Save. Spend. Splurge.

“My life is crap” – Overheard in a store of a newly minted graduate

My life is crap“, moaned the 23-something-year-old retail sales clerk to his friend who was posing as a customer, but really just visiting him and to hang out.

At this, my ears immediately perked up and paid attention (how could they not?)!

As a side note, I eavesdrop not because I actively want to but I’ve found that if you are a native English speaker and you hear English, you’re attuned to the conversation to eavesdrop whether you want to or not.

Does this happen to anyone else?

I can’t help myself, I’m sorry; but if you do not want me to consciously or unconsciously eavesdrop on you, speak softer, don’t speak at all, or use another language I don’t speak (er…. but not French either, because I tend to WANT to eavesdrop on you actively just to see if I can understand what you’re saying and practice my French comprehension).

Anyway back to this poor newly minted college graduate.

He’s there working at some big-name retail store for electronics at minimum wage (which by the way was just hiked to $11/hour from $10.75/hour), talking to his friend about how things are going.

The main topic of discussion?

Student loan debt.

I didn’t catch what college he attended let alone what he studied, but I’m going to take a stab at computer science or something like that.

Suffice it to say, he expected to make more money than minimum wage after graduating with said degree.


Friend: I couldn’t even get OSAP*!

(Ontario Student Assistance Program; or Ontario’s Student Loans)

Guy: I got it, but I also got a grant for $4000 which helped out a bit but wasn’t enough.

Friend: Oh yeah?… So.. like.. er.. *lowers voice down to a whisper* … how much do you owe then? Like $10 grand?

Guy: *sigh*…. *lowers voice*…. no.. more. Way more. Like $30 grand.

Friend: WHOA!!!!

Guy: Yeah but it could have been worse.

Friend: So.. what’s your plan then? 

(I kind of got the impression that Friend is not working at a retail store but in an actual job or office somewhere because he was in the store looking to buy a new laptop.)

Guy: Well I am thinking I can just work here for now. If I stick with it, maybe in 2-3 years I could be a manager here, then my pay could maybe go up to $18 an hour.

Friend: That’s a plan at least.

Guy: I dunno. It’s still a long time and not enough money to clear my loans. I was thinking I could maybe just become a plumber but that’s a lot of hard work.

Friend: Plus.. not to mention that I mean.. what’s the point of you having gotten a degree if you’re just going to become a plumber, right?

Guy: Yeah. *sighs heavily*. MY LIFE IS CRAP.


Guess this reinforces my previous posts on college and how cynical I am about the whole situation.

I will still definitely NOT be paying for my kids’ college educations because a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean you have any skills because a lot of people still don’t realize that you may not even need a college degree anyway (especially that guy above who was willing to just become a plumber but thought it was too much work).

Otherwise, pick a college degree that will make you money.

It made me think of this article shared recently by eemusings: Highly Educated, Highly Indebted Lives of 27-Year Olds which shows this rather telling chart:




  • Mary Beth

    Degree, no degree… I don’t think that is the issue. The crux of the matter is that, you have this guy, who thinks he’s ‘better than’. He’s slumming it, working at this store. He *could* “just become a plumber but that’s a lot of hard work”. Yes. That’s right, kiddo, and the jobs that pay well, all require *work*. I think it’s a little sad, too, that he seems a bit dismissive of the profession, “just become a plumber”, like he’s settling.

    Newsflash, kiddo, plumbers have unique skillsets that, to my knowledge, will probably never be fully replaced by a machine or a computer program. And down here in Georgia, they make pretty good money! I say this, because my landlord is paying his plumber for two visits to my condo: once to look at the broken hot water tank , inform us that the feed pipe should be replaced as well, and to give his estimate. And again to come back tomorrow – because that’s when the HOA will let him shut off water to the entire building, and actually replace the broken hot water heater and install new plumbing to fit the new unit.

    Plumbers are one of those professions that will always be needed, and will always be needed at hours where (in the States, anyway), you get to command your rates for after-hours, weekends, and holidays.

    And then there’s the friend… “what’s the point of you having gotten a degree if you’re just going to become a plumber, right?”

    I guess the friend doesn’t place value on knowledge, unless someone awards him a six-figure salary. Perhaps I’m a bit naive, but I think all knowledge is worth having. But it’s useless if you’re not going to take that knowlege and parlay it into a workable skillset.

    Both these guys sound clueless. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would make them pay for their own college… and I would make them work for their allowances or the fun things they want to buy. My parents did this, and, while I didn’t finish college, I do make more than $11/hour, and in my daily life, I can paint, wallpaper, panel, build a fence, and do minor electrical work (which would be entirely unlicensed, so I don’t, but at least I can tell if a licensed guy is bs’ing me and trying to give me the ‘you’re a clueless woman mark-up’).

    I think the important thing, is to instill a good work ethic, whether it’s applied to studying, or to a part-time job, or to an eventual career. If your kids aren’t afraid of hard work, and of getting their hands dirty, they’ll get a lot farther in life.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      THANK YOU Mary Beth.

      If Baby Bun doesn’t like academia or any STEM professions, I am most definitely going to be encouraging my child to go into a blue collar profession like elevator repairman or something because it is something you need in society but is overlooked.

      If he is good with his hands, I’d love for him to learn to be more handy and technical.

  • Jess

    I’m very lucky that between my parents and I, we paid my degree in full, albeit it was a cheap(er) degree as well.
    However, even being a cheap degree, if I had to borrow money and if I knew then what I know now, I’m not sure I would have gone down this route again.

    I really agree with the sentiment that tertiary education is not like it was before. My degree was a 4 year degree which includes a years worth of workplace placement (which should be more valuable than 3 year degrees without), a lot of people in my field have trouble finding work because we are a very undervalued profession and compete with other more valued allied health professionals for the same work, and what blows my mind is that people LESS qualified with only diplomas or the 3 year degree are also vying for this same pool of work. A graduate going for an entry position professional job is lucky to get a $50k position, yet the average wage in Australia is supposedly $75k. I’m very cynical about the whole education situation, but even more about our society’s values. How sad is it that we live in a society that does not value social justice, health and welfare and deters people from wanting to enter those fields? The salary is -just enough- that people with passion will do it, but the people who need to feed mouths or aren’t willing to sacrifice lifestyle are going to pick a degree that earns more dollars, like you said.

  • save. spend. splurge.

    Trying to be happy seems to consume a lot of our energy. I ought to write a post on that.

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies

    If we do have a kid, we won’t be paying for his/her education. Granted, in our case it’s more of an “put your own oxygen mask first” scenario. But even so… We’d counsel a moderate to cheap college, and we’d maybe try to pitch in for rent. That’s about all we could manage. Better to make sure we’re secure in case the kid’s loan payments *do* end him/her back with us.

  • ArianaAuburn

    This guy sounds like he overpaid for a degree. If he were really a professional, he shouldn’t have had that kind of conversation in front of customers.

  • Ramona

    College education is not what it was before. We have a lot of grads here who cannot find a job, not even a menial job. And the costs to get such education are really huge.

    Don’t know what to say about supporting our daughter through college. I hope she’ll get a business running and go to college if she’s interested in the industry and be able to support her tuition. We’re here to help, but I wouldn’t like her to get into serious debt and then not have a decent job.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *