get your spouse on board

√ Discover how to create a financial plan that WORKS!

√ A special opportunity to go even deeper!

Lauren and Mark’s origin story probably sounds much like a majority of Americans. They found themselves $40,000 in credit card debt, driving cars they could barely afford, living in a house that most 40 year olds would love — at the age of 25. While both had great jobs and high income, they found themselves struggling to make ends meet living this Big Spender lifestyle.

Lauren was, at the time, addicted to spending. She freely admits she loved buying ‘stuff’ whether it was throw pillows for the couch or bigger items that just made her feel good. By the time she realized that they were seriously in over her head, she spread all the bills out on the bed and had a heart to heart with Mark. Lauren said Mark was “very supportive” and that his approach was simply to “get the problem under control”.

So they got honest, they got serious, and they got intent on getting themselves out of the situation of living off of credit. Within two years, they had downsized everything — moved out of their sprawling home and into an 800 square foot rental home, got rid of the expensive cars, and formed a budget that worked for them. They sold massive amounts of furniture and “stuff” on craigslist, raising thousands of dollars to pay down the debt.

During this period of their marriage, both Mark and Lauren realized the challenges that come with a full-time job with a major commute and a collicky baby. While Mark spent hours a day driving to and from the job, Lauren tried to build the business while simultaneously raising their 4 children. As Lauren’s income from the business grew, her patience with the current situation waned.

And so, as a result of buckling down, paying off debt, and building a bigger life, Mark quit his (high paying job) as an actuary and is now helping Lauren build IAmThatLady.com, testing recipes and posting the successes on the site that is rapidly growing in popularity. The two of them also record their own podcast where they talk through the events of their life, how to save, and often answering the questions of their fan base.

When asked what she would tell a family in the same situation they found themselves in, Lauren had this to say:

 

  1. Figure out what values you hold. Lauren and Mark have a financial bucket list about where their money should go. “If you value sending your kids to college, but you can’t afford your grocery bill, then maybe you shouldn’t spend $200 on cable every month.” Living in accordance with your financial goals should be about spending money where it most makes sense for your family. Too many families today aren’t living in accordance with their family values when it comes to their spending.
  2. Setting a budget. Knowing how much you have to spend actually liberates you to a certain extent, according to Lauren. She and Mark operate on a cash basis, even though she admitted to forgetting the cash now and again and using the debit card (something that causes frustration with Mark and his numerous spreadsheets!). Whether it’s a budget or a spending plan, the key is to know how much is coming in and how much is going out.
  3. Get excited about where you’re going financially. Set long term goals, make a plan for what you most want to accomplish, and get excited about the possibilities! Lauren says it’s the plan for their future that keeps them plugging along in their business. Their future goals today are around creating even more freedom for others by sharing their successes.

 

I read a beautiful post that Lauren wrote about what it means to her to have her husband by her side in creating this business. Super touching, super raw – Lauren wrote it at a time when they were trying to justify Mark leaving a job he’d trained his entire life to get. Please read Being Broke Is Enough by Lauren Greutman to get a sense of their ‘Why’ behind the major decisions they made around their financial life.

 

Lauren has had some extremely cool opportunities in the past few weeks including segments that have aired on Good Morning America and The Today Show.

 

Books that Lauren recommends:

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

A Framework for Understanding Poverty

The Money Saving Secrets of The Amish

 

Find more Lauren at www.IAmThatLady.com

as well as her:

Pinterest

Instagram

Twitter accounts.

Listen in on their Life On A Budget podcast.

BABL 073: The Debt Free Guys on Money Conciousness

John Schneider and David Auten, collectively known as “The Debt Free Guys” are two 30-something professionals who found themselves in a deep dark debt hole just a few years ago living life the way that they “assumed” life was supposed to be: Dinners out, expensive clothes, living at full speed, and at times keeping up with the Joneses.  At this point in their lives, they were living in a basement apartment, dreaming about buying vacation homes in faraway cities, and facing the reality of being $51,000 in credit card debt, essentially living day-to-day on borrowed money.

