There is an old saying that you should live like a student now so you can live like a professional later. Essentially, this means that students and people who recently graduated from a program should keep their expenses low so that they can set themselves up financially for the future. However, individuals should not forego saving habits as they earn more and more money throughout there careers. In many instances, it pays to live like a student into the future so that you can save the most money possible to accomplish financial goals.
Right after I graduated from law school, I worked at a Biglaw firm. Associates who work at such shops make significant sums of money, and it was tempting to spend money on clothes, better housing accommodations, and other luxuries. However, I remembered to live like a student into the future and I tried to keep the same savings habits that I employed in college and law school to the beginning of my career.
When I was working my first job after law school, I hardly bought any new clothes, and I walked around in the same clothes I wore in law school, college, and even high school. I upgraded my business attire a little bit, but most of the clothes I had purchased on the cheap years ago. I was definitely the worst-dressed person who worked at that firm, but I do not know if it impacted my vocational goals at all during that time.
I continued to live like a student into the future as I progressed throughout my early career. Even though I was doing relatively well financially, I lived with a roommate for the entirety of my student debt saga. This saved me thousands of dollars in housing costs over the years since paying for a one-bedroom apartment or studio is far more expensive than living with a roommate. In addition, there are a lot of social benefits to having a roommate that can make this more pleasant and enriching than living alone.
Moreover, I continued other savings habits as I made sure to continue to live like a student into the future. As my peers started to amass wealth and make purchases in their lives, I made sure to be as frugal as possible so I could devote the most money possible to my student debt. For instance, even though I wanted to have a car, I waited until the last possible moment to lease one.
I had to travel regularly for work, and I would use ZipCar or other rental services when I needed a vehicle. It would have been far easier for me to use a car that I owned or leased so I would not need to travel to various locations to pick up a car ever time that I needed one. My job would also reimburse me for travel costs that basically meant I would not go out of pocket if I used my own car. However, I knew that car payments and parking would be a nightmare if I bought a car, so I went without.
Even after I paid off my student loans, I made sure to continue to live like a student into the future. After I was free from student debt, I immediately began saving to purchase a home. In order to have money for a down payment and closing costs, I needed to save tens of thousands of dollars. I knew that I could save this money quicker if I employed the same methods that had worked for me earlier in my life.
As such, I continued my lifestyle as much as possible, and instead of paying student loans each month, I set money aside for real estate costs. My efforts paid off, and I was able to purchase a home when I was 30. If I did not save like I did in prior periods of my life, it could have taken me many months more to save the cash needed to buy the home.
Only when I had accomplished my main financial goals of adulthood (paying off student loans and purchasing a home) did I begin to relax a little bit with my money. More recently, I have been going on more vacations and traveling more, which has been a joy. In addition, I have been more of a “yes man” when it comes to having new experiences and socializing with others. In the past few years, I have attended concerts, get together, and other social experiences I never would have before since it cost too much money or I had to devote time to side hustles. Since earlier saving set myself up financially, I am able to pay these costs in order to enjoy more benefits in the present. By and large, earlier efforts are worth it if it can set yourself up for a more comfortable life in the future in which you have more social and other enjoyable experiences.
All told, the old saying about living like a student so you can live like a professional in the future has a lot of merit since earlier sacrifices can help set yourself up financially later on. However, you should live like a student into the future so you can enjoy the benefits of earlier saving for years to come.