Asperis

Ideas, rants and raves, with emphasis on Science, Politics, Personal Growth and Finance

Posts Tagged ‘money’

A College Degree REALLY Matters

Posted by The Lukester on January 11, 2008

JD, at Get Rich Slowly, has an excellent post outlining the correlated advantages of having a college degree: the levels of income and life satisfaction increase with higher level of education. While it’s not 100% certain that the correlation is cause-and-effect (is it really the education?), the argument for getting a degree – the higher the better – is very compelling.

Case in point: I never got a degree. And it has really hurt my options over the years. I’m smart, well-read, enjoy learning, raised middle-class. None of these are prerequisites for higher eduction, but most people simply assume I have a degree and are surprised to discover I do not.

When younger I was able to get good jobs through contacts and friends, but when the job market dried up some and I wasn’t quite so youthful anymore, suddenly I found that doors were closed. I wasn’t finding jobs that I could grow in, my skills suffered and every change meant starting over.

With each effort at finding a job, I could visualize the life cycle of my resume (whether I was referred by a friend or not): the person or the machine would sort though them, putting those with degrees in one pile and those without in another. They’d check through the degree pile first and even though I had years of experience, rarely got a second look.

Why didn’t I get a degree? There are several reasons, but the biggest was that I just wasn’t paying attention! I didn’t realize that having a degree mattered; my parents didn’t drill it in or I didn’t care or know what I wanted to do, I wasn’t focused enough – or all of those. Also at the time (mid-late 70’s) it just didn’t seem as important generally as it does now. I actually DID take some college classes at several schools but never completed a degree.

Whatever the reason, I can tell it’s hurt me. I only recently got a full-time job (it’s been years since I felt I was on a career track), but then only because I started as a temp and they liked me. I’m starting at an “OK” salary but small for the region. I have very little savings and not much equity. A simple piece of paper might have made a huge difference.

Bottom line: if you can possibly swing it, get the damn degree!

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Realistic Budgeting Possible?

Posted by The Lukester on January 10, 2008

Over at Wise Bread, Margaret Garcia-Couoh has a cute and to-the-point post. Titled Realistic Budgeting: The Marriage Saver, she suggests that couples get real about their “little” and/or secret expenses. I certainly have this in my relationship: I often discover empty Ann Taylor bags in the recycling, or a new watch on her dresser. If I ask, these items were always “on sale” or she had been “looking at it for a long time”. Meanwhile, over at the husband camp, I’ve had my share of small (really!) eBay or Amazon purchases (“that first-edition folio edition of The Silmarillion was only forty bucks! How could I resist?!”) and I have various ingenious ways to sneak them into the house looking like they’ve been there for years…

However, I think Garcia-Couoh’s suggestion to be honest isn’t the final answer. Of course, being honest is always a good idea, and is always the preferred approach, but sometimes it’s just better to shift the issue away from the marital hot-bed of argument and not have it be about honesty in the first place.

My suggestion is to budget for those items, but allow them to be un-itemized. In other words, each partner gets an agreed-upon amount of “play” money to spend on that very-important-but-probably-not-approved-by-the-partner stuff.

Think of it as the CIA “black budget” that Congress votes for without knowing its contents, or the petty cash supply many business keep on hand; It’s money to be spent without looking at too closely.

Of course if the marital “black budget” starts to impact the visible budget (“uh, we don’t have enough to keep the heat on – but don’t ask questions about my new Dremel MultiPro Cordless Two-Speed Rotary Tool System w/50 Accessories – I’ve been looking at it a long time and it was on sale!!”) then it’s time to rethink the allocated amounts and even the whole idea.

Sometimes honesty IS the best policy.

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