Here’s a statement that is true yet annoying: Live like a student when you’re a student, and you can live like a professional when you graduate.

Here’s what it means: Don’t borrow so much money when you’re in school. Don’t have a lush lifestyle by spending the money you get from student loans. Try to live simply when you’re in school so you can kick up your heels when the money finally starting coming in for real.

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That is the advice on financial aid I hear from the dozens of people who advise students that area. I have interviewed plenty of them for the past five or more years. And they typically have been financial-aid experts at law schools or law-related organizations. If you know anything about lawyers, it’s that they rack up some serious student debt. And it truly does take most of them 10 to 20 years to pay it off. (These are the ones who live in your neighborhood, not the big shots working for the top law firms in New York City or Washington D.C.)

Sure, you know this already. But step back and really look at how you’re living. Are you keeping it simple, or are you giving yourself little treats here and there “because I deserve it?” Trust me – and my frequently giant credit-card bill – those little things add up to a lot.

I’m not a personal-finance expert. But I am one of those people who loves to analyze my financial statements. I actually balanced my checkbook in the days before online banking. I read the finance magazines and even a page or two of the Wall Street Journal when my kids give me a chance. And all that has taught me one thing: Money matters, and how you handle it matters.

Now, I’m not trying to be preachy. I’m just suggesting that with the New Year around the corner, it might be a good time to organize yourself and prepare for what life will be like when you graduate. Do you want to spend now or spend later? ‘Cause I’m just guessing it will feel a lot better to treat yourself when you’ve got a nice new degree and better-paying job to back you up.

Here’s a test for you…Give me one star if you think saving is for chumps. Give the article 10 stars if you believe money matters. And throw a comment or two at the bottom. Share the article on Facebook. Let’s get a conversation started.

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