In a time where society is extremely concerned about money it is astonishing how little the majority of people actually know about finances. There is the common cliché of a college freshman getting their first credit card and going crazy buying items which they cannot afford and then having to pay off the debt for a very long time. Unfortunately this is a cliché for a reason. On top of credit card debt college students also have student loans that they matriculate with. There is a need for some debt in many cases especially when it comes to college, but there is also a way to manage this debt. It has become increasingly clear that more and more students are leaving college with massive amounts of debt. According to American Student Assistance, 60 percent of college student takes some kind of loan. In the United States, there is around $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. These numbers are astounding and seem to be creating a cycle of debt, because once you are in, it becomes increasingly difficult to get out. However, there are underutilized preventative measures to keep this kind of debt from surfacing.
The majority of high school students graduate with little to no knowledge of real world financial education. Yes, we take algebra, calculus and geometry, but there is a lack of understanding regarding personal finance. According to ABC, “only 14 states offer personal finance as a high school class” while at the same time parents are saying “U.S. kids aren’t learning enough about how to manage their own money.” There is no denying the fact that there is a need for a better understanding of personal money management, there is just the question of how to implement it. A year long class on personal finances could drastically shape how a new graduate would approach the financial side of college.
Although there is a need for stronger educational backing, there are a few easy rules to live by. First of all, you probably don’t need what you are thinking about buying. Think about it could that $20 be spent on something better? Second, if you don’t have the money don’t even think about purchasing it. Just because you have a credit card doesn’t mean you should buy things because you can, it will harm you in the long run. Lastly, a job helps pay the bills. It is easy to say you don’t have time, but if getting a part time job will keep you out of debt and possibly allow you to graduate without piles of loans, take the job. We need to stop approaching college with the expectation that with a degree we will pay off that loan, and start thinking realistically that we must start living within our means.