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Ask Dave

First, get a real job

Nicholas has big plans for his future, but he's also got a lot of student loan debt. Dave helps him sort things out, as Nicholas works to make his dream of being an entrepreneur come true.

QUESTION: Nicholas currently has student loans in deferment. He has a career goal of owning his own mobile food vending company, so he’s putting most of the money he makes from eBay and ride-hailing services — around $1,000 a month — aside in savings for that. Nicholas has a degree in hospitality management, and asks Dave if he should forego his business idea for the time being and knock out the student loan debt instead.

ANSWER: Yes! Unless you can start this business idea for less than $1,000.

Here’s an idea: Go get a job! I know you have this dream of being self-employed, but at this point you suck at it. You haven’t made any money yet. You can do eBay and stuff on the side until you get things built up. With a hospitality degree, you can make $30,000 to $50,000 a year, clean up your mess, build out the eBay thing and save up quickly to move into the food truck or mobile food business.

But pay your way through it, Nicholas. Don’t sit around scraping by on the kind of money you’re making now and call that winning. You have the ability to make money. You have an economic engine at your fingertips because you have the knowledge from the degree you earned. And it’s a valuable degree. The good news about the hospitality industry is most people in it don’t work very hard. But if you go in there and bust it, you will escalate yourself upward through that industry in a hurry.

While you’re doing that, you can clean up all your student loans and save up money for your food truck. Boom! You’re self-employed and you learned a lot of stuff you can use in your new business. Go make some money, man!