Author Topic: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?  (Read 5893 times)

EconDiva

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To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« on: January 01, 2015, 07:49:46 AM »
I turn 36 next month and I currently work in pharma research. It's high pressure for *my* type of personality, meaning, I'm constantly tied to my laptop/phone and often work outside of normal hours to get things done.  Overall I like it, but I do think it will be unhealthy for me for the long term considering the stress involved and how difficult it is to stay motivated to do this 3 hour daily commute for this job considering I only do this work for a paycheck.

With that said, I want my 'retirement career' to be in the counseling field.  I know I won't get paid well.  But I'd like to do something I have a passion for and something that will bring in some type of supplemental income.  Plus, I want it to be something I could possibly do in different cities if I had to move.  Lastly, I want to be in a field that doesn't discriminate so much depending upon age.  I think this is a good fit, but will require I get a Masters.

My main problem is the cost.  Most schools are charging along the lines of $500-$1000 per credit hour, which adds up super quick.  We're talking tens of thousands of dollars here.  My current job offers a tuition reimbursement of $7000 per year for graduate coursework, but it has to be 'related to the company's current or future business needs'.  So I'm thinking the reimbursement route isn't an option.  Most people I work with that have advanced degrees are MDs who provide clinical support, RNs with Masters in Nursing, or MBAs.

So my question is, would it be financially unwise to pursue this?  Any money I put towards an education will be money that doesn't go towards retirement or savings.  But I am trying to think and plan for the long term here.  As of today I am thinking I should stay in research for another 10 years+ (if I can bear it).  However, I may want to start working on this Masters now so it's out of the way, and allows more time to ease myself into a career change for later on in life. 

YoungInvestor

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 08:49:21 AM »
Wouldn't the value of the degree be lower if you were to get it now and only use it 5-7 years after finishing it up?

EconDiva

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2015, 09:23:12 AM »
Wouldn't the value of the degree be lower if you were to get it now and only use it 5-7 years after finishing it up?

I don't plan on getting it right now.  I'd maybe start next year and finish in 3-4 years as I would have to go part-time. 

Then start seeing clients part-time until I actually retire from (or choose to stop working in) the research field.

attica

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2015, 10:09:56 AM »
I think you should at least check with the company to see if they will reimburse your coursework as you never know.

That being said I know at a previous company I worked for some coworkers wanted degrees the company wouldn't cover. They told the company they were getting one degree that the company would pay for, took the classes that fell under both degrees, and then paid out of pocket for the remaining classes to get their desired degrees. I'm not saying it's the honest route or anything, but it's an option that's there if there's a degree the company would pay for with similar classes.

Murse

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2015, 10:17:53 AM »
Are you ever wanting to fire, or are you saying you want to do this job for the rest of your life??

EconDiva

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2015, 10:30:44 AM »
Are you ever wanting to fire, or are you saying you want to do this job for the rest of your life??

Yes, I want to FIRE.  I'd like to not work forever and I'm planning not to but I'd definitely rather have a career I can use to supplement my income just in case.  I can't see myself working in pharma in my 50s; this is the alternative I'm considering.

EconDiva

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2015, 10:32:14 AM »
I think you should at least check with the company to see if they will reimburse your coursework as you never know.

That being said I know at a previous company I worked for some coworkers wanted degrees the company wouldn't cover. They told the company they were getting one degree that the company would pay for, took the classes that fell under both degrees, and then paid out of pocket for the remaining classes to get their desired degrees. I'm not saying it's the honest route or anything, but it's an option that's there if there's a degree the company would pay for with similar classes.

Thanks for the insight...I never thought of this. 

chuckaluck

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2015, 10:41:28 AM »
I was thinking along the same lines as Attica.  If your current company is willing to pay up to 7000 per  year for related-to-work-courses, then you absolutely should look into it.  I'm sure that there are at least several of the 32 to 64 credits or 8 to 16 courses (likely needed for a masters) that would satisfy your current company and your desired new field.  I look at it this way:  I'm assuming that your would take these courses one or at most two at time while continuing to work.  If so, it may be two or three years where there is minimal money, if any, out of your pocket since the company is paying for most of these credits.  Then, if after this time, you are still interested in the new field, then you could  quit then.  The difference is you would be a full time student (read: no income) for less time.  Taking a slow route also allows you to see if you really are suited to the new profession.  Related and perhaps more importantly, after your company has paid for all it is willing to pay, you may be able to either start on your own or work for another company in a capacity more similar to your then current background and classwork.  I know it can be done since I did it.  I kept taking "related" courses for 7 years while working full time and ended up with a doctorate with almost no cost to me.  Then the company realized that they had so much invested in me that they didn't want me to leave!  Good luck my friend, please let us know what you decide.   

rubybeth

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2015, 11:10:05 AM »
I'm curious which counseling degree you're looking at getting, because $500-$1,000 sounds like a lot per credit, but maybe in your state, it's reasonable. Would this be a clinical social worker degree, by any chance? My DH is in grad school right now at a state university, and credits are less than $400. It's a 58 credit program, so with books, will end up costing us about $25,000 max. He was able to do the program part-time for the last year, but it is getting increasingly difficult to manage the workload of grad school (esp. the required internship hours) alongside even a part-time job. He plans to quit his job before next fall when he'll need to switch to full time student status. He looked at a social work degree option, but it would have required full time attendance and a job would have been nearly impossible.

Also, I'm curious about which states you'd be looking to move to, because the type of degree you get may limit (or expand) your job prospects in different regions of the US. For example, one of my cousins has a degree that allows her to work as a counselor in Atlanta, but she'd likely need additional certifications or more grad school in order to practice as a counselor in our area (Minnesota). And the degree my DH is getting may limit him somewhat in terms of moving to other states (especially California, for weird somewhat political reasons), but will be very good in our area.

