We all know that ancient Chinese teaching a man to fish proverb:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Well here’s the modern take on it for recent grads:
“You give a student a loan today and s/he can pay for college.
After they graduate they will be paying back that loan for a great portion of the rest of their life – maybe…”
A huge looming question is how is this generation of young adults going to pay this back? So, let’s break it down.
Below are approximations of living costs for grads that either try to immediately enter the workforce or are no longer eligible for deferment for whatever reason.
You will see that many will barely stay afloat.
Most young adults are either unemployed or have some sort of minimum wage/part-time job [IF they are lucky] that has nothing to do with their degree (the very reason they took the loans out in the first place).
So, let’s say the minimum wage is $7.50
And the recent college grad gets a minimum wage job that lets them work 40 hours a week [please keep in mind that they are not necessarily getting direct job experience in their field unless they studied business and minus developing people and communications skills.)
Their Total $ earned per month = $1200 (gross income)
Approximate Monthly Cost of Living
Loan Payment (Based on one of the offered payment plans): $400 a month for the next approximate 10 years (if you pay on time)
Rent (if they are not w/parents or crashing or couch surfing) – about $700 a month
Utilities: (water, electric, internet, laundry, kitchen and bathroom appliances (soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels) $150 a month
Cell phone: (Needed for potential job apps/interviews, networking, keeping in touch w/ family/friends, and for emergencies) $30 – $50 (using the $30 for the total below)
Food: $150 a month
Public Transportation (cause can’t afford a car or insurance: $200+ per month
Fun (subjective activities): [You can’t be expected to have no funds for fun you’d go crazy – it’s for mental health]: $100 per month
Emergency Funds (even if you are one of the lucky ones and have additional savings it is always safe to have some extra money just in case you never know): $200
Total Monthly Spending: $1780
$1200 (gross income) – $1780 (Total Money $ Spent) = -$580 (net income)
Even if the monthly loan payment was removed, the recent grad would STILL be in debt for the month.
$1200 (gross income) – $1780 (Total Money $ Spent) = -$580 (net income) + $400
So, after calculating the potential under-budgeting we try to think what can we cut back on?
First, please add the loan payment back in because (you SHOULD pay it – if you don’t it’s terrible for your credit, credit is VERY important). So we are back at -$580.
Then we look at cutting out components that “may” be debatable such as:
– Cell phone: +30
– Fun (subjective activities): +100
– Internet part of utilities: +50
– Some food: +50
– And some Emergency funds (which is not a great idea): +100
Total New Additions: +330
-$580 + $300 = -$250
– The recent grad will be STILL be under budget by $250
Another option is moving back in with their parents or maybe a friend/other relative has space.
– If they live at home, then they can potentially save on rent and utilities.
+ 150: Utilities
Total savings = $850
So based on the previous component cuts…
-$250 + $850 = $600
Finally, they are not under budget and perhaps they can either save the $600 or reallocate it to paying their cell phone and internet bill for basic communication and job hunting or whatever they’d like.
Almost everything listed in the “Approximate Monthly Cost of Living” below is necessary and explains why so many more people live with their parents today (and are now being dubbed the “boomerang generation”). It’s not necessarily about being lazy; it’s about what they can afford, keeping up with loans, and trying not to become homeless.
This is a scary reality. Taxes, health insurance (a whole separate debate), printing costs for resumes, new clothes when old clothes get worn out were not even included for all of the estimations.
Another option to cope with the budgeting issue is having multiple jobs or praying your boss will give you over time or more hours. But if both pay around minimum wage, in order to minimally get around $1800 a month to be able to afford the $1780 monthly approximate cost of living evaluation; the recent grad would have to work 60 hours between the two minimum wage jobs.
These are jobs the recent grad probably doesn’t love, that underutilized their skill set, and will not help advance their chosen career path. These young adults are basically living pay check to pay check.
60 hours is a lot to work, which can be exhausting a terrible for your health [maybe they should pulling all-nighters from college to their resume]. It is possible, for example doctors and lawyers work at least that amount, but they get paid a whole lot more than minimum wage.
Do we really expect our recent grads to sacrifice, food or shelter to pay back loans and just to get by? Or their ability to get a job to get them out of their unemployment hole? I hope not.
I think better options include making college more affordable, not doubling student interest loan rates, and finding new ways to handle current and future student debt (which will certainly be discussed in greater depth in an upcoming post)