Yes, you heard me right. Don’t be financially responsible. I’ll tell you what I wished I would have done when I was 18 in light of our current culture.
1) Going to college, make sure and go to the most prestigious school you can get accepted into. That looks great on your resume. And don’t try to do it debt free; instead of working during summers you’ll have to get an internship.
2) Open a credit card as soon as you turn 18. Pay the balance every month (if you can), but use it more than you use your debit card. This way, you’ll build a credit score. This does actually require you to be responsible enough not to abuse “free money” at 18. And not to be a pessimist, but…good luck.
3) Every summer between semesters at college, don’t worry about your mounting debts, because you need something else to look good on paper – experience. You’ll quickly find, if you’re motivated, driven, and want to make a difference, you’re going to have to get a job in a career area that is highly competitive. Politics or policy, for instance, here in DC. So every summer, apply for an unpaid internship in the career area you want to be in one day. You’ll work like a dog, you’ll probably have to use that credit card of yours to pay for food and housing (because unless you’re super lucky those won’t be provided), and by the time you’re done it will be school time again! Huzzah!
When you graduate college, even with the ridiculous debt you’ve accrued, you’ll have more positive credit than someone who was financially responsible and took out no debt (go get that car you need now that your clunker died!), and you’ll have 1-4 years of relevant experience in the field you want to work.
Finally, 5) write up a killer resume, and realize that you spent all that money, got into all that debt, and spent all those summers, just so you can write a few lines of text on a page that will be electronically submitted to someone you don’t know who will spend less than 30 seconds reading it.
As unfortunate as it is, our society punishes young people who are responsible enough to work hard during their summers, get through school debt free, and who have never opened a line of credit. You can’t get a small loan to buy a car (I’ve tried), you can’t get a job you’re passionate about (also tried), because even an entry level one requires experience (wait…so you’re telling me I need experience for the job I’m getting…for experience?), and your prized college education has been marginalized to being worth nothing more than a check in a box on your next job application.
DC sees young people like this nonstop. And the sad part is they are buying the lie that the insane amount of student debt they’re accruing is OK because they’ll get a good job right out of college. Do you wonder why millennials are “demanding” good jobs? Take a look at the debts they have to pay off.
So you tell me…in our current society – or here in DC – are there any young people out there regretting being financially responsible?