As students everywhere are getting their tax returns back and experiencing a bevy of free time on their hands due to classes ending, a few things will readily become apparent in campus bars all across the country. The most obvious of these realizations will be that students are just really bad with money in general. Beyond that, most students simply have no idea how to handle the windfall of money they are about to receive after they check out our book which includes detailed advice on how to maximize your student tax returns and get thousands of dollars back from the government every year.
Instead of subjecting you to the same boring list of “what your tax return should be used for” I figured I’d point out what most of you will do instead. If you stay away from these black holes of money, you’ll probably thank yourself when tuition is due next fall.
1) Class Is Done… Shots, Shots, Shots!
Ok, so I’m sympathetic on this score. Enjoy the last day of class in style. That doesn’t have to turn into a, “I’ll see you at the bottom of the bottle in a week” type of scenario however. Get it out of your system and then move on. Exam periods were some of the most efficient time periods I had since I could basically plan my entire day to benefit my own selfish preferences. Get your beach body on at the gym, get some sort of study schedule (when and how is up to you), and then live it up when a big exam is done, or the night before you have to move away for your summer job.
2) I’ve Been Cooking for Myself Way Too Often Lately
Students love eating out. I think it’s because most of us could never afford any sort of “upper level” entertainment options, so we would settle for getting someone else to cook for us. To this day I have my university eating out phase to thank for my sushi addiction. Once again, it’s all good to try some new stuff, or treat yourself at the end of a hard academic semester. BUT this doesn’t need to lead to you becoming a self-appointed food critic and trying to break records for most places visited. Heck, even those late-night Micky Ds jaunts will hurt the account balance sooner or later (not to mention another important number – your waistline measurement).
3) I Need New Clothes – After All Summer Is Right Around the Corner
Here’s what I don’t get:
A) Ladies, men will notice if you’re hot. We’re not good for much as a species, but this is something we generally have down pretty well. Choosing one bathing suit over another, or being the 373rd person in the mall wearing yoga pants isn’t going to mean a whole lot either way in terms of attracting more or less eyeballs. Whatever you wore last summer will work just fine.
B) Guys, ever notice how the dude at the bar wearing the dumb t-shirt and basic jeans gets the most phone numbers? Again, women can usually tell pretty quick if you’re good looking or not regardless of how much axe body spray you’ve doused yourself in, or how many gallons of substance you have sitting on your head. Confidence is to expensive clothing what Ryan Gosling is to Steve Buschemi in terms of the “what might get you laid” list. The great part about that is the confidence is way cheaper than whatever the hell that douche at the bar is trying to pull off.
4) This Would Cover the Down Payment On a Car!
Cars are one of the biggest money traps students can find themselves in for a variety of reasons we detail here. While some students make due with an older model, the upfront price is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to expenses. Don’t think that just because the government gave you a few bucks you “deserve” to have your own set of wheels. If you read our book and still think that owning a car makes sense for you, just make sure that you will have enough cash flow to pay the maintenance, insurance, etc. when you don’t have a nice lump sum like a tax refund sitting in your account. Crunching the monthly numbers might surprise you.
5) I Need to Find Myself… But That Can Only Be Done In Europe or Australia
This one really stumps me. My generation seems hell-bent on “finding themselves” – but this state of zen can only be achieved after they have spent everything they have (and usually a little more). Unless you are one of the lucky students that is running a yearly surplus due to some parental help or a great job, don’t choose luxuries that you can’t afford. See that’s why so many North Americans are in debt up to their eyeballs, and unless you’re gunning to be “average”, don’t start these financially self-destructive habits as a young person.
What You Should Do Instead
So what should you be doing with your tax refund? The first thing you should do is, “Buy More Money for Beer and Textbooks” (as you can tell I’m getting more comfortable with the whole self-promotion thing). The very next thing you should do (not tomorrow, not the day after, not next week) is pay off any and all credit card debt that you have. That line of credit (LOC) and student loan suck, but you might have to play the long game when it comes to managing that debt. Credit card debt however, is the devil. Don’t pay needless amounts of interest.
Now that you’ve cleared your conscience about spending your “hard-earned” tax refund on hedonistic pursuits, go forth and spend frivolously – after all, you’ll probably land a great summer job that you haven’t looked into yet right?