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Staying out of debt

There may not be hope for the United States’ $14 trillion debt (as reported in the Deseret News), but this doesn’t mean you should have to follow suit.

I know it’s hard to not succumb to the monster of debt; we have loans, tuition, food bills, textbooks and cars.

There’s images to keep up, members of the opposite sex to impress and dates to go on once you succeed.

You can get a job, but you can’t work too much or else your grades start to slip and your parents start to complain.

You could apply for scholarships, but with a million valedictorians attending the highly competitive (yet, totally awesome) Brigham Young University, applying doesn’t necessarily equal receiving.

And then, with all you’re trying to do, you sit through General Conference and hear Elder Robert D. Hales speak directly to you:

“We must … be content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies.”

As the guilt creeps into your soul you glance at your True Religion jeans and answer your buzzing iPhone 4.

Somewhere along the line, you missed the “rainy-day fund” boat.

Well Cougars, you have nothing to fear. With a few pointers you’ll be well on your way to increasing your savings and decreasing your Conference-time blues.

Step one: find some way to add to your shrinking budget.

Some do this through grants, scholarships or the old-fashioned job.

Loans won’t help you here. Even if they increase your bank acount now, they won’t when the lender starts calling.

A grant is the attainable Porsche of the free money world.

They’re free from interest, paybacks and clock-ins. Fill out your FAFSA (it’s due Thursday, so get to it!) and see what you can get. You may be surprised by what you receive.

A scholarship is the unattainable Rolls-Royce of the free money world.

It isn’t impossible, but if you’re a BYU student, you’re attending a competitive school. However, don’t let fear of receiving nothing stop you from filling out the application. You never know how big the award pot will be.

Finally, the job.

I know this one isn’t ideal, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Find a job you’re interested in — maybe one that coincides with your major. It may not be fun, but as your debt decreases, it will be worth it.

Step two: Figure out the difference between your wants and your needs.

I know you feel like you need your top of the line, $40 a month smartphone, but you survived pretty well before with only your dumb phone.

You need food — but do you need a shopping trip to Harmon’s every week for their fresh-made sushi? Use websites like allrecipies.com to make some of your favorite foods. Stick with ground beef and chicken instead of steak. I promise, you will survive.

Step three: live within your newly found means.

If you want something expensive, put away a little cash every month. You may not get it immediately, but the wait will help you value it more. Plus, if you have no cash, who are you really going to impress in those jeans?

I know this isn’t a complete list — as you start to save you will discover more and more ways to cut corners and increase cash. It will take patience, time and a tiny bit of suffering, but you will make it out of your debt and come out on top.

Can’t you imagine how great next conference will be?

Allie McCoy is the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily that of The Daily Universe, BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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