College students are completely clueless about managing money. Most college students are in debt now and will be for a long time. Why do I say this?

According to Yahoo News, the average amount of student debt that a student holds upon graduation is $25,250. The total amount of student debt carried by Americans is estimated to be $870 billion.

I think it’s fair to say that most college students are struggling financially after reading those stats. On the bright side, I got some pretty sweet news for you…

You don’t have to be a financially struggling student that’s always broke!

Being broke sucks. There’s no other way to put it.

I want you to have options. First let’s look at financial problems that students face.

What are the biggest issues facing college students when it comes to finances?

I reached out to a member of our community to see what she had to say about this. Brenda has gone back to school and is doing it without going broke. Brenda recently shared her story on how she plans to pay for college. The four reasons for financial struggles come word-for-word from an email that I received from Brenda.

  1. Saving money. I feel that a lot of students don’t know how to save money because they weren’t taught proper techniques that will set them up for success in the future; a budget definitely helps.
  2. Peer pressure. Students feel the need to ‘fit in’ with friends who are all attending colleges right out of high school. What students aren’t told is that life doesn’t have to be a rush, taking time to decide which career path to choose is fine.
  3. Credit. As a young generation in society we are told build your credit with a student credit card or you won’t be able to get a loan for a car or house. Why would you need a loan if you could pay cash for it? Proper planning, and budgeting would allow students not to take out a loan to pay for college while still getting an education.
  4. Debt. Once a college loan is taken out it follows the student nearly their entire lifetime because they weren’t taught ways to save or overcome debt.

Are you struggling in college because of any of those issues? Keep on reading…

“College wasn’t originally designed to merely be a continuation of high school (but with more binge drinking). In many places, though, that’s what it has become.” — Seth Godin

It’s true. College is a great time to party. Guess what? I love to party. I’m the first one at the party. So don’t think that this article is about passing judgment. I just want you to know that even a loudmouth drunk like me has it in him to save money.

I promise you that you can overcome these financial issues that students face.

How’s this all possible? How can you graduate from college debt free or at least be smart with your money?

Find a job.

Get a job. Get any job. You’re not above any job. You’re not below any job. Apply and apply often. Your goal is to find any source of income.

I wrote about the best job for college students before. I would highly recommend finding something in sales so that you can work on your basic communication skills. You don’t want to be socially awkward forever.

Once you find a job, become the best employee ever. Don’t worry about The 4-Hour Workweek or any other crazy dreams. You can still run a side business with a part-time gig. Your first priority should be to find any source of income.

Apply for free money.

This should be classified under common sense, yet so few of us actually do this. There are tons of sources of free money. Apply for all of the free money possible. This includes bursaries, scholarships, and grants.

So what if you have to write an essay? It beats writing drawn out messages about the night before to your buddies on Facebook.

Go to your school’s official website. Look for some sort of a financial section. Apply for free money. Don’t use any excuses.

Pay yourself first.

Whatever you do for money, you absolutely have to pay yourself first. Put some money aside for yourself. Even if you save $20 a week, you’ll end up with over $1,000 at the end of the year. That sure beats saving ZERO.

How do you pay yourself first? Whenever you get paid, get your bank or employer to deduct this money. Hide this money. Put it away. Don’t allow yourself any access to it.

Get wasted.

Own the night. Get silly. Do something you’re afraid of. Then wake up the next day, chug a bottle of water, and get yourself to work or to your studies. I don’t want you to miss out on anything. There’s going to be plenty of time to work and there will also be time to party. Don’t think that a part-time job will hold you back from enjoying the college experience.

By this point, you should go from financially struggling student to half-decent at managing money student. If you want to know how I personally graduated from college without any debt, you need to read this.

Subscribe to my main mailing list below where it asks you if you want private stuff. You’ll get information that you can’t find on here.

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“How could you afford anything?”

This was the first question I had for a friend when I started college back in 2005. I was so confused. I didn’t know how I was going to survive. I didn’t think I was smart enough for college. I didn’t think I was wise enough to finish with any money.

Long story short: I ended up graduating with a business, plenty of trips under my belt, and a rental property. You can do it too.

