Category: Money

It Makes Cents— Ways to Earn Money Without Getting Typical High School Job

As a teenager, you have a million things you are constantly worrying about: School, friends, your future, and making money. But what if you want to make money even though you hate the idea of working a boring minimum wage job? What options do you have? Thankfully, plenty. Here’s a quick look at three ways to earn money without getting a typical, boring high school job.

Start a Side Hustle

Side hustles are great ways to explore things you enjoy and make money at the same time. Finding one isn’t too hard; just decide what you want to do and start googling how you can make money doing it. Be warned, depending on what side hustle you select, they can take time to establish. However, they can be creatively rewarding and ultimately help you find a career that you love. When starting a side hustle, Xyngular advises considering what you’re really passionate about to find your niche, something that can help you utilize your skills and have a successful side hustle.

Organize a Garage Sale

Organizing a garage sale is often as easy as finding stuff that you or your parents don’t want to use anymore and selling it. Since the costs associated with a garage sale are usually as simple as advertising it, you can usually make a good chunk of money in the sale. However, according to Budget Dumpster, a successful garage sale is more than just setting up a table in front of your house. You have to spend some time promoting it (fliers and social media usually suffice), and always make sure to check with your local government, as some municipalities require that you take out a permit before holding a garage sale.

Use the Internet

There is no shortage of apps or websites which allow you to make good money from home. This includes taking surveys, watching videos or even playing games. Here are some of the most popular places to find freelancing work:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • WriterAccess
  • FlexJobs
  • SolidGigs
  • Art Wanted
  • CrowdSpring
  • Rent A Coder
  • Photography Jobs Finder
  • ClickWorker
  • Assistant Match
  • Behance
  • Stage32

Thanks to the explosion of the internet, social media and smartphones, there is no shortage of work for teens who don’t want to stand around at a boring retail job. If you are looking for an alternative to this line of work, it’s often as simple as putting in enough time or effort.

Read more: What are the Highest Paying Summer Jobs a Teen Can Get?

Shopping Tips for Teens Looking to Get the Most Out of the Season

Welcome to the world of holiday shopping. Buying gifts for your friends and family can be lots of fun, but there are common problems to watch out for. Here are some tips that will help make shopping online fun and exciting. You will get the best deals if you check your favorite online sites to see when there will be scheduled sales. Often, they will send you emails or text messages if you have signed up with them. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind if you want to get the most out of shopping during the holiday season.

Timing

To get the best deals for holiday gift-giving, keep in mind that companies are beginning to offer great savings earlier each year. To be a smart shopper, start your browsing early. Some companies have holiday sales as early as summer, such as Christmas in July sales. Black Friday generally begins the holiday shopping season with huge savings available, as does Cyber Monday. You don’t have to fight the crowds in stores to score some great deals if you plan your Cyber Monday buys in advance.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True

At this time of year, it pays to be careful. It’s important to always stay safe with your technology. Not all things are as they appear. If it seems too good to be true, do research to check it out before you hand over any payment info. Make sure that the company selling is reputable and the item you are interested in is not a knockoff, which is a common problem online. Some sellers will rip you off as well as take the information you have given them and sell it. It is not worth the problems created to try to save money.

Be Prepared Before Shopping

Another common problem is running out of money before you have bought all your gifts. Start with making a list of people you want to buy for. Think about how much you want to spend on each person, and write that amount by their name. Add up the numbers and determine if you have that much to spend. One way to meet the goal is to start purchasing early. Another idea is to space out the purchases over time or modify the budget for each person.

Be a Smart Shopper

Check out the items you have in mind by going to the stores to see and hold the actual product. It is a good idea to know what you are buying. Does it look like what you want to purchase? This way you can look it up online to get the best price. Also, there will be no unpleasant surprises if you order it online and it turns out not to be what you thought it was. As a further precaution, be sure to check the return policy before purchasing anything.

It takes some confidence to become a savvy shopper, but you should relax and enjoy the experience. With proper planning and an adventuresome attitude, your family and friends will know how much you care at gift-giving time.

What are the Highest Paying Summer Jobs a Teen Can Get?

