Kids graduating high school are in an incredible situation. They are freer than virtually anyone else. If they play their cards right, their living expenses will be extremely low. It doesn’t take a very high income for them to be able to live a wonderful and luxurious life.
I was in this situation this entire last year. I wasn’t making very much money and I was living on my own. I lived in a place with decent rent but even that was higher than it needed to be. Despite that, I lived a very comfortable life. Why? Because my expenses consist of rent, gas, and food. Even with my modest salary, I had more than enough to do what I wanted. I could take trips, go out on weekends, and really live my life the way I wanted to.
Recent high school graduates should try to stay aware of the special situation they are in. The following are 3 tangible ways to increase your freedom as a young adult. They are a couple of the main factors that have allowed me to have an incredible job and live on my own at 19.
Drive A Crappy Car
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be a total piece of garbage. Really I just mean own a car. I speak with college graduates who are trying to make ends meet all the time. One of the main hindrances to them living a stress-free and fantastic life is their car payments. It’s just not something you need and the extra $200 a month is going to matter. But I’m also becoming ever more convinced that driving a nice car is actually a disadvantage as a young professional.
I think back to my first day with PyRsquared. I was an 18-year-old kid ready to make a name for myself and improve my skills. I ignored the usual path for people my age and jumped right into the workforce. A natural reaction from the other employees is for them to think I’m a coddled and entitled jerk. Driving a nice new car is only going to make that perception worse. I really do believe driving an old piece of junk gave me credibility on that first day.
Avoid Student Loans
I know this is easier said than done. I’m just comparing my current situation with the people I know who are 22 and 23. I have no debt from my apprenticeship with Praxis. But not everyone has that opportunity. My number one suggestion is to forget school and jump right into the workforce. Unless of course you want to go into the medical field, become a lawyer, or maybe an engineer. If you definitely want to go to school, figure out a way to get scholarships. They have them for just about anything. Hell, I was eligible for tennis scholarships and I only played on my high school team for a couple years.
This isn’t me making an argument against college. It’s just that I’ve noticed young professionals struggle for years to get their life started because they are weighed down by debt. If school is for you, then great. But figure out a workaround to do it for as cheap as it can possibly be.
This is the most important part of personal and professional freedom. I realize right out of high school it’s hard to put yourself in a position to actually create value for people. While you’re in school, I recommend getting a job waiting tables. It’s a lucrative job, it gives you experience speaking with customers, and you only have to show up at meal times.
After high school, I found Praxis and they set me up with my business partner in Pittsburgh. I really don’t know how you go about getting an opportunity like that without Praxis but use your network however you can. All you need is an in with a company so search through all your connections and see what comes up
Aside from the connections and brand that I’ve developed with Praxis, the most valuable signal I have is my website. I suggest creating a personal website on Weebly and posting there every so often. You don’t have to be an incredible writer or have particularly ground-breaking things to say. Having a regularly updated personal website shows employers a real sign of initiative and dedication. My website was one of the first pieces of collateral I used to get several interviews over the past two months. It’s also just fun to have a website where people can keep up with what you’re working on and the progress you make. It keeps you moving forward and it’s a fantastic way to develop your own personal brand.
It’s always interesting to speak with college graduates and find out what the major problems in their life are. The answer is almost always that they can’t find a high paying job, they can’t afford the monthly bills to pay off their debt, and their car payment is just pushing everything over the edge. The funny thing is you don’t need a high-paying job right out of school unless you are already severely in debt.
I’m 19 and I’ve already completely avoided the three main problems for young adults. It wasn’t even a difficult thing to do. Don’t lease a car, don’t take out student loans, find some kind of in that gets you into the professional world, and start creating value wherever you can. I accomplished this in one year. It’s not difficult and it will take that freedom you already have as a young adult to the next level.