New college students will probably read very little about personal finance. If they do read anything then they’ll usually read articles where the advice just seems too difficult to apply.

This article covers everything you could possibly want to know about getting ahead and surviving college financially. These tips will help with financially surviving college and even graduating debt free. Before you get all nervous, don’t worry because all of the tips in this article are realistic and easy to apply.

Save money on textbooks!

This is tip #1. Textbooks in college are a killer. I don’t have to tell you this. You already know. My top tips for saving money on textbooks are:

  • Don’t buy them. Attend a few classes and see if you can get away with it. This worked for a few classes for me. Very risky though.
  • Share with a friend. I did this for most of my classes. It also forced me to get my notes done in time because I had to pass the book along.
  • Buy used. Self-explanatory.
  • Rent a textbook. This is something that’s pretty new because this option wasn’t available to me.

[I've actually partnered with a company to get an exclusive offer for readers of Studenomics. Check out http://bit.ly/studtitto and use the code STUD10 to get $10 off your first rental.]

Setup Online Banking & Automated Finances.

You have to pay yourself first. Yes, even when you’re broke! This is why I started an online banking account right away and put a few bucks away every single week. I didn’t think of this idea. I stole it from a friend.

When I first entered college my income was really low. That didn’t stop me from automating my finances. I started off with bi-weekly automatic deductions of $50 from my paycheck that went right into an investment account.

Since I love visual results I set up an online banking account so that I that tracking my progress was easy. Plus, banking from my bed is fun.

[You can sign up with Capital One 360 right now and get $50 for free!]

Start a Retirement Account.

The funny part is that due to my late birthday (I was 17 when I started college) my Mom had to co-sign the papers for my retirement account. The bank representative kept on rolling his eyes because he was confused as to why this kid who had no traces of facial hair was worried about opening a retirement account.

Why was I so adamant about opening up an retirement account as early as possible? I once read that Einstein praised the power of compound interest. This made me realize that the earlier you start investing in your retirement, the longer you can have the power of compound interest on your side.

It’s also never too early to start thinking about retirement.

Open a Credit Card.

After a stern lecture from my mother and a wait of a few months (they told me they would issue me the credit card as soon as I turned 18) I had my very own credit card. The limit was as low as possible. Since I feared my Mom more than I did the interest the credit card company could charge me, I was smart with the card.

Over the years I used the credit card to build my credit rating. I purchased items when I had the money already accounted for in my personal savings account. I also started making routine purchases with my credit card (phone bill, gym membership, etc.) to ensure that my credit limit increased. Then when my credit limit went up I started paying for group vacations with my credit card and making large purchases for friends that had the cash but didn’t have the credit card to order online.

Today my credit limit is fairly high and my credit score is great for my age. Having a solid credit score is also a great pickup line!

[Check out the credit card survival guide.]

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It’s time to come clean and admit to the many things that I wish I had done (or done better) as a new college student:

Apply For Academic Scholarships

Okay I must start off by confessing that I never applied for any college scholarships out of sheer laziness. However, I ended up applying for bursaries when I was in school. After my first year of college I started applying for every single form of “free money” possible. Anywhere from scholarships to bursaries.

Guess what? I have received a bunch of paychecks for a couple of hundred dollars since then. The worst thing that has ever happened to me was I got rejected a few times. If you fear rejection then you will never grow as a person.

My own cousin just received thousands in funding after she wrote an essay for a scholarship. I’ve seen friends and family obtain scholarships. Why don’t you give it a free?

What’s better than free money?

Start a Side Business In College.

Now that I look back I want to kick myself in the butt for not being more ambitious in terms of giving entrepreneurship a shot. I started blogging, but I wish that I did more.

Sure you could earn a more stable income by working for someone else but there’s also a reason God gave you certain skills.

There are literally hundreds of ways you can start a side business in college. Since I promised you guys a highly tactical article, I will list the easiest side businesses to start in college with little funding.

