Category: Education

As millions of high school graduates embark onward to college within the next few months many families will find themselves having to plod through student loan applications. In a weak job market student loans become increasingly hazardous and student loan debt is harrowing. For example, according to several sources, on May 8th 2012 the total amount of debt from student loans reached the 1 trillion dollar mark (as measured by the student loan debt clock created by Mark Kantrowitz). Clearly I wanted to avoid the financial horrors of student loans. One of my best personal financial moves was to avoid taking out student loans to afford a four year college and instead attend a community college.

There is a stigma attached to attending a community college, for instance in my hometown many referred to community college as “13th grade.” By some standards this statement holds true in the form of lesser quality education materials or insufficiently trained faculty and staff in comparison to a four year college. Although from my personal experience I discovered that, for the most part, the first year of college (be it in community college or a four year college) is relatively similar in that, basic level courses are generally taken. Unless college credits were earned in high school to avoid having to take English 101, History 101, etc. Generally freshman college students will find themselves having to stave off drowsiness and sit through these basic general requirement courses again while having to pay for them this time around.

Although this isn’t always true, but in some cases attending a two year college may make it easier to hold a part time job. For example, in my situation I held a job at a local business practically down the road from my community college. The other major plus of attending a community college was that it cut my tuition in half, with minimal financial aid I completed two years of community college having spent around $8,000 a year so my associates degree was roughly worth $16,000. Had I attended a four year school my tuition may have been $18,000-$23,000 per year (even more had I chosen to dorm). So rather than attending a four year college and spending $36,000-$46,000 in my first two years I cut that in less than half by spending $16,000 for two years of community college.

Of course there are benefits to attending a four year college right out of high school. Several of my friends did so and they are happy with this decision. When it comes right down to it, depending on the financial factors in your family and your own life, community college may not be as worthwhile as a four year college. Of course there will also be those cases of students who must take a student loan out for community college as well, but at least it won’t be as expensive as a four year student loan.

For me personally, attending a community college and avoiding student loans was a cheaper option in comparison to attending a four year college and I still consider it to be my best financial move.

Early on in your career, you may realize that the pay you are making at your job is not enough to cover the costs of your living expenses or not enough to pay off debt you may have incurred from overzealous charging or loans. Not only are people at the beginning of their careers debating a second job, but more people in general want a second paycheck in hopes of being able to afford the lifestyles they want.

Before you do make the decision to take on a second commitment, there are several factors you should evaluate and weigh before signing on to something.

The first thing you will need to decide is whether you actually need a second job. If you know that you can limit the amount of expenditures you currently have to either save more money or make larger payments on debt, the need to get a second job may not be as great as you think. Some people take on second jobs for more material reasons such as being able to afford a lifestyle their current job may not support.

The choice is up to you, but once you actually decide there is a need to get a second job, think about the following:

First, do you have the time? If you are already working a 40-hour work week, your extra time to commit to a second employer is limited to mainly weekends or nights. In addition to this, you need to evaluate how much time you want to leave for yourself. If you decide to fill up every hour you are not working at your primary job, with hours spent at your second job, you will soon be left wanting time off for yourself. You need to factor in other commitments such as friends or family time that counts just as much as the time you spend at a job.

If you do not do this, you will end up getting burned out and will eventually have to quit your second job. So, you may as well save yourself from the potential stress, by creating some sort of chart or simply thinking about just how much time you can devote to a second job.

Another point you should consider is pay. Chances are, your second job will not pay that much since you will not be working as many hours at this job as your primary place of employment. As a result, you need to determine if the pay is even worth your taking on this second responsibility. If you are having to drive farther or more because of your second job and your second paycheck is just paying for mileage, it is not worth it.

In addition, you also have to factor in time spent. Not only are you driving around more, but time is being spent as well. These are opportunity costs you need to think about before making that plunge.

You should also think about how this second job will affect your current employer. If you are working for another company in the same industry that your employer may consider competition, you may have a problem on your hands. Many employees have to sign non-compete contracts and if you break those terms, you may find yourself in some major trouble.

While all of these points may sound negative, they are just meant to make you think about all aspects in terms of getting another job. The main components you will need in order to succeed is organization and focus. If you want a second employer, you need to keep your eyes on the prize (whatever it is that you need the extra money for) otherwise you will get either burned out or lose motivation. It is definitely doable, you just have to put in a lot of thought into it before actually doing it.