The Biggest Financial Challenge of my Life

  Steven McKinney
  Winona State University
  Leadership and Advocacy

 Aug ’19 Financial Champion

The biggest financial challenge of my life is to survive my student debt, and I have a plan for how to do it.

The first point of my plan is to develop good habits. Habits such as cooking at home and meal preparing for the week, buying whatever you can, such as clothing at second-hand stores, and avoiding unnecessary purchases.

I currently live in a place where food purchased at anywhere besides the big-name fast-food restaurants can cost you $10-$20 a meal on average. So, cooking at home can save you a considerable amount of money and is healthier for you, thus saving you from taking time off work, going to the doctor, or spending money on cold/flu medication.

Buying clothes, especially good winter clothes, takes a considerable amount of your budget. Although you do not purchase them often, you can save a significant amount of money buying the clothes at a second-hand store and stitching up holes and loose seams yourself.

I have also noticed that my friends that typically complain about not having money because of school have many things that are not necessary, such as the excessive amount of clothes, bathing suits, shoes, or merchandise from tv shows or video games.

On top of practicing restraint to save money, I plan to be working without a break between jobs. I will be graduating with a bachelor’s in leadership and advocacy and will be working as a seasonal tech before settling on a permanent position that I love.

With the experience that I have accumulated over my years in community college and will continue to accumulate throughout university and leaving myself open to a broad range of jobs, I will have no problems finding and being hired for a job.

I also have many different connections and resources at my disposal to help me locate and acquire jobs. By making sure I have a job at all times, I can ensure that I have a continuous flow of money that I can use to pay back my debt.

Having a job and making lifestyle changes to save money is not enough to deal with student debt. I will be vigilant when looking for areas to live and will make many compromises to find the cheapest and safest options for housing. Some jobs that I will be applying for even provide housing; I will make these jobs a priority.

The location of where I live will also change the cost of groceries and utilities on top of the cost of rent. Some housing options may be smaller than I would like, and some may require me getting a roommate, but in order to pay back my student debt, I will need to make a lot of sacrifices, compromises, and lifestyle changes.

Most of these changes will occur while I am incurring my debt while going to university, which I will help offset by paying off some loans while I am attending university to at least keep the interest from incurring. I will also take jobs and internships that will allow me to get experience and network with others in my field so that I will be able to get a job quickly after graduating with my degree. Most of these jobs/internships over the summer also provide housing, which will allow for more money to be saved for over the years or to pay off some debt during that time.

There are some changes that I have already made in my life, such as using reusable water bottles, utensils, etc. rather than continually buying plastic versions of these items when I need them.

I am also currently trying to get into the habit of cooking my own food and bring it for lunch at work.

One thing that I already avoid is unnecessary purchases because I do not understand the obsession with having more clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, etc. than you can use or only using an item once before forgetting about it. Buying excessive amounts of material items boggle my mind because most of my items are kept until they are broken and no longer useable. Although, there are some acceptations to this, such as drawers or containers that I no longer need because I am cleaning them out.

Currently, I am trying to practice my sewing skills, so I can mend any holes in my existing clothes or any clothes I buy in the future. As I get better at sewing, I will be able to keep my clothes in good condition for longer and will not need to spend as much money buying new clothes.

This is my current plan on handling my student debt over the long term. But this will most likely change over the years, and I will hopefully not have to deal with my student debt for too long since I went to a local community college before transferring to a four-year university to get my full degree.