  1. Landscaping services. Cut grass in the summer, rake leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, setup the yard the in the spring. Very little startup funding is required. Marketing consists of putting up ads in your community.
  2. Start a blog. If you have some extra time in your day and decent writing skills then this could be a good fit for you. You won’t make a lot of money but it’s a profitable hobby. I covered how to start an online business in a few minutes already.
  3. Tutoring business. My friend worked for his college as a tutor and decided to branch off on his own after a year. Put up a bunch of flyers and spread the word any way you can about your tutoring services. Just remember you must truly know your stuff if you want to teach others.

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Now it’s time to look at saving money!

Entertainment/partying it up on a budget.

Going out and partying is the best part of college! I don’t care what anybody says.

Whether you meet up with your girlfriend, go for drinks with other students in your major, or just meet up with a few close buddies to hang out and drink, all college students do something for entertainment.

I will never ever tell you guys to not party at all because you would probably close the article right about now while thinking this blogger guy is full of garbage.

It’s completely unrealistic to try to save money by telling yourself that you’ll never go out when you go to college because that won’t happen.

The trick to surviving through college financially when it comes to partying is to consciously plan your spending on entertainment. You must wisely pick your nights out to ensure that they will fit within your budget and more importantly, your goals.

When you do go out it’s important that you take advantage of the many money saving options: go to places on campus, use your student status for discounts, consider staying in at some one’s place, or use online resources to find hot deals in your city. I don’t want to repeat myself too much. Just read the following article…

[Must read: the financial stud's guide to drinking.]

Making Money In College

If you’re similar to how I was as a first year college student, meaning that you don’t have much interest in entrepreneurship then the best option is to try to find work around your college campus.

You’ll be surprised when you enter college and see how many student work opportunities are available.

The reason working around your college campus is worth it is because you’ll network with other faculty (students and even professors) and you could potentially build a reputation around campus that could pay dividends for many years to come.

I won’t leave you guys hanging by just telling you to work around your college campus. Allow me to tell you exactly what jobs to look out for around your college campus:

  1. Tutor (prove that you are extremely knowledgeable at something).
  2. Department Assistant (chance to work with professors).
  3. Teaching Assistant (meet many other students).
  4. Lab Assistant (work with even more professors).
  5. Any job in the school gym (best place to meet older college staff that is looking for help with fitness).

[Stop being a loser and get a job!]

Transportation

“Did you study for the exam yet?”

A friend asked me this. I laughed because I did my best studying on my commute to college. The one hour ride was the best studying opportunity!

I absolutely feel the need to stress the importance of saving money on transportation when I talk to other college students.

The fuel for my passion on this subject is that a good friend of mine purchased a BMW in college… with his life savings.

Sadly the main reason he purchased this very used and very old BMW is to show to other college students that he isn’t middle class. Instead of using that money to help his family move into a bigger apartment unit he used all of his savings to pay for a car.

If you stay at home for college then try to find cheap methods of transportation to get to school. I know that the bus may take longer, it might be full of weird strangers, and it may seem like a major inconvenience at times.

However, the money you save will put you in a great financial position for you when graduate from college. Taking the bus has allowed me to travel twice a year.

What will saving money on transportation do for you financially?

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Advice for parents of college students…

After readings hours upon hours of personal advice for college students I came to a conclusion: most of the advice is fairly judgmental/ignorant.

When you sit down with your child to help them with a budget/spending please remember that you were once a 20 year old college student.

Don’t tell your kid that they can save money by never going out or by cooking their own food everyday.

After stressing all month long for final exams, we all deserve to go out for a beer with some friends. I’m sure you did too when you were a college student. I have found that you need to be down to Earth and not come off as a preacher with our generation in order for your advice to be taken seriously.

Now it’s time to turn it over to you guys:

What do you wish you did differently as a new college student? What advice do you have for new college students?

[Check out our financial resources that you need to stack that money!]

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Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are similar to mutual funds in some ways. Like mutual funds, they’re professionally managed, ensuring that you get a basket of securities overseen by a portfolio manager. Investing in ETFs, like investing in mutual funds, helps you to diversify your investment portfolio. A single ETF can hold hundreds or even thousands of securities, hedging your exposure to risk while increasing your chances of earning returns.

