3 Money Lessons I’d Share With “Freshman Shane”

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Young child reading books, looking frustrated.

Shane, circa freshman year. (OK, not really. This is more like sophomore year. You can tell by the haircut.)

As hard as it is for me to believe, this is my last week of college classes.

I’m trying my best to keep reminiscing and sappiness to a minimum, but it’s hard not to see how far I’ve come. Comparing the version of me currently typing this to the version of me who moved into a freshman dormitory 4 years ago is an interesting exercise—especially when it comes to thinking about money.


Putting these two Shanes in one room would be strange. We’d probably break the ice with some sports-themed small talk (“The Phillies get Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and don’t win another World Series.” “Seriously?!”). After that, I imagine current me steering the conversation toward finances.

I think I have a good idea what “I’d” reveal to past me.

1. Learn About Your Loans

Having worked at SALT™, I’ve obviously learned about my student debt and how to handle it. Before that, though, I was totally in the dark.

Did I necessarily need to know about my loans before my senior year? Yes and no.

I think the main thing I would convey to my younger self is how much I (we?) now owe. It would be part motivation, part wake-up call. I’d tell him to watch his spending a little more closely and inspire him to heed my second piece of advice …

2. Get A Job

Before senior year, I had never worked during school. I had jobs over breaks, both summer and winter, but never took full advantage of my time while at school. I’d tell freshman Shane to change that.

Having a job in school has two major advantages. First: It can really beef up your résumé. You’re much better off advertising a work-study or intern position than some high school job that is still sitting at the bottom of your résumé.

Second: You get paid to work! You’ll find a lot fewer “poor college kid” moments if you have steady money flowing in. One of my friends works just 3 hours a week, which leads to a take-home pay of $25. Somehow, he says that’s enough to keep his finances afloat. Every little bit helps.

3. Handle Your Housing

This is a very specific lesson to me, but I’d definitely bring it up.

My roommates and I did not get our security deposit back last year for a few different reasons. That’s a pretty big financial hit. That money would have been a nice bank account boost heading into senior year, and it’s one mistake I’d be sure to tell younger me keep an eye out for.

What would you share with your younger self? Share it with us instead!

(Photo: wecometolearn)

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