The overwhelming debt load, coupled with their low light basement apartment, made it feel like their world was getting darker, not lighter. So, they began to shed light on their finances in a major way. They way they got more in touch with their money consciousness, realizing that if they were going to achieve everything they wanted to, they’d have to get serious about blasting away their debt.

As a starting point, David put every expense in a spreadsheet including every Einstein bagel and coffee, every lunch out, every $30 quick trip to the grocery store. And after looking at these numbers critically, they realized that David was the nickel and dime guy and John was the big spender, often buying $3-500 pairs of jeans, and more shoes to add to his growing collection. What became apparent was both partners in this couple were guilty of sabotaging their collective financial future – just in different ways.

Fast forward just a couple of years and David and John are living a debt free life and encouraging others to do the same. Having blasted away $51,000 in high interest debt in just under two years, the dynamic debt-free duo put their financial planning into overdrive. They followed a very simple process to knock out the debts, and have written about their experience in the book The Four Principles Of A Debt Free Life. Their book on living debt free features four principles to help others blaze the path that the two of them traveled just a short while ago. The four principles are:

  1. Be Money Conscious. Understanding where you’re spending, how you’re spending, and WHY you’re spending is critical to getting a handle on your finances in a major way. Once David and John understood their own money consciousness, they tamed the debt tiger and began building real wealth.
  2. Cash Is King. Both of the debt free guys said that when using credit cards to fund their lifestyle, it was way too easy to splurge and think nothing of it. By using cash instead, they have pulled back on some of the spendier purchases that used to be done on a whim. (Like the $500 John dropped at Diesel in 10 minutes because he had ‘nothing to wear’ one Wednesday night on the town. Hear this story around the 30:00 mark!)
  3. Have A Financial Plan. More than anything, the DFGs say this is key to staying on track. Much like taking a vacation but having no plan in place for where you’re going or when, NOT having a financial plan makes it too easy to stray from your goals when temptation arises.
  4. Live Below Your Means. In Build A Bigger Life speak, we’d say build a bigger life not a bigger lifestyle. Keeping up with the Joneses is what got David and John in the mess they were in from the beginning. But living below their means is the key to a life well lived for them.

According to David, being money conscious and having a financial plan are the two anchors because when you realize how much money you’re making and how much you’re spending, you can really begin to dial in to what are the most important things to spend money on. Travel is a focus for David and John, opting for great trips instead of $50,000 cars.

John commented on the show that people will often question how they can afford to take these incredible trips when they’re debt free. “People think debt free is synonymous with being broke”. It’s more about knowing where you’re going to focus your financial efforts to live the best life possible.

One of the ‘tricks’ that David and John use is very simply — Excel. They track what they spend and where they spend on a regular basis, as well as tracking their net worth on sometimes a weekly basis. David says seeing progress keeps them on the path of making great financial decisions. I often recommend the budgeting and net worth templates found at www.Vertex42.com.

When I asked John and David how many money arguments they have on a regular basis, they offered up that today there aren’t arguments so much as money discussions. For them, the key is both of them are very passionate about what they want life to be, but it always goes back to the financial plan.

Books recommended by the Debt Free Guys:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

The Buddhist Bootcamp by Timber Hawkeye

My favorite quote from David and John is “credit card debt anchors your future to your past.”
To find more about David and John check out their website: www.debtfreeguys.com

BABL 071: Joining The Side Hustle Nation with Nick Loper

On this episode of Build A Bigger Life is a guy who makes his living teaching other people how to make one of their own — on the side.

Imagine doing “work” every day that doesn’t really feel like work. That’s how Nick Loper describes what he does on a daily basis through his website SideHustleNation.com, a site dedicated to helping people find meaningful work and income outside their day to day job.

