What is the purpose of going to college? That’s definitely a loaded question, with everyone from school administrators all the way down to everyday students trying to give an answer that makes sense. The truth is that everyone has a different purpose for going to college, and that’s okay.
No matter what your purpose is for going to college, we would like to add a little addition to it: to reach a certain goal… (italicize here) while maintaining as little debt as possible.
Going to college without paying an arm and a leg is something that’s akin to a dream for a lot of people. Graduate students, such as those studying to become a doctor or a lawyer, will feel like there’s really no way to really make sure that you will have the best education possible without going into a lot of debt.
There are some ways to cut down on the costs of college, but that isn’t what this guide is about. You need to adopt a low debt diet all around in college. That means not giving into the reckless spending habits that many college students find themselves in. Your parents may be supportive at the very beginning, but if you prove that you care nothing about being responsible they will not bail you out of trouble for very long.
There are essentially 7 points that you will need to consider when you’re trying to adopt a low debt diet in college.
1. Avoid Financial Vampires
What’s a financial vampire? Well, in a nutshell, a financial vampire is anyone in college that encourages you to spend yourself into debt. A lot of people don’t want to be in debt by themselves, and they have no qualms about encouraging you to go into debt with them. This can start out simple and really grow to high levels that you don’t want to get involved with.
A common scenario is the group of friends that always seem to go be going to the movies, to dinner, and other places that cost a lot money. Over the long term, you might start feeling financially drained, which means that you don’t have enough money to meet your goals.
2. Set Goals
In order to make sure that you stay on a low debt diet, you will need to set some goals. It can be hard to set goals, but you will find that it gets easier and easier to set goals when you think about what you ultimately want.
Make sure that any goal you set is written down and committed to memory. You will refer to it over and over as time passes.
3. Get Technical
In this step, you will want to make sure that you turn to software programs like Microsoft Excel to track your spending and your budget. Setting a budget is one of the best ways to stay on track and maintain a low debt diet.
You can also turn to online solutions like mint.com in order to really get an idea of not only how much you have to spend, but where your money is going every month. You might be surprised at all of the things that you purchase!
4. Break Away From the Norm
In college, one of the first things that we want to do is do everything that our friends are doing. But if you see that your friends aren’t really making good financial decisions, you will find that it’s better to not follow in their footsteps. You don’t want to get pulled into doing something that going to set you far, far away from your goals. You will need to ensure that you keep your head focused on your goals at all costs.
It might lead to a few fights as you put your foot down about constantly eating out, or going to nightclubs, but this is something that you’ll have to live with. If your friends cannot accept that you’re trying to work to something better in your life, then they really aren’t your friends. Think about it from the right perspective — who is going to pay your debts? No one but you, of course. Keep this in mind the next time your friends start making fun of your desire to do better in life.
5. Seek Out Good Influences
Just as you want to break away from the norm, you will also want to make sure that you seek out good influences as much as possible. It can be hard to do at first, since no one really wants to talk about their finances. However, as you make friends on campus you might want to share your goals. Over time, people will begin to move towards you because you’re moving towards something positive in your life. It’s something that can really make all of the difference in the world when you’re trying to reach a certain goal. Do you really want to work so hard and travel so long, only to find that you haven’t quite met the goal that you really had in mind?
Good influences will come to you, as long as you’re willing to stay open. You will want to follow in their footsteps and really make sure that you are following good advice as much as possible. In turn, good influences will turn to you as a good person worth following, which is always a good thing!
6. Go Beyond Cutting Credit Cards
A lot of guides tell you to clip your credit cards, to cut back on the credit cards that you have, and to otherwise make sure that you can’t get credit card advertisements in your face all of the time. After all, you don’t want to be tempted to charge yourself into debt.
Yet there are other threats that you might need to be aware of. For example, there might be a few people talking about payday loans and car loans that are “guaranteed” by the fact that you have a job. This is something that isn’t inherently bad, but at the level you’re at in college these are two financial paths that should stay shut. Later on, when you’re making better money in life you can pursue these options.
7. Accountability Works!
Accountability is the ultimate way to stay on a low debt diet in college. You don’t wan to try to keep your goals a secret. Let everyone you can know that you’re trying to do better with your finances. You’ll be surprised at how many people remind you to control your spending, or ask you about that payment that you know that you need to make on a certain date.
Accountability is also there to encourage you when you do something good, which means that you will benefit from an emotional standpoint. We know that it’s hard to fight back against things that everyone seems to feel are just apart of the college experience. However, if you dig down deep and take the tips in this guide to heart, there’s really no limit to what you can get done!