The Chronicle of Post-Education: Thank God it’s Friday Night, ‘Cause I Just (Just, Juuust) Got Paid

If I’m no longer a student, does the label “starving college student” no longer apply?

Okay, “starving” is an exaggeration. I still have some ice cream in my freezer.

I’ve always been fairly good with my finances. Since moving away from home, I’ve rarely asked my parents for money. Two months after moving to Irvine, I got a job at Albertson’s.

Two months after quitting that job, I got one on campus at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and have made a happy home there ever since. In addition to that, I’ve picked up various other jobs here and there to fund my daily living.

In the last four years, my parents have only paid for my ever-rising tuition and part of my rent. When it comes to textbooks, food, coffee, etc., that’s all on me.

And as difficult as it has been, it’s been an incredible learning experience, though I’m still taken aback when my friends occasionally ask me for financial advice.

The usual advice I give to them and that I’ll give to you, dear readers, might sound obvious, but they’re the most important things you can do to ensure financial stability.

The first is to carry cash rather than constantly using your ATM or credit card. It’s really easy to lose track of amounts when you’re swiping a piece of plastic all over town, so keep track with green bills instead. (Plus, the Anthill Pub only takes cash, soooo … yeah.)

Second: always pay off your credit card in full before the due date. It’ll not only be better for you, it’ll make you feel better too.

Along the same lines, make sure you pay all of your bills on time and in full! Sure, they tell you there’s a “minimum amount due,” but you seriously might as well pay it all off at once: electricity, water, Internet, television, etc.

A final important tidbit: don’t eat out all the time! Food on this campus is not economical for your wallet. But if you do eat on campus, I recommend the new $5 value menu at Quizno’s. Or tater tots at the Pub – not the healthiest, but so delicious.

If you are going to eat on campus, or you enjoy spending money on other outings such as movies, shopping or yogurt runs, then budget for it.

Give yourself a certain (and reasonable) amount of money every week, two weeks or month and stick to it. This amazing feat of self-control may surprise you and will prepare you for a future of budgeting for things such as groceries, house payments, traveling and more.

“You’re such a grown up!” a friend said once to me when I explained to him the basics of paying off his credit card.

It’s flattering – and thank you! – but unfortunately, I have not been the model “grown up” as of late. My three-month Netflix gift of free instant streaming is finally over and now I must pony up and pay the basic $9.99 a month. I keep finding ways to justify it to myself by using my account as much as I can, but I also know I can’t stay inside on my laptop all day.

And then there’s the issue of paying my taxes, and boy did I somehow owe more than I expected this year…

Then there’s rent. And utilities. And cable/Internet fees.

And graduation stuff. I finally ordered my announcements the other night (after many not-so-gentle reminders from my parents), and it was another nice dent in my credit card.

All of these costs like to appear at the same time, so I’m witnessing somewhat of a post-student financial crisis. In times like this, it’s best to take my own advice (though I can be terrible at that) and stop buying so much coffee outside of my home – I have that coffee maker for a reason!

In somewhat related news, Bank of America sent me my new debit card and is unfortunately still using the photo taken of me from when I was 17. Maybe I’ll always be destined to feel – or at least, look – like a student.