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Part 4: Get a real degree.. so you can get a well paying job.

Again in no particular order; getting what I call a "real" degree was critical in my path towards wealth building. There are many paths towards FI, and this is just the details on mine, and I'm not there yet.... still on this journey.

In university I found there are only a few degrees that will greatly increase one's chances of a good paying job with growth potential. Any degree with the right motivation and skills will take one very far, but there are a few degrees that I believe can greatly increase one's odds.

I picked engineering. An MSME. I did this the more frugal way... lots of state schooling, and lots of time in community colleges where the cost/unit is much lower.

Getting an MSME, or law degree or medicine or other engineering degree is only the 1st task. I've found that to really excel you need to be able to get what I call the "big picture". For some reason very few are willing to get the degree and also strive to understand the higher level big picture. How to make money for a business. One needs the technical savvy along with how to lead.

To achieve this... one must take risks... and take on the challenge. Very few do... but the rewards are huge!

Some random frugalness indicators:
1. I own nothing (and have never owned) something made by Apple.
2. Spent summers in local community college.
3. No new jewelry for me or my wife since we have been married (16+years).
4. As an avid cyclist... back to back to back+ double centuries on a steel bike.. no carbon fiber.
5. I sneak CFL's into fixtures... without my anti-CFL wife knowing....(doesn't work all the time... ok rarely works, but I try)

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whyohwhyoh
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I went Forest Engineering. When I saw the writing on the wall as the forest products industry went into a down swing, I went back to school and got a Finance MBA degree. That eventually led me to a position that included guaranteed pension benefits, including health care.

Instead of CFL's, I'm paying more now and using LED's. I've found that CFL's aren't lasting as long as advertised and end up replacing many in less than a year. If the LED's last as long as advertised, it will be worth it. Oh, I guess I should add the cost of replacing a switch with a dimmer. The pot light I replaced was just too bright.
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<<and lots of time in community colleges where the cost/unit is much lower.
>>



Did you find the rigor of community college classes to be sufficient to support your engineering studies?

AQs I understand it, sometimes that can be an issue and other times the academic rigor is satisfactory for such purposes.



Seattle Pioneer
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Did you find the rigor of community college classes to be sufficient to support your engineering studies?


I took "non-essentials" in community college. Sociology, English classes etc.

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whyohwhyoh
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I've found that CFL's aren't lasting as long as advertised and end up replacing many in less than a year.

I'm finding the same with CFL's. They last about as long as incandescents... sometimes longer. It seems very random. I usually mix them... for example in the room I'm sitting in there are 6 overhead cans, 4 CFLs 2 incandescents. That way you get the instant on light, balanced with low cost CFL lighting.

I haven't jumped into LEDs yet.

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whyohwhyoh
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I could not agree more. I got a computer science degree and it is one of my best investments ever. Plus I've always liked science, math and finance, of which computers are very useful for.

I got my degree by working through college. No help from parents or the gov't. A few semesters I took less hours so I could work more. My last 40 hours were paid for by my employer who hired me after working 15 months part time. I still remember my 1st part-time programmer gig. $5 an hour back in 1982. I thought it was the greatest job ever. Getting paid to play on computers. lol

No school loans and an in-demand degree. I've only been out-of-work for 5 weeks since 1982.

Metal
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I'm thinking vibrations shorten CFL's lifespan. There's a floor above the ones we seem to replace the most. I'm hoping LEDs are more solid state, not subject to vibrations. I'm hoping the price will come down as they become available in greater quantities.
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Thanks so much for your posts :)
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>> Part 4: Get a real degree.. so you can get a well paying job. <<

I get what you are trying to say and mostly agree with it (unless you are independently wealthy and just want to study what you enjoy), but I take exception to your characterization of degrees that don't have a large, lucrative job market waiting for them as not "real degrees".

Now had you rephrased that to say "get a degree that leads to many lucrative job opportunities", I'd agree completely -- given what you are saying is the "goal" here. You won't often get to FI early majoring in philosophy. But that doesn't make a philosophy degree less than 'real'.

In fact, this mentality is what I think is part of what's wrong with higher education today" it's ONLY valued to the extent it can get you a better job, and no one cares about learning for its own sake any more. Now I'll agree that "learning for its own sake" is something fewer and fewer people can afford in this economy, given the changes in the job market and the increase in college costs, but my wife has a history degree, is a minister at a local church and currently in seminary as a candidate for future ordination. The job doesn't pay all that much but she is VERY happy doing what she is doing, and that is worth something too. The older I got, the more I realized that few people in life are more blessed than those who truly love their work. And most people who truly love their work aren't getting six figures a year.

