Author Topic: [UPDATE] What Would You Do?  (Read 3580 times)

bertrandhustle

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[UPDATE] What Would You Do?
« on: August 28, 2014, 11:42:54 AM »
Update Time

When I last posted here I was seeking advice and had no clue what I should do. My how a few months can change things...

I just received my financial aid package and it contains a >$32k/yr grant (WOW!) as well as an $8k/yr Perkins Subsidized loan. My savings has also nearly doubled since we last spoke, up from $56k to $110k. By the time I leave for school this should be at ~$120k! With my frugality, savings, grant, and future summer earnings I should be able to graduate pretty damn close to debt free!

Needless to say I will be attending law school in the fall and couldn't be more excited!

In the spirit of this forum, I decided to get creative with my employer this week. I proposed going part time when school starts in order to manage an ongoing project that no one else wants to do, but I can practically complete in my sleep. Fingers crossed that my proposal is accepted because that would be an extra $30k/yr in wages, not to mention the benefits!

My longterm goals have also come more into focus more since my original post (as much as possible for an 0L), and while being a professor is certainly still a longterm goal of mine, there are a number of potential legal careers that excite me if that doesn't pan out.

I can't thank you all enough for helping me think clearly about this decision, as well as taking the time (in other threads) to teach me efficient financial strategies.

[end edit]

[OP]
Hi Mustachioed Folk,

I need to decide between attending law school v. staying at what is a pretty incredible first job. The law school is one of the Top 3. While Im very fortunate (...lucky/fully understand Ive effectively hit the life lotto multiple times) to be in this position, the decision itself is really stressing me out. Id appreciate your input on how youd make this decision and your opinions on what to decide.

The background: I applied to both jobs and law schools my senior year of college in hopes of landing one, and ended up landing both. My law school granted me a 2 year deferral to work and save money.

My job: I was very fortunate to be selected for a program where I get to try different jobs over ~3 years before settling in. The pay is more than I thought I could command out of college and the benefits are incredible. My employer provides a litany of pro-mustachian benefits without me having to work insane hours.

My finances: Current net worth: $56,000, no debt. I invest/save $4,000/month net, excluding year end bonus and company stock which are roughly $7,000-$10,000 (gross) yearly and $15,000 (gross) yearly at the current stock price, respectively. I max all tax advantaged accounts except my HSA, since if I decide to leave for school I will need access to money for expenses. My gross base salary is around 60k and I receive a generous 401k match, which, in combination w/ frugality is how Im able to save ~80% of my gross base salary.

My goals: 1. Be happy 2. Maintain a healthy work-life balance during my working years 3. Become a professor (preferably a law professor, which is why I initially applied to law school). (note: becoming a law professor is incredibly competitive and far from guaranteed even if a hopeful applicant does everything right)

My apprehensions: 1. A fear of being laid off during the next downturn and looking back with regret at not furthering my education in a subject I find interesting at a widely respected/competitive program. 2. Alternatively if I choose to attend, I will be 30 y/o with a net worth similar to what I already have, but with a kid on the way, and facepunching myself for taking out debt for school instead of supersaving my way into an early retirement spent with my soon-to-be kid. 3. That if I go to law school, due to debt, which I foresee being in the low $100,000s (since I will have ~100,000 saved by the time Id start), I will either have to take a soul-sucking corporate law job because it pays enough to service my debt, or take a job that pays less than the one I currently have in order to get loan forgiveness after 10 years - both of which sound incredibly depressing given my current life. 

Other options: Keep working for ~the next decade then apply for a funded PhD that interests me, since I will likely be FI by then, and start the path to academia a bit later. My issue w/ this option is given that I know I ultimately want to be a professor, why put it off given how quickly lifes circumstances can change.

So, what would you do in my position and how would you arrive at your decision? Thanks! This site and forum have already improved my life and increased my knowledge so thanks for that too!
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 12:14:51 PM by bertrandhustle »

FrugalZony

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 11:49:57 AM »
Wow, what a great problem to have ;)

As you employer seems to have super benefits and all kinds of frills, have you looked into having your employer sponsor your degree?
There's probably a way to stay employed, get the degree fully or partially funded and have the best of both worlds.

It would probably cut into your work life balance to pursue both, but at the same time, you'd have less/no debt and could continue your path to FIRE.

Just a thought!

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 11:52:57 AM »
In your happiness list, "Being a Student" isn't shown.  It sounds like Law School would be a means to an ends of getting a Law School Professor position.  Q:  Will being a business school / political science school professor be good enough? 
In my experience, I decided against graduate school, and to stick with a 'job' instead.  Job led to job led to helping to create PowerPoint, and my first run at FI (pre-divorce). 
I've NEVER REGRETTED forgoing the post-graduate degree. 
Chances are good you won't either.

mozar

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 08:44:34 PM »
I think you need to research more about what kind of law you want to do. There are some good law threads on here that talk about what it is like. Law professor is kind of vague.

mxt0133

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 10:17:40 PM »
I would address some of your apprehensions to start. 

