Welcome to another installment of iontuition’s Q&A series with personal finance bloggers. We have millennial personal finance blogger, David Carlson, of Young Adult Money, sharing his financial expertise with us. David works full-time in corporate finance and has a new book coming out titled Hustle Away Debt. Let’s see what he has to share with us!
What’s the best piece of financial advice you ever received?
The best piece of financial advice I ever received was to track my income and expenses each month. I’ve been doing this for 3+ years and it’s forced me to keep close tabs on my finances and question my spending habits.
Do you have any tips for individuals looking into taking out student loans for school?
I would tell individuals who are looking into taking out student loans to spend some time evaluating their options. I went to a private university and probably would have been better off going to a public one instead. I would have received a similar level of education quality and career options but would have taken out a lot less in loans. If they are still in high school I would highly recommend they consider knocking out credits at a community college, especially if having the 4-year “college experience” isn’t a top priority for them.
What’s your advice for those who already have student loans?
My wife and I have tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, so we can relate to others who have graduated with student loan debt. My advice to those who have student loans is to look for ways to increase their income, either through their full-time job, side hustles or both. Increasing your income will have the biggest impact on your ability to repay your student loans, save money and invest.
How do you stay ahead on paying your student loans back?
Student loans – especially when we start talking about monthly payments of $1,000 or more – can have a huge impact on your finances. To stay ahead I do a couple things. I track my income and expenses each month in a spreadsheet. It takes some time to get all the data entered and in the format I want, but after doing this for 3+ years I can honestly say it’s helped with keeping tabs on my finances. Besides that I’ve really focused on increasing my income. I’ve made over $1,000 a month in side hustles the past couple years and it’s offset my monthly student loan payments, allowing my regular income to go towards other priorities.
Would you go to a different school if you knew what you know now about student debt?
This is a difficult one! It’s easy for me to say I would go to a less expensive college, but I also think it’s pointless to dwell on past “mistakes.” If I was talking to a high school student, though, I would tell them to consider less-expensive public universities (as opposed to private ones) and really consider knocking out a bunch of their credits at a community college. When I was in high school I didn’t even consider this option but it honestly has a ton of benefits and can really help you keep costs down. With that being said you also have to weigh what sort of college experience you are looking for. If you want that 4-year college experience but not a huge pile of student loans a public university may be your best option.