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A recent article on The Forum’s website caught my attention this week. It is reported that the nation’s total student debt nearly tripled since 2004 to $966 billion by the end of 2012, according to the New York Federal Reserve. Many of my close friends struggle with student debt payments along with their monthly bills. These discouraging anecdotes make current students like me nervous about a life after graduation. It’s apparent that many students are unaware of the financial duties during and after school.
Budgeting has never been my strong suit. Like some of my feminine counterparts, I have had to cope with an impossible shoe addiction, among other frivolous consumer driven impulses. When I started college my parents had me apply for a credit card to have in-case-of emergencies, but we all know those emergencies come more often than our parents could conceive, whether it’s a late night necessity for fast food, or that must-have dress for that once-in-a-lifetime concert coming to town this Friday. Everyone has some amount of debt, so what’s ten more dollars today?
This debt-driven society has certainty charged quite a tab. Recently, the Federal Reserve reported that 17 percent of borrowers were past due on their payments by more than 90 days in 2012, up from less than 10 percent in 2004. It is clear that most of us have forgotten the importance of following a budget, even the United States government. The sum of all outstanding debt owed by the federal government is now more than $16 trillion.
But you gotta spend money to make money. And you have to keep up with the Jones next door, right? You don’t have to pay it off today, so hip, hip hooray! This consumer-mad thinking has perpetuated us into debt, allowing people to be flexible in their financial planning.
All of us need to be more mindful of the financial burdens we accumulate whether it is the purchasing of new shoes or the next tuition payment. Education is an investment into the future but to ensure that the future will be flexible, we need to learn to budget. Don’t tie yourself down to a financial crisis tomorrow, if you can learn to be fiscally responsible today.
BY APRIL KNUTSON