How ETFs Differ From Mutual Funds

In other ways, ETFs differ significantly from mutual funds. Mutual funds start with cash and a group of fund managers. To create value for investors, fund managers take investor cash and purchase stocks for the fund. Index-driven mutual funds, which track indices like the S&P 500 or the NASDAQ, assemble certain stocks that tend to adjust according to index fluctuations. In many cases, mutual funds are managed by humans. In this way, mutual funds provide smaller investors with access to professional investment advice from people who’ve earned graduate degrees in securities analysis. In other cases, particularly in the case of index funds, computers manage do the management.

ETFs are a lot like index funds, but they trade on the open market. Instead of being priced once per day at a net average value (NAV), ETF prices change throughout the trading day. Because of the trading freedoms, ETFs mix the advantages of index investing with the flexibility of trading stocks. Take a look at some of these other ways that mutual funds and ETFs are different:

  • Buying and selling. Mutual funds are purchased through a mutual fund account. Shares can only be bought and sold once per day, and they’re priced according to the fund’s daily NAV. ETF shares can be purchased at any time of day at varying prices, usually through a brokerage account.
  • Minimum investments. Most mutual funds require a minimum investment. ETFs can be purchased for the price of a single share, making them ideal for small investors.
  • Expense ratios. Certain expenses related to administering the fund offset mutual fund returns. Because ETFs are index-driven, expenses tend to be lower than mutual fund expenses. Also, ETFs incur no sales charges or 12b-1 advertising fees. Lower expenses means you keep more of your returns.
  • Tax-friendliness. Mutual funds are required to pay out capital gains for redemptions at the end of each year, and those capital gains are taxable. ETFs use in-kind exchanges of stocks to minimize capital gains, causing less of a tax burden in most cases.

Getting Starting With ETFs

To get started with ETF investing, open a brokerage account. Some brokerages require minimum initial investments while others allow you to start buying ETF shares without a minimum investment. You can start with ETFs that track major indices, like the Dow Jones or the S&P 500. You can then branch out into ETFs that track particular industries, like health care or oil and gas, ETFs that track international indices, and ETFs that track emerging markets.

Follow these tips when selecting your ETFs:

  • Start by determining how you want to allocate your assets. Depending on age, risk tolerance, and other factors, you want to divide your portfolio appropriately between stocks, bonds, and cash. You can also decide how much to invest in domestic versus international equities and how much to allocate toward small, medium-sized, and large companies.
  • Buy some starter shares. If you have a small fixed dollar amount to invest each month, then start simple. Beginning investors can start by buying some shares of an ETF that tracks the S&P 500, like the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY).
  • Diversify. As your holdings grow, you can diversify by adding some bond ETF shares, like shares of PIMCO’s Total Return ETF (BOND). Continue investing and diversifying until you’ve designed the perfect portfolio. As your portfolio matures, you can evaluate whether to transfer some assets into mutual funds or other types of investments.
  • Have some fun. Dedicate a portion of your investment portfolio to gambling on your hunches, if you like. For example, if you have a good feeling about the health care industry, set aside a little money to buy some shares of health care–related ETFs. Also, experiment with strategies like selling short to see if you can make some extra cash.

Start Now

ETFs make great investments, and they’re accessible to investors that are just getting started. To see how much your investment could make over time, check out this calculator from the U.S. Treasury.

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“If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise – ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.” — Seth Godin

I totally agree with that quote. Those that stick out get criticized at first. Then the world slowly realizes that this person might be more interesting than they though.

The other day I shared Angelo’s story of how he’s totally dominating his finances in high school. Angelo is back by popular demand!

Welcome back Angelo!

Why didn’t you just attend the high school beside your home like we all do?

When the time came for me to start high school, my family wasn’t impressed with the local options. They wanted a place where I could get individualized attention, quality education and a unique experience.

We were desperately looking everywhere because it was starting to get late into August. We started considering homeschooling, but then a family friend told us where they were sending their son.

We got the information and were impressed with the program as well as the tuition rate and other expenses.

[Read up on how to graduate college debt-free!]

I sent in an application and two weeks later I boarded a plane to Kalispell, Montana.

Then what happened when you arrived at your unconventional high school?

