So you graduated from college and have a piece of paper. So what? It’s probably the most expensive piece of paper you will ever buy, and when you enter the job market thinking you have some sense of entitlement, reality will hit. That expensive piece of paper doesn’t guarantee you a job.
Now you’re facing the real world without a real job and with real debt. Not only are student loan bills coming in the mail every month (and you can’t ignore those forever), there are credit card bills and rent and all sorts of other bills that keep you where you are. The good news is, there are creative ways you can keep that debt from accumulating and growing while you pray for the job that piece of paper promises you.
Kill the Cards
Credit cards were probably great to get you by in college, but now the companies are hunting you down for the money that you don’t have. There are two ways you can handle this:
- Continue to ignore the bills and kill your credit.
- Hire a credit repair company to take care of the debt for you. Granted, you still have to pay them money to do it, but at least it handles the problem.
None of this will work if you continue to acquire new debt while you pay the rest off. Instead you’ll find yourself in a vicious cycle being broke, and it will never end. Stop using credit cards. Don’t close the accounts though. It hurts your credit to have the accounts closed and outstanding. Instead keep them open and get rid of the debt.
Kill High Interest First
Organize your debt. If you can’t afford to hire someone else to get rid of your debt, take a look at what your interest rates are and tackle the highest ones first. They will accumulate more debt than the lower interest, even if the high interest has a lower balance.
Live Like a College Student
If you have student loans that need to be paid, remember that there was a time when you had to live off Ramen or free food and drive that old jalopy. Nothing has changed. Keep living like a college student and throw your extra cash at the debt as often as you can to reduce the debt you owe. It means you will still be broke until you get that debt paid off.
Rent is expensive. If you have a large enough network of people who are willing to let you crash on the couch for a week, you have that many weeks of living rent free. It sucks living out of a suitcase, but rent starts at $800 a month, plus utilities. That’s $800 more that you have to pay off debt.
Sell the Car
Yup. Sell it. If you live in a city that has decent public transportation, you don’t need the car anymore. Sure, it’s nice to have a car and drive anywhere you want any time you want, but even if you don’t have loans on the car, you still have to pay for gas to drive it around and for insurance. A person who owns a car without loans can pay $150 a month in gas and insurance. If you do have loans, add at least $200 to that every month. Don’t keep the money-sucker around. Sell it, use the money to pay off bills, and save yourself the money each month.
A Job is a Job
While it’s nice to beef up the resume with great credentials, remember that a job is a job when you have bills to pay. Something is better than nothing. Taking a low-paying, less than ideal job doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. Accept the job offer and get that money coming in. Meanwhile, keep hunting for the job you really want in the meantime.
If you have any unique talent, use it. If you are good at editing, offer cheap services. If you are good with numbers, offer to help people balance checkbooks. If you like kids, start babysitting. There are a number of unique ways to sell yourself. Take out an ad on your local Craigslist to offer your services and make yourself stand out as unique. It helps bring in a little extra cash for those bills.
You’re always going to be broke if you don’t get rid of debt. Get creative. Get active. Get off the couch and pinch those pennies.