Hi friends. Today I want to get real and talk about money. As I transition into independent adulthood, financial literacy is key to accomplishing my goals, and I’ve already got a decent track record.
Firstly, I completed an undergraduate degree (at a private Christian university) completely debt-free. This is due to three factors
1. I did my first year of college as a PSEO student. This is an excellent option for students in Minnesota to complete their senior year of high school as a college freshman- for free. A year of college for free is an automatic 25% discount, which is a great offer! Going to college early may not be for anyone, but if a student is interested, I would highly recommend PSEO. You can find more information at the MN Department of Education website.
2. My family was able to cover two years with an educational savings account (ESA) that they’ve been saving for me since birth. I recognize this is a privilege that not all students have, and I am grateful for it.
3. I paid for my final semester with earnings from my retail job. I’ve discussed the ups and downs of working retail (Making It Work, The Question Mark), but a few months of hard work are far better than years or decades of student loan payments. I also consolidated my final “year” into one semester to save tuition money. I took an online class and an internship over the summer, and it was absolutely worth it.
Setting myself up for success in my undergraduate education has allowed me to pursue an amazing opportunity for my master’s. I’ve mentioned in my last Life Update that I got into a new graduate school. I recently found out that my job at FedEx offers a tuition reimbursement program. I’m in the process of taking advantage of this, but when the vouchers go through at the end of the semester, I will pay a total of $21 for a semester of graduate school. This is less a “financial strategy” and more taking advantage of an amazing opportunity that fell into my lap. My only advice on this point is to USE every opportunity of this sort that you see. It’s free money!
My journey to financial literacy kicked into high gear in the summer of 2020, when my family suggested avoiding student loans for my last semester of college. I’ve been heavily influenced by (and somewhat obsessed with) the principles of Dave Ramsey, primarily his books The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace. I also like Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan, which gives real-world examples and practical steps to building wealth. These writers have excellent advice, but I can’t apply all of it yet. Their financial strategies are aimed at mid-career adults who may want to change the mediocre financial patterns they’ve had thus far. I read these, before even beginning my career, to know what mistakes to avoid in the first place.
I have no idea what life has planned for me, but I am excited to have the financial freedom and mastery to make the most of it. If Dave or Chris over reads this, thank you for giving all of us the tools for financial freedom.