Dear Crabby, How Do I Prepare to Get Ahead in Life?


Dear Crabby,

I’m currently working towards my nursing degree and working a part-time job while my longtime boyfriend (who finished college) is working his full-time career. I have two years left until I’m finished with school and get to enter “the real world” of house hunting, career searching, and family starting. Do you have any advice on how to prepare or get a head start in my final two years of school?

Little Miss Future Nurse

Dear Little Miss Future Nurse,

First, let me congratulate you on your willingness to roll up your sleeves and put the work in to achieve what you want. It seems like a lot of young folks these days want to take shortcuts to all the fancy stuff – big house, fat bank account, etc. – without first earning it. So, I’m glad to hear you have your priorities straight. To prove my point, I just read the other day that millennials (ages 25 – 34) have an average of $42,000 in debt! Now in some instances that’s student loans, but the article said the biggest source was credit card debt. It used to be, a person could work a job and pay for classes, which usually meant when he or she graduated, they weren’t in debt. But as my granddaddy always said, “Mr. Used-to-Be died a long time ago.” Whether your debt is from school or credit cards, it’s to your advantage to try and limit what you have hanging over your head because it will certainly slow you down when it comes to buying a house or applying for a mortgage. But as I said before you sound like a sensible sort of person who is smart to start planning now instead of waiting until the last minute. Exactly the qualities I’d want from someone handling sharp objects.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

Assuming you’re asking on how to get a head start with finances and such, here’s the first thing you and your boyfriend should do: communicate. I know. Earth shattering, right? I would recommend you and your fella sit down and map out how you’re going save your money and where it will go. Set small and large goals. I’m even told there are apps to help with that. The tech-savvy people in my life suggest checking out Trim, which securely connects to your bank accounts and analyzes your spending habits. It shows what regular payments you have that can be decreased or eliminated. I’m even told it can help negotiate the price of your cable bill! Mint is the other app to check out. Like Trim, it’s also free (I love that word) and will track all your financial activity from all your accounts, noting your spending patterns and create a budget. Easy-peasy as the kids used to say. My other money-saving advice would be to save your change. No seriously. Get a big container of some sort (I’m partial to a Folger’s coffee tin) and any time you have spare change, throw it in. You’d be surprised how fast it adds up. That’s how I saved when I was a kid. Except now you don’t have to spend hours rolling your change and writing your address on each roll. Most banks have change machines now that will count it all – for free! Use the money for something fun or put it towards one of your savings goals. Mrs. Crabby and I used our spare change once for a weekend at Niagara Falls. May not sound like much, but we thought we were pretty fancy going to another country and all.

As for getting a head start on your career, I guess that all depends on what type of nurse you plan on being and whether or not you’ll stay in the area or move where the jobs are. Remember you are in this together. There will be days where you’re on fire with your saving and days when you’ll spend $20 on two coffees and a muffin. Don’t beat yourself up. There were lean times when Mrs. Crabby and I had to make some sacrifices, but that goal that was waiting for us at the end was well worth it. And it will be for you too. Just work hard and roll with the punches.

Hope that answers your question and good luck!
Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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