What Nick has uncovered through his myriad of interviews with people just like you and me,  is there is a lower risk version of entrepreneurship that people are exploring through the side hustle.

What prompted the website and subsequent show is Nick realized that relying on one income stream, as most Americans do in their primary job, was not the best method for the future. As a result, he’s built a business that features others who have pursued their side hustle, reporting back on the experiments that others are doing. He also writes as a freelancer, has a private mastermind, as well as courses that are offered on the web.

Around the 8:00 mark, Nick talks about one of the lessons that he learned from Robert Kiyosaki that your side hustle income doesn’t have to surpass your present income, it just has to surpass your expenses. So many people believe that they have to make what they’re making in their job before they officially make a job change. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Some people pursue the side hustle just long enough to cover a major expense, while others start something that becomes a whole lot more.

Side hustles, according to Nick come in a variety of different forms:

Freelancing. This can either be done on your own, or you price your services over and above what it costs to outsource to someone else. You’ll see a great many people freelancing at writing, editing and computer work.

Productizing. “I’ve done this, now you can too!” There are plenty of folks who are selling their experience being successful at something to others who want to be successful at the same thing. A great example is our mutual friend Chandler Bolt who figured out how to make books best-sellers. (His course is www.Self-PublishingSchool.com)

Content Marketing. Nick says there are lots of success stories coming from podcasting and blogging these days. Podcasting especially where if someone is willing to spend 30 minutes with you in their earbuds, that is a serious relationship you’re building with them. However, as this becomes more popular the level and quality of content will become ever more critical.

One of Nick’s first side hustles was a footwear comparison shopping site similar to Google Shopping, but only for shoes. The way the site made money was through advertising partnerships with Zappos, Amazon or anyone that was wanting to share their catalog online. When sales were made online, Nick would make a commission on the sale.

The traffic that Nick got to his site came from Google, Bing, and Yahoo to get visitors to their site. When the profit was eventually squeezed out of buying ads and making commissions, this business eventually went by the wayside, but Nick had already gotten out of his day job and was into the side hustle pursuit on a full time basis.

In peak years, Nick’s business was doing $400,000 a year in gross revenue. And when buying $10,000 worth of advertising a month he was able to rack up some serious airline miles. But the greatest advantages to Nick were some of the lessons he took away from his businesses like:

  • how to hire staff and developers to handle the day to day operation
  • how to experiment with buying ads
  • how to focus on the most important aspects of business
  • and how to shut down a company when it didn’t serve him any longer

Today, Nick tells people that what he does is he helps people make money outside of their day job. The three most common things that people list as their reason not to do something is:

  1. Time – There just isn’t enough time in the day to be focused on building something worth building.
  2. Money – Just not enough money to build a business.
  3. ideas – Thinking that it takes a radically new or different idea in order to pursue a side hustle.

Nick’s advice to people who don’t have ideas is don’t try to reinvent the wheel, just offer something that people are already buying and do it better or differently.

One of Nick’s interviewees from the podcast made the comment “Sometimes the best opportunities aren’t visible until you’re already in motion” (24:00) To that end, Nick suggests just making a move on a business and seeing what the feedback ends up being.

One of Nick’s guests talked about your first business move is like the first move in a chess game. It doesn’t matter which piece you move, just move one to see what your competitor (or the market) responds with. (25:30)

Around the 28:00 mark, Nick describes his wife’s side hustle as a photographer, a project that started as a post on Craigslist offering photography services and has now grown into 15+ weddings that she and her business partner sold this year after raising their rates 15X. It’s a great story of someone close to Nick that’s also doing her own side hustle. According to Nick (and his wife), it’s just nice to know that you can make money outside your major or full-time job.

Mentioned on the show:

Zag

Ryan Finley – focuses on re-selling appliances from Craigslist.

Julie from TimeHackers Podcast

Amy & Jordon Demos — photographers in Scottsdale. Listen to podcast here.

