College, in some ways, is a waste of time.
I honestly believe there should be a class, required to graduate college, called ‘What You Actually Need to Know’ and it should include topics like: credit, renting a house, buying a house, buying a car, getting a job, and budgeting. Somehow I did not learn very much about these things
at the bar in regular classes.
Millennials are the most-educated generation by far but we graduated into a rock-bottom economy (and most likely we will never recover) and a lot of us have heaps of student debt. Myself included.
I thought when I graduated there would be some sort of eighties montage where I was winning at all the things and making all the money and getting all the jobs.
Newsflash. It felt like this:
I boomeranged and moved back in with my mom after graduating. This is not uncommon. In fact, NY Times tells us that “one in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them.” This does not apply to all millenialls. Apparently we are grouped into some categories, guys.
Nevertheless, it’s a strange thing to unpack after college at your mom’s house, no matter how cool she is or how much she does your laundry or how many times she feeds you. You feel the independence leaking from you with every night spent sleeping in your old bed. I feel fortunate that I had somewhere to go – don’t get me wrong. I’m not ungrateful. But that fact didn’t do anything to help me answer the following questions without cringing internally:
- So, what do you do now? (I work part-time and make no money.)
- Where are you living? (With my mom. Again.)
- Didn’t you go to college? (Yeah! There are jobs galore! Oh, you haven’t looked lately? Then I guess you don’t really know. There are none.)
- Well, what kind of job are you looking for? (I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.)
So, how do you recover? What do you do?
Let me highlight some of my millennial struggles. And let me say I know this doesn’t apply to everyone. But it might apply to you. And maybe it will help.
- I’m Ready to Move Out. Again.
MY SITUATION: Renting an apartment outside of a college town is very different than the experience you’re probably used to. I looked at multiple apartment buildings in my initial budget range and in the parking lot of one of them I literally saw a syringe next to a used condom. Can’t do that. Nope. After upping the maximum price on my apartment search, I soon realized my credit score was so rough that I would either be denied outright or be required to pay a hefty deposit. (It’s not at all embarrassing when someone 3 years younger than you calls you and tells you you’ve been denied. Again.)
MY SOLUTION: If you’ve saved the money (somehow), go in and talk to the people in the front office. Trust me, I hate face-to-face conversations just as much as the next person with social anxiety. But the boyfriend and I were approved for our apartment (and I was realllly close to giving up) after I went in and explained my situation, his situation, our renting history, and my frustration with being denied the ability to move out of my mom’s house. This can also apply to rental agencies for homes. Some of them won’t give you any of their time. But some of them will listen and work with you.
– Make sure you’ve saved enough to pay whatever deposit they require. This sounds crazy. But there’s no other way. This also lets them know you are serious.
– Utility providers will also require a substantial deposit. Be prepared for this, too… if you want electricity, that is.
2. I Need to Save Money, but I’m Working at Old Navy
MY SITUATION: So, my first job after graduating was a part-time customer service representative at Old Navy. I acquired this gem of a job during the holidays. When I applied during regular months, they never called me for an interview. I worked with 18-year-olds and I folded clothes. There is no shame in this game. I was ecstatic to get a paycheck. But I was making minimum wage. I could afford my gas to and from work. And like one meal at McDonalds.
MY SOLUTION: I literally saved all my pennies, guys. It seems so trite to say that. It’s damn near impossible to save money when you’re not making any money. I would surf Facebook and see all my friends traveling and buying clothes and houses and I’m like… mom, can you make me some dinner? But you have to save every. single. dollar. You can’t go to dinner and you can’t buy that Target clearance dress and you can’t go to the movies. Ever. Welcome to the real world, millennials.
3. I’d like a Credit Card, please! Oh, wait,
MY SITUATION: The boyfriend and I did not have good enough credit to get credit cards.That’s a real thing that happens. We felt very strongly about building our credit scores because what if we needed a car, or a house, or anything (read: almost everything) that relied on a credit score? In 2009, after the Credit Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act went into effect, it became much more tricky to get credit cards. (Oh, also in 2009 the economy was a large barrel of trash. That’s great.) Most millennials don’t even want a credit card, according to USA Today , but we need them, guys. And I couldn’t get one and the boyfriend couldn’t get one.
MY SOLUTION: I was able to get a CapitalOne card after 9 months of paying my utility bills on time. My credit limit was as low as you can get. But I paid it off on time and that combined with paying utilities has ever-so-slowly helped my credit score. The boyfriend, on the other hand, applied for a secured card through our bank. This means you give the money upfront, then use the card and pay it off. And it sucks. It’s not a real credit card, it’s not money you are borrowing, it’s your money. But, after a year, they upgraded him to a real credit card. He was extremely careful and monitored his score and card and only put a specific balance on the card before paying it off each month. It takes time. It takes one missed payment to watch your score drop and one year of steady payments to watch it raise ever-so-slightly. This is why you must start now.
– Don’t over apply for cards. Too many inquiries is bad for your score.
– Split utilities if you’re in a relationship (as we should have done) so that you both benefit.
– Remember to rant and rave all the time about how ridiculous credit companies are. This helped me a lot… not with my credit score, though.
4. I Moved Out! Again! …. I’m Still Broke,
MY SITUATION: I do have friends in my circle (and on social media.. that counts, too, right?) that did land a good job and are doing really well for themselves. If you are relating to anything I’m saying, then you, too, have the friends with the money. I’m the friend that doesn’t have the money. And if you’ve never struggled with making ends meet, you don’t know how to react when someone tells you they can’t go to dinner because they have no money. Once you move out, you begin to take on all the responsibilities that your mom was covering. And all of a sudden, even if you’ve gotten a better paying job, you’re broke again.
MY SOLUTION: Coming to terms with being a “real adult” sucks and money problems sucks. Put on your adult hat and make a budget. If you don’t ,and you live paycheck to paycheck like so many of us do, you will watch your bank account drop to $2.00 before you get paid again. You’ll lose sleep hoping your car doesn’t break, you don’t get sick, and your dog doesn’t eat some random bug outside and start vomiting everywhere. I don’t recommend using only cash. Be a big girl or boy and use your card and keep track of it. But account for every cent. That way, when your money-making friend calls and asks you to go to dinner with her (so glad you can afford everything in the world, congrats) you can afford to do it. Or else you look like this:
– Set money aside for fun things. Even if it’s $10.00. Everyone dies some day and you better enjoy your time.
– Try not to compare yourself to your friend who has rolls of hundreds in their wallet. Use the cards you’ve been dealt to your best advantage.
5. OMG! I Only Use Groupon/Livingsocial So, Really, I am Saving Money!
MY SITUATION: Groupon and Livingsocial are so awesome. I’m buying all these things and saving so much money. But I really don’t understand where all my money goes at the end of the month… let me look… oh. Groupon, again. Weird. Sites like Groupon and Livingsocial and Amazon are so dangerous when you’re on a budget, and here’s why: 1-click checkout. You just click the button, and you’ve bought it. Bye-bye money. Normally, you have to get up from your computer, get your card, put your card number in, and review the purchase. This gives you time to decide if you really need those socks that are on sale for a dollar less than usual. You probably don’t need them. Case in point: The Coffee Cup Fiasco. I had a serious Groupon addiction. It didn’t even register to me how much money I was spending because I just clicked one button and the random item shipped right to my house. I one-clicked and bought a tower of coffee cups not too long ago. And good thing I did, because we only have about 27 coffee cups for my boyfriend and me to use! Why did I do it? Because it’s so easy to click and buy.
MY SOLUTION: Take. The. Apps. Off. Your. Phone. I mean it. Delete them. Go look at your account and see how much money you “saved” buying things off Groupon and Livingsocial, etc. Now, if I surf those types of sites, I have to put my debit card information in to buy something. And I think twice. I still use Groupon for Date Nights with the boyfriend, but very sparingly. I also log-off as soon as I’ve bought the one thing I was looking for. Don’t 1-click shop. It will eat away at your money.
Some of y’all will have no idea what I’m talking about. You got the good job and your credit was fine and you chose your major correctly. The rest of us (read: me and the boyfriend) are learning day by day. Just try to remember: you’re not alone.