The immense burden of student loan debts and mass unemployment is directly contributing to Gen Y possibly becoming a Lost Generation.
However, you do NOT have to be a college graduate working as a Starbucks Barista while further spiraling into the grim bowels of deeper student and consumer debt.
Career Hack has created this blueprint for you to utilize your bachelors degree, get international work experience, and return to the US debt-free and equipped with the tools that will make you valuable in the 21st century. Moreover, you will be able to achieve all of this while you are still well within your twenties.
This debt hacking blueprint applies to this sort of profile:
-Recent graduate of any US university
-30,000 USD (approximate national average) in student loan debt
-Degree in Philosophy/Anthropology/English/Useless
-Just graduated from college
How will you solve your debt problem?
Let’s dive in.
PHASE 1 – MOVE TO WHERE YOU ARE VALUABLE
Paying off your debt is very simple in theory. It’s very much like weight loss. Keep your living expenses very low, maximize your income, and pay off your debt as rapidly as possible before it snowballs out of control.
People in the US who have graduated tend to concentrate on the earnings side of the equation without putting too much thought into the damaging effect that the US consumption/debt culture has and the effect that taxes will have on them.
For example – you can make 5K a month in NYC and live in a squalid apartment with four roommates and somehow end up further in debt at the end of the month.
In contrast, your net savings on 3K a month in Asia can end up saving you 1000-2000 USD if you budget wisely. Your standard of living would be equal or far superior to the standard of living you’d have back in NY, Boston, LA, or any other major US city.
Many Gen Yers are easily able to save 1K USD per month (or more) in second tier cities in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. Be assured that economic growth and business opportunities are vibrant and plentiful in Asia. Do you feel that way about where you live right now?
Anyway, your goal here is to increase the difference between your monthly income and your monthly expenses – keeping in mind living expenses, taxes, and recreational/social costs.
In the US you are constantly being compared to your peers. It’s socially acceptable to take on personal debt to acquire the newest iPhone, a widescreen TV, and drop 300 bucks at the club on weekends to keep up with appearances.
In Asia, you have no such burden. As a foreigner, everything you do is naturally strange and different from everyone else’s habits. You will feel fine being different there and they will chalk up all of your idiosyncrasies to your being a foreign national. You will be liberated to have your own consumption and saving habits independent of the judgment of your peers.
The point here is that as a recent college grad with a humanities degree, you are utterly useless to everyone in the job market. You are also up against literally millions of competitors seeking the same jobs for the past 1-3 years.
It’s quite a grim situation for everyone.
Obama can’t fix this problem for you. Nobody can fix this problem with top down solutions.
You are totally on your own. You have to find your unique competitive advantage, your VALUE to the world, and take advantage of that.
If you are not valuable where you are, you have to physically move yourself to where you are valuable. This is how you can begin hacking at your student loan debt with geoarbitrage.
Where are you immediately valuable as a young western graduate with a humanities degree?
As an English teacher in Asia.
By the end of this stage of the blueprint your goal should be to have identified the huge obstacles to paying off your student loan debt while still being in the United States and making a decision to use geoarbitrage to pay off your student loan debts in an exciting city in Asia.
PHASE 2 – CHOOSE A DESTINATION
Okay so now that you’ve decided to go international to hack your debt…..where to go?
You’ll need to pick a country and get TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certified. These various acronyms stand for different types of English Teaching certifications that are internationally recognized in Asia. The certification you need will depend on the specific country you go to.
If you want to get rid of your debt as rapidly as possible then you should go to Korea. There is really no other country in the world that will pay you as high a salary with the lowest barriers to entry for being hired as second tier cities in Korea. In contrast to being in places like Bangkok or Saigon, you will probably not enjoy the lifestyle in Korea as much. However, if your goal is to get rid of the debt problem so that you can get on with your life ASAP, this is your destination.
In second tier Korean cities like Gwangju and Daegu you can EASILY save at least 1,000 USD a month that can go towards your student loan debt.
3. TAKE THE LEAP
Okay, get ready to go!
You have picked one of these Asian countries and are getting all of your vaccinations and visa documents in order.
Once you arrive, get certified, and get settled in a job, you should immediately begin looking around for other job opportunities. The first job you get placed into will often be brokered by the actual company that helped you get certified. While this is convenient, you are probably losing out on your potential earning power. Try to get transferred into a higher paying position at a different school in a 6-12 month timeline.
As an English teacher in Asia you are probably going to be working 20-30 hours per week. This gives you ample time to explore other opportunities. You should invest in your time in the following activities:
-Internship with Multinationals
-Start your own business
-Learn internet marketing
-Learn graphic design
-Learn how to code
-Learn at least one new language
-Take free online courses offered by Stanford and MIT
If you are targeting to pay off $30,000 USD of student loan debt and you are saving $1,000 USD a month, this means you will need about 30 months (2.5 years) to pay off the entirety of your debt burden.
If you are in Korea, you’ll want to bank with Korea Exchange Bank or one of the major US banks like Bank of America or Citigroup. These are the best choices because it’ll put you in the best position to be able to remit funds back home and pay off your debts on a monthly basis.
2.5 years of 30 hour workweeks gives you MASSIVE amounts of time to pick up dozens of new skills and an incredibly long trajectory for trying out different business ventures, failing, learning from your mistakes, and gaining small victories along the way.
If you started this blueprint immediately after you graduated at age 22 then you will finish the blueprint at age 25 having accomplished the following things:
-Paid off all of your debt and still be in your twenties
-Gained 2.5 years of international work experience
-Gained 2.5 years of international business and startup experience
-Learned how to manage your finances from abroad
-Picked up a new language
-Built a global network of friends and business contacts
-Amassed many new location-independent skill sets such as coding, graphic design, SEO, social media marketing, copywriting, sourcing, import/export, and whatever else you feel like picking up during the immense amount of down time you will have
-Potentially launched one or several profitable businesses
If you wanted to get hired back in the US at this point you could certainly do that. The better alternative would probably be to continue scaling your businesses (if you built businesses) or to continue working abroad for a multinational or boutique consultancy in a high-growth Asian metropolis of your choice.
What sounds like a better life path?
Following this blueprint and being debt free and acquiring these skills and experiences by 25?
Or sticking with that temp job at Staples or Sizzler, going further into debt, and hoping that Obama bails you out?
Seize your extraordinary international opportunities while you are young and restless.