You step out of the front doors of your university. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, you can feel the wind slightly caressing your cheeks. You’ve just graduated from college with honours and feel like you’ve completed a big step in your life. You feel satisfied.
Then, out of nowhere, a sharp ringing sound disturbs the surrounding peace. It’s your phone. ‘Must be Mum, coming round to help me pick my stuff up’ you think. You pick up the phone. ‘Hi, this is Max Insurance on the phone. We’ve currently got an amazing discount on our most recent Trade Credit Insurance for under thirties and think you are a great fit to get started on it now! At Max Insurance we promise to…’
You hang up the phone. ‘What the F@%K is Trade Credit Insurance??????’ Welcome to adult life.
That’s how I imagine my dramatic entry into adulthood, anyway.
When in college we all imagine adulthood as something scary, full of huge responsibilities, strange words and a lot of numbers. Our universities will teach us to be amazing at maths, English literature and Physics, but they won’t prepare us for what’s out there when college is over, that’s why we’re scared. Honestly, I think it’s disgraceful, but society has come to accept it.
The biggest thing that college students are unprepared for is managing money. Unless your parents involved you in their finances, you pretty much have no clue what are credit cards, savings accounts, and why the government takes a chunk of your money. It’s also disgraceful, which is why I started this blog to make sure you, the college student, do not graduate completely financially ignorant.
In fact, being financially literate has huge benefits, especially in college where you have more time, less responsibilities and are willing to experiment. Here are my favourite few:
Being knowledgeable about money and finances gives you UGE (you know who that is) power. You know exactly when you can spend, save and splurge. You know exactly how much. You are confident you won’t go broke, and you are confident you can get more money if you need to. You have the power to DECIDE where your money goes and who to give it to. No Max Insurance, bank or company can take your money if you don’t let them, remember that (unless you go bankrupt, but that’s a story for another time).
Once you realise the power you gain by understanding and knowing about money, that’s it: you’ve cracked the ‘being financially stable’ part of life. The rest is applying those concepts and always being open to learning as much as you can. It’s amazing. And the sooner you start the better!!! i.e. in college.
Always have money
Think about it, once you know and learn about money, you will always have some. If you understand index funds, you’ll know it’s good idea to invest in them. If you understand 401ks and pension plans you know you’ll retire rich. If you understand how people work with money, you will always have a job. If you understand the necessity of having an emergency fund, you will never finish on the streets.
You won’t ever have to worry about going broke (although you will lose money, of course), because you trust your knowledge to make the right decisions. You’ll know what skills can earn you quick money if ever in an emergency, and from there your money management skills will get you out of any sticky situation.
Although I’m still in the process of learning about finance, I know that I will always be able to earn some income as a language translator or freelance writer. It’s definitely not my ideal job, but in an emergency anything helps.
Out the Rat Race
The rat race is the endless cycle between earning money to pay off debt but then acquiring more debt to satisfy awful spending habits. People have the misconception that earning more money will solve the problem, so they get a second job and start spending even more, digging the hole a little deeper each time.
The solution to getting out of the rat race is a change of mentality and financial education. Getting out of the rat race at the age of 30+ can be a long and tiring process of paying off all debt while living extremely frugally.
Although living financially free is a thousand times better than being in the rat race, what if you could skip the long process and not enter the rat race in the first place? What if you could reach financial freedom before even leaving college? Just think of the endless possibilities…
Tax is an interesting subject, and one that I am still trying to get my head round. As a democracy, we give a share of our money to the government. That’s understandable.
However, as explained in Rich Dad Poor Dad, when the government decides to increase tax it’s the middle-income people who are affected the most, not the rich. Why? Because the ‘middle-class’ don’t know about money and so will simply pay and not argue. They are ‘scared’ of money and so won’t discuss it with anyone and won’t try to understand it. The rich will always find ways to pay less tax (hopefully legally) because they want to understand their wealth.
As a college student, it’s important to understand tax. It’s a fundamental part of our society and it’s a great tool when used by our governments correctly. However, know what you are paying. Don’t overpay, don’t underpay. Know when you can use tax advantages, know when you are allowed tax cuts and know what your money is being used for.
As you can see, being financially literate will completely change your entire life (and we’re just getting started). Imagine not having to worry about money? Not having to work a job you hate just for a steady income? It’s far from impossible, which is why I encourage college students to do what education hasn’t: financially educate themselves. Do some Money Experiments, take an online course, read some books. Once you go financially literate, you never go back (it doesn’t rhyme I know).
Oh and guess what!? I actually have a very short eBook on getting started on your Financial Education for free! You’ll get to subscribe to my weekly newsletters and learn how you can graduate financially free: