Thursday, November 03, 2005

pass me the Top Ramen

I don’t envy recent college grads. Turns out many of them are working 2 jobs to make ends meet. Not only is the cost of living in most cities unbelievably expensive, but college tuition continues to increase every year. By the time a young adult graduates from college these days, they are usually tens of thousands of dollars in debt and have to take low-paying entry level jobs. Even in fields like marketing, the starting salary is usually at or below $30k. A lot of these kids are supplementing their incomes with retail and restaurant jobs; so they’ll work 9-5 in an office environment and then race off to the Olive Garden to wait tables.

I remember some wise advice I was given once from the owner of a brewery where I worked years ago. I was moving from a mid-size town in Colorado to Boston, MA, to pursue a “real” career. At my going away party, Doug told me, “Terrell, you’re supposed to be poor when you’re young. So just enjoy it.” I thought maybe he’d had one too many and blew him off.

Moving to Boston was a complete culture shock and was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’d ever had. My rent doubled immediately; I had to pay car insurance on a car I couldn’t even drive in the city; groceries were so expensive they were luxury items; and utilities during the winter sometimes cost $300 per month.

But Doug was right. Everyone else my age was in the same boat. We all got really good at improvising our finances. We knew where the cheapest happy hours were and how to get discount tickets to shows. We sold books on Amazon for extra cash and bought toilet paper in bulk. We got our furniture from Craigslist and learned how to share subway passes and ate a lot of Top Ramen. Finding ways to save money was almost like a game. And looking back on the time I spent there, I can honestly say it was a lot of fun.

So, I feel for those kids that are struggling right out of college. But they’ll be just fine. After all, you’re supposed to be poor when you're young, right?

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