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How Dillan from the US Invests His Money – Student Interviews

How Dillan from the US Invests His Money – Student Interviews

How Dillan from the US Invests His Money – Student Interviews

Another awesome student interview here! 

This time we take the perspective of an exchange student from the States. Very interesting because although what he says may not relate to all, we can all learn from what he says and advises. 


invests his money


1. Name and university

Dillan, from the US, studying at Edinburgh University


2. Did you take out a student loan? If so, how much are you getting?

As an international student, Dillan obviously has to pay way more for university. He’s studying a one year masters in Edinburgh, which will cost him $35,000.

To us Brits, that’s a huge amount of money – but in the US university costs double that, so he’s probably saving money by coming all the way to our little island. In the recording it’s not very clear if he took out a loan to come here, but we can assume so.

3. Is the loan enough? How else do you support yourself?

He tells us he worked for 6 years before coming to the UK, and was able to save up quite a lot. Go Dillan.

4. Do you budget? How?

Dillan is even more of a budget nerd than I am! He budgets all his expenses into an Excel spreadsheet every 2 weeks. That way he’s in good control of everything that comes in and out and how to plan for the future. Alvar and I were impressed.

Related: How to Set a Budget in Less than 10 Minutes

5. What are your tips to save money?

Dillan has another interesting mentality when it comes to this: focus more on your income than your expenses.

He argues that you can only decrease your expenses till a certain point, whereas you can always increase your income.

For this reason, his advice is to work on getting a good job. Build up your resume, work on your skills and get the best job you can find.

I love that he said this because it’s quite different to what Tom said last week: ‘Think ‘Do I really need this?’ before buying.

Both are very important pieces of advice  – which you get to read and apply to your life.

6. Do you have a job? What is it?

He did work for 6 years back in the US as a project manager, so he says now he’s got his savings and doesn’t need to worry about getting a job.

Related: Top 5 Skill-Building Jobs for University Students

7. Do you make money in any other ways?

Investments! I was ecstatic to hear about a student who was into investing!

He says he doesn’t have any short-term investments, only long term in something called an IRA (the American version of the ISA here in the UK). Since he worked for two different companies, he has investments with their pension schemes.

Still pretty cool that he’s already thinking about his future and investing.


8. How do you find student deals and which ones do you use?

Since he is a hardcore budgeter, he doesn’t feel the need to search for student deals and discounts. As mentioned before, he focuses on increasing his income, and not so much decreasing his expenses – simply an interesting and different mentality to have.

Although cool, I still recommend checking out this system I made to take advantage of as many discounts as possible (it does not require coupon clipping).

9. Ever thought of getting started with investing? What’s holding you back?

Of course, here we knew Dillan had experience with investing, and both Alvar and I were excited to hear someone else who was into it.

But Dillan gave a very important piece of advice: don’t start investing until you have no debt.

When investing, you will be getting an average of 7% a year, however if you have debt with an interest rate of 18% APR, it literally makes no sense to start investing before paying off debt.

In the US, student loans are very different to the UK. Americans get higher interest rates and are obliged to pay them all back.

In the UK, you don’t need to pay them back in full and the interest rate is 0.5 or 1%. Yay.

So following Dillan’s advice, pay off your debt if it’s something like consumer debt (credit cards, payday loans, personal loans, etc), and then start investing. Hopefully you haven’t even heard of the word consumer debt before.


10. What are some things you’re struggling with at uni?

As an international student, the hardest part for him was uncertainty. He wasn’t sure how high the expenses would be in Edinburgh and didn’t know how to budget or forecast before actually getting there.

An interesting problem to have. If I were him I would have gone to an Edinburgh subreddit or UK students and asked others – crowdsourcing is always a great answer!

11. Is university worth it, for you?

Following on from his philosophy, Dillan is doing this masters so he can get a much better job with a higher salary. For him, a big part of university is that big career advance that will let him earn more money.

Impressive, and I think we can learn a lot from a mentality like this.


Dillan was very interesting to interview and I’m glad we got the perspective of an American student! Here are the main takeaways I got from our interview:

  • Focus more on your income than your expenses
  • Pay off your debt before you start investing
  • Do your research before moving to a new place!

Do you agree with what Dillan says? Let me know!

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