You got the job that you wanted straight out of college with good pay and benefits.  You also got accepted to a Top 3 law school.  I think that you would be on the bottom of any employer's layoff list.  In the event the your company implodes and you find yourself out of a job, you will probably be one of those people that can get another job in about a week, decided to take two months off to travel and start work again when you feel like it.

You don't have to get out of law school with a six figure debt load.  I know people that work part-time jobs, internships, receive scholarships, ect.  I think your are resourceful enough that if you know it's possible you can make it happen. 

Some introspection on why you want to be a law professor would be helpful.  Is it the teaching aspect, prestige, ect.  Once you get closer to the answer your choices and feelings on the situation might change.

In the end I think choosing the path that will give you the most options in the future is the one to go with.

Dee18

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2014, 09:27:04 AM »
A few thoughts:
Do you think you would like law school?  Have you spent a day there? I loved law school, so those three years were really fun for me, despite being a lot of work.
Yes, your salary is fine.  But if you go to a top three law school and apply yourself at all (which is sounds like you will given your experience at work)  it will double or triple.  I advised a law student friend to go private for three years before taking the govt job she wanted.  She did and paid off all her loans and bought a house, then happily took the pay cut and loves her govt job.
You should not have to borrow that much money. Sounds like you will have plenty for the first year.  After that, borrow only tuition.   You will be able to get paid summer jobs--go ahead and take the highest paying ones offered, may well be $2500+ a week, easily enough to earn your living expense money for the year.  You also could work during your third year.
Be aware that if you teach in law school you will probably make double what you would make teaching in undergrad at the same institution and your teaching load will be lighter.  So the Phd route is much longer with a lower salary.  Also, if you become a law prof, you will be able to get a Phd on the side. 
Yes, there not many law prof jobs and you should not go to law school if that is the only law job you would like, but most of those law prof jobs go to grads of the top 5 law schools as you no doubt know.

Best of luck to you!  Signed, one very happy lawyer.

bertrandhustle

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2014, 09:23:45 AM »
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies, they've helped me put into focus why I applied to school in the first place. I've put myself in the best starting position possible to pursue my interests/passion at school. I know I'd regret passing on this opportunity later. Oh and I ran my finances and it looks like 100k debt would indeed be on the high end of the spectrum so thanks for the level-headedness on that point!

Any other insights or pro-tips for attacking grad school in a mustachian fashion would be greatly appreciated!

Glenstache

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Re: What Would You Do?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2014, 10:32:27 AM »
I spent 11 years straight in grad school leading to PhD. I can't comment on the realities of law school, but can speak a little bit to grad life in general. It is really tough, but if you enjoy the learning environment and being pushed, it can be pretty wonderful. There is a lot to be said about the trials and tribulations specific to each type of grad school, and those have been hashed and rehashed many times. I will just add that reading phdcomics.com was a big help getting over some of the mental hurdles. I highly recommend it.

As to money, there is an opportunity cost and sense of scale to keep in mind during your grad years. By all means, *be frugal where you can*, but not to the point at which it compromises your school work. If an extra $5-10k of spending over the course of your studies will enable you to do better and succeed, consider it. This could be having a quiet place to live/study instead of the cheapest available, or spending money to go out with friends instead of staying home and eating ramen.  $10k, while not chump change, is a small amount relative to the bigger investment. 


bertrandhustle

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Re: [UPDATE] What Would You Do?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2015, 11:48:02 AM »
Update Time

When I last posted here I was seeking advice and had no clue what I should do. My how a few months can change things...

I just received my financial aid package and it contains a >$32k/yr grant (WOW!) as well as an $8k/yr Perkins Subsidized loan. My savings has also nearly doubled since we last spoke, up from $56k to $110k. By the time I leave for school this should be at ~$120k! With my frugality, savings, grant, and future summer earnings I should be able to graduate pretty damn close to debt free!

Needless to say I will be attending law school in the fall and couldn't be more excited!

In the spirit of this forum, I decided to get creative with my employer this week. I proposed going part time when school starts in order to manage an ongoing project that no one else wants to do, but I can practically complete in my sleep. Fingers crossed that my proposal is accepted because that would be an extra $30k/yr in wages, not to mention the benefits!

My longterm goals have also come more into focus more since my original post (as much as possible for an 0L), and while being a professor is certainly still a longterm goal of mine, there are a number of potential legal careers that excite me if that doesn't pan out.

I can't thank you all enough for helping me think clearly about this decision, as well as taking the time (in other threads) to teach me efficient financial strategies.

lifejoy

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Re: [UPDATE] What Would You Do?
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2015, 11:58:26 AM »
I love it!!! Way to go! And I am sooooo impressed that you've asked about working half-time, that's brilliant. Good luck!