DUMB MONEY DECISIONS I MADE
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
- STUDENT LOAN
I was lucky to get my Bachelor’s degree for free. My PA school was a disaster. I took EVERY SINGLE LOAN that was offered to me. Yes, it was much more than I needed, but I borrowed it anyways. The school I was accepted to was 350 miles away from my home. Instead of reapplying next year to attend the university in the same city, I chose to rent and travel instead. Though I shared an apartment with a roommate, my monthly housing cost was still over $1,200. Hubby took care of our house, bills, and our 3-year old son. I drove home every weekend (5-hour drive one way). Two and half years later I was $148,000 in student loan debt!
Please learn from my mistakes! Yes, I received a fantastic education and ended up in a field I love, but the burden and guilt I feel on a daily basis is heavy. I brought this monster into our family. If you are about to embark into a similar situation, please stop and rethink everything thoroughly.
Considering getting a student loan:
- KNOW exactly how much is the tuition cost to the school you are applying.
- CHOOSE state vs private (unless you can get a big chunk covered through scholarships).
- FORGET about elite schools, at the end of the day your skills and personality will open more doors for you than a big name on your diploma.
- STAY with your family to save on housing cost.
- If you need to work extra 1-2 years to save for school, please DO!
- RESEARCH your future job outlook BEFORE deciding what degree to pursue. You can volunteer, shadow, get an assistant job to fully understand if this is a field you are passionate about.
- FIND a good work-money balance. You will be miserable if you are a doctor who hates patients, but makes a great living. You will be miserable as a history teacher who lives paycheck to paycheck. Be smart about it; it will never be 100% perfect, but you can still make a living and do what you like, or don’t hate too much.
- YOU DON’T NEED A DEGREE TO MAKE MONEY! Fatherfier is a perfect example, he hates school, but he earns more than I am and has no student loan debt!
Already in deep student loan debt:
- GET TO KNOW YOUR LOAN. If you are in deep student loan debt, I feel your pain…It is an awful place to be. Find out how much do you pay in interest on a daily basis. You will be shocked. You will be FURIOUS! This is great, use this negative energy to your advantage and attack this sucker with vengeance.
- FORGIVE yourself, after all we are all humans. Use this as an opportunity to learn; you will come out of this situation stronger and wiser. YOU CAN DO IT!
- PARENTING/PRIVATE SCHOOL
When our oldest son turned 5 we decided that he NEEDS to attend private school. We told ourselves that we are amazing parents by giving our kid this opportunity. This “opportunity” ended up costing us over $17,000 per year!!! On the top of that we had to purchase fancy uniform with $40 pants and $30 shirts. After three years of this insanity and deeply in debt we finally pulled the plug. He is now in the 3rd grade of a local public school; and we are all super happy about it!
- Sending your child to expensive private school is NOT your validation of love. You can buy all the toys in the world and send your kid to crème de la crème schools. At the end of the day, all your child needs is YOU. Spend time with your kids, be PRESENT when you are around them. Don’t rub your kids of the opportunity to connect, to be heard. Pause your household work, put away your freaking phone; be there for your children.
- NEW CARS
Since I married Fatherfier, I have been pretty much driving brand new cars only. Fatherfier is in a car business. He sees “amazing” deals on a daily basis that sometimes are hard to miss. We had so many cars between the two of us, I am afraid our neighbors are now thinking we are into something illegal. I had an old car in my past that would break down in the middle of the road; it was a pure torture to block the traffic and have others honk at you. We are now on our last 2 new cars. After redefining our American dream we promised ourselves to never buy brand new cars again. The two Honda cars (Insight and Pilot) we have now, will last us until the day we retire. After that we might sell them both, or just keep one we can share.
- A new car will start depreciating as soon as you drive it off the dealership parking lot. Buy a 2 year old used car instead! You will still have a quality car, but someone else will absorb that initial depreciation cost for you!
- Look for a loaner car; these could be a great find as they are barely used and come with a low mileage.
- Germans are one of the best engineers in the world, but I strongly advise against BMW and Mercedes due to outrageous maintenance cost. Go for a Japanese car instead, you can get so much quality for the money. Hondas are the BEST (of course, I am biased).
- HIRING A FINANCIAL ADVISER
Long before my PA school we decided to start saving money. My husband was promoted at work and someone recommended him this financial adviser guy at Ameriprise. I remember him painting vivid pictures of all the horrible things that could happen to us if we don’t have a certain life insurance. We ended up signing up for bunch of things we had no clue about. The fee for this guy was $2,500 A YEAR! After getting into a student loan debt we cut our ties with him. Of course we lost money, but we saved even more by no longer trusting anyone with them.
- Investing is NOT a rocket science! A fifty-year old dude with a briefcase doesn’t care about you or your family. Instead, spend some time reading JL COLLINS STOCK SERIES (this older dude actually cares). By far of the best investment resource out there.
- Of course, it is easier to invest if you are out of debt. Debt is a number one priority after your basic needs (just fyi café latte is NOT a basic need).
So, that’s it for now. This is a work in progress and I’ll keep expanding this list as I go on with my life. What dumb financial decision you made in your life?