When I got there, I was surprised to find a family who had been living totally off the grid with all of the conveniences of modern life that they wanted. It was nothing like I had ever seen before in my life.

My school program is kind of like a homeschooling experience away from home.

It’s on a forty acre piece of prime wilderness property overlooking the mountains in Glacier National Park. We have a pretty cold winter with lots of snow which means awesome snowboarding!

What’s the story behind your school?

My teacher and his wife decided when they got married that they weren’t going to follow the same life-route that everyone else did. They loved nature and the thought of living a country lifestyle where they could raise their family. They wanted to be independent of society and to be financially free.

They set a goal for themselves and were willing to do whatever it would take to accomplish it.

Teachers by trade, they got jobs at a school in Southern California where they worked and lived for about five years on one salary. They saved the other’s salary for their property. After five years, they found their property in Montana and paid the whole price so that they owned it free and clear. They feel strongly against debt. The property they chose had millions of dollars worth of resources on it. There were ten gravity fed springs, virgin timber and flat spots for gardening as well as some hills. The view of the mountains would make any million drool.

They worked another three years to save the money they needed to build their home and then quit their jobs. When they moved to their property full time they started building their house themselves with the help of their neighbors and friends. They saved a lot of money doing this because they chose quality material and made quality lumber with their chainsaw mill. They also didn’t have to pay for someone else’s labor.

After their home was built, they started working the land to produce gardens and firewood. It took a lot of work because the Rockies aren’t exactly prime farming country especially with the cold winters that can get as cold as 40 degrees below zero. Almost forty years later, they have a well developed garden that grows all the produce they need to live on and two large winter greenhouses that house their fifteen fruit trees so they won’t die in the winter.

The 10 springs provide their water, plumbing and irrigation for their gardens. They have a couple small pools in their solarium and a fountain in their circle driveway that pumps 10,000 gallons of new water which ends up in their pond. They don’t have to pay it for since the water comes out on their land and goes back into the ground on their land.

All of the facilities are heated with wood. This includes cooking and water heating. The Mrs. has a wood stove in her kitchen that they recovered from an old homestead cabin in the area that she cooks all of the meals on.

All of the buildings where people live have water tanks that have been welded on to wood burning stoves. To heat the building and the water for showers, swimming and cooking, simply throw a few logs in the firebox with some diesel starter and light a match.

How did the actual school form?

After they built their home and had a daughter, some former students contacted them and were curious if they would tutor them. The word soon got around and before they knew it, they started taking teens into their home and have been running a high school program ever since.

After thirty years, they will be retiring soon and will consequentially will be closing the school.

This couple devised a plan to become financially independent that involved living an active life in nature and working the land.

It took a lot of hard work to get started and it still does take a lot of work to maintain it, but they have vowed to live there until the day that they die. They plan on being buried there too!

They save so much money because they have no utilities. They provide their own electricity using the gravity fed water to run a small hydroelectric powerhouse. All of their plumbing needs are provided for by the springs. They have a continuous supply of firewood and lumber in the wood on their property. Groceries are never a necessity. They could live on what they grow indefinitely. Although they go to the grocery store for oranges, avocados and bananas, they will never be dependent on anyone for their basic needs.

By running the small school program, they have been able to provide a steady income for themselves. When school is out, they make plenty of money working for neighbors that can’t do what they can do. Keep in mind, this couple has a daughter in her thirties and just got on Medicare. They keep active to live so they are physically capable to do a whole lot more than others their age.

They have taken advantage of the financial opportunities that the government offers as well. Because they run their own business, they turn a lot of what they make in for business expenses and maintaining the facilities which just so happens to be his home. Since he doesn’t need a whole lot to live on, he doesn’t need to earn a whole lot. This worked great when his daughter was still living at home because he could claim the earned income credit that government gives to low income families. He tells me all the time “the government can’t tax your carrots, figs, potatoes and firewood.”

The produce you grow anyway is better than the stuff you pay for in the store anyway.

He has also put money away in various retirement accounts such as roth IRAs. Their biggest investment has been the land.

The school program teaches us all of this. It involves your normal school subjects such as Algebra, Geometry, Physics, English and Economics.

