By Steve Holt, Staff Writer
Time and time again, Marti Stanley applied for a new job. The rejections came equally as fast. One year and fifty applications later, Marti had no job to show for it.
Lucky to finally get a low-paying teaching position at a local nursery school, Marti gave up on finding the “well-paying job with health benefits” she dreamed of.
A 2002 graduate of Lipscomb University, Marti is the primary provider between her and her husband, Travis, a second-year student in the graduate school of theology. She earns close to minimum wage teaching toddlers 30 hours a week. The student loan bills from her and Travis’ education pile up monthly, with no end in sight.
But the Stanley story is not unique-the slumping economy and shaky job market has made it difficult for Americans, even college graduates, to find work of any kind.
“Lots of the places I applied at that had health benefits sent me letters saying I was overqualified for the jobs,” Marti said. “They just don’t understand at this point that any job would be great for us.”
While improving, the Abilene job market is still often hostile toward job seekers. Richard Castleman, supervisor at Old Navy and graduate student in Christian Ministry, said his store receives up to 20 applications per day. Only one or two of those applicants actually receive an offer, Castleman said.
“If the sales aren’t good, the hours aren’t good. If the economy’s down and people aren’t buying stuff, then people aren’t getting hours. If people aren’t getting hours, then we’re turning more people away when they apply,” he said. “This year is a little bit looser-we’re taking more people.”
But that wasn’t the case with Marti, who applied for 15 jobs during last school year and 25-30 last summer. In fact, she said the manager at the Whitten Inn refused to hire her last summer because she admitted that she would take another job if it were offered to her.
But that sentiment seems to be uniform with employers across the board. Marti said she heard of several employers refusing to hire college graduates because they are less likely to be intimidated by the fear of being fired for not selling enough merchandise or credit cards.
“Another one told me, ‘Well, we’d have to pay you more, so they wouldn’t do that,'” she said.
While her current job is better than no job, Marti admits it’s hard on the couple’s finances.
“Getting minimum wage isn’t very much, especially when you’re trying to not put every month’s rent on your student loan,” she said.
Personal financial advisers emphasize making a financial plan, both for now and the future. Dr. Jack Griggs, professor of business, advises couples to not spend more money than they have and to be very careful with risky investments.
“That is making an unnecessary risk,” said Griggs, who added that investing money when student loan bills pile up is “playing with fire.”
Lucy Lazarony, who writes for Bankrate.com, suggests “12 money-management tips for college students”:
Track It-“Track your spending for two to four weeks to find out where your money is going. Is four trips to Starbuck’s a week really necessary?”
Get a Plan-“The best way to manage your money over the course of a semester is to sit down and map out a budget.”
Good time money-“If you know you need to buy a new CD or go to a concert or a party every week, make room for that in your budget.”
Pace yourself-“If you spend, spend, spend at the beginning of the semester, you could be tapped out later. Give yourself a spending limit for each week.”
Go easy with the credit cards-“Use credit cards sparingly. Once you get into the habit of reaching for a Visa, it can be hard to stop.”
Set your own credit line-Afraid you’ll spend as long as there’s room on the card? Call your credit card company and request that your credit limit be lowered. Keep at it.”
Get real-“You can do what you want, but you can’t do everything you want. You’re going to have to make some choices.”
Stuff happens-‘If you bust your budget on something you really, really want to do this week, make up for it next week.”
Look ahead-Whether it’s a road trip with friends or an auto insurance bill, if you know a big expense is coming, start putting some money aside to pay for it.”
Get in touch with your roomie-“Sort of discuss who will bring what so you’re not doubling up on things and you’ll probably save some money.”
Spread it out-“Most of the big expenses are at the beginning of the school year. Buy books as you need them.”
Ask for help when you need it-“Screw up some courage and phone home. The longer you put it off, the worse things get.”