Author Topic: Master's or Something Else?  (Read 1925 times)

macleod7066

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Master's or Something Else?
« on: March 10, 2017, 12:19:05 PM »
I have a unique problem/gift, that I need some advice or new ideas on.  I am a veteran with access to about 10.5 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill to use up by 2020.  The interesting thing about this program is they give me a stipend for books of $1000 a year, and also pay me a monthly housing allowance to go to school.  For my area that would be $1441 for full time (12 Credits can be mixed in class and online), with it being prorated based on how many credits I take and a minimum of over 50% time to get it.  If I go solely online school I get paid $805 a month for full time.  Based on this I am leaving money on the table if I do not go to school.  So I am trying to determine exactly what to do, and what would help me in the long run.  Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated.

A little background information on myself, I work for the DOD GS-13, non-manager, working supply chain management and make around $100k a year.  I have no intentions of leaving the security of the Federal Government, unless I was offered a crazy salary, think double the current, at a private industry.  My skills (at least what I think), lie in analyzing processes and improving them, and managing complex projects.  For example, I redesigned our systems access for the agency I work for from the ground up in order for us to be audited, and that was fun to me. I have a passion for analyzing businesses, and one day will figure out how to start my own consulting for the many small business that surely could use someone helping them streamline and save costs.  Furthermore, I currently have an Associate in Information Technology, and a Bachelor in Business Management.

So based on that I am seeing these three options, there might be more that I am missing, and if I am let me know. Disclaimer: If the 9/11 Bill runs out before I complete anything, I get 7k a year with tuition reimbursement, so nothing will ever come out of my pocket.

1) Masters Degree, leaning towards an MBA but wouldn't rule out others - Could potentially help me move up in the Government but is not really needed, anything over a Bachelor's is just icing for 90% of jobs.  It would help me if I ever have the desire to move up into the senior executive scale, which I did when I first started out, now not so much due to hours worked and work/life balance.  I always wanted a masters when I was younger, but now just a piece of paper.

2) Law Degree (fun) - This would have no applicable use to me, as I would probably never practice it.  But, it was a childhood dream to be a lawyer.  (Hmm.. I wonder what that says about me...)

3) Tech Certificate/Degree/Training - This would be something to work with my hands that I could potentially do on the side, and make some more money.  I have notoriously been someone who doesn't like to get their hands dirty, as I have always been drawn to office work instead of manual labor.  But to be mustachian I must change that, and willing to start.  I would probably lean towards IT, electrical, engineering, carpentry or machining.

Basically, I am looking for pros and cons that I might be missing, whether to just do online only (would be easier) and give up $600 dollars a month, and any ideas anyone else might have to use up this funding.  I am thinking it is a foregone conclusion to use it, so am not going to even ask about not using it at all. 

plog

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2017, 12:40:50 PM »
There's no such thing as retroactive happiness.  Make the current you happy; choose #3.

Laura33

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 12:47:38 PM »
Well, I think you are totally discounting the value of your time and the cost of fitting in school on top of your full-time job.  For me, additional schooling of any type would be a detriment, because I get paid by the billable hour, and so it is far more cost-effective to devote my extra time to developing my current business.  I understand this is not your situation, given the type of work you do and your employer, but there is still a cost to your personal life/free time to pile on a big new commitment like this.  Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, just make sure you are confident it is worth the tradeoff.

Given your skills and interests, I would advise you to investigate what degree/training would be the most beneficial to your future plans for your own consulting shop -- since the degree won't help you in your current career, focus on what is most likely to help you in your second or third career/post-RE hobby.  I mean, wow, if you can get paid to train for your post-RE career, while still getting paid for your current one, that's a win-win, right?  Are there skills you could get from an MBA or some sort of certification training that would help you assist clients or run your own business more effectively?  Or on the other end of the spectrum, would you need to have a specific credential, like an MBA, to attract clients and have them think you are the most qualified person out there to help them?  I also like the idea of "useful skills training" so you can be more personally independent and competent post-FIRE.  Looks like you have an IT background already, so I would focus on something completely different, like plumbing or electrical work, so you can really expand your self-care skill set.

