Apart from finding a job that will justify the hefty price tag of the MBA, the greatest challenge of the modern business school student is financing now the lifestyle that we think we deserve post-MBA. With the average MBA student taking on some $120,000+ in loans over two years, the common strategy entails paying less for the b-school basics (lunch, books, and beer) so that we can afford the real reasons we quit our day jobs: wining and dining at Alinea, re-enacting scenes from Aspen Extreme at a ski resort where beer flows like wine, and lazing on the beaches of Fiji, Brazil, and South Africa on school-organized treks designed to help us make friends before classes begin (aww!).
It’s a hard-knock life, to be sure, but thankfully after surviving a year with no income, we’ve learned a trick or two that we’d like to share, on how to spend more than we’re worth.
Tip #1: Share everything.
“If you live like a CEO when you’re a student, you’ll live like a student when you’re a CEO.”
— Priscilla Parker, Director of Financial Aid
When our class listserv started up the summer before school started, we learned to use it liberally. In a persistent effort to make or save a few extra bucks, everything on the planet was put up for potential sale, rental, or share: sublets of our own apartments for idle cash-burning long weekends, cabs from airports in cities where people might be going for winter break, textbooks and calculators by the hour, a shark costume, wifi across apartment units, babies, etc. Okay, maybe not babies. But invariably, everything discussed landed in a shared google spreadsheet. For us, the listserv turned into part-Craigslist, part-oversharing-party (regarding very particular personal needs in order to find the one person who can relate/help) for our community of ~600 students.
Through the list, our class actually got so communal and so close that practically an entire apartment building occupied by Booth students agreed to share one stellar, state-of-the-art vacuum cleaner. Together, 600 of us learned who in this building was allergic to dust, why a HEPA filter was strongly favored, and better, what floor everyone lived on. Thoroughly bemused, someone followed up:
To: Class of 2012 Listserv
Subject: Toothbrush share / recommendations
Anyone interested in going in on a toothbrush?
Manual only, not Sonicare, as my debt-financed budget cannot allow that extravagance. I’m open to whatever brands, have heard / read good things about Oral B, GUM, and Reach. My only preference is for the softest bristles because my dentist perpetually chides me for brushing too hard.
Perhaps we can involve a google spreadsheet, find potential local matches, consider buying two toothbrushes, possibly three, and a 5-pack of floss from Costco as well? I bet we can get a deal on that, if we buy in bulk. Maybe on the vacuum cleaner that our entire class is sharing, we can attach a toothbrush holder for convenient transport.
Oh and I live in Wicker Park, probably a ten minute drive from most of you, but for the right brush and share arrangements, I’m willing to commute at least twice a day, though ideally after every meal.
I was really concerned about the dust that would get into the bristles during transport, but most people seemed to get it. However, I later learned the note may not have translated well, as I heard some international students found this “Toothbrush Girl” exceptionally dirty.
Tip #2: Capitalize on student loans to add “Avid World Traveler” to the “Additional” section of your cosmopolitan resume.
#1: Okay I have to go. Take the bus. Booo.
#1: I know.
#1: Yeah I’m realizing I’m a plebeian. I went to the loan office to tell them I wanted more money. I didn’t want to sell stocks. They were like, “It doesn’t work that way.”
#1: So now I have to sell equities to finance beer drinking? Seems very 2008.
#2: Ha. But wait — really? But I’m financing my equities with loans.
#1: I want to also! That’s exactly what I want to do.
#2: How come they didn’t let you?
#1: Well I want more than the standard, whatever that is.
#2: Oh, okay.
#1: I want, like, more funds. So I can do a bunch of stuff. Like fly around Asia.
#2: Ha …NetJets? Why not?
What is this? A Goldman Sachs Elevator??
Nope, this is business school. We save, we sell, we share, we even scalp on occasion … and importantly, obviously, we sure know how to spend.