I graduated from college with $0 in debt.
Let that sink in a little.
Powerful isn't it?
With Occupy Wall-Street protests, college graduates moving back home, and complaint after complaint about college tuition, it seems like graduating college debt free is something of the past.
I'm here to let you know that it's not only possible but highly attainable!
I don't know what life situation you may be in right now but I want to share with you some steps that I took to achieve my goal of zero dollars in debt after college. Yes, blood and sweat was involved, but at the end of the day, it was so worth it to walk off with my diploma knowing that I worked for my education without the help of banks or government aid.
So let's get started!
Suck it up, stay at home
When I speak of “tools” I'm talking about things that are around you during college. My first tool I used was my family. Thankfully, my parents lived close by to my University and I was able to live at home for the majority of my college career. I will never forget the day I turned 18 and headed off to college. My Dad brought me into his office and said
“Son, you're on your own now, all financial help is being cut off.”
Talk about a wake-up call!
With friends joining fraternities or moving into houses on campus, it could have been easy for me to give in and shell out the big bucks (or debt) to live nearby campus. Unfortunately, like my Dad said, all my financial funds were cut off and it was up to me to pay for my living situation. Instead of paying for rent, utilities, and food, I stayed home most of college and saved big time because of it. I attribute this to the biggest reason I stayed debt free during school.
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In-state colleges are goldmines
Although living at home is great and wonderful, it's just not reality for a lot of students out there. Thankfully, there is another big dollar tool that I used: in-state college. I remember comparing the costs of out of state college and it was typically double or even triple the tuition cost of the in-state schools. Yes, you may be going to a less prestigious University, but guess what, most employers could care less where you went to school.
To be honest, most companies care more about your internships and work experience. I think our media has done a great job of brainwashing our youth and making us think that a prestigious University is our only option. Trust me; it's not worth it to have hundreds of thousands in debt just to say you went to an Ivy League school. Go to an in-state school and focus on work experience instead!
Work your butt off, then work some more
If you ain't sweating, you ain't trying! Man, if you asked me what I did during college, I would tell you I worked. No, not studying, but worked. I swear, it felt like every weekend was work and I was always leaving social events early because I had work the next morning. Doesn't sound so glamorous does it? Well, it isn't, but I had a long term goal and that's what mattered. I remembered being so focused, other people's behavior never phased me.
So working double shifts on the weekend and taking on side jobs on top of my part time jobs was easy for me. I can safely say that if I didn't have such a passion for paying my way through school, I wouldn't have been able to work so much. I guess it comes down to inspiration for something. Once you find what that something is, anything is possible, including graduating college debt free.
Are you up for the challenge?
Even if it's not college related, maybe you just want to pay off those pesky credit cards. Or how about the home mortgage that never seems to go away. Make it your passion in 2012 to crush your long term goals. No more whining, no more waiting around for someone to help you. Take life by the horns and just do it.
(Jon the Saver is a Christian personal finance blogger who founded Free Money Wisdom. He is passionate about helping average Americans reach their financial goals and live a life free of debt. During his down time, Jon loves a mean game of scrabble and lifting iron at the gym.)