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 Post subject: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:54 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:49 am
Posts: 4
Hey all, I'm new to this whole personal finance thing, so bear with me!

I am coming to college on a full-tution scholarship through Army ROTC. I have my rent covered, as well as books, fees, etc. Basically I spend money on groceries, clothes, and sports supplements. I am a dedicated rugby player and amateur boxer so that is where a lot of my time goes to, as well as Army ROTC.

My question is this: I own a car outright (1999 Toyota Camry), will have no student debt when I graduate, no current debt, own no credit cards, and have a guaranteed career as an Army Officer (50k/year starting), how much effort should I put into saving at this point in my life? Or am I okay to use my monthly income from work-study (about 500/month) on "wants" (travel, parties, nicer clothes, etc) rather than building up a 6 month emergency fund, etc, etc like Dave Ramsey and others suggest?

I am on my parent's insurance still, and have a good relationship with them if something TERRIBLE were to happen, and I just was looking for counsel on whether I need to avoid being "too responsible" at this time in my life?


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:44 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:29 pm
Posts: 1627
Location: Seattle, WA
$500/month seems like a lot for "wants" at your age...


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:59 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1200
stannius wrote:
$500/month seems like a lot for "wants" at your age...

My thoughts exactly.

Quote:
I just was looking for counsel on whether I need to avoid being "too responsible" at this time in my life?

Huh? You're goal is to be an Army officer that will be leading other people...possibly in combat...but you don't want to be "too responsible"?


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:24 am 

Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:56 am
Posts: 134
You say you don't need an emergency fund now because your parents will bail you out, but is that really how you want to live or would you prefer to take responsibility for yourself? Will you continue to turn to your parents for help after you graduate? And what are your plans for when your car dies, can you do without it while you save up for another? It sounds like you have some money to have fun with, which is fine, but even in college stuff can happen and it's never too early to start saving for retirement, or a wedding fund, or a down payment, or whatever large expense might be coming your way.

And I don't know if there is such a thing as "too responsible". Too serious, maybe. Taking on the responsibilities of others at detriment to yourself, sure. But too responsible for yourself and your current and future needs? No.

I'd also like to point out that there are plenty of ways to have fun and enjoy your time in school without spending $500/month. And, isn't your focus supposed to be on your studies and ROTC responsibilities? Followed by rugby and boxing? Then of course there's the time spent doing the work study that's paying you.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:25 pm 
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Posts: 5395
The most worrying thing you said was that you spend money on sports supplements. You'd be better off figuring out how much you spend on that and just flushing that money down the toilet. That stuff is worthless and has been demonstrated as such time and time again by actual scientific studies. Often those things turn out to be harmful years later when people (including athletes) start dropping dead. But, the army will be paying for your medical care so what do you care?

Ok, now that that is off my chest, let's talk about that $500 extra a month. I say have a little bit of fun in college. But also save at least half of that $500! It is money you don't need by your own admission. But you probably will need it 10 years or so now when you have a family and you realize that the military actually does not pay that well so you can't really afford everything you want then. If you've started saving early you will be in much better shape at that time. Look back in the archives of this forum to find that there are people that post that they make $50k a year but are barely getting by. I've lived in military towns all my life. I have met very few military people who were well off.

It's also far less of a sure thing than you seem to think. In the early 90s I knew quite a few guys who planned to make a career of it but ended up getting out because of the drawdown back then. Perhaps you have heard that the defense budget is under extreme pressure to be cut...

I think if you use your $500 a month to party and play you will come to regret it in 10 years or so.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:49 am
Posts: 4
I should clarify a few things

1) When I say I don't want to be "too responsible" it means I don't want to look back on my college years and regret being anal about money when I could've had more fun with it. I have a 3.6 GPA and wake up every morning at 5:30 for morning workouts so I do alright compared to most

2) I don't live off my parents, at all, right now. I buy my own clothes, supplies, and groceries. They had a college fund for me that is currently untouched if anything were to happen, and my dad has let me know they'd be more than willing to help out if my car were to die or something

3) While a lot of sports supplements are junk, I spend money on a good multivitamin, whey protein, and a quality fish oil. Anybody who tells you that stuff is junk is a moron.

I'll just go ahead and say my grocery costs are pretty high, probably 250-300/month, as I eat mostly organic fruits and veggies, no dairy (so Almond Milk is a regular thing) and lean meat, but I'm trying to cut back costs there.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:44 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
Everyone has already put you through the ringer, but you can never be "too responsible" or have "too much money." You should save while you can.

And..you have a lot riding on your military gig. What if you end up hating it OR your future wife/kids hate it. You'll be changing jobs and realizing you wish you had saved some money when you had it.

Best of luck.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:49 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 2:23 pm
Posts: 810
Rugby is latin for binge drinking and maybe tossing/kicking a ball around.

Have some fun. Why do you need the approval from some random people online to spend some money? Pick your battles, have some fun, but that doesn't mean you have to spend it all. Have a little play money, but also save some. So go ahead, take that special girl out to the sizzler, you certainly have my permission.

Plenty of college kids have "fun" on less and some have "fun" on more. "Fun" is not always defined by the amount of money you spend.

