Welcome to another installment of IonTuition’s Q&A series with personal finance bloggers. Today we have Kelby, ‘Chief Frugality Officer’ and resident personal finance blogger behind The Frugalennial, sharing his financial advice with us today.
Kelby created The Frugalennial for a few reasons. One, he was paying down over $50k of personal debt and thought that a blog would be both a creative outlet and source of accountability for his journey. So far, it definitely has! He also frequently found himself to be the “go-to” person for many of his millennial friends who had money related questions as they were starting families.
Earlier this year, Kelby quit his day job to work for himself full-time on The Frugalennial and on Common Cents Content & Marketing, another company he began that creates written content and marketing strategies for financial advisors working with younger clients.
Let’s see what Kelby has to say!
What’s the best piece of financial advice you ever received?
The best piece of financial advice I’ve received was in the form of a quote, and I’m not even sure where it originally came from. The quote reads: “Rich people stay rich by living like they’re broke. Broke people stay broke by living like they’re rich.” Of course this isn’t saying that you have to deprive yourself of everything, but if you truly want to gain wealth and not just look the part, you must be mindful of your spending and live far below your means.
For so long, I was spending money unnecessarily to project a certain image. The reality was, I was broke! Once I found this quote and really took it to heart, that’s when things changed.
What’s your advice for those who already have student loans?
Unfortunately, our society is comfortable with debt so it’s not uncommon, or even concerning, to have tens of thousands of dollars in student debt for 10+ years. My advice is simple: don’t allow your debt to linger. Start early, preferably while you’re still in school, and put every spare penny, nickel, dime, quarter, whatever toward destroying that debt. The longer it sits, the more it’s going to cost you.
How do you stay ahead on paying your student loans back?
For starters, try to limit the amount of debt you incur in the first place. Maybe this means attending a community college for your basic courses and transferring to a university after a year or two. If you’re already in school and have student debt, start making payments NOW! Even if you’re in a loan product that doesn’t accrue interest until after you graduate, it’s never too early to start paying back your loans. Remember, even if you start with a small amount, those payments could save you thousands in interest over the life of the loan.
If you could go back in time and give your 18-year-old self a piece of financial advice, what would it be?
Only one piece of advice? That’s tough because there is so much I would want to say! I guess one of the major things I would tell my 18-year-old self is that t-shirts, backpacks and all of the other free stuff that you get for signing up for credit cards in college is simply not worth it.
When I left for school, I had no comprehension of how to effectively use credit cards or what would happen if I didn’t spend wisely. As a result, I spent myself into debt and a terrible credit score thinking that “eventually” I would make enough to pay it all off. Looking back, the amount of interest and fees that I paid for those credit cards probably could’ve bought hundreds of those “free” shirts and backpacks.
Would you go to a different school if you knew what you know now about student debt?
I can’t say that I would go to a different school, but I would definitely have a different approach in how I paid for it. Compared to other schools in my area, the university that I attended was relatively inexpensive. The problem was, I did not plan ahead and used financial aid like free money to fund my lifestyle.
If given the opportunity to do it again, I would first apply for EVERY SCHOLARSHIP POSSIBLE! There is a ton of free money available — it just requires a little effort. Second, if I needed additional aid in the form of loans, I would only take the minimum required to cover tuition and/or fees.
Any other financial tips for our readers?
If you’ve graduated and have a high debt load, don’t buy-into ‘entitlement syndrome’ that says you need to spend on certain things because you’ve graduated and are entitled to a certain lifestyle. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have nice things or enjoy life, just prioritize paying down your debt first.