Welcome to another installment of iontuition’s Q&A series with personal finance bloggers. We have America’s Millennial Money Expert, Robert Farrington, sharing his expertise with us. He specializes in helping young adults make smart financial choices for paying for college, dealing with student loan debt and then learning how to invest for the future. He started The College Investor in 2009 to help college students build real wealth after they graduate. We’re thrilled he chose to share some of his expert tips with us!
What’s the best piece of financial advice you ever received?
The best piece of financial advice I’ve ever received isn’t really “financial,” but life advice. My dad always said that nobody in this life is going to help you so you have to help yourself. You are responsible for yourself. You have control over your own life. I take this to heart everyday. When it comes to money, I have control. I can decide how much to pay for things, and I decide how hard I want to work to earn a living. I think too many people, in general, overlook how much control they really have over their lives if they really look at it in detail. But this piece of advice guides me when it comes to saving, investing, and staying debt free.
What’s your advice for those who already have student loans?
If you’re already in debt, the best thing that you can do is make sure that you’re on the right student loan repayment plan for your situation. Many people qualify for income-based repayment plans, yet many people don’t apply and go into default. If you can’t afford your currently student loan payments, call your lender and ask for IBR.
How do you stay ahead on paying your student loans back?
The key to staying ahead on paying your loans is to stay financially organized. The trouble with student loans is that, by the time you graduate, you can have 5-6 different loans. You, as a borrower, need to make sure you’re updating your addresses and staying in touch with your lenders. There is nothing worse than going into default simply because you moved, your lender didn’t know, and you didn’t make payments on one of your student loans.
If you could go back in time and give your 18-year-old self a piece of financial advice, what would it be?
The best advice I have for my younger self would be post-graduation. Just because you have a good paying job now doesn’t mean you deserve to spend a lot of money. It’s better to save than spend. Don’t buy the new car. Don’t waste money on going to fancy restaurants. Instead, max out your IRA and 401k and save!
Would you go to a different school if you knew what you know now about student debt?
I went to an in-state school and worked all four years of college. I highly recommend it to anyone considering different colleges.