_________________
Bichon Frise

"If you only have 1 year to live, move to Penn...as it will seem like an eternity."


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:31 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1200
Quote:
1) When I say I don't want to be "too responsible" it means I don't want to look back on my college years and regret being anal about money when I could've had more fun with it. I have a 3.6 GPA and wake up every morning at 5:30 for morning workouts so I do alright compared to most

I know plenty of retirees with no retirement savings who get by on a few dollars a month from social security. Oddly enough, they thought along the same lines 50 years ago as you do now.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:24 pm 
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RJHiggins12 wrote:
3) While a lot of sports supplements are junk, I spend money on a good multivitamin, whey protein, and a quality fish oil. Anybody who tells you that stuff is junk is a moron.


Ok, well that stuff is not so bad...

It sounds like you've got a bright future but you really ought to listen to what everyone is saying here. The time to build up savings is early. Most people can't do that because they need all the money they can get to eat while in college. And many of them take out big loans with the hope of repaying it later from a big salary.

In your case you have money now but you have also chosen a career that, while it is admirable, does not pay extremely well. $50k seems like a lot when you are an 18-22 year old college student surrounded by peers that have very little. But it's not that much when you have a wife and kids to support, are stationed far from home and want to make the most of visits, etc. etc.

I think someone else made a very good point as well - what are you going to do when you fall in love and your partner has a career as well or just doesn't like moving around every two years or having her guy off in some scary place all the time? You can say what you want now but don't you think it would be good to prepare yourself financially for choices later? When you're done you'll owe the army 2 years or 4 years or 8 years or whatever. But after that time is up, don't you want to be in a position to choose what you do after that? Do you really want to have to stay in the army because you don't have the financial resources to make any other choice? I mean, even if you love the army, don't you think you will love it even more if you stay in because you want to rather than because you have to?

I had to work and didn't have a lot of play money in college yet I had a lot of fun anyway! I'm not suggesting you save all your $500 a month but I am suggesting you save at least half of it!

In any case, good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:42 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:49 am
Posts: 4
Thanks for taking the time to reply!

I should also make a note, I plan on entering the Army Reserve after graduating, and I am actually a Secondary Education major, and want to be a teacher/coach during the week, and then do drill one weekend a month, obviously being deployed is always a factor as well with that, but that's all impossible to predict at this point. I am actually currently applying for Teach for America and looking at other options, so I plan on making about 40-50K teaching, then 10-12K additionally as an Army Reserve Officer doing drill on the weekends and stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:49 am
Posts: 4
I guess a less broad question would be this.

I liked Dave Ramsey's baby steps, but it doesn't really pertain to me. I paid off my debt (fraternity dues, haha), and now have my Army money and work-study money coming in (again, about 500/month), and I guess am looking for a practical set of "baby steps" that applies to a college student with no debt, no loans, but who doesn't want to go over-the-top on saving/frugality - anybody have suggestions for a "college student baby steps" towards financial awesomeness?


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:05 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5395
RJHiggins12 wrote:
I guess a less broad question would be this.

I liked Dave Ramsey's baby steps, but it doesn't really pertain to me. I paid off my debt (fraternity dues, haha), and now have my Army money and work-study money coming in (again, about 500/month), and I guess am looking for a practical set of "baby steps" that applies to a college student with no debt, no loans, but who doesn't want to go over-the-top on saving/frugality - anybody have suggestions for a "college student baby steps" towards financial awesomeness?


Step 1: Open an account with Vanguard
Step 2: Have $250 automatically transferred from your checking account to Vanguard every month
Step 3: When the balance in Vanguard is $3000, move the money to Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund
Step 4: Direct your future $250/month automatic transfers to the Total Stock Market Fund


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:21 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 1952
RJHiggins12 wrote:
I'll just go ahead and say my grocery costs are pretty high, probably 250-300/month, as I eat mostly organic fruits and veggies, no dairy (so Almond Milk is a regular thing) and lean meat, but I'm trying to cut back costs there.

On the other hand, maybe some of that organic stuff is http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/science/earth/study-questions-advantages-of-organic-meat-and-produce.html according to scientists at Stanford. And in the news this week, it's been determined in a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association that fish oil doesn't make much difference either, when it comes to heart attacks.

Maybe they're all morons?


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 Post subject: Re: College Student - Special Situation
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:29 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 2:23 pm
Posts: 810
personally, I'd roll the dice and try get my 20 in.

very few people are allowed to fulfill their commitment through the reserves. not sure why they gave a secondary education major a full ride and then let go to the reserves, but I digress.

I'm a big proponent of goal based saving. We all have wants/needs today and wants/needs in the future. Perhaps, you think Alpo is a fine nutritional supplement and are happy to eat it while in your 60's and beyond. That is all fine and dandy, but what would be the point of saving right now? After all, the gubmint doesn't like the elderly sick and starving in the streets. At least, I've never had to step over a starving elderly person moaning in the streets in this country.

"Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of cancer."

_________________
Bichon Frise

"If you only have 1 year to live, move to Penn...as it will seem like an eternity."


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