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Ten Awesomely Irresponsible Things to do with Student Loans*


moonshiner (Photo credit: thewhitestdogalive)

Since the Great Recession, millions of college students did the “responsible thing” and went into debt getting an education and now they’re dealing with a double-whammy of underemployment and debt. To make matters worse, the economy has been stalled out at about 2% GDP growth per year, which isn’t fast enough to undo the damage from the Great Recession and still improve our standard of living. For these people, and I’m one of them, it turns out spending loan money on college was a mistake. Don’t make that same mistake, spend your student loans wisely. Spend it on being awesome.

First, let’s be clear: student loans are awful. They can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, they take decades to pay off and the assets they procure are often worthless. However, student loans are an easy way to get a huge sum of money all at once (or over a long period of time, depending on how your college disburses them). Some of my friends racked up a quarter million dollars in total debt before they were finished with school, and they foolishly went to law school. You can be just as irresponsible without doing all that learning…

Instead of wasting your one chance to ruin your life by taking several years to study academic subjects that have no use in the real world, why not ruin your life in an awesome way? Here are ten ways to get the most of society’s misplaced trust in your future earning potential:

1) Take a trip to Europe (or somewhere else). This is actually an almost legitimate use of your student loans. Being well-traveled is part of being a well-rounded person. Also, it’s much easier to learn a language if you’re forced to. Take that trip to Europe on someone else’s dime, and when you get there, take advantage of their lower tuition and get a graduate degree. Even if all you do is take a thousand bucks (or however much you need) and go on a driving tour of the lower 48, you’ll be getting more for your money than that Intro to Lit class you were going to take.

2) Build a personal library. I’m an old-fashioned guy, I know the modern paradigm is not to own any media in physical form: no records, no discs, no books. Every book you could ever read in your lifetime can fit into a small digital device that also acts as a phone. For me, this is nonsense. I want to own a nice copy of all the books I read and refer to in my life. Maybe spending your hard-earned money on this is a bad idea, since the cost of books and movies and songs is approaching zero. So make someone else pay for your library. Purchase difficult to find movies, expensive and collectible records, and first edition signed copies of your favorite books with student loan money. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a biology textbook (when there’s Khan Academy and Wikipedia) only to never use it again, or never use it ever? Get that first-edition of The Great Gatsby. The best part is, some of these items will actually appreciate in value, unlike your college education. And, it’s legal[ish]. Books are part of your education and [generally] a legitimate use of student loan funds.

3) Invest in the stock market. People have soured on stocks, and there’s a strong case to be made that the longterm outlook for the stock market, as Boomers retire and cash-out their investments, is poor. But, in the short-term, taking your excess student loan money and investing in an index fund or buying high-yield dividend-paying stocks (REITs or Tanker companies) could help you get an actual return on your debt. And if you fail and lose all the money? no big deal. You were going to lose all the money anyway.

4) Open your own business. The sad truth of business loans is this: the bank probably won’t give you the money, and if they do and your business tanks, you’ll have to declare bankruptcy to keep from becoming homeless. Instead of spending your student loans taking a course on Human Resources Management, open your own thrift store. Get on DollarDays and start buying stuff. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t, but at least you’ll be getting the real-world experience you can’t get from a business degree.

5) Become a criminal mastermind. It takes money to make money. Maybe you’ll never get enough money for that space station filled with bikini-clad minions, but if you watch a lot of Burn Notice, you know there’s plenty of ways to take a lot of cash and turn it into more cash. Be sure to buy a bunch of books about “how to avoid being scammed” and “Real Mastermind Criminals” and self-teach your way to Evil Geniushood. (This course is better than you think, being incarcerated for more than ten years is one of the few ways you can discharge your student loans.)

6) Disappear. You’ve thought about it. Wouldn’t it be great to leave your old life behind and begin anew? It sure would be a lot easier to accomplish with a bunch of cash. Do your research, read everything you can about changing your identity, then move to the Bahamas (or something). And remember, if you get caught, you might be going to jail, so go all-in.

7) Sail around the world. If you wan to impress someone in just about any context, tell them you’ve sailed around the world. It’s more believable if you actually do it, but you can cheat and just read about other people who did it online. But you should do it for real; most people will never get an opportunity to do this because boats are expensive and it takes a lot of time and money. Some other ideas along this line of reasoning: Row across the Atlantic ocean, become a bush pilot in Alaska, become a demolition derby champion, take up polo, etc. There are so many things rich people can attempt to do that the rest of us can’t. Student loans are the great equalizer: you can do anything rich people can do. (Yes, I know rich people don’t take up demo derby, that’s not important.) Who knows, you might even meet a rich future spouse along the way.