If you’re looking for a summer job, the chances are you want to make as much money as possible before the calendar switches over to the fall. The question is, which positions can help you attain that goal? Here’s a list of three possibilities that will earn you plenty of cash to stash away while still allowing for a decent amount of pocket money to liven up your days off.

Tutoring

What’s your favorite subject in school? Would you be interested in sharing some of your knowledge with a younger student who might be struggling with the basics? If so, you might want to look into tutoring. Depending on your age, level of expertise and the subject you choose, you could earn $25 to $30 per hour. Math and science tutors can expect to earn more than English tutors, so if those subjects are your forte, start putting out the word with friends and neighbors that you’re available to lend a helping hand to their kids during the summer. You’ll be doing them a valuable service while lining your pockets at the same time.

Construction

Are you looking for something that requires a little more brawn? You might be surprised to learn that jobs in construction are a viable option for older teen workers. While construction is considered very dangerous, the pay is generally higher because of that. As long as basic safety practices are learned early on and carefully observed, you can hone valuable skills that are sure to serve you well later in life with a job in construction. Note that if you’re under the age of 16, federal law prohibits you from doing any physical construction work, but you can still apply to work in the office or for sales-related tasks.

Caddying

Golf caddies get to enjoy the outdoors and socializing all at the same time, making this gig a perfect fit for energetic, outgoing teens. While the baseline pay isn’t all that impressive, hovering around $10-$15 per hour, you can earn a lot more than that in tips if you are professional and efficient. This may not be the best fit if you’re not a golfer yourself, but if you enjoy the sport, give caddying a try.

The prospect of spending your summer at work can be a bummer at first. Still, when you’re counting your money at the end of August, you’ll be glad you took this first small step into adulthood.
Check out our other money-related resources here!

Teens — Learn These 3 Financial Skills and You’ll Be Set for Life

teen financial tips

If you haven’t figured this out already, school doesn’t teach you all the things you need to know for life on your own. Sure, you’ll learn algebra and why mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells, but what about real-life skills like managing money, how to cook, and finding a job? Fortunately, you’ve got the internet at your fingertips, so use the time you have left living at home to start learning and experimenting with these three handy financial life skills.

teen financial tips

Investing

Knowing general tips for investing is good, but there are also a few major strategies to know. Many teens don’t learn about investing until much later in life. That’s when they’ll often make several high-risk moves that may or may not pay off for them. Learning to save money and invest it wisely can make it easier to have a nest egg for later on as well as to be able to retire early. Mutual funds, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, and other investment tools can be advantageous. Teens should know what each one is, the pros and cons behind them, and how investing can help you in the future.

Global Economics

The world economy is just as important, if not more important than the local national economy. It has an impact on trade, finance, and much more. Knowing how global economics plays a role in the U.S. financial markets, insurance, stocks, and more will make it easier when investments are being made. This knowledge is so valuable it’s one of the main reasons that people take internships abroad. Additionally, anyone who’s going to work in business will be affected by the global economy in one way or another. Teens need to know which countries have economic stability and what it can mean when they don’t, especially if you dream of moving out of the country one day.

Budgeting

Every teen should know how to create a solid home budget. This includes balancing expenses against the income that they bring in. Plus, budgeting makes it easier to avoid the temptation of credit cards or high-interest loans. There are also plenty of other tips for avoiding bad credit loans and other risky ventures. If you nail down how to deal with your money responsibly now, you’re less likely to make poor decisions that can haunt you well into your adult years.

If investing, global economics, and budgeting are so important, why aren’t they taught in schools? That’s anyone’s guess, but you can take control of your own life and set yourself on the path to a more successful adult life by learning these things now. With even a basic grasp of these simple but essential concepts, you become more likely to experience success in both your bank account and future career.

Top 10 Credit Myths Debunked – and How to Raise Your Score

teen credit tips

Financial literacy is important for all teenagers. Its never to soon to, with the help of parents, start saving money, open up a life insurance policy, invest in stocks, and otherwise plan for the future. One of THE most important parts of your financial life is credit. Unfortunately, most schools still lag behind in teaching this critical subject. So we got some tips straight from one of the big three credit bureaus, the ones who give you a credit score and report to lenders when you try to get a credit card or loan.

teen credit tips

Experian wrote up the 10 Ten Credit Myths Debunked piece below in conjunction with their annnouncement of a new way to boost scores. It is called Experian Boost, and according to them its a:

“free, groundbreaking online platform that allows consumers to instantly influence their credit scores.”