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn

Tropical MBA Podcast (Lifestyle Business Podcast)

Rule One Investing by Phil Town

A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi

 

Books recommended by Nick:

Influence by Robert Cialdini

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg

The Millionaire Fast Lane by MJ DeMarco

The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and The Middle Class

In my estimation, Nick is a researcher and a reporter. He’s an excellent entrepreneur as well, but his ability to filter the information he’s receiving is incredible. He has a learning habit that has served him well.

When asked what Building A Bigger Life means to Nick, he said he refers back to John Acuff who says average is settling for a life less than what you’re capable of. So to that end, building a bigger life is doing everything you’re capable of.

SideHustleNation.com

SideHustleNation.com/Ideas

 

BABL 066: Kyle Taylor on The Rise of The Penny Hoarder

Kyle is all about the little things in life — hence the name of his uber-successful blog The Penny Hoarder. But don’t let the name fool you, Kyle has more than hoarded pennies, he’s clocked big dollars writing blogs and creating a site that is seen by nearly 8 million unique visitors a month!

One of the most interesting facts about Kyle is the fact that his background in a financially disadvantaged family made him uniquely qualified to start a company teaching others how to be frugal AND how to make money in sometimes unconventional ways. (Much like some of his posts do —-> LIKE THIS ONE)

Kyle’s financial journey started in a most unconventional way — with his Mom giving him the reins to do the grocery shopping as a teen, a task he took on with gusto. Kyle began treating the grocery shopping like a money saving game you’d see on The Price Is Right getting the family grocery bill down to around $30 per week by stacking coupons. It wasn’t a chore for Kyle, but instead a privilege to learn these lessons at a time when he wasn’t exactly the most popular kid in school.

As part of growing up in a financially conscious family, they did crazy contests like seeing how low they could get the utility bill — every morning running outside to check the meter to see if they beat the day before. Despite tough economic conditions at home, Kyle and his siblings only saw the fun and challenge. A fact Kyle credits his mom with to this day.

While Kyle was a political science major in college, he’d drop out of school every time a politician got him fired up and work for them until they were either elected or not. As political jobs don’t pay a great deal, Kyle was always looking for additional money and through his affinity for odd ways of making jack, he found a job as a beer auditor. With a very boyish face, Kyle would be sent in to convenience stores to buy beer to test whether or not the clerk would ask for identification. The perks of the job were many — hours were flexible, he made a reasonable amount of money per hour, and probably most impressive was the fact he got to keep the beer he bought with the company’s money. (That job increased his social cred immensely — he was one of the most popular guys in the dorm.) [Read Kyle’s beer auditor story HERE.]

The Penny Hoarder Blog was started to share some of Kyle’s experiences around saving and making money. What started as a simple blog hosted on a blogspot type site, ThePennyHoarder.com is now a full-fledged business with over a dozen employees at their headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. (And to think he could barely get his grandma to read his posts at the beginning!)

Even more impressive is the fact that only 6 years ago, Kyle and his disparate team were spread all over the country. Utilizing freelance writers for much of his content, it wasn’t a priority to bring everyone in house until Kyle realized what he was really building — a media company with financially related content. Walk into The Penny Hoarder offices today and you’ll see flat panel TV’s hung all over the office, all of them tuned to a different news channel, all of them feeding the story hungry staff with ideas for the next (sometimes sarcastic) story.

And if you happened to see The Penny Hoarder folks in the environment I did (FinCon 2015), you’ll appreciate how far Kyle and his band of merry savers have come. With the biggest booth space of anyone at the conference, these money-happy journalists were handing out t-shirts with phrases like ‘I’m bringing budgets back’ and TPH Purple socks with Lincoln’s outline in white. (This photo is me wearing them proudly!)

