Tag Archives: Money

How to Graduate College Debt Free


In full disclosure let me start this post by saying I did not graduate college debt free. I didn’t learn this stuff until it was too late. The advice I’m about to give you is the advice I wish I would have been given in high school.

You don’t need to follow the herd. You’re not a sheep. Break out of the mold. A lifetime of student loan debt is not mandatory for a successful career.  I want you to be fully informed so that you can make the best possible choices for your future. So here goes, 3 simple ways to graduate debt free.


Student loan debt is a real problem. It’s crazy. It’s out of control. At 18 years of age I had no business taking out tens of thousands of dollars going into debt for a private college education I really couldn’t afford. But this is happening every day to a bunch of people across the country.

Close your eyes and imagine this scenario with me (wait, you’re reading this, so don’t close your eyes… just imagine).

An 18 year old guy walks into a bank and asks for a loan, we’ll call him Jimmy.

Jimmy: Hello Mr. Banker, I’d like to borrow some money.

Banker: Alright, how much would you like to take out?

Jimmy: Hmmm…. how about $75,000?

Banker: Okay, let’s see what we can do for you.  Do you have a job?

Jimmy: Nope.

Banker: Do you have any assets?

Jimmy: Nope.

 Banker: Do you have a high credit score?

Jimmy: Maybe, what’s a credit score?

Banker: Well Jimmy, a credit score is a 3 digit number generated by a mathematical algorithm using information from your credit report. It helps us predict risk and determine the likelihood that you will be able to fulfill your credit obligations and pay back your debt.

Jimmy: Oh. Then no, no I don’t.

Banker: Okay Jimmy, let me just run some numbers here…. alright finished. Congratulations Jimmy! You’re approved.

Absurd, right? Of course you wouldn’t loan some 18 year old bum with no job, no assets, and no credit score that kind of money.  But it happens every day, and it’s called student loans.

With massive amounts of students taking on massive amounts of debts each year, it’s no wonder we’re in the midst of a student loan crisis. Our nation currently has over 1 trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt. That is a lot of money. Now combine that with the fact that the cost of college is consistently increasing way beyond normal inflation rates and hopefully you’re starting to understand the gravity of the situation.

Student loans are becoming a rather large problem.

Graduating College Debt Free

So what can we do about it? More importantly, what can you do about it? Well, let me make three simple suggestions on how you can make a stand against student loans and graduate debt free or at least with significantly less debt than most.


1. Selection

Where you go to college is important. A lot of people are willing to enter into a life time of debt all for the sake of going to a prestigious university. Let’s be real. You’re not rich (yet) and it’s not worth it. Go to a college you can afford.

Trust me.

It might not be as glamorous, but employers don’t care where you went; plus what’s more glamorous than not being broke and having to live in your parents’ basement after graduation?

2. Work

Work is good. Having a job in college will not cause you flunk out. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. A study done in 2012 by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that students who worked up to 20 hours a week got better grades than students who did not work at all.

College is not adolescence continued. It’s a new chapter in your life.  The college experience is not a transition into adulthood, it is adulthood. It’s time to grow up.  Working is a part of adulthood, therefore work should be a part of the college experience.

Working in college will help you with developing a consistent schedule and it will teach you incredibly important things like balance, time management, prioritization, and other real world skills.

But, in this post we are talking about graduating debt free, so let’s not forget the fact that working throughout college will significantly lower the amount of aid you will need. Just pretend that free loan money was not available to you and that working was your only option.

3. Scholarships

While you are still in high school scholarships, should be your main focus. Treat scholarship searching like a part-time time job. Spending just 10 hours a week completing scholarships could yield a whole lot more money than working at the local fast food restaurant. During summer vacation kick it up a notch. Work on scholarships 20 hours a week and that still leaves you plenty of time for volunteering, vacations, or working.

