College Connect: Paying the Bills, While still Working towards a Career

Posted By David Wilhite

By Garrett Michael

Abbi Camillo, an interior design major at the University of Georgia, has struggled to find a stable college job that will cover rent and other monthly living expenses, while also enhancing her ability to find a career. This is a problem many students face, and it can seem like an insurmountable wall to climb once bills begin to go unpaid. Matt Goren, who teaches personal finance at the University of Georgia, is an expert in personal finance for young people and has valuable insight on finding the job that becomes a career. He hosts a radio show called “Nothing Funny about Money” and episodes can be found on nothingfunnyaboutmoney.org.

College Connect facilitated Camillo’s questions in an exchange with Goren.

Camillo: How can I find jobs that could lead to careers?

Goren: The first thing that comes to mind is that you need to be on sites like LinkedIn. Take advantage of the search function and the ability to narrow down what you are looking for. Search for people with the title of “manager” or “president” or “owner.” These are the people who have the ability to hire you. When it comes to getting the job, be ready to say what you can do for that business with the skills that you have. It is amazing how much it changes the perspective of the person interviewing you. Simply walking into an interview saying “I need this job because I need the money,” does not have a high likelihood of success. Employers want to know what you can do for them, not what they can give to you (at least initially). Do not be deterred if a company isn’t hiring at the time. Ask if they know anyone who might be looking for the skills you already have. Stay aware of what is currently valued in your field, and don’t be afraid to acquire new skills to make yourself more valuable in the market.

Camillo: What are some things I can do to cut back on spending?

Goren: Some people will say to cut out the little things. “Cut out that cup of Starbucks, and you will save over a hundred dollars a year,” young people are often told. While that may be true, it pales in comparison to what could be saved if you are able to cut down on major expenses. Expenses fall into needs and wants, everyone has heard that. That being said, some needs get confused with wants, and vice versa. Here is an example. Owning and operating a nice car can cost around $500 a month, factoring in insurance, gas, and paying off the car itself. If that cost can be cut in half by driving a car that is already paid off, you will save around $3,000 a year. You would literally have to buy 600 cups of coffee a year (at $5 a cup) to equal the amount you spend on a nicer car. Sometimes it is not a car, but cable TV or a nice apartment. When evaluating your spending, look to cut back on the big, long term payments rather than the small occasional ones.

Garrett Michael is a journalism major at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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