From what we can tell, the way it works is you connect your online bank accounts to their platform, and they will analyze your cell phone, electric, and other payments (which the credit bureaus usually ignore) to generate a better score — instantly.

If your credit is already great, this might not be for you, because it’s designed to provide the largest boost to those with low scores. However, if you are in the 580 to 669 range, it can save you a lot of money on interest — because higher scores mean lower interest rates!

From Experian:

Experian Boost will be available to all credit active adults in early 2019, but consumers can visit www.experian.com/boost now to register for early access. By signing up for a free Experian membership, consumers will receive a free credit report and FICO ® Score immediately, and will be one of the first to experience Experian Boost. 

What are some other smart ways to handle credit and improve your credit score when you start getting credit at age 18?

  • RULE #1: Pay on time. Always.
  • Use your credit cards to buy everything in order to earn cash back or airline miles, but pay off the balance every month.
  • Have at least 5 tradelines (meaning, credit accounts) open. Most companies will keep your account open as long as you use your card at least once per year.
  • It pays to use a secured card or higher interest card when you are first starting out to establish a history, but once your credit score improves and you open accounts to replace them, close the higher interest cards. Do NOT close accounts if you are planning to finance a car or apply for a loan soon, because closing older, positive history accounts might lower your score for a while.
  • Keep your overall balances to less than 30 percent of your total available credit. So if you add all your cards together and you have $1000 in debt, but your total available is $5000, you are at 20 percent credit utilization, which is okay.

Now, let’s get to Experian’s tips!

teen credit card

10 Credit Myths Debunked

By Experian

When it comes to debt, credit reports, and credit scores, conventional wisdom is peppered with myths, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations. Credit is a tool. Like any tool, it’s neither good nor bad in itself. What matters is how you use it.

Myth #1: Debt is Debt

Not all debts are equal. Say you’ve got a $150,000 debt on your credit report. If it’s there because you maxed out your credit cards to throw a birthday blowout for yourself two years ago, then you’re in trouble. Today, that debt is giving you nothing but memories (and maybe an ulcer). But if that $150,000 is your mortgage, then you’re probably just like millions of other responsible homeowners. That debt is giving you a warm place to lay your head at night.

Myth #2: Checking Your Credit Report Will Hurt Your Credit Score

A notation called an “inquiry” goes on your credit report every time someone (including you) looks at your file, and rumor has it that inquiries can hurt your score. Well, yes and no. An inquiry affects your score only if it’s related to a credit application that you have submitted. If you apply for a loan or a credit card, your score might fall, because that application suggests you’ll be adding debt. But if you simply look at your own credit report, the resulting inquiry won’t affect your score. If anything, checking your report is a sign of responsible credit management, though you don’t get points for doing it.

Myth #3: Closing a Credit Card Will Improve Your Credit Score

If you have a credit card you don’t use, you’re unlikely to improve your score by closing the account. In fact, closing the card might even lower your score at first. One important thing scores use to measure risk is how much of your credit card limits you use — a ratio known as “credit utilization”. When you close an unused account, you reduce your total available credit, so your credit utilization rate goes up. (Of course, if an unused card creates an unbearable temptation to spend, you may be better served in the long run by closing the account.) Scores usually bounce back up after a few months, if your credit report is otherwise in good shape.

Myth #4: You Only Have One Credit Score

There isn’t just one single credit scoring formula that applies to all consumers in all situations. By some estimates, there are more than a thousand scoring models in use in the credit marketplace. A consumer could therefore have dozens or even hundreds of different credit scores depending on the lender using it and the types of lending being done. Lenders and others check your credit score for different reasons, and each formula looks at your credit history in a different way, giving different weight to various factors.

Myth #5: Credit Bureaus Give Good and Bad Scores

Credit bureaus do not create credit scores. Credit bureaus collect information about your debts and use that information to build a credit report. Credit scores are generated based on information in your credit report. Those scores are neither objectively “good” nor “bad.” They’re a measure of risk. It’s up to lenders to decide whether a given score meets their criteria for extending credit. And, scores are usually just one factor in their decision. A “good” score might not mean much if you don’t have a job or any assets. Likewise, a high income and a stack of gold bars might outweigh a “bad” score.