In addition to the traditional curriculum, we also have a physical work program that involves helping them maintain the gardens, buildings and forests.

We always joke with them that they have figured out how to get people to pay to work for them. As far as physical education goes we have annual camping and raft trips in Glacier National Park, frequent hiking trips all over the area and snowboarding every week in the winter.

With all of this going on, I don’t have the time to worry about using the Internet, not to mention the hassle it takes to just get cell phone reception. I get all the internet usage I need when I’m home. It’s hard to get into trouble when you are so far out like we are. We are sixty miles from the nearest town.

At the end of day, I’ve learned that you just need a few essential things to live. It’s fine to have conveniences, but not allow them to take over your life.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves if the things that we want are worth the stress at work, the taxes we pay on the money and the time that we could spend doing a whole lot more with our life.

I think that everyone needs sit and think about the time that they have left to live. Most likely, the bulk of us will live into our seventies or eighties. If you’re eighteen like me, that’s maybe sixty or so years to live and thirty to forty years to work. What do you want to do with that time you’ve got left?

Any final thoughts, Angelo?

I know that this is a financial blog, but if you look at finances from the big picture of life and think about the impact it makes on us now, we should realize that it should only be a part of life and not the consuming factor of it.

The goal of this blog anyway is to get to a free financial state.

Because when you get to be financially free, you’ll be free to do all the things in the world that you want to do. My generation of millennials needs to realize that we don’t need everything right now and that we don’t need everything that we see.

I’ve found that the less that we have, the better off we will be.

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If you don’t see any REAL and TANGIBLE results from Studenomics, I’m a loser and a failure.

I’m talking about specific results for the task at hand. This means:

If I wrote articles and nobody ever saw any results, I would be a COMPLETE FAILURE and I would give up.

You know what’s the best part of Studenomics? Hearing from you guys!

I’m not just trying to shamelessly pander. Sometimes you guys do annoy me. However, when you guys succeed (even a small win), it really makes my day.

Today we’re going to see how one of our buddies is dominating his finances… in high school!

Enter Angelo with his story on saving money in high school.

The week went great. I worked my butt off the days I could work this week since the weather has sucked here and my work is subject to the weather.

I’m saving every penny that I can. I’m 18 years old and don’t have a car since I’m saving for college.

I’ve been eating homemade food for lunch for as long as I have remembered. Usually my family and I make a huge batch of a meal and stick it in the refrigerator; scooping into Tupperware what we need every day. I let my family drive me around to my appointments. It sucks a little bit, but it’s a lot cheaper than having my own car right now to pay insurance, depreciation, gas and maintenance on. If I need to get somewhere where they’re not going, I take the bus.

When I hang out with my buddies (once a week on the weekends) I let them do all the driving. If they want to chill with me, fine, come pick me up. Usually if we want to eat, I convince someone who isn’t that hungry to split something with me so that I only have to pay for half the price of three quarters or more of the meal. If that doesn’t work, I just wait to eat at home or I start going through coupons I have stuffed in my wallet.

Even though I’m a teenager whose “supposed to” have girlfriend to satisfy my “raging” hormones, I don’t have one. I’ve had plenty of offers but I just turn them into more friends I can split the dinner bill with. I look around at all my buddies with the customized cars and the cute girlfriends, and I’m not jealous because they’re all broke all the time. When they’re chilling with their girls, I’m making money.

I haven’t done a real extensive calculation yet, but I figure that if I spent about 20% of my $400 pay check this week, 10% of it going to a non-profit tax-refundable cause and the rest on me, I did ok.

###

I had to follow up and ask for more…

How does Angelo make all of this possible at such a young age?

As a young person, I’d like to direct myself in a direction opposite of the majority of my generation. I don’t want to spend money on crap I won’t need, only to spend more to store it all. I don’t want to have a huge student loan bill, nor a mortgage, nor a car payment.

What I want to do with my life is keep as much of my money as I can so I can have it for what I want to do with it and do with my life what I love doing.

So, right now I am about to be a high school senior. I’ve been attending a private school thanks to several wealthy philanthropists and have been living with an aunt and uncle.

Financially, I’m currently a dependent of my aunt and uncle.

