Meet the SALT™ Blog’s newest intern, Emerson College junior Sasha Laferte. A ninja and lemonade seller extraordinaire in her youth, Sasha is using childhood lessons to help pay off her student loans while still in school. Check out her story!
When Life Gives You Lemons… or Not
One summer when I was 7, my mother decided to teach me about money and entrepreneurship. Make a lemonade stand sweetie, she cooed every time I expressed how deplorable life without money or all of the things I wanted was.
In begrudging response, I trudged into the 90-degree heat and humidity that a summer in Massachusetts suburbia cannot go without, towing a red wagon filled with plastic cups and lemon Kool-Aid. I had nothing but an old cardboard sheet with “Lemonade 25 Cents” Sharpied on the front to lure my customers.
Then, there was a day I had no Kool-Aid and no money. We had no fresh lemons, and I wanted nothing more than a slushy and a bag of Cheez-Its from the nearby gas station. My parents would not take me to get more powdered drink. They insisted I could figure out something to sell other than Kool-Aid.
After a moment’s pouting and a minute’s deliberating, I flipped my (by that time) rotted cardboard sign over and wrote “Karate Lessons” on the other side. I put on my uniform, brown belt (which I was very proud of) included. I brought out my boom box, blasted “Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting,” and started doing karate chops and tornado kicks left and right in the middle of my front lawn.
Cars slowed and then stopped. People came. Child neighbors and chuckling adults congregated on my lawn. Dollars filled my cup by dusk.
Now I am a college student. I require cash for more than junk food and need to think further ahead than what can I sell in my front yard to make money today? Since I was 7, my parents have taught me not to fear my finances but to face them head on. I decided to do just that when I was riddled with how to pay my student loan debt.
Chasing [Toilet] Paper
Before entering college, I decided to start paying my loans the January after I began attending school. The interest rates were substantially less if I did this, and I was confident that I would be able to pay the monthly sum.
I struggled to find a part-time job before I received my first bill and struggled with anxiety at the thought of the loan company ripping money out of my account. My hard-earned money going toward something my friends weren’t yet worried about felt cruel and unjust.
It hasn’t been easy; I have learned to use some out of the ordinary tactics to make sure I always have enough money in the bank. I often take an apple or banana out of the dining hall so I don’t have to buy a snack later on; I take toilet paper from my dorm’s public bathroom back to my suite rather than buy my own (apologies to Emerson College).
After a year of paying this loan, I have developed a sense of responsibility and forward-thinking that my antics as a 7 year old could not supply me with. My month’s-end anxiety has been replaced with a sense of relief, knowing that I am bringing myself closer to being debt free.
My advice on grappling with the sour grapes and sweet lemons that come with the debt and stress imposed by student loans and future planning? Don’t brood over them. Be clever and think about the best route to achieve the best outcome. Make a fruit salad or something.