Saving money now could save students later

By Tony Espinal

If you haven’t started thinking about saving money for emergencies or retirement, start now.
While I was a student at Indiana University, money was never a big issue for me. I had a monthly stipend from my time in the military to pay my bills. I had good credit. I would work over the summer and save money for school.
Sounds like I had it together, right?
I never really thought my money supply would end. So as many young people do, I learned the hard way.
Throwing parties, going to the bars and buying frivolous items for which I had no practical use became a normal routine for me. If I ran out of money, I could just use my credit card to pay for my tabs.
Then, something happened; something I knew was coming but never thought would arrive: graduation.
No more monthly stipend. No more Pell Grants. No more constant flow of cash to pay off my debt.
I didn’t find a full-time job for almost three months. What little money I made from part-time work went to pay for credit card debt and gas to get there and back.
Needless to say, without a savings account, my debts started to accumulate faster and faster—from my car breaking down, medical bills and other necessities that come along with being an adult.
So why am I telling you this? Because I don’t want any of you to make the same mistake I did.
I want you to start planning now for the potential hardships you may face once you leave the safety and comfort of a college campus and venture into the real world.
In August of this year, Forbes reported “13 ways college students waste money and opportunities.” Not surprisingly,  entertainment, beer and spring break were included on that list. Forbes reported that Social Science Research Council found 51 percent of students spend their time socializing and not studying. So more than half of students are spending money at bars, parties, clubs and on other costly activities.
Supporting Forbes’ research, the website Daily Finance reported the average college student spends $500 per year on alcohol. That means the average student pays an additional $2,000 in college just on alcohol.
As far a spring break goes, consider this. During my first spring break, I went to Panama City, Fla., where I spent, in one week, what takes me an entire month to make.
Many of my friends used student loan refund money to fund their trips. Now they are having to pay that back.
In June of this year, CNN Money reported 36 percent of graduates are “mal-employed,” meaning simply under-employed.
Graduates are working as bartenders, waiters and retailers making less money than their experience and education should enable them.
So imagine owing tens of thousands of dollars to student loans, along with hundreds of dollars to credit cards and  bills, all while working as a restaurant waiter, relying on tips.
Of course, you should enjoy your time in college. It’s a great experience, and even if you go back to graduate school or for a second bachelor’s, it will never be like your first experience.
So go out and enjoy yourself. Live a little. But start thinking about saving some money now, even if it’s only as little as $25 a month.