ADVICE Providing real dish on college lessons



Get ready to handle stuff that really matters.
By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK -- Brothers Derek and Steve Avdul want to educate all those college students out there about the stuff that really matters: how to get your phone hooked up, what furniture is needed in a first apartment and how to make sure your health insurance continues now that you're out of your parents' house.
"The key theme is preparation. Whether you're moving into a dorm or an apartment, you've probably never done it before so it's important to get familiar with what's involved and demystify the whole thing," says Steve Avdul. "Moving-in decisions should be made with information on your side."
The Avduls have written a book and accompanying workbook called "Real Life 101: A Guide To Stuff That Actually Matters" (Galt Industries).
First-time apartment dwellers tend to make choices about electric, Internet and gas service as knee-jerk reactions to a need, Derek Avdul adds, but if they'd done their homework, they'd probably see better deals and fewer hassles.
"If you're 18, you've been using the phone and lights for a long time, you just haven't been in charge of them. Vendors will try to oversell, and because teenagers don't know what they need, they'll take too much," Derek Avdul says.
Finding out
Where can this real-world education come from? Newspapers, magazines and the Internet are all possibilities -- and so are parents. But the teenagers are going to have to do the asking.
"Teachers do a great job preparing students for ongoing academic learning and critical thinking, but schools aren't designed to teach you practical everyday things. That's for the parents, but even if they're doing a good job, parents aren't going to say, 'Johnny, did you know it costs $100 a month for your cell phone?"' says Steve Avdul.
"It's the kind of thing that falls through the cracks. People don't want to talk about it because it's boring."
Don't overlook
Boring but important, notes Derek Avdul, since day-to-day decisions have long-term financial implications. The Avduls say they know people personally who would benefit from a "chat" with their parents about the way credit cards work, and parents shouldn't have to worry that they'll get glossed-over eyes in return.
"Credit cards nowadays are more pervasive. It's tempting to go out and spend. It used to be if you didn't have the cash, you couldn't spend. Now you can," he says. "Young people look at what they had in their parents' home and didn't realize how long and hard parents had to work to get it."
That said, there are some "necessities" for teens, college students and recent college graduates that their parents didn't need. Cell phones for one.
"Times are changing. You do need a cell phone and computer, and older people need to realize these are life's necessities for young people, but young people have to make the adjustments to make them fit in their lives. Maybe they can't have as nice a car," Derek Avdul says.
Steve Avdul advises young adults to think about what they want and need, and then make a plan to accomplish both to the best of their ability. Many teenagers or recent graduates don't realize what a huge undertaking becoming self-sufficient is -- putting it all together might help give it some perspective.
Getting coverage
One expense that is often overlooked is health insurance, according to the Avduls.
Sometimes children are covered by their parents' policies through the college years, but some are not, and the rules might change if the children opt for work after high school.
Steve Avdul says that one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds don't have health insurance and very few of them consider that a major concern. "When you're young and healthy, it seems like a waste of money to pay for health insurance until that $1,500 bill lands on the table when you break an ankle," he says.
What makes the Avduls qualified to give this sort of advice?
Derek Avdul, 35, has a bachelor's degree in marketing and a master's in finance. Steve Avdul, a 33-year-old New Yorker, has both a bachelor's and a master's degree in finance, and also worked on Wall Street.

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