It’s about time for students to start trickling into their respective college towns. As a permanent resident of a college town, I’m starting to notice that it takes me a few extra minutes to get home on my commute from work, which signals the end of summer and start of college football season. This isn’t entirely bad, because I love fall, but as one who hates traffic, my 10-minute commute becoming 20-plus isn’t something to be overly excited about.
Whenever I see a moving truck, an over-packed pickup truck, or the poor bastard who somehow stuffed his entire life in the back of his Honda Civic, I shed a small tear. This tear is both of envy and pity for those poor, clueless souls. In many cases, they probably did what they were told and got degrees in what interested them without realizing the real world won’t care about their Criminology degree (source: me).
After graduation, there aren’t many choices: you could (A) work in retail, (B) apply for 200 jobs and get one six months later that is kind of in your field for $13/hour and an hour commute away, (C) go to grad school and get saddled with more debt or (D) count your lucky stars that your parents networked well and your dad’s old fraternity buddy has a job opening for you.
Regardless of which path you take, there is one constant: bills. Electric bills, phone bills, student loans, rent, groceries, garbage fees, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Visa, Mastercard, vet bills, doctor bills. I think the post office’s sole purpose at this point is to load my mailbox with newspapers that I don’t want, pre-approved credit cards that I didn’t apply for and bills that I don’t want to pay for. They round it all out when then they get pissed and leave me passive-aggressive sticky notes on my overfilled mailbox telling me to check my mail more.
In a postgrad world, I feel like the money I earn is already spent before it even comes close to entering my bank account. I even have a pell-mell budget I try to adhere to but something always comes up that sends my Excel-crafted budget into a tailspin. Sometimes it’s a car issue that stemmed from the Baghdad-modeled roads and crater-sized potholes that make me have to swerve across lanes to avoid having my axle break in half. Sometimes it’s the obligation of sending a baby gift to my friend who was stupid enough to think spreading his seed at 25 was a great idea. Or, it’s my friend’s destination wedding that sank my vacation budget, a groomsmen suit that costs $300 from J. Crew or an equally expensive home repair I never saw coming.
At least once a week, I hope for a zombie apocalypse just so I won’t have to shell out 30 percent of what I make to Sallie Mae and my state’s higher education student loan sharks. A little natural selection is good for the world, but to me, but it is criminal that I and many of my other fellow recent grads have 6-10 percent interest on tens of thousands of dollars in loans while our “too big to fail” businesses continuously get bailed out. Our parents could pay for college with a summer job and had comfortable employment opportunities waiting for them. If I hear one more Baby Boomer tell me about how hard they had it, I will probably stab them in the ear with a flathead screwdriver. That was aggressive. Sorry.
This economy is in for a world of hurt when our age group walks from the on deck circle and into the batter’s box. It’s hard enough to find an entry level job in one’s field that doesn’t require a minimum of a Master’s degree (PhD preferred), two-to-four years of specialized experience, a tour in the Peace Corps, several courses in unrelated coding AND pays $11 an hour. How are we supposed to save up 20 percent for a house, afford to give our kids a decent life and have some semblance of our own lives? The numbers just don’t add up. Some people are killing it and that’s great, but the vast majority of people hold loans to the tune of 1.3 trillion dollars.
Bills and taxes are a fact of life. I’m glad that we live in a time where they can all be paid online so I don’t have to go to the DMV-lite United States Post Office. Hell, I don’t have kids, but I have no problem paying my taxes for schools because I don’t want to live in a place full of stupid people. Education is important, and I think we will learn the hard way when the loan bubble busts. Until then, it’s climbing one mountain, only to see the top of the next one — except these mountains are bills..
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