Author Topic: From Master's Degree to Community College: Downshifting/529 accounts  (Read 2963 times)

Trudie

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I have a master's degree and my CPA license and have spent seven years of my life on post-secondary education, most recently in my early 30s to get my CPA.  Can I just tell you have "over it" I am?  After working pretty steadily for 20 years I can honestly say I'm not sure I've ever loved my work.  A surprising amount of it has been mundane, repetitive, and not required the higher order thinking skills I once thought it would.

So today -- once again -- I used my lunch hour to snoop online at our very good community college/technical school and got pretty enthused about it as an option for my "second act."  The application is TWO PAGES!  Two frickin' pages!  No essays.  No need to ponder life's great mysteries and write essays on self-actualization.  No need to project where I hope to be in five years.  No nasty admissions tests or letters of recommendation.  I can just sign up, do a little paperwork, show up and pay my money and I'm good.

To this end, I've started putting money in a section 529 college savings account for myself.  There are other tax credits that also apply (you can't "double dip" on your tax return) but the beauty of the 529 is that it doesn't matter your age or your program.  You don't need to be seeking a degree.  You can take an art course in France and dip into your Section 529 account to pay for it as long as the educational institution offering it is qualified by the Federal Department of Education to offer financial aid.... most schools are and this information can easily be found online.

So, I'm probably going to get my landscape design certificate in a few years... go to work for someone, or maybe even do freelance projects.  Maybe I'll just putter all day in my own gardens and decide I don't give a crap about making a living at it... I just enjoy studying it.

There are just so many options...


mozar

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Re: From Master's Degree to Community College: Downshifting/529 accounts
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2014, 03:40:19 PM »
Um, do you have a question? If it was me and I was close to FI I would quit. I have heard that there are part time options for cpa types. Part time cfo, part time consulting, contract work, doing taxes during tax season. You could make as much money part time as many do fulltime. Unless you are post FI, but I couldn't tell from your post.

Edited: I see that your NW is 1.1m. If i were you I would not be working anymore. Maybe you should post a"can I FIRE yet" case study.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 05:19:39 PM by mozar »

msilenus

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Re: From Master's Degree to Community College: Downshifting/529 accounts
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2014, 04:43:36 PM »
I've been looking hard at 529s as part of a second act recently as well.  It looks to me like if you're 50% enrolled in a community college, then you're eligible to withdraw whatever their financial aid office says your qualified living expenses are.  Shouldn't that be in the ~$10k range/yr?  I haven't looked super hard, but I haven't found any CCs with financial aid offices that show that number.  Local state schools show something like that, though.

We're thinking of increasing the 529 targets for our kids in light of this info.  That's on the principle that having a more robust back-up strategy in case they under-spend the plans makes allocating more to them more attractive.

Joggernot

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Re: From Master's Degree to Community College: Downshifting/529 accounts
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2014, 06:12:31 PM »
No help here.  When I was 50 I went back to CC (paid my own way) and got a Computer Science degree and MS Certifications.  Didn't change my life, but I certainly enjoyed the study and being able to fully understand that dang computer thingy.  No computers when I went to college...old guy here.

Trudie

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Re: From Master's Degree to Community College: Downshifting/529 accounts
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2014, 08:28:18 AM »
I've been looking hard at 529s as part of a second act recently as well.  It looks to me like if you're 50% enrolled in a community college, then you're eligible to withdraw whatever their financial aid office says your qualified living expenses are.  Shouldn't that be in the ~$10k range/yr?  I haven't looked super hard, but I haven't found any CCs with financial aid offices that show that number.  Local state schools show something like that, though.

We're thinking of increasing the 529 targets for our kids in light of this info.  That's on the principle that having a more robust back-up strategy in case they under-spend the plans makes allocating more to them more attractive.

You may well understand 529s at a level that I do not.  I would just call the financial aid office at the school you're looking at and inquire.  Since I'm looking at using mine for my "second act" I know I'll already have enough money to cash flow the other expenses in my life.

I just think they're a great tool, and I've become a fan of community colleges.  What I was trying to convey above (and perhaps was misunderstood) is that community colleges are a low cost/low risk and fun way to follow your dreams -- especially if you are weary from all the "hoops" required to engage in your previous profession.  I also like the fact that you can learn practical skills -- everything from woodworking to pastry baking -- that you've always wanted to learn.  For me, the question isn't so much about whether I can FIRE (as Mozar asked), but how I will actively engage when I am retired.  I'm not particularly interested in continuing intensively in my current career -- even on a part time basis.