8) Gamble Many students can easily rack up 100,000 dollars in student loan debt. Do you have any idea how much fun that can get you in Las Vegas? Go nuts, start playing the high stakes tables. Have fun until you go broke. The end result is the same: you still owe a lot of money and you have no career opportunity.

9) Become a Moonshiner (or fund your hobby). I like the show Moonshiners. Imagine the kind of still you could build for 40,000 dollars. If you don’t want to make moonshine, there are other options. Do you dance? buy a dance studio. Rock climbing? become a pro. Birding? get your Big Year on someone else’s dime. Motorcycle racing? Whatever you want to do, do it with student loans.

10) Go to college. I’m not talking to you STEM majors; I’m talking to those of you too lazy to learn calculus. College as a liberal arts major might be, economically speaking, completely worthless. But it can be a lot of fun. You have to do it right, though. Only take enough credits so you can remain a “fulltime student” for as long as possible. Normally, this will be about 6 credits a semester. Be sure to take your summers off. It will take 10-12 years to complete a Bachelor’s degree at 12 credits a year. Longer if you switch majors. All this time, you can borrow money with student loans. Eventually you’ll have to switch to private loans instead of Stafford loans, but that’s not a big deal. And once you graduate? get a Master’s degree. Same scam. Get another one after that. If you do it right, get good grades in the classes you take, control your expenses and maximize your loan amount, you can live the good life for 16 years or so. Imagine staying in college for that long, learning all the tricks, attending parties, coed ultimate frisbee. Be sure to attend a large state-school (at least 20,000 undergrad students in a large city) so you won’t “stick out”. Once you’re finally done, you’ll be $200,000 in debt, or so. That’s alright, use your deferments, get on an income-based repayment plan, or just default and learn to make money under the table. It’s not like you were going to amount to much anyway.

If you had to get your parents to co-sign on these loans, save a little money for life insurance so they aren’t ruined by your awesomeness.

It’s just that easy.

*Please don’t do any of this. Some of these suggestions, if enacted, would be illegal and are explicated here for entertainment purposes only.


Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Two: The Beauty of Smoking

Smoking is back. No more patches. No more self-help books. No more missing out on your nicotine all-day in the office. No more lung cancer.* Modern technology has saved an ancient treat. Cigarettes are back!

The e-cig can be used anywhere (right now, anyway, the nannystaters are coming). On a plane, in a restaurant, in your car with your kids, at work, inside, outside. Anywhere. welcome to freedom, or what we used to call “The 1950’s.”

This product is great for everyone. Smokers who want to quit. Smokers who want to cut back. Ex-smokers. Heck, even non-smokers can now enjoy what it feels like to be cool without all that annoying emphysema.

And, if you’re worried about becoming addicted to nicotine, there are nicotine-free options! You can’t lose.

Hey, you’re not going to live forever. It’s time to light up. And buy a pack or two for your friends.

*Maybe, I’ve seen at least one study that shows nicotine might be a contributing factor to throat and mouth cancer, but the relationship was extremely small.

Obama’s Keynesian Cred

The Stand-up Economist in Minnesota

Yoram Bauman (PhD), “the world’s first and only stand-up economist,” will be in Minnesota next week.

His Schedule:

* Mar 02: University of South Dakota. At 8pm at the Business School Auditorium at USD. Free and open to the public!

* Mar 03: St Olaf College. At 8pm in Holland Hall room 501. Open to folks at St Olaf College and neighbor Carleton College.

* Mar 04: St. Cloud State University. Part of the Winter Institute. I’ll be speaking at 7:15pm, after dinner.

* Mar 05, 2pm: St. Croix Preparatory Academy (Stillwater MN). Open only to folks at this public charter school, and congrats to Rebecca Wahl and students for getting this gig via my free show Google map!

* Mar 05: Macalester College. I believe this is at 4:30pm in the JBD lecture hall, but check google as the date approaches for confirmation. Macalester folks only, sorry.

He’s funny. Check out his website:


For Captain Bogs

Rec’d via an email from Dick.M.:

A C-130 was lumbering along when a cocky F-16 flashed by.

The jet jockey decided to show off.

The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, ‘watch this!’ and promptly went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier.

The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that?

The C-130 pilot said, ‘That was impressive, but watch this!’

The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes and then the C-130 pilot came back on and said: ‘What did you think of that?’

Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, ‘What the heck did you do?’

The C-130 pilot chuckled. ‘I stood up, stretched my legs, walked to the back, went to the bathroom, then got a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll.’

