‘She works hard for the money’
At 16, most teenage girls are worried about high school drama, dresses for junior prom and getting invites to sweet 16s.
At 16, junior Kaitlyn Coble was working full time and paying off her first car. Two years later, she applied to college. Coble said that her parents always encouraged her to be independent – it would help build her character.
The Maryland resident decided to go out-of-state and attend college with some financial help from her parents.
But after her first semester, both of her parents lost their jobs. Coble said she had no choice but to head home, take a semester off and get a job working full-time at McDonalds.
“It was kind of either I do it or I don’t go to school anymore, so it was kind of thrust upon me,” Coble said.
First she had to pay back debt to her original University. Then, she was able to apply to and attend Towson.
Today Coble is financially independent from her parents. She works full time, commutes an hour to campus and balances a double major of animal behavior and criminal justice.
From her education to her cell phone bill, Coble pays for everything herself.
“A lot of it is FASFA. I get my FASFA in as soon as I can,” Coble said. “I get my taxes done as soon as I can. I work full time right now, plus whenever my boss lets me get overtime, I get overtime.”
While many college students can spend their weekends going to the movies or out to the mall, Coble said she remains frugal.
“I’m always on my bank account seven times a day,” Coble said. “It doesn’t really change, but I’m OCD about it.”
Planning is also important, Coble said. From planning how many hours a week she can work to long-term plans of avoiding loans and debt.
“I try and plan for the future. It doesn’t always work out for me, but I mean I think it’ll be a huge benefit to already know how to live on a budget,” Coble said.
Finance professor Ted Rugemer said that whether or not you are financially independent in college, it’s important to start caring about finance early on because it will follow you throughout life.
“If you’re going to be carrying around a large amount of [college] debt, it just makes life more complicated,” Rugemer said. “Just apply common sense to financial decisions. Then do the math, ‘Can we afford to do this?’”
Her present situation may not be ideal, she said, but her future is bright.
If all goes according to her plans, Coble will graduate without any debt in spring 2014.
“In the long run I don’t think college is the time of my life,” Coble said. “I think the time of my life will be later, after I’ve gotten out and established.”