Because this might be the only blog in the history of the internet to have not done this at some point, here’s the Financial Uproar message to 2013 graduates. PAY ATTENTION, YOUNGINS.
Hey, congratulations. You’ve suffered through years of drudgery to finally get to this point, and I bet it feels good. You’ve listened to the craptacular valedictorian speeches, all the kudos to the parents and the teachers, and some keynote speaker your school brought in because all the cool keynote speakers were too busy doing interesting things. Cliches were said, and you left the ceremony filled with more excitement than that time I thought I had Hayden Panettiere’s address.
Too bad you’re screwed. Sooooo screwed. Rob Ford is less screwed than you, and he smoked crack on video.
Here’s the deal, graduates. The economy is in the crapper more than the remains of last night’s kegger. Even crap jobs are hard to come by. Do you know how many of your peers will be applying at Starbucks? ALL OF THEM. They will move back into their parents’ basement and sling coffee for hipster douches who don’t have jobs either, but come to the coffee place because they feel the need to numb their crappy existence for just a few minutes, and apparently fancy coffee is the new opiate of the masses. Don’t become one of those people. If you do, I will personally show up and kick you in the vulva.
Perhaps you luck out, and get a job somewhere better than Starbucks. Maybe your degree was actually useful, and you end up working in an office somewhere. Hell, maybe they’re nice enough to give you a cubicle and a benefits package and two weeks of holidays every year. You get a comfy chair and that blonde from accounting looks great in a tight blouse. Congratulations. Now roll up your sleeves and enjoy the rest of your life, wage slave.
Chances are, you either have student loans or are about to take some out. Sure, you could have stayed at home and taken the cheap educational path, maybe even staying in your parents’ basement to do so. But instead you decided to go to B.S. LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE WHERE THEY PLAY HACKEY SACK EVERY G.D. MORNING. Instead of a molehill of debt, you’re looking at a mountain of it. Nice work, college dumbass. Remember this when you claim to be the educated one.
Not all is lost though, graduates, but you’re gonna have to start working your ass off. Listen, school is a joke compared to the real world. Going to class is just a distraction from why you’re really there, which is to get drunk and/or stoned and make clumsy attempts to get laid. No professor gives a rat’s ass if you’re slacking it in his class. He’ll just get his graduate student to give you a D and go smoke some reefer.
The working world is a hell of a lot more difficult. Bosses will harass you CONSTANTLY, especially the one filled with moxie who just got promoted. They’ll hold you accountable for crap work. Office politics will slowly crush your soul. Customers will bust your ass for crap that is stupider than you could ever imagine. HR will make you go to six different seminars if you ever touch any of your co-workers. This drudgery will happen day in and day out for years, until maybe you hit 65 and then maybe you can afford to retire. But you probably won’t be able to, since you’ll try and drown your sorrows by buying everything from new cars to vacations to a boob job.
You’re thinking that won’t be you, and you’ll defy the odds and find a good job. You’ll find a job you actually enjoy, and you’ll wake up every morning eager to tackle another day. Oh, you and your deluded ways make me smile. You will wake up one morning, somewhere north of 30, and realize you’re miserable. Trust me, it happens to everybody.
The choices you make over the next few years are really f’in important. You’ve got two choices. You can use your first salary to get ahead or you can use it to dig yourself further into a debt hole. The choices you make now will affect the rest of your life, SO DON’T SCREW THIS UP.
Take this opportunity to pay those student loans off. You’re a 23 year old fresh graduate, you can handle a few more years living like a college kid. Share a place with your friends, but channel the savings towards debt, not beer. Eat your weight in ramen noodles. Fall in love with delicious tap water. You don’t need a new car. Hell, depending on where you live, you might not need a car at all. Work your ass off to get back to even.
But don’t stop there. Once those student loans are paid off, that’s only half the battle. Now that you don’t have debt hanging over your head anymore, you can really start to save. What are you saving for? After a few years in the workforce, hopefully you’ve figured that out.
I constantly preach for graduates to pay down debt, no matter the interest rate. The reason is simple – once your debt is slayed, freedom is just around the corner. You can pack up and move to China for a year. You can start your own business. If cars float your boat, you can save up and buy a fancy one. It’s a whole lot easier to do the things you want without debt hanging over your head.
You have to take care of your debt first. There are no shortcuts, no warp whistle you can use to skip steps. The only way you’re going to accomplish this is by working your ass off and taking care of your obligations. You owe it to yourself to be responsible before you tackle your dreams. Self sacrifice makes achieving the goal that much sweeter.
Go and do all the stupid crap you’ve dreamed of doing. Go experience the world, or share everything with a group of friends closer to home. Go try to mate a pig and a cow. Take a chance and move to a new place. Take a stab at running your own business. Do whatever the hell you want. Once you take care of your debt, a whole world of opportunity opens up. Seize it, and separate yourself from the other cubicle dwellers. Freedom is the goal. Do everything you can to get there.