I'd put law school at the bottom of the list, because you'd be doing it purely for fun and don't ever intend to practice.  If you can get as much enjoyment and education out of another choice that will actually directly help you in the future, that would seem to be better than one that is "just because."  OTOH, it's free, and I did think it was fun myself, so who am I to tell you no if you want to go just for the heck of it?  :-)

macleod7066

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 01:33:45 PM »
Well, I think you are totally discounting the value of your time and the cost of fitting in school on top of your full-time job.  For me, additional schooling of any type would be a detriment, because I get paid by the billable hour, and so it is far more cost-effective to devote my extra time to developing my current business.  I understand this is not your situation, given the type of work you do and your employer, but there is still a cost to your personal life/free time to pile on a big new commitment like this.  Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, just make sure you are confident it is worth the tradeoff.

Given your skills and interests, I would advise you to investigate what degree/training would be the most beneficial to your future plans for your own consulting shop -- since the degree won't help you in your current career, focus on what is most likely to help you in your second or third career/post-RE hobby.  I mean, wow, if you can get paid to train for your post-RE career, while still getting paid for your current one, that's a win-win, right?  Are there skills you could get from an MBA or some sort of certification training that would help you assist clients or run your own business more effectively?  Or on the other end of the spectrum, would you need to have a specific credential, like an MBA, to attract clients and have them think you are the most qualified person out there to help them?  I also like the idea of "useful skills training" so you can be more personally independent and competent post-FIRE.  Looks like you have an IT background already, so I would focus on something completely different, like plumbing or electrical work, so you can really expand your self-care skill set.

I'd put law school at the bottom of the list, because you'd be doing it purely for fun and don't ever intend to practice.  If you can get as much enjoyment and education out of another choice that will actually directly help you in the future, that would seem to be better than one that is "just because."  OTOH, it's free, and I did think it was fun myself, so who am I to tell you no if you want to go just for the heck of it?  :-)

I have already mentally committed the time commitment as I have a ton of free time that I normally just waste at the moment, so am not overly concerned with the level of effort for any of this.

The question I keep asking myself is to do what interests me, and what will I need for that consulting gig. The only thing I keep coming back to is awareness/marketing of myself and skills.  But, if I have never done that for a business before, to start from the ground up is a daunting task.  Probably one of the reasons I currently do not have it set up.  I know I would have to give away my time for free probably to get it under my belt before going all in with it.  It is something I enjoy, especially with the food industry.  Do you know how much product is wasted and excess food made that can easily be curtailed?  Or, just general administrative things that people make extremely more difficult than they need to be.  Profit is wasted at a majority of these places for minor changes.  It also is highly contingent on that business actually wanting someone to come in and streamline for them.  Either way, I have no idea besides general business degree that could help me with this.

Plumbing is a good point, there is two things currently that either I don't know someone for or are dangerous to do yourself, plumbing and electrical.  Plumbers are always in business, would help me with my rental property as well.

Noodle

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2017, 05:33:31 PM »
I will confess, if I had free college money, I would spend it on studying something I was interested in that would be difficult to justify as an economic investment. Not many people get that opportunity. And it's not totally ridiculous--being trained in multiple ways of thinking can actually be very helpful in problem-solving, etc even if you never use the actual content.

But on a more practical note, either studying something useful for the new business or plumbing/electrical. Aside from those two being the construction areas where you can most easily kill yourself/create serious and expensive damage, they are two areas where hiring one on Christmas Eve can be both necessary and incredibly expensive!

macleod7066

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 06:33:26 PM »
I will confess, if I had free college money, I would spend it on studying something I was interested in that would be difficult to justify as an economic investment. Not many people get that opportunity. And it's not totally ridiculous--being trained in multiple ways of thinking can actually be very helpful in problem-solving, etc even if you never use the actual content.

But on a more practical note, either studying something useful for the new business or plumbing/electrical. Aside from those two being the construction areas where you can most easily kill yourself/create serious and expensive damage, they are two areas where hiring one on Christmas Eve can be both necessary and incredibly expensive!

Another great point to lean towards the electrical/plumbing job.  Although, that would require me to actually want to work on those days, hopefully I would be at a point where I could work whenever I chose to.

Laura33

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 07:31:19 PM »
Well, I think you are totally discounting the value of your time and the cost of fitting in school on top of your full-time job.  For me, additional schooling of any type would be a detriment, because I get paid by the billable hour, and so it is far more cost-effective to devote my extra time to developing my current business.  I understand this is not your situation, given the type of work you do and your employer, but there is still a cost to your personal life/free time to pile on a big new commitment like this.  Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, just make sure you are confident it is worth the tradeoff.

Given your skills and interests, I would advise you to investigate what degree/training would be the most beneficial to your future plans for your own consulting shop -- since the degree won't help you in your current career, focus on what is most likely to help you in your second or third career/post-RE hobby.  I mean, wow, if you can get paid to train for your post-RE career, while still getting paid for your current one, that's a win-win, right?  Are there skills you could get from an MBA or some sort of certification training that would help you assist clients or run your own business more effectively?  Or on the other end of the spectrum, would you need to have a specific credential, like an MBA, to attract clients and have them think you are the most qualified person out there to help them?  I also like the idea of "useful skills training" so you can be more personally independent and competent post-FIRE.  Looks like you have an IT background already, so I would focus on something completely different, like plumbing or electrical work, so you can really expand your self-care skill set.

I'd put law school at the bottom of the list, because you'd be doing it purely for fun and don't ever intend to practice.  If you can get as much enjoyment and education out of another choice that will actually directly help you in the future, that would seem to be better than one that is "just because."  OTOH, it's free, and I did think it was fun myself, so who am I to tell you no if you want to go just for the heck of it?  :-)

I have already mentally committed the time commitment as I have a ton of free time that I normally just waste at the moment, so am not overly concerned with the level of effort for any of this.

The question I keep asking myself is to do what interests me, and what will I need for that consulting gig. The only thing I keep coming back to is awareness/marketing of myself and skills.  But, if I have never done that for a business before, to start from the ground up is a daunting task.  Probably one of the reasons I currently do not have it set up.  I know I would have to give away my time for free probably to get it under my belt before going all in with it. It is something I enjoy, especially with the food industry.  Do you know how much product is wasted and excess food made that can easily be curtailed?  Or, just general administrative things that people make extremely more difficult than they need to be.  Profit is wasted at a majority of these places for minor changes.  It also is highly contingent on that business actually wanting someone to come in and streamline for them.  Either way, I have no idea besides general business degree that could help me with this.

Plumbing is a good point, there is two things currently that either I don't know someone for or are dangerous to do yourself, plumbing and electrical.  Plumbers are always in business, would help me with my rental property as well.

This sounds like MBA to me - you have the ideas for the business, they will teach you the nuts and bolts of getting it up and running and profitable.

Dee18

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 07:53:59 PM »
Sounds like you are in a position to choose without regard to money....I know that seems anti-Mustachian in a way, but I agree with those who say just study what you want right now. 

Iplawyer

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2017, 06:02:39 AM »
I've never heard anyone say law school was easy.  I did not think so.  And it is full of the type of people that become lawyers.

cdttmm

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2017, 06:15:53 AM »
MBA or MS in Supply Chain Management? It's sounds like you're already doing the work so earning the degree will likely be interesting, but not necessarily super hard. Having the additional credential would help if you ever decide to go to the private sector.

macleod7066

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2017, 12:27:39 PM »
MBA or MS in Supply Chain Management? It's sounds like you're already doing the work so earning the degree will likely be interesting, but not necessarily super hard. Having the additional credential would help if you ever decide to go to the private sector.

Yeah I agree, that a master's would probably be the easiest route to using up the money with the less time invested.  Only thing bad about going for SCM is diversification.  Do I really want to get a degree in what I do currently, or branch out to something different?

lhamo

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2017, 04:56:19 PM »
Wouldn't getting an MA/MS bump you up at least a bit on the GS step scale, resulting in a potential pay increase?  Or is GS-13 already so high the extra education doesn't matter?

Noodle

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2017, 05:42:41 PM »
[quote author=macleod7066 link=topic=69861.msg1470286#msg1470286 date=1489196006
Another great point to lean towards the electrical/plumbing job.  Although, that would require me to actually want to work on those days, hopefully I would be at a point where I could work whenever I chose to.
[/quote]

I was actually just thinking that it would be frugal to be able to handle the emergency yourself and not have to hire someone else expensive!  Although I have thought from time to time that if one were in in a position not to care about Sundays and holidays, you could make serious money by running an auto repair/plumbing/electrical business that is open then.

macleod7066

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Re: Master's or Something Else?
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2017, 10:53:00 PM »
Wouldn't getting an MA/MS bump you up at least a bit on the GS step scale, resulting in a potential pay increase?  Or is GS-13 already so high the extra education doesn't matter?

GS-11 is where the schooling is no longer a factor.  Step increases are either by merit or by time. 


I was actually just thinking that it would be frugal to be able to handle the emergency yourself and not have to hire someone else expensive!  Although I have thought from time to time that if one were in in a position not to care about Sundays and holidays, you could make serious money by running an auto repair/plumbing/electrical business that is open then.

Very true, something to definitely ponder, maybe we have the next big thing here.  Only open when other shops are not.