Satire: Dear Penny Pincher: Student Debt Advice Column

'Consider cutting down on frivolous purchases like higher education and avocados'

Editor's note: This article contains offensive language.

Dear Penny Pincher,

I’m a pre-med student about to finish my undergraduate degree. In graduate school, I will study and teach full time, but the pay doesn’t even cover the tuition of one course. How do I save $80,000 in four months?

Sincerely,

Dr. De$perate

Ahh, doctors, the faithless man’s reverend. One way I saved for the big United Service Organization’s 40th annual Audience Guest Pageant in my hometown was by stealing dollar bills from innocuous places each day and lining the insides of my shoes with them. By the time I started bleeding on or in every pair, I had saved $800! That was enough to enter the pageant and put myself through school, so I performed in the pageant and gave my husband the rest of the money. This brings up another important lesson: Consider cutting down on frivolous purchases like higher education and avocados. If you must have a hobby, pick just one.

Sincerely,

Penny Pincher 

I’m getting my master’s in poetry, so I’m pretty into wine (and I’m $30,000 in debt). My surrogacy side hustle is only good for $20,000, and my poetry collection (and five-year thesis) made somewhere between $160 to $220 depending on how many IOUs come through from my friends. Is there any way I can get some of my debt negotiated, forgiven or even cancelled? 

Sincerely, 

Not Too Wine-y

Get rid of your clock that always points to brunch time. It’s distracting. Every time you see it, you think it’s brunch time and you get brunch! Four or five times a day! Look, I know what you’re doing. I see it. You’re using fancy events and wine nights to cover your lifelong compulsion to control things, but brunch is the one thing you can’t control. Not with that goddamn “Brunch Time!” clock. And you know it isn’t even a clock. I know you know that. You know what my advice to you is? Grow up. Congratulations on your surrogacy. 

Sincerely, 

Penny Pincher 

I’m an ugly little rat boy trying to save my pennies. Where do I put them?

rat boy

Hi, Rat Boy! Put your pennies in a big bag in your hands. Save more by packing your lunch in that same bag! Save even more by nibbling on your pennies for meals! Also, don’t get a department store credit card.

Sincerely, 

Penny Pincher

I’m a mother and high school teacher going back to school for a master’s in pedagogy to better serve my community, but I don’t want to endanger my family’s financial security if we have a medical emergency. How do I best protect my family?

Sincerely,

teacher

Be a Maxxinista! Sometimes, we forget what really matters. It’s not the accolades or the money. It’s the deals. Stores like T.J. Maxx have great stuff. 

Sincerely, 

Penny Pincher

I have worked and saved all throughout high school, but I don’t have enough to cover even one semester of university tuition. I was offered some loans, but the interest rates were obscene. One friend suggested I go to community college for general education requirements. What should I do?

Sincerely,

Cup of Joe

Sweet prince, I’ve seen many kids go down the path of higher education before. And as I’ve said, I definitely don’t like it. But if you are going to do something then, by golly, do it all the way! Who cares if the difference in cost is upwards of $17,000? 

One creative way to cover that cost might be to invent a new food, or find a banner for a talent show in your community whose advertised prize is the exact amount of money you need. Maybe there’s a bake-off or a really ancient piece of missing art you can find! 

Remember, if you are ever scared, find the nearest rich person and curry their favor. A caged bird never gets eaten, baby. 

Sincerely, 

Penny Pincher

Five years ago, I left high school and ran headfirst into higher education. I borrowed $23,000 and made regular payments totaling $17,000. Now I’m graduated, in a mid-level position and I owe $24,000. Why?

Sincerely,

:(

Hello Sweetie, 

Do you ask the tooth fairy why she has to take your teeth? Or do you do what you’re told, take your money and keep your mouth shut?

Sincerely,

Penny Pincher 

Rat boy here again. I ate all my pennies, so I went back to college and got a degree in social work. It’s a hard field, and it definitely puts a strain on my relationship with my family — not to mention my relationship with money. Sometimes I worry I’ve never really felt love. Also, I’m $400,000 in debt. What should I do?

Sincerely,

rat boy

Mr. Rat Boy,

What a pleasure to hear from you again. My suggestion is to opt for rationed food, like powdered milk, to save extra pennies until you have enough to go to and invest in a multilevel marketing product. Take it from me — high risk, high reward! 

Sincerely,

Penny Pincher

Editor's note: The nature of this article is satirical and the opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 


Reach the columnist at amahai@asu.edu or follow @allie_mahai on Twitter.

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