Myth #6: Better Job, Better Score

Your income has no direct effect on your credit score. Scores are based only on the information found in your credit report. Your report includes a lot of information about your use of credit and your management of debt. But it doesn’t include your income. In fact, it doesn’t even indicate you have a job. It lists the employers you’ve included in past applications, but if you haven’t applied since you last changed jobs, it might not even list your current employer. That said, your employment situation can affect your score indirectly, in terms of your ability to pay your debts. And when you apply for credit, lenders will probably ask about your income.

Myth #7: Spouses Have a Joint Credit Report

There’s no such thing as a joint credit report — for married couples or anyone else. Married or single, you have your own credit report. If you’re married, you and your spouse may have a lot of joint accounts, such as mortgages, car loans and shared credit card accounts. Those joint items will appear on both your credit reports and will affect both of your scores. But your credit report is yours and yours alone.

Myth #8: Paying Debts Erases Them

Pay off a debt and you’ve eliminated your obligation — but the evidence of that debt can stick to your credit report for years. If you pay your debts on time and in full, you will likely want your paid-off accounts on your credit report because they show that you’ve used credit responsibly. If, on the other hand, you’ve been chronically late, missed payments or defaulted entirely, that’s a problem. Most negative information can remain on your report for up to seven years; some bankruptcies can stay there for up to 10 years.

Myth #9: For Those With Little or No Credit, It’s Difficult to Build Credit

While people with limited credit history and low credit scores may have a hard time building credit, new tools are becoming available to help. One way to instantly increase your credit score is by using Experian Boost, a free service that incorporates your utility and mobile phone payment history into your Experian credit file. This can help you build up more credit history, which helps improve a credit score. It is a great first step but don’t stop there – make sure to pay all of your bills on time and don’t take on too much debt.

Being added as an authorized user or setting up a joint card (i.e. with a parent) is also a great way to build positive credit history. You might also consider opening a secured credit card account. That means you deposit money in a savings account that is tied to the card. If you don’t pay on time, the lender is protected – or secured – because they can withdraw payment from your savings account. However, they would still report the payment late, so be sure you always pay on time. If you do, you can build a positive credit history and start saving at the same time.

Myth #10:  Credit is a Measure of Your Value

Credit scores are designed to evaluate how big of a risk it would be to lend you money. That’s it. If your score is low, it’s because your credit history suggests that there’s a higher risk that you’ll default on a debt. It doesn’t mean anyone thinks you’re a bad person. Good, honest people can have low scores (and yes, truly awful people can have high scores). What you can do is work to generate a positive credit record: pay bills on time, reduce balances and apply for credit only when you need it.

Save Money with the 52 Week Savings challenge

52 week challenge

You might be reading this because you are worried about how little you save money. Perhaps you don’t spend any money at all, or maybe you do save but quickly spend it on something. Setting up long-term savings is a good idea, as it can protect you and your future, and allows you to have a fall-back should you ever need it. It is a healthy way to manage your money, rather than living paycheck to paycheck.

However, getting started with saving money isn’t always easy. If you have very little left over at the end of the month, after all your bills, rent and other commitments, there may not be a whole lot left to save. Do not despair  – you are not the only one who feels like this.

52 week challengeIn fact, online loans provider ‘Wonga’ see saving difficulties at the top of the list of their customers’ worries. They recently blogged about the annual savings challenge, which could help you to get your savings on the right track. They say, “The 52-week savings challenge is an excellent way to slowly grow your commitment to saving, which is something that doesn’t come naturally to us all. Following this challenge provides South Africans with a realistic and achievable way to save money, even in our tough economy and at the leanest times of year.”

Other outlets also praise the 52 week saving challenge. Money blog ‘The Balance’ explains the pros and cons simply, “You start by saving just $1 the first week of the challenge. Pop it in a jar on your counter without a second thought. The next week, put away $2, and the next, $3. You get the idea. By the end of the challenge, you are saving more than $50 a week, bringing your total amount saved to just under $1,400 by the end of the year.” Of course, it can be difficult when you get to the larger values, which is why some people decide to do the 52-Week Money Challenge in reverse, e.g. they save $52 in week 1, $51 in week 2, and so on.