Just a quick example of how working on scholarships can easily pay more than a summer job…

A student working 20 hours a week for 10 weeks (average summer vacation) at $7.50 an hour will make approximately $1,500 over the course of the summer. (20 x 7.5 x 10 = $1,500)

A student working 20 hours a week for 10 weeks could easily complete 40 (or more) scholarship applications. If the student was awarded only 10% of those scholarships and if those scholarships were a modest $1000 each the student would make $4,000 over the summer.

This example is a very conservative example. With that amount of time the student could have easily looked up a lot of high potential scholarships and devoted a lot of effort into them. Remember, scholarships can range from $100 up to a full ride. If you spent your whole summer working on scholarships and could earn a full ride, you would be making considerably more than a part-time fast food job.

There are a lot of other unique and creative ways to avoid racking up big student loans, share your ideas below.


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Money: How Much Do You Want?


Money is important.

That’s right, captain obvious to the rescue. But seriously, money is important. It took me a long time to come to that realization. Some of you may be thinking, “What is this guy talking about?” others of you will get what I’m trying to say.

I remember when I was in high school there were basically three mindsets about money among my friends. At this point I should probably give a little background information to paint a better picture of who we were. My friends and I were the high achievers and we did pretty well in school. We took all of the AP and college prep classes. We did a lot of extracurricular academic activities. We were the good kids.  We were the smart kids- kind of. We also had wildly different opinions with regards to money and the future, but basically we all fit into one of these three categories.

  1. “Money is da-Bomb!” (yes, we actually used to say that)
  2. “Money’s for sell-outs and tools; follow your heart!”
  3. “Money, um… I dunno.

Maybe you fit into one of these categories too.

In high school I happened to fall into the second category. Follow your heart and forget about the money. It seems like the most decent of the three doesn’t it. I certainly thought so and I didn’t hesitate to let everyone else know that it indeed was the noblest way to look at things. As I mentioned here, when I was planning my future career path, I took money out of the equation and chose to do what I felt passionate about: teaching and eventually social services. The problem was I didn’t really have an economic model in place to fit the lifestyle I was hoping to live.

It took me a long time to realize that.

It took me even longer to realize that it is okay to make money.

Again, some of you are thinking, “What in the world?” Others are nodding their heads in agreement. That’s okay, stick with me.

Have you discovered your passion, recognized your talents and found that you want to get involved in a traditionally low income vocation such as teaching, social services, or counseling?  Great!  You’ve done the hard work of looking inward. Now you get to do the fun stuff and look outward.


At this point you need to realistically decide how much money you want to make. Don’t you dare say “I want to make $30,000 a year because that is what teachers in my area make.” If you start doing that you are not being honest with yourself. I know this because this was me.  If you’ve been honest with yourself thus far, trying to figure out your passions and your talents, why lie to yourself in this area? Now you’re thinking, “I’m not doing this for the money!” Again, this was me. I thought that if I made money doing something it would take away from the fact that I was trying to help and serve others.

If you are struggling with this concept I highly recommend studying the principles of Rabbi Daniel Lapin in his book, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money.   Rabbi Lapin states that people often fail to reach their financial goals and potential due to a belief that money is materialistic and an unfortunate necessity. He proposes a change in mindset. He calls money a certificate of appreciation. He proposes that you look at the receiving of money as proof of your excellent service to others and not that you are simply taking their money.

Be creative; look for nontraditional career choices or consider going into business for yourself. Just because you want to work with kids doesn’t mean that being a school teacher is your only option.

At this point in the planning process don’t ignore your financial desires.  Ignore money and you won’t have any to worry about!

What are your thoughts on money? Is it something you are considering while trying to decide what field to get into? Is it the main thing? Do you think that prospering financially in your career is a sign that you are serving others extraordinarily well? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.


A fulfilling and profitable vocation is made up of three things: passion, talent, and an economic model.

Your economic model is one part of a three legged stool. If you don’t spend the time needed to figure it out the other two won’t hold you up.

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