Frugal Q&A

by Kelly · 3 comments

in Etc,Tell Us Tuesday

qa1Lots of times people ask me questions by email, and I love to receive them. This has made me think that readers might be interested in a Q&A feature on Almost Frugal. Many people have responded saying that they would love to see a regular question and answer feature, and I’m more than happy to oblige!

To start things off this week, I thought I would publish the answer to a question a reader sent me about student loans. She wrote (and I’ve edited for privacy and length):

I’m going back to school in August to complete my master’s degree which will take 4 years if I go part-time and 2 years if I go full time. Do you think it would be better for me in the long run to quit my job (~30k a year) and just live off of student loans and finish school in 2 years or to continue to work FT while taking 4 years for school? What, in your opinion, is the best course of action? Take out bigger student loans and fnish in less time and increase my earning potential faster, or take my time and hypothetically come out with less debt?

She’s young, with a good job and no debt aside from a small mortgage payment, and from what she wrote, it sounds like she’s got her financial act together. I wrote back:

It sounds like you are in a really good financial state right now. If I were you, I would take longer to go to school and take out fewer student loans. After all, you don’t have any certainty that you will find a good, well paying job after you graduate, but you do know that student loan payments will start six months after you finish! Just my 2 cents.

Good luck in any case- I know it’s a hard decision to make. But you seem quite thoughtful, so whatever decision you end up making will be the best one for you.

She’s certainly a lot more financially aware than I was at her age. I wonder if the financial crisis is also playing a role in her decision making process? After all, this is not a great time to quit a job and take on debt, even for as noble and worthy a goal of continuing one’s education.

What advice would you give someone in this situation?

Frugal Q&A is now a regular Thursday feature!

You have five ways to send me your questions:

  1. through my contact form
  2. by leaving your question in the comments section below
  3. to almostfrugal at
  4. via Twitter
  5. or, if you are reading this in an email sent through my feed, by replying to the email


1 Craig May 28, 2009

I like this and am looking forward to it. I have seen this type of Q&A on other PF blogs and it’s well received by the readers.

Craig\´s last blog post..The Ways to Combat Whooping Interest Rates

2 Revanche June 1, 2009

There are few unknown factors I’d take into consideration before making a decision: reader’s age, and cost of PT/year versus FT/year.

The first is important because it helps give you a starting point to gauge how much patience you’re realistically going to have when deciding to finish in two or four years. It’s not THE deciding factor, but it does play a role.

The second is important to run the cost estimates of what your loan burdens will be when you graduate if you quit working for two years.

Personally, if I knew that my job would provide enough to pay for my living expenses and tuition, and that I can do four years without burning out, then I would go that route. At 30k/year, it seems doubtful that it’d cover both sets of expenses, but 120k/4 years would likely significantly defray living and part of school expenses as long as you remain prudent about spending during that time. That’s what I did for undergrad.

But, at my age now, I don’t know if I could sustain 4 years juggling part time school and work: I would run the numbers on the full time option very carefully because I don’t think I could stand to be in school and earning a relatively low wage for 4 years.

Kelly’s point about not being guaranteed a high paying job post-graduation is very good, and it’s the safer bet to hold onto your job for the present. I would also look into whether or not they offer the option of switching to a full time track after 2 years if you change your mind partway through due to changes in the economy.

Revanche\\\´s last blog post..May Snapshot

3 Kelly June 2, 2009

Thanks for your comment Revanche. She did give me a lot more information in her email, which I chose not to disclose for privacy reasons.

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