Some people may also suggest just saving a fixed amount every month. However, this can prove difficult. Some months, after an unexpected bill, you might not have the money to put a larger amount away in your savings. Alternatively, others like setting up direct debits to automatically take the money at the start of the money so that there is no way out of putting some extra aside. Dedicating a specific savings account, which you do not touch is an ideal way of saving money that you don’t feel tempted to dig into!

Remember also that you can make small sacrifices in your daily life to help the savings challenge. What about cutting out that daily cup of coffee that you buy; the money you save can really add up. Equally, try to cut down on areas of spending at home, like turning off plugs and electric sockets that you don’t need.

Why You Should Be Thinking About Your Financial Future Now

It’s never too early to start thinking about your financial future. Even if you are a teen who is still in the process of figuring out what you want to do with your life, there are reasons why you need to start planning now. By beginning to think about your financial future, it’s possible to ensure the money is there when you need it. Investopedia provides some basics that you can start to employ right this minute and be secure all of your life.

financial future planning

Creating and Reaching Financial Goals

One reason why you need to start planning now has to do with goal setting. It’s up to you to decide what those goals may be. Perhaps you would like to own a home by the time you’re 30. Maybe you want to pursue a higher degree, like a doctorate. Start by learning how to set goals, including how to go about securing the resources to reach them. You may have to adjust or refine those goals as you get older, but that’s much different from having none at all.

Reserving Funds for Major Expenses

Another good reason why you need to start planning now for your financial future has to do with making significant purchases when you grow up. A home, a car, college, and even retirement are major investments that require cash. According to Your Quest, money management is more important than ever for young teens to learn, as retirement keeps becomes more and more expensive. Report indicate that Americans are living longer than they used to, and thus are needing more money in retirement funds to sustain themselves (sometimes needing up to 38 years of funds or more). Even if those expenses feel years away, now is the time to learn how to create a budget and live within your means. Make sure the budget includes line items specifically for each major expense.

Set goals for how much to tuck away each paycheck and stick with it. Remember to include a line item for emergency funds, since you never know what could happen. Along with watching the funds grow, you’ll learn a lot about avoiding overspending and stop yourself from going into debt.

Setting Up Savings and Investment Accounts

When you have at least a few goals for the future, brainstorm how you can begin working toward them now. On the financial front, this means learning to save money now and possibly invest in some manner. Hands on Banking reinforces, “opening a savings account is easier than ever before. All you’ll really need are forms of identification and a little bit of money to start your account with. Once that’s done, you can start planning more effectively for your future.” Start with simple plans like opening a savings account, then move on to setting up a certificate of deposit. The goal is to put mechanisms in place that allow you to earn interest on the money that you save.

In time, you will be old enough to make investments. Start with safe ones that are highly likely to earn some sort of return. As you become more comfortable with the market, it’s okay to allocate some of your money to options with higher risk and a chance for a higher return. As long as you maintain a solid financial cushion and learn not to invest more than you can afford to lose, you’ll be okay.

Ultimately, the habits you develop now make it possible to maintain financial well being and make life a little easier. As you accumulate wealth and achieve your goals, there will always be one more to set and reach. With your sound skills, there will always be a way to get where you want to go. Think about your finanical future today!

Six Summer Jobs You Won’t Find at the Mall

For teenagers, getting a job for extra cash during the summer is considered part of growing up. A summer job is a great opportunity to earn extra cash and gain valuable skills that are applicable to the real world and hopefully future careers. In fact, many businesses are looking for seasonal workers to lend a hand in stocking shelves, bagging groceries, or providing customer support. If you want to branch out from the regular teen work, here are a few summer job options to consider this year.

Becoming a Neighborhood House Sitter

If parents are out for the night, they will need someone to watch over the kids or any pets the family has. Teenagers often take advantage or babysitting gigs, house-sitting, and similar work. You’ll have to know how to prepare a few meals, take care of regular cleaning and home maintenance. You may be asked to watch the pets or take them out for a walk occasionally. Advertise your services at local community or neighborhood bulletins or social media sites.