In reality I think the best advice is a tradeoff between "study what will bring home the bacon" and "do what you love." You have to be practical... but at the same time no amount of money makes you happier if you really hate what you do and only did it for the money.

(I was a CS major and worked in the software and IT fields for nearly 26 years, by the way.)

#29
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A Real Degree?

Hmmm...my brother has a degree in philosophy (summa cum laude, phi beta kappa) and had an extremely lucrative career. My other brother dropped out and is a successful entrepreneur. I studied anthropology and had a fine career as a technical writer and editor. My mom went to secretarial school and retired as an Asst VP. (Maybe we're just over-achievers in my family ;-)

Plenty of frugal people own Apple products. I'm typing this on an iPad and FIREd at 55.
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My mom went to secretarial school and retired as an Asst VP. (Maybe we're just over-achievers in my family ;-)

As I stated in the post...

Any degree with the right motivation and skills will take one very far.

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whyohwhyoh
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You said something about needing the big picture to succeed. I disagree, unless you plan to get into mgt, which never appealed to me (I find managing myself and my household to be sufficiently challenging ;-) A former hippy, I never had any interest in business, but I was really good at my job and helped others succeed in theirs. STEM/business/law are not the only routes to FIRE--and avoiding Apple products is totally irrelevant!

Sorry to jump on your wannabe fest--you do have worthy notions, but your arrogance and certainty...grate. Between us, my husband and I have 6(!) Apple products. I save more money by cutting my own hair and not coloring/perming/highlighting it and by doing my own housework than I would by canceling my iPhone or iPad--and I know which is the better deal for me. My 3-yr-old original iPad is the cheapest way for me to get fairly reliable Internet access on the road--and I'm grandfathered at $30/month unlimited data (we RV 1/2 the year since retiring, 1/4 of the year before retirement--yeah, we have an RV AND Apple products, and had an original Prius until a few months ago--which we intend not to replace but manage with one car that doubles as the RV toad, plus our bikes and walking shoes). My husband's MacBook, a hand-me-down when I switched to the smaller, lighter MacBook Air 5 years ago, is 8 years old.

Like you and your wife, we're also not into jewelry. I wear my grandmother's wedding ring (and her mother's before her) so we didn't even buy wedding or engagement rings. In fact, we were married by a Justice of the Peace in our condo for $25, played our favorite CD for mood music, and went out to a Chinese restaurant with attendees afterwards. I made my own bouquet from houseplants and a few supermarket flowers and bought a skirt and top off the rack for about $50. I think our whole wedding cost 1% of the average! our honeymoon was another story...I had children already, and we took them to DisneyWorld.

Big-ticket items like houses, furnishings, cars, weddings, divorce, and frequent expensive vacations can prevent FIRE, not occasional new iPhones and MacBooks--as long as you can afford to pay cash for them and afford the monthly fees besides. There are many ways to skin the cat--One size does not fit all, other than generally LBYM. Even people with fair to middling income can FIRE, especially if they invest successfully (not my strong suit, alas, I used the brute-force method of saving hard).
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Sorry to jump on your wannabe fest

No I truly enjoy the discussion. We don't get much around here.

I worded the section as FIRE indicators, not "things one must do to FIRE". And stated that "There are many paths towards FI, and this is just the details on mine"

But I figured I might tweak some Apple lovers. ;-)

But I still think getting the big picture in life is helpful in the path towards financial independence, not just in management. But many can succeed without it, and know many who have.

In fact, we were married by a Justice of the Peace in our condo for $25

Yeah, we did something similar. Married at the court house for probably around $25, don't remember. It was a lady in a chair with a typewriter.
But several months later we did have a small ceremony, but the total cost was maybe $800, way more than yours. I remember we splurged and spent $100 on supermarket flowers. Rented a chapel for $200. $60 for a friend to play the piano. Had the reception at a friends house. Etc. Her $300 dress was probably the biggest expense.

Anyway we also splurged on the "Honeymoon". Went with our family to Las Vegas for 5 days.

I think our biggest splurge items are all the traveling we do. But yes, as long as one can afford it, pay cash, etc. have fun with life!

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whyohwhyoh
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