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Old 12-09-2010, 07:35 PM   #31
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Man, I WISH I could have the kind of life the people you met in Montana had (to a point. I don't need a super-expensive flashy car, but I would love to be able to pay to go to university and travel when and where I could and have enough money for my family to not have to worry about not having enough for necessities or luxuries).
That's the point, many don't have the money, yet don't want to not buy things they want to have. So they incur debts.
Sometimes you can't avoid it. When I was in Australia, I shortly had to go into the reds before the next payments came, but I knew it would be paid off immediately. I don't know how high interest is on credit card debt in the US, but with most German banks it's about 12%. That's pretty prohibitive.

I've been in Montana from mid-August through mid-December of 2008, and then stayed for another month in the US visiting some interferencers and some nice cities in the country. It was a great time. Had lots of fun and made nice friends over there.

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But, at the same time, not having to pay or paying so very little for education allows one to be "debt-averse" and save to pay cash for things like cars. There definitely is some amount of opportunity involved, even here in the US among my peers when people brag about having no debt it's usually because their parents paid for their college and helped them with their first home. We pay a car loan on our van and the original balance of the loan was only a fraction of one year's cost of attending college for either of us. We could live in a mansion and travel the world on what we pay towards student loans each month. I am not complaining about it b/c that was the choice we made to get the education we wanted, but student loans are absolutely our top monthly expense and will be for quite some time. The same could be said of my parents and what they paid for my K-12 education. Sure they would not have had a mortgage or had to take a few years to pay off a vehicle if they weren't paying $7k per kid, per year on blue collar salaries. Believe me, I do not enjoy debt in any form nor would I ever choose it but these days, very few people can work enough hours during college making enough to pay for it.

If I didn't have student loans I would never have to buy on credit and incur debt. As it is I do not have a credit card and besides my student loans (which I've never once been late on) our only other debt is the auto loan. I could pay the auto loan in full in a few months without the student loans and I could afford a home mortgage double my current rent.
It's certainly valid points, though I must say, even though here in Germany education is almost free of costs, there is still a visible difference in the approach to spending. First of all, as I could see in Missoula, and it doesn't need to be true for every other city, the incentive to get a car was much greater. The public transport was pretty poor, with small busses who run infrequently, and as a pedestrian it was no fun. We sometimes went to the one shopping area, and to get to the shops on the other side you had to cross some streets. It took ages as the traffic lights for pedestrians were very poorly programmed. So you'd see cars go by from one street three times before you could make it to the next island. It become quite apparent that they didn't want you to walk. So more students get a car. In Germany, if you live in a city, you have less of an incentive to buy one. The students who do get one, as I said, tend to get cheap used cars. They cost way less than $10,000. Most students get cars they can pay in cash. In Montana, to drive a jeep, Hummer H3 or similar, brand-new was not a rare sight.
Same with consumables and electronics. So either, a lot more of the students were richer than I thought, or their parents had a reasonable income, or they just didn't care about the debts.
There's just that kind of a difference, where on the one side you have an expensive education system and students who afford all kinds of luxuries, and another system which is relatively cheap, yet students also consume less (of course, in both countries you'll also see the opposite case, there's no absolutes).
Here, when you are done with your education, and you have a steady income, you start buying more expensive cars where you take out a loan for, and you start building your own house, again on credit. But as a student, it's just greatly uncommon to go into debt. If you haven't got a high enough income, you don't buy stuff you don't have the money.
I would say that the disposable income of a student in the US is not that much different from that of a student in Germany, in general. I think there's rather some other factors at play why consumption is so much different. One, the overall attitude to consumption. Germans like to treat themselves to nice things, but overall consumption here is lower. And two, I would argue, if you have a system where it's more or less normal to incur a massive amount of debt at a relatively young age, ie. you have to take out huge loans on your education, your overall attitude towards debt, and paying off debt becomes different. You just see it more as a given, something that comes with being student.
But if you live in a "system" where living on money you don't have is more uncommon, you tend to hesitate more to incur that kind of debt.

The first time I got a credit card was when I applied for the working holiday maker visa in Australia. My parents didn't have one (my mother still hasn't gotten one), and I needed it because it was the only means of payment for the visa. Also, we were told that in Australia it's more common to pay with cards, and it's cheaper to withdraw money from your bank account at home via credit card. But when I was in Australia, I mostly paid by cash. Reason was, I simply wasn't used to using a card for paying at the supermarket, and I heard of enough backpacker who went over there, for the first time in their lives used credit cards, and before they realised they spent all their money. Because it's so simple. Here a few bucks, there a dollar, and then paying for some trip, consuming a little more etc. With the exchange rate of 1:1.60 Australia also seemed attractive to just get stuff. When you always use cash, you just see your $50 not getting smaller and smaller. You see how your money leaves you. If you use a card, you don't see it. And if you are not used to it, you might not realize how much you really spend. Until you receive a notice that you reached your card's limit. And then you are in trouble.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:07 PM   #32
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I certainly understand and sympathize with the students' anger but this probably isn't going to help people take their point seriously. It'll make them listen, sure, but for all the wrong reasons.