Working as a Summer Camp Counselor

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts both host summer camps for kids, full of fun activities such as roasting marshmallows or learning different first aid and survival skills. As a camp counselor you can help teach basic survival skills or creative arts and crafts to children, so they have a memorable summer, even when their parents are not around. Make sure to invest in a good camping blanket to stay cozy and warm, or even a hammock.

Working Part-Time as a Barista

Many cafes are looking for part-time servers to mix drinks during the peak summer season at local restaurants or resorts. Teenagers can learn to provide customer service by taking orders and maintaining a positive attitude while they serve food or drinks. Here you can also learn valuable retail skills like working a cash register or organizing backroom supplies.

Landscaping or Mowing Lawns

If a neighbor doesn’t have the time to mow the lawn, they often pay teenagers to do it for them. Teens might also water the garden, plant seeds, paint the fence, or pour fertilizer onto wilting plants. Learning outdoor and yard skills are great not just for everyday life, but for future jobs as well. If you don’t want to do the dirty work, you can also find lots of summer sales jobs, getting people pest control, sprinkler work, and other outdoor work.

Administrative Assistant Job

Office jobs are a dime a dozen. Most companies and hospitals require someone to be at the front desk to greet customers or help them book an appointment with a busy specialist. Their responsibilities include answering phone calls, filing legal paperwork, or inputting data using Excel spreadsheets. If you know how to do a few basics on the computer and are already organized, these kinds of part-time reception work could be perfect for spring boarding into office work after school.

Teenagers have to think outside the box if they want to find a summer job. They can design T-shirts, build a website, or even work at the local gas station. There are many part-time jobs available for inexperienced high schoolers, but the ones mentioned before are definitely a great start.

6 Ways to Make Bank While Still in High School

Many famous entrepreneurs got their start at an early age. They often cite starting a service based business or online shop as their first venture. Even if you aren’t aiming to become a CEO in the near future, earning some extra cash on the side can allow you to save for items or experiences without relying on your parents. Parents may be inclined to veto certain purchases or outings, but they are generally more likely to support their children’s choices if the student has shown discipline and maturity in earning and saving responsibly.

There aren’t as many options for high school students to earn as there are for college graduates working full-time, but don’t let that discourage you. There are also many opportunities available for high school students that aren’t readily taken on by adults.

Sales

When brainstorming business ideas, make sure you are adhering to all school rules and laws. Selling gum, candy or baked goods is a common suggestion for teens who want to make money. However, many schools have policies in place that prevent anyone besides the school from selling food on campus. In some cases, you won’t get in trouble, but your parents can be held responsible. Networking with family and friends and selling security cameras or MLM products such as doTERRA oils or Mary Kay products can be highly lucrative.

House and Property Care

High school students are very capable of doing most household tasks like cooking and cleaning. In many families, each member is expected to perform certain chores without pay. But it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can pick up more than your assigned share in order to make some extra cash. With your parents’ permission, you can also offer these services to neighbors. You can also add services like mowing lawns, helping with household technology (setting up new purchases, troubleshooting computers, etc), and driving errands (if you have a license).

Academics

You can profit from the work you do in your own classes. You can offer tutoring in classes you have already completed and done well in. You can also sell notes and study guides you have created (just make sure they don’t break any academic rules your school has). You can make multiply your business by offering these services to groups.

Use Your Skills

Think about what you enjoy and what you’re good at. This could be typing or computer activities, art, etc. Think of how you can profit from these skills and/or do a little research to see what you come up with. Many online sites will pay on a per-job basis for things like transcription (listening to an audio file and typing what you hear), translation, data entry (for example, re-typing a page of text that has been scanned from handwritten notes or a pdf), and more. You can generate sales by making a website or contributing to a blog that already exists.

Retail / Food

Part-time jobs like dishwashing and folding clothes are common for people who are still in school. These jobs tend to pay less per hour than other opportunities mentioned in this article and they can be stressful since you are working for a real company. However, the benefits are a steady paycheck without having to set-up your own client base or online shop, as well as a solid role to add to your resume.

