Graduating from high school and moving on to higher education is life-changing for many young people who then turn to their friends for support.
I remember when I was getting ready to move on from secondary school to University in the UK I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
I completed some education research through my school and finally decided on a career path that I wanted to take and a school that I thought I might enjoy going to.
Education or Friends
I had friends growing up but I was never one who was always out partying because my time was very limited. My parents always kept me busy and when I went on to University I kept myself busy with my studies and my part-time job.
I needed a balance of friendship but that was small compared to wanting to graduate and find a good job. Some but not all the friends that I did have always wanted to go to the clubs drinking but I was never into all of that. I’d go once in a while but it wasn’t really my thing, thankfully.
Personally I found my Ontario education to be much different because I had just turned 30 and had a better sense of the real world. I’ve never messed up my education but I have friends who have.
Some peers think that if you don’t smoke weed, drink until you drop and have sex with all the random people you can then you are not “good enough” to be part of the “gang“.
Such a sad misconception.
In the end they suffer the consequences because they struggle between pleasing people they think are their friends and the education they are paying big dollars for.
Today this young man who wrote to me is looking for advice to move away from the party-life he has lived and the friends who he struggles to say no to.
I’ll let him explain.
I hope you don’t mind me writing to you but I feel a bit lost and thought maybe you could help me out as it’s not always easy talking to my parents about my personal life.
It was at the end of last year when I was looking online for a student budget because I was deep in debt with my credit card and failing my education.
When I left home to live with my buddies I thought life would be much different from living with my parents and it was, or is I should say except not in a good way. I have OSAP debt totalling approximately $25,000 and have failed one of my courses along the way due to my bad choices.
The debt doesn’t stop with OSAP either because I have a credit card for $5000 that I’ve maxed out on partying with my friends. I would buy booze, eat out and pay for anything else we bought to enjoy ourselves any time we wanted to.
Most times I didn’t even want to go out with the guys but they’d push until I say yes. That is my problem and I don’t want to look like a loser who wants to stay in studying all the time. I graduated from high school with great marks and come from a good home.
I’m scared to tell my parents I’ve blown so much money and still have no degree although they know I have a bit of OSAP since they paid for most of my education.
I was hoping to maybe get a teaching education or a physical education degree so I can teach sports/phys-ed in high school but I’m not sure if that will ever happen.
When I was in high school I played football, basketball and soccer and a bit of a book nerd because I studied hard to get good grades. Now I feel like I’ve let myself go and just want to get back on track but don’t know how.
I’m not depressed or anything I’m just annoyed that I’ve let it get this far and ultimately I’m going to pay the price for letting my emotions get in the way of my dreams.
The effects of weed were really not worth smoking it because I never went to class nor did it make me feel good. I only did it because it was passed around and again I felt pressured. I have since distanced myself from these friends so I can find ways to move on with my life and graduate.
I don’t want to let my parents down or myself even though I’m upset with how far I’ve let this go. I’m a well-educated guy and I should know better. I don’t think some people realize how difficult peer-pressure can be.
I just wish friends would listen when I try to say no I have an exam or I have homework to do rather than making me feel like I’m not cool.
Who studies anyways? I need to, that’s who. I can’t afford to go out partying any longer nor am I the guy who sleeps around. I’m just a regular guy who likes to have fun but doesn’t know how to say no and mean it.
I also have a part-time job where I earn about $600 net a month which I would like to start putting towards my credit card debt. I will graduate again this year without my degree which means I will have to come back again in the summer or next year to get the last class I need to graduate.
I’m hoping to do it over the summer without distractions so I can finish this up. In the summer I plan to work-full time so I don’t need to get any more OSAP and can pay off this debt faster.
I have your budget downloaded but wanted to know what you thought about my $5000 credit card debt (19% interest) and my OSAP and how I should go about it.
I am back living at home now for free because my parents let me move back in. I was living with friends, paying rent but I’m so over that.
I don’t really have any personal expenses apart from
- my cell phone $55
- bus pass $55 month
- spending money $100
- clothes $50
- personal hygiene $30
Total $290 which leaves me roughly $300 or so to pay off my credit card debt. I talked to my credit card company and they said if I paid $300 a month I’d likely pay my card off in full with-in just under 2 years.
I’m fine with that but I’m glad that I didn’t spend more than that. Two years paying to get rid of my debt is long but I know that I’m not done when the credit card is paid off.
My mom and dad pay for food and laundry and don’t ask for any money although I’d pay it if they wanted. They know I have debt so I think this is their way of trying to help me out, so I get out.
I’m tired of not having any money and this debt bothers me.
I’m not looking to get bashed, trust me I’ve done that to myself. I know what I did was wrong but when you are young you sometimes don’t get it until it’s too late.
Do you have any advice for me?
No name given.
Dear CBB Reader,
Thanks for sharing your story with us and taking the time to reach out which is not always easy to do for some people.
First off I’m happy to read that you have made the decision to back away from the problem which seems to be your friends. You’re not and never will be a loser for saying no. The issue I see continuing is your inability to say no to people.
Peer-pressure I’m afraid will follow you in life whether it’s in your personal life or at work and you need to know how to handle it by having a voice and trusting in yourself. The more you stand up for yourself the easier it will get for you.
So try it next time someone asks you to do something and stick to what you need to do not what others want you to do.
We all make mistakes in life and hopefully we learn from them so they don’t happen again. In your case your financial mistakes could be worse so thankfully you have stopped yourself and want to make changes.
Moving home is not fun but this will help you get rid of your credit card debt and possibly your OSAP depending on how long you plan to stay.
At least get rid of the credit card debt before you consider venturing out on your own again because you haven’t seen nothing yet.
Life is expensive.
You have the budget which is great and all you need to do is fill it in with the appropriate numbers. You are earning a small income right now working part-time and in the summer when you work full-time this will help fire off that debt faster.
It’s quite incredible how long debt takes to pay. Imagine how long it would take you if you were only paying the minimum required payments. Quite a bit longer I’m afraid and that’s the debt loop so many people find themselves in.
By the looks of your expenses you don’t have much to pay for but if you can even cut your personal spending further you can use that money towards the debt. I give myself an allowance of $35 a month to spend on whatever I want.
I’d also set aside a few dollars each month in case an emergency of sorts popped up and you needed a bit more cash. The last thing you want to do is use that credit card again.
I know it’s tough for some people not to own a cell phone but if you can do without it I’d get rid of that too. That extra $55 will go a long way towards your debt.
I believe now that you are budgeting you will see how it will help you as long as you are dedicated to using the budget. I’m certain that once you are done paying your debts that the budget will be part of your life moving forward. At least that is how it was for us.
We didn’t stop using our budget just because we became debt free. In your case you haven’t even begun your life outside of grad yet which means potentially a mortgage, family etc. depending on your choices.
As for your education go get that course you failed and graduate school. One thing some kids forget is that going to school is not free and every time they fail because they are too busy partying is not only money lost forever but time.
You are missing out on finding a career in your field and a salary that you want to see increase with years of experience. I started my career late and it worked out for me but If I had the chance to go back I’d do things much differently.
You have this time now so use it to your advantage. I can assure you that one day you will look back and be thankful that you woke up and decided to make these changes in your life.
I hope that motivates you a bit my friend and if you need any help with your budget send me an email with your questions.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation as this student during your post-secondary education? What tips can you offer him?
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