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Here is a little different perspective. I haven't graduated college yet. I will be graduating in December (I'm 22).

In looking realistically at what I am about to face, I think it will be heaven. After 4 years of being paid very low wages for very hard labor, I will be earning a livable wage for work in a comfortable, air-conditioned office.

I plan to life my life financially as if I had never graduated college. I will live in the same low rent apartment, eat the same healthy home-made food, and watch the same movies only after they have come out on DVD for rent. All that extra income will be going into savings (and Motley Fool Hidden Gems picks).

Sure, I have $35,000 of student loan debt, but the interest rate is so low it's laughable. The highest is under 2.5% apr. It will go lower when I consolidate it at one lower rate. It will go lower still when I set my payments to be automatically and electronically paid from my checking account (they deduct .25% for that). I will just make my $100 payments for the next 30 years at 2.5% interest with all my surplus income being saved and invested at much higher rates.

Nothing makes me angrier than recent graduates complaining about all their credit card debt and blaming credit card companies who give out free shirts or footballs if you fill out an application.

I pass by those tables all the time. I activated my first credit card the DAY I turned 18. I have been building good credit ever since. I now have 3 credit cards with a total of $25,000 of credit limits on them. I have never even carried a balance past the grace period. I have never made a late payment. My FICO score is 750, which will get me lower auto loans and lower mortgage rates when the time comes. Having a score of 750 when you're 22 and have such a short credit history is a hard thing to do, but it will come in handy.

The problem isn't the credit card companies or those free footballs. The problem is the unrealistic attitude to live like movie stars as a 19 year old college kid, and the “I want it now” attitude.

It's true that I don't have quite as much fun as my friends because I don't go out to eat with them every single time and go on huge shopping sprees for new clothes. But it's also true that I'm the only one I know who has been filling up my Roth IRA every year since I was 18 years old (not easy to do on low wages).

My goal has been to invest $1000 every three months, and that has been very tough to do. When my job starts in December, I will shatter that and it will be easy. I will live just as well as I have (probably better in some ways) but be able to invest way more money.

I'm optimistic because I see such a great opportunity. How could I not? I'm starting out with a livable salary and no serious responsibilities such as BMWs, mortgages, and children. The time to invest is not when you're 40. It's when you're 20. Every $1,000 I invest now is $45,000 when I retire and that's if I just throw it in an S& P 500 index fund and forget about it.

I wake up every day knowing for sure I will be a millionaire one day… not because I need to be a genius or really lucky, but just because I'm starting so young, and I am staying so disciplined. That's all it takes.

What if someone came up to you with a sure-fire business plan that would turn $1,000 into $45,000 of tax-free money? Would you do it? What if it didn't take back breaking labor or illegal activity?

All it takes is the ability to say “no” once in awhile and realize you don't need to keep up with the Joneses and their two mortgages.
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