Let’s be honest, for most college grads, student loan repayment is the first big payment obligation. Some of us have purchased cars since graduating (me!), and some maybe even a home or a motorcycle. However, a certain stigma exists around the topic of student loans and the process of repayment. It is an agonizing phrase that when uttered brings sharp pains to many. I should have known what to expect when choosing that big out-of-state university, right? Trust me, it was worth every penny. And every painful penny I shall spend…
15 days until first payment
Confirm that mom and/or dad will be contributing and to what extent. Despite the country’s slow economic recovery and a proven decrease in parent contributions, some lucky students have the luxury of wealthy parents who plan to completely cover their child’s higher education investment. According to Sallie Mae’s annual “How America Pays for College” study, 27 percent of college costs were paid by parent income and savings this year, although this number has significantly decreased since its peak in 2010 when 37 percent of parents paid out of pocket. Others, like me, have parents who choose to contribute a portion either because that’s what they can afford or because they want to reinforce the importance of money, bills, and investments. And many students across the nation, about three in 10 students in 2012-2013, have no choice but to take on student loan debt in order to make an attempt at The American Dream. Keyword being “attempt.”
13 days until first payment
Awkwardly bring up how I’ll receive funds from mom and/or dad – set up a reminder in my phone. I use the word “awkwardly” because in this financial climate, the topic of spending money brings stress and discomfort to most. Marist College released a poll which said 59% of United States residents feel that talking about money problems with their children adds to family stress. Contributing parents are doing what they can to provide for their children because it is American culture to do so. Our parents bought us toys, video games, cell phones, and our first cars. No parent wants to be the bearer of bad news to a struggling new grad. Most new grads, unfortunately not all, understand that it is asking a lot to request help with student loans so they tread lightly when discussing the painful subject.
12 days until first payment
Completely rethink my loose monthly budget. Since I graduated, I’ve moved to another state and purchased a brand new car so a budget was absolutely necessary. Fidelity Investments, an online financial services company, says only about half of recent grads have a plan in place to meet their financial goals and 63 percent of that group have created a budget. To me, the control freak, this is not good news for the financial future of our country. The possibility of ruining my credit is not one I want to gamble with so determining a strict budget and monthly, quarterly and yearly goals is incredibly important and should be to all recent grads.
10 days until first payment
Confirm total amounts for each separate loan and decide against buying a new sweater for the ugly sweater Christmas party. I’ll whip out last year’s classic. Its all about making justifiable purchases, right? The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Craze has reached an all-time and embarrassing high according to ABC News and the cost of these sweaters has followed suit. Justin Bieber sported a $1,650 monstrosity this year. Instead, I need coffee-mate and baby carrots this weekend so a one-time gig complete with dancing reindeer and jingle bells just didn’t make the cut. Having a handful of student loans is no secret to most borrowers. According to Sallie Mae, student borrowing has slightly decreased over recent years but the amount has greatly increased. Students now owe private and federal loans so keeping track of all these debts has put a great pressure on recent grads.
9 days until first payment
Pregame at home with that dusty bottle of Burnett’s and buy one (okay, three) domestic draft beers at the bar knowing I’m about to drop a couple hundo. I’m so responsible. While my younger student friends spend carelessly at the bar and my older, successful friends feel confident in their purchasing decisions, I have to be strategic about getting drunk. What a buzz kill. Like a true college student would, I scrounged up my last bit of alcohol to save a few bucks and decided my bar tab was my Christmas present to myself.
7 days until first payment
Consider grad school for the sake of loan deferment and nothing else. As if the pressure of entering the real world wasn’t already enough, banks are now encouraging recent undergrads to attend graduate school, although their reasoning only has one ultimate goal in mind: money. They make it sound so tempting, “Sometimes it may seem impossible to make your student loan payment,” they say. “You are so right,” I respond as I think, “wow they really know my personal life.” But the cost of graduate school is a hefty one beginning with the $150 GRE test, not to mention books (again), housing (again), and more! In an effort to postpone payments, recent undergrads actually might struggle more later! A graduate degree should only be sought for all the right reasons, not driven by financial insecurity.
6 days until first payment
Google “how to make money while working full-time” and when the results come up short, Google “cute puppies” to feel better. The sad truth is that it is common practice for most young graduates to work multiple jobs, according to Carl E. Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. While I let go of the dreams I had of a yearly salary, I work my hourly job because it’s what pays the bills and hope my Etsy shop takes off.
3 days until first payment
Finish the Burnett’s from last week and sit on the couch watching ABC Family’s 25 days of Christmas because it’s all the fun I can afford. Just me and my friend Cheap Vodka chilling on a Saturday night. With my upcoming payment, another night out was not in the cards so like a true 90’s baby, I choose Home Alone and The Santa Clause.
1 day until first payment
Make the payment early because I’m a boss. Also, because I can no longer prolong the agony of anticipation. The control freak in me pays early because at any second my bank could crash and I could become totally poor and then my interest rate would skyrocket even more and that would literally be the end of the world. Instead, I choose punctuality because making debt payments on time is the largest factor to building good credit.
Debt, credit, deadlines…they’re no walk in the park. If this is what it takes to achieve financial success and happiness, I’m willing to walk the walk. Now that I’ve released nearly $1k into thin air, it is time to write my Christmas List filled with all the joyful essentials: hand soap, toilet paper, dryer sheets, ramen, and more Christmasy fun!