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Student Loans? Don't Bother Me. I'm Eccentric.

By Ian McAllister

Student Loans - Not Such a Bother to Eccentrics

"Do you really see yourself as eccentric?" asked my boss incredulously. "Yes." I replied - "Eccentric means away from the centre, which means that I don't follow all the other sheep."

How it Began

Probably it all began when I was in my teens and found a book that showed me the easy way to write essays. "Always think what everyone else will write and make your essay as outrageously different as you can." You can get a free eBook now on the subject from

It was such fun being outrageous that it spread to my everyday life. Often the outrageous ideas I thought of made more sense than the conventional thinking.

Soon people started to accept me as an eccentric.

Immediate advantages of being a known eccentric

* You don't offend people. Everyone shrugs and says "It's just Ian!"

* You can say "no" whenever you like.

* You no longer have to keep up with the Joneses. You set your own targets.

How being eccentric saves on student loans

I had a pushbike instead of a car like all the other students. I didn't need student loans. I set my own standards. The Joneses didn't drive me to student loans.

When I needed textbooks I bought them second-hand, but decided for myself if the book was really necessary. After all, if I read the book in the library I wouldn't have to pay for it, and student loans would be kept at bay.

I'm eccentric - remember? So I don't have to follow your expensive pastimes. I chose free pastimes. No need for student loans if I keep to free. What's that? Didn't I get bored with nothing to do? Far from it! Four times in my life I've had so many pastimes that I've had to prune the list drastically.

Each Saturday I joined other young folk cycling round the countryside. I usually repaired their punctures, because I had the tools and it cost me next to nothing. I toured England, Scotland and Wales during my holidays with no fuel costs at all for my pushbike, so no student loans were needed.

Sports: Of course I needed some eccentric sports to keep fit, so I took up croquet, fives, table-tennis, 7-mile cross-country running, hill-walking. No need for student loans because it was all free, and so were the games that I played such as chess.

Each evening I had to make time to go out with my date, so had to push through my one-hour harmonium rehearsal, and one-hour violin rehearsal, and do my homework, and play some table-tennis, and read library books, and eat...

Fortunately none of that needed a student loan - even my date. Remember, I am eccentric, so my date had to go along with me, or find someone else.

I didn't need student loans for my furniture. My boss said later that I'd furnished my entire house for less that he paid for his bed. Auction prices were so low that the main cost was in carting the stuff home.

Student union? No I'm eccentric. Horse-racing pool? No I'm eccentric. Join a student protest rally? No I'm eccentric.

Each time students were browbeaten into something expensive because "everyone else is doing it" they didn't even bother to ask me because I was eccentric. Far from needing student loans, I saved money from my government scholarship. Then I took holiday jobs for extra money.

One day the unemployment officer showed me a job which "nobody will want". I grabbed it immediately because it sounded different. I was working alone on a farm, 6 miles from my boss and was snowed-up most of the winter so that my boss couldn't get through to me. It was there that I learned to trap rabbits, skin them, cure them, train dogs, cook, hand-milk cows, make cheese - well what else is there to do when you're snowed up?

I bumped into the employment officer a couple of months later and he said "You're not still on that terrible job are you?" I hastened to reassure him that it was great. He must have thought that I was eccentric or something.

Why does being eccentric avoid student loans?

* I don't mind buying seconds or second-hand from the op-shop or Salvation Army.

* Anything free is great.

* I'm not proud. People give me lifts in cars because I'm too eccentric to have one of my own. I used to hitch-hike before it got dangerous. People give me cast-off clothing - well only an eccentric would wear it!

* Naturally I hunted for a scholarship until I found one. Everyone else may have student loans, but I'm eccentric.

* "Everyone else has one" so out comes the credit card. Not me. I'm eccentric. Credit cards can charge more than one fifth of your loan per year, making them the most expensive of student loans.

* Giving gifts needs more student loans. I'm eccentric. Something for 50cents from the Salvation army can make a great gift. Keep buying through the year then wrap up your treasure trove at Christmas and hand deliver to avoid paying postage. Yes - they'll all know what you're doing, but "it's just Ian" and you're eccentric, remember?

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