There is a bike path near my house. My kids and I go for the occasional bike ride there. Most of the path is flat, just pedal steady and enjoy the ride – talk with the kids, cruise along, have fun. However, on that bike path there are also hills we have to pedal up. Some are sort of steep and when I get to a steep hill I change gears. Changing gears enables me to get up that hill easier. When I shift gears, I can climb the hill with the same energy and effort level as the flat path.
Labor Day, much like Memorial Day, is a holiday that represents transition, or changing gears. Memorial Day represents the beginning of summer whereas Labor Day represents the beginning of my favorite season, fall. (And no, I am not disregarding the real meaning of Memorial Day which trumps the transitional aspect.) However, Labor Day has no special meaning, and if you are going to tell me that everyone in America who works deserves a paid holiday for working so hard you better just move to Europe before I start a rant that will make you want to move to Europe just to get me to stop. Reality is, to most, Labor Day is a Monday off at a time of year that is quite frankly very convenient. There is the last minute vacation, there is the preparing for the school year. There is the seasonal crap that needs to be done around the house, getting the boat ready for winter, and most importantly, the start of football season. Where the hell am I going with all of this? I mean I have to have a financial/college/debt/working spin –right? Of course I do. That’s a gear I don’t shift out of!
Labor Day is a huge transitional time for the high school and college students who work. HUGE! The student that works to pay for college has worked all summer. Obviously summer is the best time to make as much money as possible because you have the time to work. Then comes Labor Day. Here comes the hill. Time to shift gears. Once that school year starts the time you have to work is a bit more limited. You will have classes which often are not at the most convenient times. You will have studying, study groups, labs, meetings and appointments that will screw up your work schedule. So how do you keep on the bike path? Here are a few tips for your gear changing Labor Day:
- Review, budget and plan – How much did you make this summer? Were you above or below your goal? How much do you need to earn each week while in school? Can you get through the year on what you earn? Set some new goals, it’s simple budgeting. It only takes a couple hours and it’s vital to staying on the path.
- Prioritize – What are your academic priorities this year? What are your financial priorities? Where does fun fall into your priorities? Make a list and make sure that high priorities are not overtaken by lower priorities simply because it’s easy or convenient. I’ll stop being vague. Make sure that your education and paying for that education comes before hanging out and goofing off! I know, climbing the hill is not nearly as fun as coasting down it.
- Master your Schedule – The student that works and gets good grades is a master scheduler. Know where you need to be and when. Break out the schedule, make room for everything you need to accomplish from your priority and budget list and get it on the there. If you want to get it all done, this is the way to do it. Know ahead of time when you need to climb and when you can coast.
Labor Day is the perfect day to tune up your bike and prepare for the school year. So strap on your helmet, plug in your iPod and get those wheels moving. The bike path of paying for college is sometimes uphill…after all its the hills that make our legs stronger enabling us to bike further. The path will also have many turns and be bumpy at times..but if you can plan and stay on course, before you know it you’ll be over the top of that big hill whizzing down…and enjoying the ride!