I just made my first student loan payment last week….and everything just got real, folks. According to the Wall Street Journal, with 2015 graduates owing $35,000 on average, I’m lucky; my student loans aren’t nearly as crippling as many of my classmates’ loans. And while I’d love to attribute that to the fantastic scholarships I received that actually only barely made a dent, my mom is the one who took on the largest part of the loans and I’m forever grateful to her.
I’m now nine months in and really starting to adjust to this idea of adult life. I’ve got my savings accounts, my 401k and my monthly bills to take care of and I have to say it’s a pretty strange concept that I am supporting myself. I mean really, truly supporting myself. I’m not only supporting myself, but I have full control of how I spend my time and my money. I get to decide where I want my money to go, and what I want to spend it on based on what is most important to me. Time management is key here people. You can’t do it all, and that’s okay. You need to make time for what’s important. Last night, I chose sleep over laundry. No longer do I have a day off of classes or even an afternoon where I may have six or seven hours to leisurely do two loads.
As far as managing it all, it’s going okay. It’s still weird to think that I’m going to be working five days a week for the next 40+ years. Even simple things like making doctor’s appointments and eating dinner after getting home can be a challenge. Sometimes it’s popcorn for dinner (clearly channeling Olivia Pope) and going to bed at 8:30 pm, because I’m simply too exhausted for much else.
Most weekends are pretty full doing things I can’t do during the week like driving two hours to visit my four nieces or road-tripping down to New York or Massachusetts or flying to Atlanta to visit my roommates from college, or even just seeing my family here in Central Vermont.
I’m able to do all of these things because I have a job in my field and my student loans are bearable. I’m also able to do this because I’m (relatively) smart with my money. I spend it on fun things that I really don’t need (new Tervis tumblers & Thai food takeout, anyone?), but I save in multiple ways, and am continually learning about investment options.
We have time on our side, Millennials!! Utilize it. I promise, it will be a lot easier now than later. Pay your bills on time. If you need to wait another month to get that gorgeous new Michael Kors bag you saw at Nordstrom, then wait. Because here’s the good news, if you’re smart about it, you can have your cake and eat it too! Get comfortable with talking about finances. Read everything you can, find a financial advisor you can trust, and start working toward your future financial goals. I never considered that at 22 I would have a financial advisor…I mean, how adulty….but now it seems like “how can I not start now?” Remember, it’s never too early to start–there’s no downside and thousands of future upsides!
Figuring out this whole adult thing can be tricky, but I feel like I’m off to a good start. By considering my options and gathering advice from my friends and family, I’m excited to navigate this crazy journey called life.