For the last several years, I have been working in the summer as a landscaper/groundskeeper for a wealthy family outside of Washington D.C. On my off days I do various side jobs for coworkers of my aunt and anyone else that will hire me to do work.

I jump at any opportunity to save money right now.

At my normal summer job I work between 24 and 30 hours a week at the rate of $8 an hour. On my off days, I book most of my side jobs and don’t usually have to quote a price. If I do, I normally charge $10 to $15 an hour, but I have been using a different strategy lately. I’ve told a lot of people that I leave it between “God and the client” to decide what to pay me. I use the compelling points that I am a hard working student that is saving money for school and other important costs. People feel guilty or philanthropic and as a result, in those situations I end up making $25 to $30 an hour. It works great!

As a high school senior, I have been looking at a lot of college options and what I want to do with my life. My uncle, who is like a second father to me told me, “I don’t care what you want to do with your life as long as you follow your passion, you contribute to society and end up successful. It doesn’t matter if you end up being a doctor or a garbage man who can’t wait to see what’s in the next garbage can.”

With that in mind, I have made a list of my passions.

I love helping people in any way that I can. I believe in the teaching man to fish idea rather than giving the fish every day. I have a passion for sharing my faith, helping people, taking part in my community and a lot of outdoor stuff.

I really like “do it yourself” kind of people. I dream of one day having a sustainable home that combines natural resources and the comforts of modern living to live economically stable. I’d like to start my own private school one day that is affordable, and teaches kids real history, the basics of economics, practical skills and morals.

Careers that I have considered are Naval Chaplaincy, teaching, psychology, private security, carpenter work and some other business ideas.

After graduation, I plan on moving back with my parents and joining the navy. I want to take advantage of the incredible financial opportunities from the military healthcare system ad the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’ve also researched other options such as community college and internet universities.

That’s what’s going on with me right now. I hope it’s what you wanted.

###

So I then asked Angelo about burn out and if he’s afraid of it.

How does Angelo avoid burn out?

I’m not afraid of burn out. Rather, I think of ways to avoid it. I think that if you really love what you do, because it’s rooted in a passion, you won’t ever get tired of it. More than likely, you’ll have to be pulled off the job for some circumstantial reason such as health, age, etc. before you’ll burn out.

On the other hand, although you may have a burning passion for the profession you are in, if you do not balance your time between personal and work time, you will get burned out.

“Too much of anything is not good, even if that something is good for you.”

This is especially true for professions that involve high stress: medical work, law enforcement, firefighting, military service, etc. “All work no play makes Johnny a very dull boy.” That includes fun work. “All good times must come to end.” That’s what makes them good times.

Obviously, if you don’t have a passion for your job and you’re just clocking in from 9 to 5 just for the benefits and pay, then you will burn out.

An anecdote of this very subject is found in the life of a very close family member of mine. Since he was a child, he could never keep away from the firehouse. He had a lot of jobs, but it wasn’t until he became a paramedic that he was finally able to live his childhood dream every day. For twenty-five years he never needed an alarm clock because he couldn’t wait to get to work. His pride for his job even showed in the perfectly starched creases in his uniform. It all ended when he had a terrible accident at work that forced him to retire.

He was left with no work and guaranteed bills for life.

He now drives a county bus and hates his job. He puts up with idiotic coworkers, totally ungrateful passengers and a barrage of inconsiderate traffic, especially during rush hour. He has to set his alarm every morning and motivates himself to get through every day so he can get home to watch the ball game or the next episode of his favorite TV series. His uniform is clean, but nothing fancy and the weekends and days off seem like they’re never long enough.

So how do you avoid burn out?

  1. Don’t think about burn out.
  2. Follow your true passion.
  3. Stay out of debt.
  4. Be careful to ensure that nothing will ever jeopardize your plan to do what you love. In case an accidents do happen, have plans in place that involve another passion of yours.

This is not dummy proof, but it’s a good start.

###

[Notes from Martin: Thank you Angelo for sharing your story with us. I can't believe that Angelo is only in high school. Please share this story with the student in your life.]

Ask the readers: What advice would you give to a young Angelo if you had to?

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