One of Kyle’s money savvy inspirational stories came from the busiest shopping day of the year — Black Friday. Kyle used to go buy black friday deals en masse and then turn around and sell those deals on Ebay in December, sometimes making tens of thousands of dollars. His biggest and most profitable haul was on 1,000 furbees (the hottest toy of the season in 1998 AND 2012). My biggest question was where the hell do you buy 1,000 Furbys?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are sort of the holy grail holidays for retailers and those looking for the best deals. This year, you won’t see Kyle standing in line at the local Best Buy or Kohls, but instead working hard all weekend helping people find the best deals possible from their Penny Hoarder offices. This holiday shopping season, The Penny Hoarder offices turned into online shopping central where they were sharing the hottest deals of the season through their online portals like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Think of it as a savings concierge desk that will be open for 72 hours, ready and willing to answer any and all questions to save the most money.

The Penny Hoarder team even granted some pretty amazing wishes over that weekend to their loyal fans and readers (did I mention their mailing list is nearly 2 MILLION people? That’s like the whole country of Namibia on his mailing list.) Kyle told me they’re nearing the point where very little seems out of the question, yet when I asked him if he was going to have an Oprah moment (“You get a car and YOU get a car and YOU get a car!”) he said he couldn’t reveal what the gifts would be. Just that they would be a surprise. My mind went immediately to delivery by drones, but the reports don’t support it.

One of the most profound things Kyle said during the Build A Bigger Life interview was in relation to what he’s ultimately building. When asked if the play is to sell the company for a 7 or 8 or 9 figure sum, Kyle confirmed that there have been offers for his traffic-heavy site, but at this point he has no clue what he’d do otherwise. He’s built a company that he loves doing work that he loves with people that he pretty clearly loves — I’m not sure you can put a price on that.

If you think you have an idea worthy of being featured on The Penny Hoarder, Kyle said they’re always looking for talented writers with great content. Check out their guidelines for contributors by following this link: http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/share-your-story/. This should come as no surprise, but you can make money doing this. They even have an article on how to make money writing as a freelancer: http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/start-a-business-in-college-freelance-writer/

The stories can sometimes border on the ridiculous, consider the following articles featured on the site:

The cat sitting business that could net you $20 a day.

The person that got paid to lay in bed for 3 months and play video games for NASA.

Putting toilet tank buddies in your tank to save $45 a year in water expenses.

His Build A Bigger Life philosophy is pretty simple — do what you love every day and it never feels like work. Not only is he creating a business, he’s creating a business that helps people make and save money. In his own “Aaron Sorkin” experiment, Kyle said The Penny Hoarder is a perfect fit of everything that fires him up in life.

Books Kyle Recommends:

Contagious 

Books by Tim Ferris

Books by Jonah Ferretti

Find more from Kyle at www.ThePennyHoarder.com, sign up for the newsletter, and check out their instagram account for behind the scenes photos!

Facebook.com/ThePennyHoarder

Instagram.com/ThePennyHoarder

BABL 065: Affordable Real Estate Investments with Lisa Phillips

Lisa Phillips is in the process of building a bigger life for herself through somewhat unconventional means… and it’s working remarkably well!

In 2006, Lisa got her first job after graduating from school and in 2008, she was in her first round of a series of layoffs in her industry after having bought a home well above her means. That experience: of being unemployed, of looking for work, and of trying to keep a house while struggling to make ends meet taught her some valuable lessons.

The job market took her to Ohio where Lisa was able to buy a condo for substantially undermarket and it showed Lisa that she could find affordable homes in virtually any market. And most key to the learning was people would live in these homes and pay market rents for properties bought substantially under market!

Lisa ended up having to foreclose on her home in Las Vegas (the one that was too expensive to maintain during the recession), so was faced with having that on her credit report. As a result, the homes that she’s buying in depressed or stressed markets are being financed creatively.

She started out taking money out of her 401k, then began to get creative by refinancing her car, taking advances from her credit cards, and finding short term loans through banks and credit unions. And she’s cash flowing the properties, paying off debt, and building wealth.

