Friday, October 23, 2009

Financial Advice from a Fellow College Grad

BUDGETS ARE NOT COMPLICATED A few years ago, Ms. Nipp had a boyfriend who was considering transferring to Texas Tech but wasn’t sure he could afford it. So Ms. Nipp, then an 18-year-old freshman, made him a budget.

“It seemed intuitive to me,” she said. “I wrote it on a piece of paper. I guess it was before I knew anything about Excel. I didn’t know how much anything would cost, like the electric bill, so I asked my mom.”

Ms. Nipp’s boyfriend ended up at Tech. “His mom told me one time that she didn’t think he would have ever gone if I hadn’t helped him,” she said. Not long after she created that chicken-scratch spreadsheet, she decided to switch into the financial planning degree program.

BEWARE OF DADDY’S WALLET When I asked Ms. Nipp what she learned from observing the spending habits of her Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters and other undergraduates, it was clear she had taken careful notes. “All of the people who were spending ridiculous amounts of money were on their daddy’s wallets,” she said. “They were buying $500 purses and having $100 bar tabs, and it was like nothing to them.”

Ms. Nipp has no problem with the finer things in life. She just worries about the habits that form when you come to expect them. “When you get used to having expensive things, you want them more,” she said. “They’re not going to be able to live like that when they get out of school, and they have to get used to that as soon as possible before they get themselves into trouble.”

For those who were on the dole in college, this is a fairly harsh reality check. But facing it down squarely upon graduation is a terrific tactic for preventing credit card debt.

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