Dave Ramsey tore a strip off me today. No, I didn't receive an angry phone call. I simply went onto Ramsey's website to read financial articles, and one particular rant of his caught my eye.
Ramsey is a financial expert with a world renowned business devoted to helping people pay off debt and whip their financial affairs into shape. He has a nationally syndicated U.S. radio show and is also an author and public speaker. My husband and I read Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover," and it saved our finances. After getting married in August of 2009, my student loan debt combined with my husband's student loan debt to produce a huge debt load for two 20-somethings with Bachelor's degrees that have no marketplace value in North America. We struggled greatly to make ends meet, frequently worrying about what we would eat next and how we would put gas in the car. Neither of us had any idea how to budget, and our financial outlook was bleak. Reading "The Total Money Makeover" taught us how to do a paycheque allocation and budget, and it also taught us how to make a plan to pay off our debt. http://www.daveramsey.com/store/prod326.html
We now plan to have all of our student loan debt paid off in the next couple years, and then we will begin taking the money we were using to pay off our student loans and using it to save for retirement. If you are a teenager or young adult, or the parent of one, you need to read the transcript of a radio rant by Ramsey entitled, "Student Loan Meltdown."
The link is below:http://www.daveramsey.com/index.cfm?event=askdave/&intContentItemId=122967&ictid=text2
Before Ramsey launched into his on-air rant, a young woman from Texas named Sarah had called in to his show to ask him a question about her family's finances. Sarah had taken out $130,000 in student loan debt in order to earn her Bachelor's degree in Psychology. After earning her degree, she was unable to find work and is now a stay-at-home mom. After answering her financial question, Ramsey launches into a rant about student loan debt. It was as if he were speaking directly to me. Ramsey made it clear that he loves stay-at-home moms - which is good, because I plan to be one some day! However, if my husband and I don't pay off our student loans, we will be unable to live on one income, and I will be forced to work instead of being at home with our kids. In his rant, Ramsey says, "You know what a psychology degree without a Master's degree is worth? NOTHING! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! You can't get a [job] in a factory with that degree! You know what a theology degree from Columbia is worth? NOTHING! It had no marketplace value! Think, people."
I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology... I once heard someone say that with only a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, you might as well learn to say, "Would you like fries with that?" Luckily, I have a lot of administrative / accounts receivable experience, and have been able to find good jobs in Canada. For many American young adults with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, life has been a different story - with rising unemployment rates, their job future can look pretty bleak. I also chose to go to a state school, and had an academic scholarship, so my total student loan amount owing is just over $20,000, which is much less than the over $100,000 some owe for Bachelor's degrees from ivy league schools or other private institutions. However, we still struggle to pay my loans, and I no longer believe that any amount of student loan debt is beneficial for any young adult.
Above - If I could be the student loan tooth fairy for all University graduates, I would!
Ramsey later gives a warning to parents of young adults in his rant when he says, "If you have a 20-year-old or an 18-year-old walking around, grab them by the ear and tell them they should not get a useless degree from a private university that you cannot make a living with and then choose to go home and be a stay-at-home mom with $100,000 in student loan debt." Ramsey goes on to warn young adults themselves when he says, "This is how life happens. You say you're going to be a professional at something and then you change your mind--YOU LOST THAT OPTION! You lose these options when you go this far in debt. You are forced into a situation where you are choosing between your children and student loan debt to get a useless degree!" It fires me up as well when I think about all of the women who feel called to be stay-at-home moms, but who are forced to work full-time instead of staying at home with their children because of student loan debt. This is not right, and most of us don't think about the consequences of student loan debt until it is too late. Over the past few years, my husband and I have had to say no to countless opportunities to hang out with friends, family gatherings, ministry opportunities, buying a house, and having children because our student loan payments are so high. I am not writing this to complain - we got ourselves into this situation. I am writing this as a warning to other young people who are considering taking out student loans. Think about what you can realistically make per month with your degree of choice. Then think about all of your future bills, and factor in how much student loan debt you can realistically afford to pay every month. Also realize that if you are married someday, you have no control over the amount of debt your spouse will bring into your relationship. Whatever debt you have combines with whatever debt they have when you get married. My favorite line in Ramsey's rant is, "There is no student loan tooth fairy!" You will not magically wake up one morning after graduating from University with a large lump sum of money under your pillow to pay off your student loans with. Proceed with caution financially before you find yourself swimming in debt.
Are you a young adult who wants to pursue higher education? What are some creative ways you can think of to pay for your education without taking out student loan debt? (If you need help thinking of some, I listed several in the blog post directly below this one).
Yesterday, I traveled two hours away to the city for an appointment, and was blessed by two of my great aunts who took the time to have lunch with me. My Auntie Do made a wonderful lunch for us in her apartment. She is the most positive person I've ever met. She and my Auntie Marguerite are nonagenarians (someone who is over the age of 90) who are still living independently. The three of us enjoyed salad, buns, a 7-layer casserole, and rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert on my Aunt's gorgeous china. After lunch, we sat and sipped tea, cherishing the time we had to spend together. As we sat, the topic turned to finances. My Aunts talked about the importance of having medical benefits and a good retirement savings plan. So many people don't stop to think about saving for retirement, and then struggle to make ends meet with an inadequate pension. Auntie Marguerite talked about the importance of patience when saving for retirement. So many of us see the funds sitting in an RRSP and want to prematurely withdraw them. We are ok with taking a huge penalty in order to do so, but doing so is at the expense of having adequate retirement funds when we actually need them. My Aunts were hardworking women with hardworking husbands. Everything they have in their retirement, they put away bit by bit, in good faith.
Below - On the left is Auntie Marguerite at her 90th birthday party with Auntie Do on the right
My Aunts and I then jumped into discussing how so many young people are overqualified for a career in their field and are deep in debt because of their education. This rings true to me as my husband and I seek to pay off all of our student loan debt using Dave Ramsey's debt snowball program. http://www.daveramsey.com/article/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/
After reading Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover," and learning how detrimental debt is to anyone's financial future, I absolutely agree that school debt should not be accumulated - unfortunately I learned that a few years too late! There are other creative ways to pay for an education; such as working part-time and going to school part-time, finding an employer who will pay for education, applying for scholarships and grants, and going to a community college while living at home.
One thing I love about my Auntie Do and Auntie Marguerite is that they are content with what they have in life. Combined, they have lived over 180 years here on Earth and have seen many good times and many bad times. Through it all, they have learned to survive through all circumstances, and have a plethora of good memories despite the hardships they've endured. A plaque on the wall in my Auntie Do's kitchen reads, "Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." Oh how true that saying is. As you journey through life, I hope you learn to be content in all circumstances, and I hope you work hard to whip your financial life into shape. If you are looking for financial advice, listen to your elders. Ask them questions. Let them tell you their story. They come from a time where people only bought what they could afford. Our materialistic culture is foreign to them, and can get you into mounds of financial trouble if you let it. Have you taken the time to listen to the financial advice of an elder? If so, what did he or she say?
Auntie Do talked about a gentleman's story that was addressed on a recent episode of a well-know financial guru's show. She said that the man on the show was depressed by his career situation and wanted to go back to school, but he was still swimming in debt from his last degree. The show's host told him that there was no way he should go back to school until his last degree was paid off.