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Smart Money Smart Kids Talks College

In case you haven’t been following along, this is my 4th post in the Smart Money Smart Kids series. You can read the firstsecond, and third posts to get caught up. Today I picked my favorite parts of Chapter 8 – College. You could call this a subject a touchy subject for me. In fact, I had a hard time deciding whether or not to share this very personal story with the whole world. After a great deal of consideration, I’ve decided that if my story can help just one family not make the same mistakes I did it’ll be worth it.
I’ve always been a willing worker. At the age of sixteen, my dad purchased a car for my birthday with one condition – I would have to maintain a job and pay for my own gas in order to keep the car. So what did I do? I got my first job working at a local clothing retail store. I knew owning a car would be worth it and I never questioned it. As high school ended I actually added two more jobs to the mix, and continued working three jobs throughout my college career by my own choice.
Right now you’re probably thinking that means I was very financially savvy and was able to cash flow my college education. If that’s the case, I’m sorry to say you’d be wrong. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education five and a half years after graduating high school, with (wait for it)… $120,000 worth of student loan debt. Yep, you read that right. I worked a range of 40-60 hours every week throughout my entire college career and still managed to have a massive amount of student loan debt. So where did all that money I worked so hard to earn go? A fantastic college lifestyle. I regularly treated myself and close friends to food and drinks, scheduled spa services, shopped at the mall so often the sales people knew me by name and sent thank you post cards to my well decorated college apartment where I had my own bedroom, bathroom and walk in closet. It’s fair to say my college lifestyle was far better than my first five years out of college (and at present).
I’ll be paying for my college financial mistakes, both physically and figuratively, for many years to come. Even using the debt snowball approach I’m not scheduled to be debt free (not including our house) until 2027 unless I pay more than the minimum. Worse yet, just the minimum payments on my student loans total more than our monthly mortgage payment! That’s scary! I wish I’d realized the extent of my debt while I was in school. I wish I’d paid my tuition and stayed at home to avoid the cost of a luxury apartment. But the truth is, I could play “what if” for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t change anything. My only chance to fix my mistakes is continue with the debt snowball process and change the way we approach paying for college with our own son. That’s why the Smart Money Smart Kids book is so important and special to me. My experience is the exact reason I want better for my son.
Chapter 8 of the Smart Money Smart Kids book details exactly why and how you can take part in a debt free education for your children. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the chapter:

“…I’ve seen so many parents do – never, never cash out your retirement accounts to pay for your child’s college expenses. Dumb, dumb, dumb!” – Dave

“A dad called my show one day distraught because his seventeen-year-old son had selected a college that was very expensive, and the dad could not figure out how he was going to pay for it. This father said to me, “What am I going to do? My son told me this is the school he is going to go to.” Whoa! Who is running the household here? My response was that this was a parenting problem, because my seventeen-year-old doesn’t tell me anything.” – Dave

“The Wall Street Journal recently published a study showing that more CEOs and board members of Fortune 500 companies graduated from state schools than from so-called prestigious universities.” – Dave

“It doesn’t matter if your child is in preschool or high school, whether you have $200,000 in an ESA or just $20 in your savings account, your child can go to college debt free.” – Rachel

On our road to Financial Peace, our little family has made a lot of sacrifices to continue plugging away at our debt. I know we have many more to come, and I look forward to them, because I know that our son is watching. He may be only a toddler now, but just like he can pick up a funny new saying from his daddy when we’re least expecting it, he will also learn about money in the same way. Smart Money Smart Kids is about teaching your kids the right path to financial freedom. Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze handle the ins and outs of the messy road of financial well being with wisdom and clarity.


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