To those who are protesting peacefully, though, keep on fighting the good fight . Sucks that you get detained for it, but don't let that deter you. You have a valid argument, you deserve to have your voices heard as much as anyone else.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:00 PM   #33
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:12 PM   #34
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I agree on the car thing, it does seem ridiculous at times, even to me. I can definitely see how you would notice that. People would often raise their eyebrow at me because I did not have one, nor was I obsessed with getting one. I walked everywhere. I didn't have a car until I married Phil and he had one (not a new one, and paid off). I got a small van, the smallest mini-van on the market, last year (I was 25) and only because I had so many dogs and I travel long distances to compete with my dogs, but I always take my friend with me and she pays me for more than half the gas because I am always cleaning the van and have to pay for the oil changes. My dog van is actually smaller than Phil's car was.

The US does seem obsessed with cars. It is not normal to me but seems perfectly normal to most other people that a household has one car per adult. Then people complain about our public transport, when most cities DO have some means of public transport (granted not as good as Europe or NYC) and the people complaining are generally those who've never made a point of using it.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:56 PM   #35
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I don't know how high interest is on credit card debt in the US, but with most German banks it's about 12%. That's pretty prohibitive.


You have no idea how cheap you have it.
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:13 AM   #36
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hooo boy, yeah, anitram


hey vincent we meet briefly
when joined us inn NYC to see UF...i guess it was 08?

have read more the posts closely semi-skimming through.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:46 AM   #37
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:35 AM   #38
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I agree on the car thing, it does seem ridiculous at times, even to me. I can definitely see how you would notice that. People would often raise their eyebrow at me because I did not have one, nor was I obsessed with getting one. I walked everywhere. I didn't have a car until I married Phil and he had one (not a new one, and paid off). I got a small van, the smallest mini-van on the market, last year (I was 25) and only because I had so many dogs and I travel long distances to compete with my dogs, but I always take my friend with me and she pays me for more than half the gas because I am always cleaning the van and have to pay for the oil changes. My dog van is actually smaller than Phil's car was.

The US does seem obsessed with cars. It is not normal to me but seems perfectly normal to most other people that a household has one car per adult. Then people complain about our public transport, when most cities DO have some means of public transport (granted not as good as Europe or NYC) and the people complaining are generally those who've never made a point of using it.
Sometimes, a car is inevitable to have, and you sure get the best you can afford. The question is, if you are a student, do you really need one on credit? And I guess there seems to be a difference between students in the US and students in Germany.
Gas, on the other hand, if you compare it to German prices, it's such a bargain. When we traveled to Seattle and back we had somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 miles, and we had to refuel two or three times or so. But in total, we paid less for gas than I'd pay for one refuel in Germany.

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You have no idea how cheap you have it.
Maybe it is, relatively speaking. I find it expensive, though, and most I know, too. Which is why we don't use credit cards to buy on debt.
I'm rather stingy, anyway. I don't see the point in paying double for something I get. If my life doesn't depend on it, I can wait until I can afford it.

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hooo boy, yeah, anitram


hey vincent we meet briefly
when joined us inn NYC to see UF...i guess it was 08?

have read more the posts closely semi-skimming through.
Oh yes, it was December 2008. It was a great time in New York!
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:06 AM   #39
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The question is, if you are a student, do you really need one on credit?
I wonder how many students even qualify to purchase brand new or newer cars on credit? I don't think I would have, at least not at the terms I would want. I didn't have any credit history as a student. Now I have excellent credit, due to having been paying student loans for almost 10 years now, but before I got my van I'd never had a credit card, never had another auto loan, never a mortgage or any other line of credit. Part of the reason I got the van was that I had established enough credit to get the price and the term and the interest rate I wanted on the auto loan.

Most of the people I knew with cars did not have car loans, either their parents had car loans or just bought the car outright for them.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:36 AM   #40
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Generous parents. I know some co-students whose parents, or grandparents, paid for the license, which already is more than €2,000. Some may even have gotten a car. But a car that's worth €20,000 or more? Not in my league.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:20 AM   #41
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:18 AM   #42
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From my understanding, it seems they teach the same stuff in less time. Sometimes you can take two-year studies and then go on to four-year ones, so in that case, there may be a bit of a difference, they may not try and cram everything in since you will be continuing your education beyond the two years, but otherwise, yeah, I think it's more of a cramming thing.