The Writer’s Realm

Scene: We join Young(ish) Enthusiastic Blogger (YEB) in his study as he’s working through some bit of inspiration, soon to be forgotten in his draft folder.

Enter a visitor appearing in a flash of light.

Visitor: Wha…? Where is this?

YEB: You have entered my study, I’m Yeb.

Visitor: How?

YEB: I can see by your confusion you must be new to the realm?

Visitor: Realm?

YEB: You’re newer than I thought, you’ve entered my study through use of the portal, it’s a tool of the writer’s realm. It can transfer a writer anywhere they wish, once one learns how to navigate its many rivers. For generations writers have relied on the varied pathways of the Muses to produce material and find inspiration. You accessed the realm while you were writing something.

Visitor: Why am I here?

YEB: Hmmm, usually newbies are transferred to an initial guide for an introduction after being led to the realm by a guide. You clearly are an apprentice to no one, so your case is a bit more complicated. Normally writers are helped along this process by someone else, but it looks like you’re alone. You weren’t helped out at all by someone like a librarian or an English professor?

Visitor: Hell no, I just started writing about sports on the Bleacher Report a few months ago, I was trying to show why Jason Bartlett is overrated because he makes a lot of errors, I started searching online and then poof, I’m here.

YEB: The Muses have a sick sense of humor then.

Visitor: What are you talking about?

YEB: Your analysis is deeply flawed.

Visitor: Wait a second, you’re one of those stats geeks? And…wait…you’re a senior writer on the Bleacher Report, which is ridiculous as you haven’t written a column in several months, and…you’re an embarrassingly loyal Twins fan. How do I know that stuff?

YEB: The realm is fully integrated with the net, you just ran a Google search in your mind and all was delivered.

Visitor: Cool.

YEB: Normally a journeyman writer or a librarian gives you some warning about the possibilities in using writer’s portals.

Visitor: So, as long as I’m here, I guess I can ask why my analysis is so wrong.

YEB: It’s simple, players who make a lot of errors do so because they get to a lot of fielded balls in play. Errors are in fact a rough proxy for range. Luckily, there are better ways of judging a player’s fielding ability. My guess is you’ve been warped by some high school baseball coach, or Tim McCarver.

Visitor: My coach seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

YEB: Wait, you’re still in high school?

Visitor: Well, sure.

YEB slams his head into his keyboard.

YEB: You’re lucky you weren’t thrown into one of the abysses which pocket the realm. J.D. Salinger hasn’t been able to write a book since he hit a metaphysical abyss and had to find himself again.

Visitor: Salinger?

YEB: Maybe it’d be a good idea if you were to, you know, stop writing for a while.

Visitor: Writers write, jerk.

YEB: Well, I warned you. Just read some books once in a while.

Visitor: Maybe you can answer me this, why haven’t you written in such a long time?

YEB: When the biggest news story of the offseason is the signing of Nick Punto, it’s hard to find a lot of inspiration, even with help from the realm. Plus, I’m working on an MBA, so my writing time is at a premium.

Visitor: I like Nick Punto, he’s scrappy.

YEB slams his head into his keyboard.

YEB: I think it’s time for you to go, before I throw you into an abyss.

Visitor: You’re not much of a guide.

YEB: And you’re not much of an apprentice.

And with that, a quick flash of light and the visitor was gone. YEB returned to his keyboard and began writing. A minute later, through the writer’s ether, YEB heard the faint screams of his neophyte visitor, caught in an abyss no doubt. With a deep sigh, he opened a portal, and dived in, vanishing from his study.


I’ve been playing around on my beta baseball blog a little bit. I’ve thrown together an unfinished series of supposed-to-be-humorous posts dealing with the kind of 40-man roster a Mad Scientist would put together. It’s about as much content as I can muster at the moment.

The Evil Genius’ 40-Man Roster

Tie Domi

There is one thing an Evil Genuis understands more than anything else, and that is the need for goons. Fortunately, they aren’t too hard to find. The NHL is filled with guys who are decent enough players but whose primary purpose is to enforce the hockey honor code. I don’t know what the honor code for hockey actually entails, but violations are dealt with swiftly. Tie Domi epitomized everything about hockey most people actually like about hockey. (Without guys like Tie Domi, hockey is just a mix of soccer and figure skating…yech.) Taking a roster spot to find yourself the right kind of goon (which should combine well with the “Sumo Wrestler” roster spot) will help deter opposing pitchers from aggresively pitching inside. No one wants to risk a bench clearing brawl when they know how Tie Domi is ready to escalate things to DefCon3.

Quote o’ the Day:

“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.”

Jerry Seinfeld

Random Link o’ the Day: