Author Topic: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice  (Read 5705 times)

jslasher88

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Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« on: November 12, 2014, 05:38:43 PM »
Hey everyone, first post! Been an avid reader of the MMM blog and an infrequent lurker here for about 2 years now. Although it's always somewhat bittersweet knowing that my situation - at least income-wise - is much lower than those who generally make this place tick. This'll be a long post, but I could use some insight and encouragement about where I'm at with finances and future life planning.

About me:
26, male, single, living in Western NY
4-year degree in Communications acquired at a private university in PA in 2011. Should have done STEM or something but went with liberal arts. Oops. Never was a math/science guy anyway. I'm blessed in that my dad footed 75% of the bill for my tuition. I already paid off the rest.

I spent 2 years in my desired field of sports media, the 2nd gig being 1200 miles from home. Ultimately I decided to go another direction. The work was fun, but I was homesick and burned out with the minimum-wage pay/65-hour work weeks. Ended up taking an entry-level banking job in my home town and decided to try it out. Maybe another oops?

Current Employment
Bank Teller/Customer Service: $11.50/hour @ 40-45 hours/week. Contributing 6% to 401k and 12% to HSA
YMCA Attendant: $8.40/hour @ 6-12 hours/week (plus valuable free membership worth $55/month)
Freelance Fantasy Football writer: $200/month from September-December.

I started the bank job at $10/hour and have gotten 2 raises in my first 8 months. I am fairly certain I'll have another one coming next month. They really like me there (not many youngish male college grads willing to do the menial GED-level work I guess). I've been told there's lots of room for promotion if I keep at it. I enjoy the YMCA job as a social outlet, and the free membership is a great perk. It's also within walking distance of my apartment. Wage there should go to $9/hour in January when minimum wage law changes.

Average Net Monthly Income: $1700.00

Expenses
Rent: 325 (sharing a 2BR with a buddy)
Utilities: 75-100 (internet, basic TV, gas, electric)
Food: 200 (includes the occasional meal out. I cook for myself and eat well. Thanks Aldi!)
Cell Phone: 50
Car Insurance: 25 (still on my dad's plan, he helps me a little here)
Gas: 40 (small town, old Corolla, short commute)
Misc: 100 (gifts, household needs, netflix, the occasional new shirt or something)
Average monthly expenses: 900

Debts: none
I rotate a small arsenal of credit cards to maximize cash back for my limited spending. The statement balances are all auto-paid in full each month.

Assets
Checking: $3.5k
Savings: $1k (emergency fund)
HSA: $300

Roth IRA: $19k, VFFVX
Company 401k: $1.5k ($900 vested, just started this in April. Contributing 6% to maximize the full match. Crappy vesting schedule)
Taxable brokerage account: 13.5k (all low-expense index/mutual funds)

Physical silver: $500-worth (thereabouts)
1999 Toyota Corolla: paid for in cash in 2013. It only has 48k miles so I'm hoping to get some more life out of it. Only thing that concerns me a bit is trusting 15-year-old crash technology in a small car.

Net worth rough estimate according to Mint: $38,500.00 (not including car/silver/petty cash lying around the house)

So as you can see, I'm cash-flow positive. But that's mainly because I'm still living like a broke college student while many of my peers are buying houses and starting families. I was fortunate to grow up in a household that taught the value of saving long before spending. I just wish I was making more so I could realistically feel like a grown-up.

Loose life plan: 12-18month
I'm really not overly attached to my current area or my current job(s). One thing I would like to do while I'm young, healthy and single is do some extended traveling. I would love to spend 3 months in South America and just adventure. I speak passable Spanish and would love to improve. I also could selfishly use a little time off after working 50-60 hours a week over the last couple years. But I'd likely have to do such a trip between jobs, which makes the timing a little tricky.

I have a loose plan of uprooting myself from the bank in a year, traveling over the winter in early 2016, and then moving to Pittsburgh to look for something different. I have some family in Pittsburgh and it's closer to where I went to college. I feel like I could land a 30k job somewhere although the cost of living is definitely higher.

Questions
Is it worth it to consider going back to college to find a higher-paying skill? I really don't have many technical qualifications. I like to write and I'm okay with messing around on computers. But I also don't want to go back into debt if I can help it.

Does anyone think contributing 12% pre-tax to my HSA to be too much? With the company match, I'm on track to max that out next year. I would like to either get Lasik surgery if deemed eligible, or find a new custodian to invest it with and let it grow.

Any other liberal arts majors who found a way to make a livable wage? Like I said, I'm young, single, healthy, and a hard worker.

Thanks!


GizmoTX

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 06:03:45 PM »
Yes: I became a computer programmer, then a systems analyst, then doing my own software company & computer sales. I'm retired from all that now, but still love computers & advise friends.

I agree that you are underemployed. Other than STEM, there aren't many fields that pay as well except sales. With your communications background, is this a possibility? You don't need another degree. Where you go is likely a factor as well.

jslasher88

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 06:39:38 PM »
Thanks for the reply. I think my location is a big part of the issue right now. I'm in a somewhat small town, 45 minutes from any reasonable-sized city, and even there the job market isn't great. My main issue is I just don't have any real technical skills. I'm wondering if I would enjoy IT work. I could probably get a few certifications from the community college here, but I am a little wary of "going back to school."

jennifers

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 07:28:16 PM »
I work in IT and a lot of my coworkers have similar backgrounds to yours.  I have a zoology degree, but I took some computer classes at a community college.  The classes I took didn't take up much time outside of class. If you're good at using google to solve problems, IT might be for you. 

Milizard

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 07:44:35 PM »
Have you considered going to a foreign country to teach English?  An xBF of mine did this.  Gets you some traveling under your belt+ you get paid.

goodlife

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 08:06:29 PM »
First of all, you are not really in a bad position. You are young, you have no debt, you have decent savings, your family is pretty sorted so you have nobody to support, you speak English, you have a US passport (I assume), you are male, you have work experience, you have a college degree. So all in all, this is a good start. And yes, you can do a lot of things with your liberal arts degree. I went to a no-name liberal arts college and became an investment banker. I think you need to start networking, go ask your college alumni office for a list of ALL alumni. Small liberal arts colleges often don't have that many people that do amazing things, but there are always SOME and those people are normallly super willing to help others. So get that list and anyone that does something remotely interesting that sounds decent paying, go email them. Get your resume up to a really good standard, if you want me to take a look, I am happy to volunteer my time, just PM me.

If you have any remote interest in finance, then that's a pretty good career field in terms of money. Have you thought about doing the CFA? Sign up for Level I for June 2015 and start studying now, it might open quite a few doors to have that on your resume.

Regarding the traveling, I vote yes. Save up the money and do it, it's a great experience. Then put it on your resume. Make sure you improve your Spanish in those three months. Do something interesting while traveling that you can talk intelligently about in interviews.

So if I could envision a 1 year-ish plan for you, it would be this: save money for your trip. Take CFA Level I in June 2015. Meanwhile network with alumni and whoever else you can think of (btw, once you have registered for the CFA, you can put the following on your resume: CFA Level I Candidate, June 2015 exam). During 3Q/4Q of 2015 you go get yourself a better job commensuarte with your qualifications that pays well. Then you tell them you can start in 3 months, you go on your trip and come back to start your new life. I am a natural optimist, but I have to say, from everything you wrote, this does not sound unrealistic at all. And as you look at opportunities, I know you said you were homesick before...but you are also not attached to your area you said....and you want to go traveling for 3 months...so I think you should cast a wide net in terms of geography.

About going back to school, no I would not do that...unless you REALLY know what you want to do...which doesn't sound like it.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 08:54:35 PM by goodlife »

Milizard

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 08:17:46 PM »
First of all, you are not really in a bad position. You are young, you have no debt, you have decent savings, your family is pretty sorted so you have nobody to support, you speak English, you have a US passport (I assume), you are male, you have work experience, you have a college degree. So all in all, this is a good start. And yes, you can do a lot of things with your liberal arts degree. I went to a no-name liberal arts college and became an investment banker. I think you need to start networking, go ask your college alumni office for a list of ALL alumni. Small liberal arts colleges often don't have that many people that do amazing things, but there are always SOME and those people are normallly super willing to help others. So get that list and anyone that does something remotely interesting that sounds decent paying, go email them. Get your resume up to a really good standard, if you want me to take a look, I am happy to volunteer my time, just PM me.

If you have any remote interest in finance, then that's a pretty good career field in terms of money. Have you thought about doing the CFA? Sign up for Level I for June 2015 and start studying now, it might open quite a few doors to have that on your resume.

Regarding the traveling, I vote yes. Save up the money and do it, it's a great experience. Then put it on your resume. Make sure you improve your Spanish in those three months. Do something interesting while traveling that you can talk intelligently about in interviews.

So if I could envision a 1 year-ish plan for you, it would be this: save money for your trip. Take CFA Level I in June 2015. Meanwhile network with alumni and whoever else you can think of (btw, once you have registered for the CFA, you can put the following on your resume: CFA Level I Candidate, June 2015 exam). During 3Q/4Q of 2015 you go get yourself a better job commensuarte with your qualifications that pays well. Then you tell them you can start in 3 months, you go on your trip and come back to start your new life. I am a natural optimist, but I have to say, from everything you wrote, this does not sound unrealistic at all. And as you look at opportunities, I know you said you were homesick before...but you are also not attached to your are you said....and you want to go traveling for 3 months...so I think you should cast a wide net in terms of geography.

About going back to school, no I would not do that...unless you REALLY know what you want to do...which doesn't sound like it.


Forgive me for butting in, just wondering (since I did go back to school for a degree in Finance), are you on the buy-side or sell-side?  And, you started your CFA before a job?  For some reason, I thought you get the job first, and then start on the CFA.  Maybe I got the wrong impression with that?

intirb

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2014, 08:24:15 PM »
Have you considered going to a foreign country to teach English?  An xBF of mine did this.  Gets you some traveling under your belt+ you get paid.

+1.  There are ways for you to be (semi-)responsible and get paid while fulfilling your wanderlust.  Teaching English is a good one - you could also be an au pair, work for a non-profit or peace corps, or work on a farm (e.g. WWOOF).  As a fellow 26 year old who worked abroad for a few years, I highly recommend this kind of adventure.  Maybe it doesn't seem as glamorous as backpacking, but you learn a lot more about a culture by actually living there.

goodlife

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2014, 08:51:33 PM »
First of all, you are not really in a bad position. You are young, you have no debt, you have decent savings, your family is pretty sorted so you have nobody to support, you speak English, you have a US passport (I assume), you are male, you have work experience, you have a college degree. So all in all, this is a good start. And yes, you can do a lot of things with your liberal arts degree. I went to a no-name liberal arts college and became an investment banker. I think you need to start networking, go ask your college alumni office for a list of ALL alumni. Small liberal arts colleges often don't have that many people that do amazing things, but there are always SOME and those people are normallly super willing to help others. So get that list and anyone that does something remotely interesting that sounds decent paying, go email them. Get your resume up to a really good standard, if you want me to take a look, I am happy to volunteer my time, just PM me.

If you have any remote interest in finance, then that's a pretty good career field in terms of money. Have you thought about doing the CFA? Sign up for Level I for June 2015 and start studying now, it might open quite a few doors to have that on your resume.

Regarding the traveling, I vote yes. Save up the money and do it, it's a great experience. Then put it on your resume. Make sure you improve your Spanish in those three months. Do something interesting while traveling that you can talk intelligently about in interviews.

So if I could envision a 1 year-ish plan for you, it would be this: save money for your trip. Take CFA Level I in June 2015. Meanwhile network with alumni and whoever else you can think of (btw, once you have registered for the CFA, you can put the following on your resume: CFA Level I Candidate, June 2015 exam). During 3Q/4Q of 2015 you go get yourself a better job commensuarte with your qualifications that pays well. Then you tell them you can start in 3 months, you go on your trip and come back to start your new life. I am a natural optimist, but I have to say, from everything you wrote, this does not sound unrealistic at all. And as you look at opportunities, I know you said you were homesick before...but you are also not attached to your are you said....and you want to go traveling for 3 months...so I think you should cast a wide net in terms of geography.

About going back to school, no I would not do that...unless you REALLY know what you want to do...which doesn't sound like it.


Forgive me for butting in, just wondering (since I did go back to school for a degree in Finance), are you on the buy-side or sell-side?  And, you started your CFA before a job?  For some reason, I thought you get the job first, and then start on the CFA.  Maybe I got the wrong impression with that?

I was on the sell-side for 4 years, now on the buy side for the 2nd year. Yes, most people do the CFA while already working (and I did too), but there are a ton of college students nowadays who do at least the Level I while still in school, this is becoming ever more common, just didn't occur to me while I was in school. In order to actually use the CFA title, you do have to have the required work experience in addition to passing all three levels, but you can take the exams all you want without having the work experience and just put on your resume: passed all three levels of the CFA exams (or something like that, would need to double check the guidelines for the exact permissible language), you just can't put on your business card First Name Last Name, CFA.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 08:55:22 PM by goodlife »

jslasher88

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2014, 09:29:38 PM »
Have you considered going to a foreign country to teach English?  An xBF of mine did this.  Gets you some traveling under your belt+ you get paid.

I actually haven't put much thought into this, but it's not a bad idea. Most of the people I know of end up going to Korea. Can you do this in other places?

bigalsmith101

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2014, 12:58:32 AM »

I actually haven't put much thought into this, but it's not a bad idea. Most of the people I know of end up going to Korea. Can you do this in other places?

I have three recommendations/points of advise/pointers for you. Along with a few answers.

First. Yes, you can teach English in many different places. The most common are South Korea, Japan, China, and Vietnam (from my experience with friends.) Pay is generally at a level where you could save at or around $1k/month while living in a foreign country. I spent 7 weeks touring around Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia in 2013 and met others teaching English there as well. Plus S.E. Asia if totally fucking awesome.

Second. I've spent a year of my life out of the last 6 since 2008, in Central and South America between 3 different trips, (2.5 months in South America in 2008, 8 months in 2011 on a motorcycle through 15 countries from Seattle to Buenos Aires, and 1 month in Ecuador this year) and can highly recommend the entire experience of it. With a $3-4k in your pocket when you land in the country of your choice, you can last anywhere from 2-6+ months on site, depending on your level of frugality and comfort. Highly recommended.

Third. At your age of 26, you qualify for a Working Holiday Visa for both Australia (http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/462.aspx) and New Zealand. The awesomeness of those two countries is hard to match in this world. The earning capacities of Australia in particular are through the roof. I spent the year of 2013 on just such a visa with my fiancÚ turned wife. We spent 12 months away from home. We left with a combined total of $10k in the bank, and came home with $28k, we only worked 7 months of the time we were gone, and the other 5 were spent traveling/thus spending money.

Keep in mind that we worked at minimum wage for the first 5 months, and slightly higher the second 2 months. MINIMUM WAGE.

 Can you imagine that picture? You go away for a year to Australia, you work 5 months, you travel to Asia for 2 months because of the proximity and awesomeness there. Then you go back to Australia for the rest of your 12 months stint and work for 3 more months at a new job, then spend 2 more traveling around Australia. At the end of it, you fly back to the USofA with twice as much money as you left with, because you're a Mustachian BADASS. Meanwhile you've just broadened your horizons on such a level of awesomeness rarely matched,  that you'll never think twice about this type of activity EVER again.

Dude. Im so passionate about this that I can't put it down in words in less than multiple pages. Email me if you are interested in learning more. 
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 01:06:00 AM by bigalsmith101 »

JoanOfSnark

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2014, 02:31:22 AM »
adding my voice to the chorus that says to work abroad- do it now, while you're young and unattached! I moved to Europe at 25, and watched a coworker try to do the same but fail to be able to convince his wife and kids that it would be a good idea (and he also had a mortgage to deal with).

On the other hand, Pittsburgh is basically the best place ever, so you also can't go wrong there. Cost of living is ridiculously cheap, and while biking everywhere isn't generally a feasable plan and there's no public transportation to speak of, housing and everything else is crazy affordable. It's also a really vibrant, thriving community, so I really don't think you can go wrong there.

Spondulix

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 02:40:57 AM »
Third. At your age of 26, you qualify for a Working Holiday Visa for both Australia (http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/462.aspx) and New Zealand. The awesomeness of those two countries is hard to match in this world. The earning capacities of Australia in particular are through the roof. I spent the year of 2013 on just such a visa with my fiancÚ turned wife. We spent 12 months away from home. We left with a combined total of $10k in the bank, and came home with $28k, we only worked 7 months of the time we were gone, and the other 5 were spent traveling/thus spending money.

Keep in mind that we worked at minimum wage for the first 5 months, and slightly higher the second 2 months. MINIMUM WAGE.

Isn't the cost of living down there really low, too? My sister did study abroad in NZ and I thought she was paying less than $200/month for a room in a house. She bought a car with like 2 other people (few hundred bucks) and they just travelled around every weekend. She said the hostels were great and also super cheap, and for a couple big vacations they went places like Fiji and some of the islands around there.

I think going to school down there was very cheap, too. But if you can get the experience and get paid at the same time, even better!!

Milizard

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2014, 07:04:05 AM »
First of all, you are not really in a bad position. You are young, you have no debt, you have decent savings, your family is pretty sorted so you have nobody to support, you speak English, you have a US passport (I assume), you are male, you have work experience, you have a college degree. So all in all, this is a good start. And yes, you can do a lot of things with your liberal arts degree. I went to a no-name liberal arts college and became an investment banker. I think you need to start networking, go ask your college alumni office for a list of ALL alumni. Small liberal arts colleges often don't have that many people that do amazing things, but there are always SOME and those people are normallly super willing to help others. So get that list and anyone that does something remotely interesting that sounds decent paying, go email them. Get your resume up to a really good standard, if you want me to take a look, I am happy to volunteer my time, just PM me.

If you have any remote interest in finance, then that's a pretty good career field in terms of money. Have you thought about doing the CFA? Sign up for Level I for June 2015 and start studying now, it might open quite a few doors to have that on your resume.

Regarding the traveling, I vote yes. Save up the money and do it, it's a great experience. Then put it on your resume. Make sure you improve your Spanish in those three months. Do something interesting while traveling that you can talk intelligently about in interviews.

So if I could envision a 1 year-ish plan for you, it would be this: save money for your trip. Take CFA Level I in June 2015. Meanwhile network with alumni and whoever else you can think of (btw, once you have registered for the CFA, you can put the following on your resume: CFA Level I Candidate, June 2015 exam). During 3Q/4Q of 2015 you go get yourself a better job commensuarte with your qualifications that pays well. Then you tell them you can start in 3 months, you go on your trip and come back to start your new life. I am a natural optimist, but I have to say, from everything you wrote, this does not sound unrealistic at all. And as you look at opportunities, I know you said you were homesick before...but you are also not attached to your are you said....and you want to go traveling for 3 months...so I think you should cast a wide net in terms of geography.

About going back to school, no I would not do that...unless you REALLY know what you want to do...which doesn't sound like it.


Forgive me for butting in, just wondering (since I did go back to school for a degree in Finance), are you on the buy-side or sell-side?  And, you started your CFA before a job?  For some reason, I thought you get the job first, and then start on the CFA.  Maybe I got the wrong impression with that?

I was on the sell-side for 4 years, now on the buy side for the 2nd year. Yes, most people do the CFA while already working (and I did too), but there are a ton of college students nowadays who do at least the Level I while still in school, this is becoming ever more common, just didn't occur to me while I was in school. In order to actually use the CFA title, you do have to have the required work experience in addition to passing all three levels, but you can take the exams all you want without having the work experience and just put on your resume: passed all three levels of the CFA exams (or something like that, would need to double check the guidelines for the exact permissible language), you just can't put on your business card First Name Last Name, CFA.

Thanks for the info.  The sell-side did not appeal to me at all, so I focused more on corporate finance.  I've gotten a number of resume requests from investment banks/hedge firms due to getting a high score on the BAT, so I was wondering if I should reconsider.

Milizard

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2014, 07:07:39 AM »
Have you considered going to a foreign country to teach English?  An xBF of mine did this.  Gets you some traveling under your belt+ you get paid.

I actually haven't put much thought into this, but it's not a bad idea. Most of the people I know of end up going to Korea. Can you do this in other places?

I don't know as much about it as others here, but i do know the xbf went to Indonesia.

From the sounds of it, there are a lot of great opportunities out there to work abroad.  At your age with your lack of ties, it appears to be a great option for you.

JoanOfSnark

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2014, 07:26:19 AM »


Isn't the cost of living down there really low, too? My sister did study abroad in NZ and I thought she was paying less than $200/month for a room in a house. She bought a car with like 2 other people (few hundred bucks) and they just travelled around every weekend. She said the hostels were great and also super cheap, and for a couple big vacations they went places like Fiji and some of the islands around there.

I think going to school down there was very cheap, too. But if you can get the experience and get paid at the same time, even better!!

I was there for vacation this year and did NOT find it an inexpensive place, in terms of hostels or food or anything. Exchange rates have changed pretty drastically in the past few years, maybe that has something to do with it....

a friend of mine lives there currently and is renting a room in her house in chch by the WEEK for about that price, so... maybe that was another conversion error?

olivia

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2014, 07:57:06 AM »
My sister taught English in Spain for 2 years through CIEE.  You're paid a lowish wage (but enough to cover basic bills) and then you can tutor privately for 15 euros+/hour.  If you want to become fluent there's no better way than living in a country that speaks the language.  CIEE has programs in other Spanish-speaking countries as well if South or Central America interest you more.

JeffC

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2014, 08:51:31 AM »
As a college professor I am going to give you the advice to NOT go back to college right now.  The reason for this is that you don't seem to know what you want to do career-wise and you already have a degree in the thing you are passionate about. Going back to school will only cost you more money and if you choose a profession that you are not passionate about, you will have that same feeling you do now, where you feel like maybe it was a mistake.  Your best bets, in my mind, are to continue to stay at your job until another opportunity knocks in the field you are passionate about.  If they keep increasing your pay and will almost certainly promote you to a loan officer or manager at some point, your time is better spent, financially speaking, staying there over investing even more money into education.  If you find at some point that you really WANT to move to a particular career, that would be the time to go back to school.  The students who know they are on the right track and have conviction about it are the most successful ones after college. 

I like that you continue to work a side hustle in your chosen field. Perhaps you could use the fact that you have a job that does not follow you home as an opportunity to make that side hustle grow and maybe even become your main career path.  Before I decided to become a professor, I was a gainfully self-employed artist and it was really nice to be my own boss.  Sports media is a lucrative field if you can find a way to break into the middle and upper levels of it.  Sometimes this happens by climbing a corporate ladder, sometimes this happens by building your own helicopter. 

I will say that I am very impressed with your frugality and you really seem to have your shit together for someone your age.  I'm sure everything will work out fine if you have patience and persistence.

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2014, 09:26:39 AM »
With that savings rate, no way you should waste time in college. Work on building your income without getting another degree, however that may be. Your net worth is trending up, you'll retire sooner without college IMO. Regarding the car, fear not for the safety of that thing. First off, you don't drive enough to have a high probability of a potentially fatal accident. Secondly, the amount of safety a new car gives is pretty situational. Many fatal collisions would kill you anyway in a normal vehicle.

mollyjade

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2014, 10:34:55 AM »
So as you can see, I'm cash-flow positive. But that's mainly because I'm still living like a broke college student while many of my peers are buying houses and starting families. I was fortunate to grow up in a household that taught the value of saving long before spending. I just wish I was making more so I could realistically feel like a grown-up.

Step one, change this perspective. You're supporting yourself and saving money at the same time while you work on the tough question of what you want out of life. That's as adult as it gets. Being an adult has nothing to do with what you own or how much you earn or what lifestyle you pursue. And beyond that, you have no way of knowing how much debt your peers are carrying or whether they're truly happy with the choices they've made.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2014, 10:39:47 AM »
My path out of debt free underemployed college graduated life was joining the Army.  Don't be a scrub and enlist like I did, go for the gold bar at OCS.
http://www.goarmy.com/ocs.html

jka468

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2014, 12:17:01 PM »
Well, you're like the poster boy for why the college system is FUBAR in the U.S. for many people, considering if you just started working out of high school your net worth would probably be 5x higher (assuming you lived by the same principles) and you would probably be in a better job than your currently are without wasting all that money, but I digress.

While traveling may sound nice, you don't really have that much to work with, in terms of money and/or a career, and if you are dead set on traveling you should do a work/travel type thing like some other posters suggested. The last thing you need though is to be 30yo and in about the same career situation.

The best idea that I have, as the poster above me suggested, is to join the armed forces, and go the OCS route since you have a degree. I know it's not for everyone, but it can give a lot of direction, teach skills, allow you to save a lot of money and you could come out around age 30-31 and use the GI Bill to get any additional schooling that you desire. Also, college educated veteran who lead groups of people due to being an officer is never a bad thing to put on a resume. It's something to think about.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 12:20:14 PM by jka468 »

FLBiker

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2014, 12:38:42 PM »
Have you considered going to a foreign country to teach English?  An xBF of mine did this.  Gets you some traveling under your belt+ you get paid.

I actually haven't put much thought into this, but it's not a bad idea. Most of the people I know of end up going to Korea. Can you do this in other places?

I taught for 5 years in Taiwan, and 1 in China.  IMO, Taiwan is a great place to live.  The standard of living is similar to the US (I had a 2 bedroom apt w/ AC, high speed internet, washing machine) with the exception that you'll probably use a motorscooter instead of a car.  Public transit is readily available -- I went all over the island by bus and train.  You can bike, but traffic is crazy so you might not be comfortable doing that.  I lived there in the early 2000s, so prices might have changed, but here's what I remember -- I bought my scooter for about $400, and sold it for $300 when I left.  I paid about $250/month for my apt.  I earned between 15 and 25 dollars an hour, and worked about 25 hours a week, making a bit over $2k per month.  I paid very little taxes (some jobs were cash in hand) and easily saved 50% of my income.  And there are always extra jobs available.  One great thing about Taiwan is that you earn more than enough to travel, and you're very close to a lot of cool places -- I spent time in Thailand, Guam and Japan, but all of SE / E Asia is close by.

In Taiwan, with a BA, you can get a job in a bushiban (aka cramschool).  Daves ESL Cafe is where I got mine, and it might still be a good place.  To be honest, though, what I'd do is just go there on a 2 month tourist visa and find a job.  That way, you can pick out the city / school yourself.  I really like southern Taiwan (Kenting is great) but there isn't a lot of work there.  I was in Hsinchu, which is between Taipei and Taichung.

China is also an interesting place but, personally, I wouldn't want to live there again.  The pollution is just too much.  I had a great time traveling outside of the cities (particularly in Qinghai and Yunnan) but I wouldn't live in a city there, and it's hard to find work anywhere else.

I think Korea is a good option, too, but I haven't been there.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

mulescent

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2014, 12:42:35 PM »
Hi,

I think your questions really boil down to one thing:  what do you want out of life?  A carefree travel adventure and career-building are orthogonal goals, unless you want to be a travel writer.  Both are valuable and worthwhile, though the mustachian thing to do would be to figure out the money/career part first. 

At 26, you should do some deep thinking about what you really want and focus on achieving that goal.  If you decide to go with career, think about what you are good at and what you enjoy.  Pick something that pays well and that satisfies those two exigencies and go for it.  Be prepared to move and to really network. 

A degree in communications (or pretty much any liberal arts degree) from a good place can open many doors, but you've got to decide which one you want to go through.

Spondulix

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2014, 07:08:52 PM »


Isn't the cost of living down there really low, too? My sister did study abroad in NZ and I thought she was paying less than $200/month for a room in a house. She bought a car with like 2 other people (few hundred bucks) and they just travelled around every weekend. She said the hostels were great and also super cheap, and for a couple big vacations they went places like Fiji and some of the islands around there.

I think going to school down there was very cheap, too. But if you can get the experience and get paid at the same time, even better!!

I was there for vacation this year and did NOT find it an inexpensive place, in terms of hostels or food or anything. Exchange rates have changed pretty drastically in the past few years, maybe that has something to do with it....

a friend of mine lives there currently and is renting a room in her house in chch by the WEEK for about that price, so... maybe that was another conversion error?
This was a few years back, so probably an exchange rate change.

jslasher88

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2014, 09:36:57 PM »
Just wanted to write and thank everyone for the replies. I've ready every word, and definitely have some things to think about! I'm glad there is a strong consensus that traveling is a good idea - I'm definitely getting a stronger urge to do it!

midwifemustache

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Re: Case Study: debt-free, underemployed college grad seeks advice
« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2014, 10:59:42 PM »
Have you considered Peace Corps or Americorps? I did PC after college when I didn't really know what to do with my life. I had an amazing experience and got to live overseas. Its not for everyone. It won't help your stache, but for me it was worth the set back in time to FIRE.