As a recent college graduate, I am finding that keeping up with paying the bills and affording gas and food is a lot to handle on a small budget income. But it is nothing like those I know who have student loans to pay off as well.
Taught from a young age, we know that in order to go to college we must take out loans. There’s no way around it. Or is there?
I met a girl in one of my college classes who amazed me.
Her name was Holly. She had shoulder length, brown, curly hair and loved to talk about the new thing she learned in her math class that day. Ever since she came to college she said she was never good at math, so she decided that was what her major should be. (Go figure.) Her outgoing, happy, energetic personality does not even begin to describe her life outside of the classroom.
I don't know how long ago it was, but her mother was diagnosed with, I think, breast cancer. Because it is just Holly and her mom (no relationship with her dad at all), Holly was forced to learn all the ins and outs of running a home and taking care of her mom. She cooked, cleaned, bought groceries, brought her mom to all the appointments, and went to school.
Holly revealed to me that she was living in an apartment—a single bedroom apartment, mind you—going to college full time, and working four jobs. She also has her own car that she is paying for. Because she has no relationship with her father, and she doesn't have enough financial support from her mom, it is hard to make ends meet and go to college but she is doing it, and is debt-free!
Working those four jobs she is able to pay for rent, utilities, food, clothes, cable, car, college, gas, etc. I was so amazed at what she accomplished, and I wished we had had more time to talk about it. Although I don't know exactly all the details she told me, I was blown away by this girl's ambition and maturity to handle her life the way she has. It is incredible to see that someone my age can have that level of maturity with money, in order to support herself and get a college degree without loans or help from anyone.
I am lucky enough to be debt-free as well. But the societal norm of having debt in order to “get ahead” in life is a lie filled with grief and tension for all parties involved. Marriages break because of it, families go into poverty because they can’t afford the payments, college students are turned into lifelong devotees of paying back their debt, and children just expect to be subject to it in the future.
There’s no time like the present to become free of the life-binding contract of debt: All you have to do is work hard, save every penny, be responsible, and take a money management class. Just remember Holly. If a college student can do it, anyone can.
Written by: Chelsea Stoskopf, an intern at Serendipity Media. She's finishing up her journalism degree at Grand Valley State University and counting down the days to her wedding next July.