Tag Archives: student loan

It’s Grad Season – But From School and Not Financial Reality

If you’re between the ages of 17 to 21 or so, or have a son or daughter that age group, banks, car dealers, and especially credit card companies are salivating to meet them.

Those companies will do whatever it takes to get their business. Banks, and especially credit card companies, have THE best marketing minds in the country and want your teenager in debt to them – really soon and really deep.

We have a huge emotional attachment to our first credit card. It’s the reason they’ll do whatever it takes to be front and center in your teenager’s wallet. Once they’re first, they own you, and the memories and loyalties are way bigger than the teenager’s first boyfriend or girlfriend – and last a lot longer.

On average, we keep our first credit card for over 15 years. It doesn’t matter that the rate hasn’t been competitive for years, that the perks are junk, or the fees they add on. For this group, the default rates are below average because, in most cases, parents will step in and pay the balance, or at least make the payments.

Why do they target your age group? Because they can’t market much to your parents. Adults already have all the credit cards they need or want. So they can’t grow their business unless they get to you. It’s millions of fresh customers, and bonus: You don’t know squat about credit and the dangers of credit cards, but you do love to impulse buy.

The same applies to banks wanting to get you hooked on an overdraft or line of credit once you have some income. That overdraft will be there for decades, and it’s not like you know how to shop around for the best loan deal or rate.

Car dealers also can’t wait to meet you. How many cars are you going to buy in a lifetime? Five, or six, maybe? Well, the average salesman sells that many in a week! So who do you think knows stuff and totally has the upper hand? It’s like bringing a plastic knife to a gun fight – you’re gonna lose, even if you bring one of your parents or a buddy.

So you’re all set. You’ve got your student loan payments for two decades, you’ve got the credit card, an overdraft, and that car payment. Grade five math says that majority of your income is now going to pay all that every single month – forever. So someone telling you save some money is just a pipedream.

Now you’ll be thinking about how to get rich for the next 40 years. But you’ve already forgotten how easy it really is to actually GET rich, instead of just wishing it. When you were still in high school you probably had a summer job. You worked hard, had a goal of what you wanted to do with that money, saved like a dog, and paid cash for stuff. Plus, because you had so little money, you were careful how you spent it, right?

But that was when you were young. Now you have a paycheck and access to borrowed money, so you’ve forgotten how to get rich already and you’re just getting started. Let me remind you again and maybe, just maybe, you’ll do these things to actually get rich, instead of that coming 40-year dream:

Pay cash for stuff
Don’t buy crap you can’t afford and don’t need
Save at least 10% of your money right off the top

In your high school class maybe one or two people will do that. The rest will just be the people hoping to get rich, looking to the government to lend them a hand, or maybe the lottery will come through for them. I don’t know which group you’re in: The going to be rich, or the just ‘wanna be rich’ group.

Maybe someone in your family will print this out for you. Maybe I’ll see you at the top, or maybe I’ll get an e mail from you in 10 years or so to help you with some of your financial mess.

You’re an 18-20 something who is about to make a lot of financial decisions which will impact you for a lifetime – literally.

More and More Generation Y Continue to Live At Home

A recent survey conducted by Decima Research asked non-homeowners under age 34 for some savings and home purchase feedback.

Just like paying off our debts, the survey shows a real disconnect between the reality of what’s happening and the dreams of what the respondents would like. Here’s what I mean:

The survey involved over 1,200 people aged 21 to 34 who had aspirations to purchase a home in the near future. Of those, nearly a third still live at home to save for a down-payment. But even in the 31 to 34 year group, 22% in Toronto and 17% in Calgary and Halifax, are still living with their parents.

The response was that they’d likely be purchasing a home in the next few years – yet they’d only been saving for a down-payment for an average of 1.6 years. And what are they saving? Less than 13% of their income – even though they’re still living at home.

The respondents said they’d likely save more than 15% for a down payment and that it’ll take less than four more years to save all that. However, this shows a real disconnect between what they’d like to do and what they’re actually doing, in real terms, to save a ton of money.

The savings aren’t happening, even when this age group has a real focused and tangible goal. In a US survey released last week, the pollsters asked 18 to 21 year olds whether they’d start a savings plan of some kind in 2007. Over 90% of them said yes – but when that’s compared to the survey the year before – less than 20% actually did.

It’s not just Generation Y, but don’t all of us have real trouble finding a way to save? Why? Because for this group, it’s likely impossible due to student loans and their credit cards. But for the rest of us, isn’t it also our current debts that are killing our dreams for the future?

Actions speak louder than words and just having good intentions doesn’t make anything happen. It takes a big goal, a strong desire, a specific financial plan and payroll deduction or the savings coming right out of our bank account. It’s called paying ourselves first. But for many of us, just paying down our debts much faster is also a way to generate huge savings. Savings in interest and lots of payments that we now won’t have to pay to make someone else rich.