Saturday, June 26, 2010

Choosing between Higher Education, Loans and Family: Million Dollar Journey

Choosing between Higher Education, Loans and Family: Million Dollar Journey

Posted: 21 Jun 2010 04:30 AM PDT
This is a column by regular contributor Clark.
A friend of mine who holds a Masters in International Studies had a dilemma a while back about whether to pursue her dream of getting a doctorate from Switzerland’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies now or take care of immediate concerns and put off the degree until later.
The friend in question has nurtured her dream to study in Europe for a long time and has a passion for the subject as people who go for doctorate degrees should. She got married while in grad school and became a mother within the last year. While she was pregnant, she discussed her goal again with some of her friends, including me, at a get-together and being the personal finance enthusiast, I chimed in with my money-related thoughts. I had questions about her financial situation and learned that she and her husband had student and credit line loans totaling ~$35K. Her husband makes a decent income and she was on the verge of completing her schooling at that time. They were renting and, except for the car payment, had no other consumer debt. Below are some of the areas we touched upon.
1. Income. Since the husband (though willing to move) may not be able to make as much money if they relocate, they’ll have to make do with her scholarship/aid (she was confident in getting one). I do not know about employment opportunities for people on spousal visas in that country but I guessed it was not going to be easy.
2. Loans. With a baby to care for and loans to repay, it seemed prudent (to me) to take care of immediate concerns. Finding a job in Canada and working to pay off loans aggressively was a good solution. If the dream lives on after a few years, then they’ll have an option of going overseas with loans repaid and hopefully some savings to support them. The kid could get international exposure at a young age and they could decide how they want things to go from there (settling or returning).
3. More Debt. They may need to borrow money if they are relocating immediately to cover initial expenses (there was no emergency fund per se, despite this not being an emergency situation).
4. Relationships. Maintaining a long-distance relationship by letting the husband take care of the loans and the baby (with help from her parents and in-laws) was an option but she, unsurprisingly, rejected it immediately.
5. Unfulfilled Dream. There was a possibility that the dream may never materialize as other things take precedence.
Some friends were opposed to putting off the dream/passion. They suggested talking to the lenders about deferring student loan payments, selling off the car, borrowing from parents to pay off the credit line, and going to live (study) the dream. My friend did not give any indication as to which side she was leaning and we parted ways. After months of limited contact through a few emails including a mass one about the birth of her girl, we met again. She mentioned that she’ll be starting a new job in the fall and added that she had two offers – one, a temporary position for a year with better pay and the other, a permanent one with lesser pay; she had chosen the permanent one. There was an element of sadness about the decision and I realized that familial and financial considerations had taken precedence. She said that she had no immediate plan for the higher education and will let life take its course for the next few years.
I’m going to go ahead and say that the dream may have disappeared forever (I hope I’m wrong). It is not impossible that she may pursue it in a few years but chances have dimmed considerably. Do you think there was a lack of proper planning in her case? I do not have experience with delaying student loans. So, I am wondering under what circumstances a borrower can seek deferment of student loan payments? Does it matter if it is a federal or private loan?
Have you let any dream/passion take a backseat to concentrate on other things? Do you think you will chase it at a later date?
About the Author: Clark is a twenty-something Saskatchewan resident employed in the manufacturing sector. He repaid around $20,000 in student loans and has been working to build his investment portfolio as a DIY investor (not trader) while nurturing plans to retire early. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism.
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Normal is Broke

Living With A Chain

How to Get a Job when No One is Hiring

When the jobs are hidden

To get a job, you have to find the openings that no one's advertising, and really impress your potential employer.

By Jia Lynn Yang, writer-reporter

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- David Perry, a longtime headhunter, says you're wasting your time if you're looking for job postings online. And he should know: he's often the guy on the other side helping companies lure new talent. Perry, who's based in Ottawa, says that in the last 22 years he has accomplished 996 searches totaling $172 million in salary. And the bottom line in today's economy, he says, is you have to tap the "hidden job market."

Perry's also the co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters" and he recently spoke with Fortune.

What's the "hidden job market"?

When companies say, 'We have a hiring freeze,' that doesn't mean they're not hiring. It just means they're not adding headcount. Every year there's 20-25% turn over. So in a 1,000-person company, 200 or 250 people are going to turn over, either through attrition, or someone moves. Those companies are still hiring but they don't want to tell you.

So how do you find these jobs?

What you have to do in a recession is map your skills to employers to where you know they have a problem you can solve. My advice to job hunters is pick 10 to 20 companies, no more, and pick companies you're interested in, and that you think you can add value to. That requires researching companies, and so that list may take you two weeks. If you're trying to crack the hidden job market and you know the job position you want reports to vice president, find that vice president on LinkedIn and look at his profile to see who else he's connected to and go ask them, 'What's this guy like to work for?' Do the research before you even pick up the phone.

How can you get someone's attention?

We can go into billboards, sandwiches - that stuff only works once. It's only for one person who figures it out once, once in a city. If you're looking for fun stuff, we have this thing called the coffee cup caper, 30% of the time it will result in an interview. You send an employer a coffee cup with a little $5 swipe card with a little note that says, I'd like to get together and talk with you over coffee. I'll be calling soon. And you send it by U.S. post two day delivery, and that gets registered. So when they've signed for it, you wait about 20 minutes and then you call them. And then you go, Hi, I know you just got my package.' You're proving you're imaginative and creative.

What something people should avoid during a job interview?

This drives me insane: I've seen people mentally deciding in the interview whether they want the job. That's the last place to decide. You go into an interview, and you sell like your life depends on it. You've got to get the job first. I've seen it thousands of times. There's this point in the interview, where people go 'Hmm, do I really want this? You can see their body change. The employer picks it up and it's gone. If the employer is telling you, 'I love you,' and you're not saying 'I love you too,' it's over with.

How about following up afterwards?

If you really like the opportunity, don't go home and write thank you very much. Go back and write a letter that says, upon further reflection of what we were talking about, here's what I bring to the table, here's how I see myself fitting into the organization, including a 30-60-90 day plan.

How can someone attract a recruiter's attention?

You have to go to ZoomInfo and LinkedIn and create a profile. All corporate recruiters and probably 20% of the headhunters in America have ZoomInfo accounts. When we start a search, companies aren't going to advertise. The headhunter goes to ZoomInfo, types in requirements that we need, like skillset, degree, city, functional title, and up will come anywhere from a hundred to several thousand people who fit that criteria. Then we go to LinkedIn and run the same search. If you're in ZoomInfo with a picture, we're going to call you first. Just reverse engineer what recruiters are doing so you get found.

How can you really impress a potential employer?

It hasn't worked in years just to bring in your resume, except only in the most junior positions. I concentrate on directors to CEOs, and the last interview for us regardless is always a Power Point presentation of what you've learned, pain points, and how you intend to fix that. Everyone talks about being a great leader and great communicator, so prove it. Don't go into an interview and treat it like it's just another business meeting. Your career is your biggest asset now - because it's certainly not your house. To top of page


August 2008 Dave Ramsey on Barack Obama

This was aired in August 2008. So was Dave right???