She paid $13,000 cash for one house that generates $900 a month in rent. Others were closer to $20,000 or $30,000, but still create really incredible cash on cash returns.

Lisa (at 16:00) admits to the fact that some of what drives her is the desire to prove people wrong. Yes, she says, she lost a home in Las Vegas because of poor decisions, but that will not be what holds her back from achieving everything she sets her mind to. In fact, in inspires her to work harder.

The main point Lisa makes in her online training platforms is you don’t have to be born wealthy in order to create wealth. She also spends a great deal of time figuring out how to make the most amount of money doing the least amount of work.

Property managers are critical to Lisa’s success. Because the closest home she owns is 3 hours away, she has some strategies for how to find managers (which she shares around the 22:00 mark).

It’s okay to start small is a prime takeaway from this podcast. At the beginning, this will be slightly uncomfortable, but totally worth it once you get your feet under you.

Around the 32:00 mark, Lisa talks about her offer strategies, many that depend upon the demographics of the neighborhood, how long the property has been on the market, and the condition of the property.

To find out more about Lisa, check out www.affordablerealestateinvestments.com or www.youtube.com/affordablerei.

Books Lisa Recommends:

Retire Young, Retire Rich by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Tax Free Wealth by Tom Wheelwright

Graduate Student Debt

Broke From Go — Why Graduates Today Are Cash Strapped And What To Do To Fix It

There are very few graduates today that would lump themselves in the “average” category.

Average debt, that is.  

According to The Institute For College Affordability and Access student loan debt survey in 2014, the average debt load carried by an undergraduate was just shy of $30,000.  Yet, when seemingly “average” recent graduates were asked, their debt loads were at least 1.5 times that if not more.  (And that’s before taking into consideration the credit card debt many are carrying…)

In essence, they’re Broke From Go.  From the time these young people graduate, they are far more cash strapped than any previous generation.  Couple this situation with a difficult job market, a wildly fluctuating stock market, and a depressed housing economy — it’s no wonder the next generation is bucking the status quo.

I had an intern named Brandon who recently said to me (after I had him investigating some statistics on student loan debt), “Can this be right?  $200 a month payments for 10 years on $10,000 in student loans?”

He went on to discover that he’ll need a salary of $133,000 a year to “afford” his student loan payments once in repayment status.

Know of any companies looking to hire a recent Liberal Arts graduate for 6 figures?

I didn’t think so…

Such is the case with many students who’ve been sold a bill of goods as to the value of their degree.  The fact of the matter is that many two year institutions are graduating 20 year olds with degrees in high demand like nursing, telecommunications, lasers, and welding.  Many of whom are grabbing jobs paying in excess of $50,000 a year.

Which begs the questions:

  • Why are all of these people getting 4-year degrees?
  • What is the point of racking up high 5-figure debt loads?
  • When is our higher education system going to change?
  • Who else is seeing this problem and what are they doing to change it?

So, what are we to do about this cash-strapped generation?

First of all, encourage those who don’t know what they want to do to attend a two-year school and get their general requirements out of the way.  It’s more economical and quite often, the classes are easier to get into than a larger institution. Considering 1 in 3 students will not finish their degree, a community college is the most economical way to get the first couple of years under their belt. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to dip your toe in the water of higher ed, so to speak.

Guide them in gaining experience through internships so they get a sense of what they really enjoy doing.  At that point, see if it makes sense to pursue the four year degree.

More loans are not the answer. 

Our administration thinks that making student loans more accessible is the answer to our problems.  What we need less of right now are cash strapped twenty-somethings. This is one of the most entrepreneurial generations to have ever appeared on the scene and when they’re in debt, they aren’t as prone to start successful businesses.

The single best way to fix the problem is to educate those in the middle of it. It is up to the institutions, the families, and the individuals to seek out every educational opportunity to ensure students make wise and educated decisions when it comes to money.