The problem I noticed when I took the brief bit of community college I did was that we were pretty much rehashing the stuff we learned in high school. I know some people have been out of school for a long time and sometimes need to learn the information again, and there's nothing wrong with rehashing certain material, but at the same time, it does seem like it takes away from the time you could be spending moving forward with new education of the career/subjects you want to delve deeper into.

(As an aside, VincentVega, when were you in Montana? 'Cause when I was going to college, it was in Wyoming, and I did that back in 2005, 2006)

Angela
Sorry, forgot to thank you for your explanation of the system. Sounds very stressful if it's just a two-year class, but if it's more a building-up class for the four-year studies, that sounds reasonable.

I understand your sentiment regarding the community college. Indeed, a lot of time can be lost if you have to rehash too much of the stuff. When I started studying, we had a one-week maths class where we basically went from the very basic 1+1=2 all the way to matrix calculations. That was very good, as many people have been out of school for years, so it was good to refresh on it. And when we started regular classes that has already been dealt with.
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Old 12-12-2010, 12:52 PM   #43
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The US does seem obsessed with cars. It is not normal to me but seems perfectly normal to most other people that a household has one car per adult. Then people complain about our public transport, when most cities DO have some means of public transport (granted not as good as Europe or NYC) and the people complaining are generally those who've never made a point of using it.
Believe it or not, and I must admit I was surprised to find this, per capita car sales are higher in Germany than the US, though this may simply be because Germany is basically a wealthier country than the US.

In my experience, while wealthy Germans will splash out on the latest top range models from Mercedes and Porsche, which they can easily afford, many average middle class and working class Germans are happy enough to drive 12 year old cars. I have only visited Berlin, Munich and Cologne, and in my experience, in the central business districts of these cities, you will see great public transport systems but also plenty of flashy motors, particularly in Munich. (I remember seeing a pristine brand new bright yellow Lamborghini Diablo crawling down a Munich high street circa 1994.) Of course, those cities would not necessarily be representative of Germany on the whole, particularly not the east, some of which is still relatively underdeveloped and poor by German standards.

I think that in Europe it is much more common to have a car but opt to rarely use it, e.g., many Europeans use public transport for work and maybe take the car out for a Sunday drive in the mountains, whereas Americans who have cars tend to use them for pretty much any journey.
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:00 PM   #44
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Americans who have cars tend to use them for pretty much any journey.
Americans will drive a few miles to a health club where they can run or walk around an indoor track for a few miles and then drive back home.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:21 PM   #45
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Believe it or not, and I must admit I was surprised to find this, per capita car sales are higher in Germany than the US, though this may simply be because Germany is basically a wealthier country than the US.

In my experience, while wealthy Germans will splash out on the latest top range models from Mercedes and Porsche, which they can easily afford, many average middle class and working class Germans are happy enough to drive 12 year old cars. I have only visited Berlin, Munich and Cologne, and in my experience, in the central business districts of these cities, you will see great public transport systems but also plenty of flashy motors, particularly in Munich. (I remember seeing a pristine brand new bright yellow Lamborghini Diablo crawling down a Munich high street circa 1994.) Of course, those cities would not necessarily be representative of Germany on the whole, particularly not the east, some of which is still relatively underdeveloped and poor by German standards.
Interesting. I'm not sure how Phil and I fit in as far as being middle class Americans but we have a 16 year old vehicle that was essentially free, and a 7 year old vehicle bought used for well under $10K. I don't think I'd ever buy a brand new vehicle of any kind/price unless someone in the family was a car salesman. I also can't think of why we'd ever need a vehicle for more than $10K. I supposed if I had a lot of money I wouldn't be as selective about buying something used that meets my needs but we'd rather spend our disposable income on other things, neither of us are gearheads or impressed by flashy cars.

Also I believe you are correct about how much we use our vehicles. I drive to work which is less than 2 miles each way. Why? Because I can. There is a special parking lot just for us employees so when the windchills are -12C and it's snowing, why walk when I can drive? If I had to, I could easily walk or bike, or find someone else that comes down my way. When it's warm out I don't mind being dropped off and walking home if Phil needs my van. When I was a student, I didn't have a car and lived off campus. I walked to school, work, the store, the bank, the mall, my grandmas, etc. I didn't use public transport, just walked. Ironically, I had several housemates that insisted they "needed" a car because we lived off campus, yet our house was closer to many of the academic buildings than some of the commuter parking lots. The only time I really hated it was walking home from night classes in the pitch black and cold, without other people around. I was more nervous about my safety than the fact that I had to walk everywhere.
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