It can be easy to look back on your life and ask “what if?” What if I didn’t take out student loans? What if I chose a more lucrative major in college? What if I didn’t drink so much wine last night?
Well, I’ve got news for you. “What if” is a waste of your time and energy. You cannot change the past, so you need to put on your adult pants and move on with your life.
That said, we all have a responsibility to those younger than us to help them try to avoid some of these “what ifs” we are now stuck with. While everyone should most definitely make some of their own mistakes, it doesn’t hurt to help them out a little bit. After all, I’m sure someone in your past encouraged you to make a decision that kept you from asking “what if?”
Blogger and entrepreneur, Geof White, sent me a copy of his book Lemonade Stand Economics about a million months ago. LSE is essentially a guidebook for high school students who want to hustle their way to a college education free of student loans. Here in the blogosphere, we’re quitting our day jobs left and right to be the BAMF entrepreneurs we are. But can you imagine if you would’ve worked for yourself in high school?
If you are anything like me, you probably worked at a fast food establishment or clothing store in high school. I started my first minimum wage job at the age of fifteen at the delicious Domino’s Pizza and I loved it. However, I wasn’t exactly making bank. I started off making around $5.50/hour (which was minimum wage then, which makes me feel super old) and left when I was making around $8/hour. Your experience was probably similar.
But what if you had instead made $15, $25, or even $50 an hour? Imagine how that savings could have helped you pay for college without the need for student loans! What would you be able to do without student loan payments?
Well, Geof goes ahead and answers this one with a depressing calculation. The average student loan payment is $280 a month. If you put that $280 per month in your Roth IRA from age 21 to 65, you will have saved $857,000 assuming a 7% interest rate. Go ahead and scream and cry about your life choices, I’ll wait…
You back, now? Provided you aren’t hanging from your shower rod, let’s talk a little more about the book. Lemonade Stand Economics is targeted towards teenagers in their early years of high school who want to use their summers working their tails off to pay for college. It recommends different types of businesses to get into, how to train, how to set prices, how to advertise, and perhaps most importantly, how to pay the Kid Card. Everyone loves a hard working college bound teen.
Becoming an entrepreneur is not something the average kid considers, outside of the typical lemonade stand. I did a little jewelry selling as a kid (even creating a pretty sweet type of bracelet namely “Mr. Adjustable” — and yes, there was a theme song…), but nothing that would ever pay for my college education. I absolutely agree we should encourage the younger generation to work for themselves. The ability to create their own jobs will be a huge help in the real world.
If you know a high school or college student (or two or three) with a good work ethic and a desire to graduate debt-free, pick up a copy of Lemonade Stand Economics for them. It could save them thousands of dollars in interest as well as enable them to save a healthy amount for retirement after graduation.
Also, be sure to check out Geof’s blog, Lemonade Stand Economics! He’s a cool dude and both the blog and the book are worth a read![I received this book for free. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own. I don’t bullshit for free anything.]
[Images from Lemonade Stand Economics & imgur]