I’m fairly certain all of us have felt stupid once or twice in our lives. We are all human and are prone to making some mistakes. Some of them are more glaring than the other and some of them just outright ridiculous. When you’re young, you don’t put much stock into these idiotic mistakes because youthful ignorance is bliss.
However, ten or fifteen years down the road you simply wish you knew then what you know now. Anyone with a crushing amount of student debt probably wishes there was another way they could have obtained their precious education without going into debt.
Most of us don’t want to admit that we were fairly stupid when it came to student loans; therefore, today I’m going to snitch on myself and discuss seven stupid reasons I took out student loans.
1) Using student loans to finance collegiate life the first two years of school instead of working.
I used the excuse of not working my first two years of college so I could “concentrate” on my studies. This was a lie. I didn’t want to work because I was lazy and felt I was already doing enough by waking up to go to an 8 o’clock music class I hated. Getting a job wasn’t a priority, so I depended on those student loan reimbursement checks to hit my bank account like the Kardashians depend on “reality”.
2) Failing to pay interest payments on student loans while in school. I had the money. I just wasted it.
Just because I didn’t have a job didn’t mean I didn’t have money hitting my student checking account. Oh, my parents kept a steady supply of funds coming. Instead of using that money responsibly and sending in a student loan interest payment or two, I used it to buy my way into Alpha, Omega, and Sigma Frat parties. And a club or two. We won’t address the alcohol consumption either.
3) Not using any of my internship money earned the last two summers I was in college for school related expenses.
So, I finally wised up the summer breaks before my junior and senior year of college. I applied for a rigorous internship program and landed a gig working a corporate job in Greenville, SC. I was making the most money I ever made at $13 per hour. Did I do the responsible thing and use any of that money towards upcoming tuition? Nope. I partied through the summer, brought new clothes, and managed to keep about $200 or $300 to contribute towards first semester books.
4) Didn't keep track of how much I was borrowing. I had a come to Jesus moment after graduating.
Youthful ignorance was bliss indeed until it was time to do those exit student loan counseling things they made all borrowers complete before graduating. I did not keep a tally of how much I was borrowing each year. At the time I really didn’t think it was that much until I got the bill and realized that I basically borrowed more than a year’s salary.
5) Thinking I was going to earn enough after graduating to make payments on the standard repayment plan. Yeah right…
Back to that year’s salary thing — I just knew I was going to come out of college making at least $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Don’t be a fool, people! Please don’t promise yourself that you’re guaranteed a certain salary after you graduate. Life has a way of teaching you important lessons and this is not one you want to learn. After graduating, I struggled for six months on a $9 per hour job before landing a job with a starting salary of $27,000. At that time I owed $33,000 for undergrad.
6) Borrowing money to eat.
If I don't do anything else, I at least want to save enough money so my kids can pay in cash for those overpriced meal plans. At least save enough to feed yourself. If your campus housing allows, you can cook your meals at a fraction of the costs. During my junior and senior year I finally wised up and figured the least I could do was cook some Hamburger Helper. However, the damage was done. I owed two-years worth of interest on chicken fingers.
7) Using refund checks to purchase endless pairs of Air Force Ones.
Back in early 2000, Nelly and the St. Lunatics, Air Force Ones proudly bumped through the speakers of my raggedy Plymouth Sundance as I drove to the mall to pick up a fresh pair a couple of times each semester. I probably owe around $2,700 in interest on Air Forces. Worst part, I don’t even like those shoes anymore.
There you have it. These are seven of the stupid things I did with my student loans during undergrad. This doesn’t even include grad school I’ll keep that entire catastrophe to myself. It’s good to put this out in the open, especially if it helps someone reading this. Next time you receive those student loan reimbursement checks, make sure you’re not repeating any of my stupid mistakes. You will live to regret it, I guarantee it.