Work for Someone You Know

Chances are, someone you know has a business they could use some help with. It could be a friend, a family member, a friend’s parent or a parent’s friend. By looking within your own social network, you may find an opportunity that no one else knows about. Working at a real company can give you great insight into what type of work you may or may not like to take on after high school.

If you’re like me, you crave independence. Your age doesn’t need to be an obstacle to getting a head start on your financial success. Financial coach Chris Hogan says “There’s no present like time.” The sooner you can start raking in the dough, the sooner you can learn how that process works, which will set you up for decades to come.

5 Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt

Let’s have a moment of real talk real quick. Student debt is absolutely crippling young people in this country. Up-and-coming members of the workforce suffer from massive amounts of debt that will keep them from truly relaxing for decades upon graduation—constantly struggling and worrying about making that next payment. What’s worse – while a chapter 13 can help you avoid a foreclosure or repossession (Want A Fresh Start, LLC), student loans are not bankruptible. They’re not going away.

We’ve compiled the best strategies for avoiding debt—you know debt, it’s the kind of crippling thing that makes a grown man cry himself to sleep every night.

1- Look for Alternative Education Options

The easiest and most effective way to avoid debt, at least of the student loan variety, is to just not go to college in the first place. I went to college, so maybe that’s why I’m a little bit jaded. So let me preface this by saying – I believe in the importance of education! Education is the single most important investment you can make in yourself. However, it is simply not the case that a 4-year degree from a liberal arts university is the only or even the best kind of education for you.

If you’re going to spend money on educating yourself, the education MUST come with useful, marketable skills in the workplace. If you’re passionate about history, philosophy, or lesbian dance theory – I’m very happy for you. A library card is free. Unless you know almost for certain what you want to do as a career, then college may just be a waste of time and money if you’re going just to go, and have no real sense of direction as to what to do with your degree once you actually graduate with mountains of debt and no job prospects (CBS News).

When deciding between a trade school, a traditional university degree, or self-teaching the skills you need, it’s important to follow the opportunities, rather than your passions. Passion is definitely an asset, but it’s entirely possible there is no marketplace value for the thing you are passionate about. Look at the unemployment statistics, growth prospects, and average earnings for each degree, certificate, or program. Research the jobs you think you want to train yourself for. You don’t need to do something you hate, but you need to have a realistic understanding of the opportunities available. Chances are high that the avenue you pursue doesn’t require a PHD in lesbian dance theory.

2- Scholarships

I didn’t apply for scholarships, and boy, what a regret that was. Perhaps if I had been a more diligent student, then maybe I would have looked at all of the dozens of scholarships my university offered, not to mention the several that the state offered in part of its education funding. Sure, I got by with my Pell grants and federal loans, but dang, I wish I could go back and apply for any of the literally hundreds of scholarships available to pretty much every single person who goes to school because there are one easy way to avoid debt.

3- Fellowship Aids

These are almost the same thing as grants and scholarships, but mostly come from the universities themselves. I know that the MFA and MBA programs that my university offered supported students by providing grants to all students enrolled to help stipend their tuition costs. Every school is different, so the one you may want to go to might not offer any fellowship grants to its students, so it might be wise to look into schools that do to avoid serious debt.

4- Student Teaching and Interning

Being provided with your own class and canvas to teach is perhaps one of the best ways for education students to step into the role of the master and begin to hone their craft of teaching. That, and it also helps that most universities offer teaching positions for most of their graduate students as a way to help pay for their tuition, pay for their books, and provides stipends for them to live on while they go to school and immerse themselves in whatever they’re majoring in. Similar programs exist for other professional degrees like healthcare, where you can sign up to work for a specific hospital or clinic for a number of years, and in return they furnish partial or whole tuition reimbursement.

5- Work Your Ass Off

Somehow in our culture we’ve become allergic to work – especially college students. Some young people think they are owed a “college experience” – which pretty much means getting wasted six nights a week at a frat party and waking up in the tub of an unattractive stranger. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. The truth is, students who work at least 20 hours a week actually see a slight bump in GPA, and typically report higher levels of satisfaction with their educational experience despite higher levels of stress (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Besides that, having some work experience under your belt when you graduate will have a more significant impact on your job placement than your GPA.

So there you have it. Some pretty self-explanatory options, but all almost certain ways to help you avoid going in debt to go to college.