Also, if you aren't planning on using the degree for many years after obtaining it, it may be better to wait to start the degree closer to your expected quit date from your current job, because counseling is a field which generally requires you to have continuing education/training and current licensure in your state. Maybe you are already aware of all of this, but just in case not. :)

EconDiva

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2015, 11:22:32 AM »
I'm curious which counseling degree you're looking at getting, because $500-$1,000 sounds like a lot per credit, but maybe in your state, it's reasonable. Would this be a clinical social worker degree, by any chance? My DH is in grad school right now at a state university, and credits are less than $400. It's a 58 credit program, so with books, will end up costing us about $25,000 max. He was able to do the program part-time for the last year, but it is getting increasingly difficult to manage the workload of grad school (esp. the required internship hours) alongside even a part-time job. He plans to quit his job before next fall when he'll need to switch to full time student status. He looked at a social work degree option, but it would have required full time attendance and a job would have been nearly impossible.

Also, I'm curious about which states you'd be looking to move to, because the type of degree you get may limit (or expand) your job prospects in different regions of the US. For example, one of my cousins has a degree that allows her to work as a counselor in Atlanta, but she'd likely need additional certifications or more grad school in order to practice as a counselor in our area (Minnesota). And the degree my DH is getting may limit him somewhat in terms of moving to other states (especially California, for weird somewhat political reasons), but will be very good in our area.

Also, if you aren't planning on using the degree for many years after obtaining it, it may be better to wait to start the degree closer to your expected quit date from your current job, because counseling is a field which generally requires you to have continuing education/training and current licensure in your state. Maybe you are already aware of all of this, but just in case not. :)

I want to go the MS in Counseling Psychology route for licensure as a LPC.  I honestly don't know where I will be in another 5 years, but more than likely I'll be back in the South.  Possibly GA or FL (I currently live in Chicago). 

I am aware of the variance in licensure requirements, so as I get closer to being ready to take the courses, I will be looking for a program that satisfies those specific licensure requirements in certain southeastern states.

purplish

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2015, 02:50:17 PM »
You may already be aware of this, but keep in mind, usually after you graduate you need to work 2 years full time in the field in order to become licensed.  I'm currently 6 months into my 2 years (been in the field a long time but unfortunately it doesn't count retroactively!)

MrsPete

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2015, 09:59:33 PM »
As someone looking from the outside in, I think this would be an unwise move: 

- You'd spend a good bit of money to earn this second degree.
- School is not a stress-free activity, and you'd be adding it to your already stressful job.
- Counseling is a fairly competative field.
- After investing in education and landing a job, you'd earn little. 

I think you're suffering from a "grass is greener" problem, and I suggest that you look into making your current (profitable, right?) job more agreeable to you:

- Move to avoid the three-hour commute (that is crazy!), OR investigate creative scheduling (four 10-hour days?), OR working from home. 
- Investigate ways to set limits on your work; for example, check emails once in the evening -- then no more.
- Look for stress relievers:  Exericise, for example, might be a healthful release after a tough day. 
- Save, save, save and create an exit strategy for yourself; just knowing, "I have X amount of time left in this high-stress environment" can make it easier. 

If you really feel a pull towards counseling, keep in mind that options exist -- options that require no formal education and little training of any type -- that would provide you with an outlet for this desire:  The first one that comes to mind is Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Another is Guardian Ad Litem services.  Of course, these don't come with a paycheck, so you'd need to pursue a different supplemental pay scheme.   



EconDiva

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2015, 07:48:44 AM »
You may already be aware of this, but keep in mind, usually after you graduate you need to work 2 years full time in the field in order to become licensed.  I'm currently 6 months into my 2 years (been in the field a long time but unfortunately it doesn't count retroactively!)

Yes, I am aware of this.  Good luck in your endeavors!

EconDiva

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2015, 07:59:43 AM »
As someone looking from the outside in, I think this would be an unwise move: 

- You'd spend a good bit of money to earn this second degree.
- School is not a stress-free activity, and you'd be adding it to your already stressful job.
- Counseling is a fairly competative field.
- After investing in education and landing a job, you'd earn little. 

I think you're suffering from a "grass is greener" problem, and I suggest that you look into making your current (profitable, right?) job more agreeable to you:

- Move to avoid the three-hour commute (that is crazy!), OR investigate creative scheduling (four 10-hour days?), OR working from home. 
- Investigate ways to set limits on your work; for example, check emails once in the evening -- then no more.
- Look for stress relievers:  Exericise, for example, might be a healthful release after a tough day. 
- Save, save, save and create an exit strategy for yourself; just knowing, "I have X amount of time left in this high-stress environment" can make it easier. 

If you really feel a pull towards counseling, keep in mind that options exist -- options that require no formal education and little training of any type -- that would provide you with an outlet for this desire:  The first one that comes to mind is Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Another is Guardian Ad Litem services.  Of course, these don't come with a paycheck, so you'd need to pursue a different supplemental pay scheme.   

I must admit that there may be some truth in what you're saying.  I do (often times) suffer from the 'grass is greener' mentality and it affects many areas of my life.

I will have to incorporate some changes soon in order to make my job more comfortable, so I will be looking to telecommute once a week starting this summer.  As far as setting limits on work, yes, I will look into doing this as well.  I do exercise at a local gym and that helps a little.  The hardest part is my brain never 'turns off' because of the amount of work I have.  So even when putting away the laptop/work phone, I still often times have trouble sleeping just thinking about the amount of work I have to do. 

Thanks for the insight; I really do feel a pull towards this type of work so it felt like a natural choice for a retirement type of career.  I'm not sure it's 100% the right move to make, which is why I posted this, so your input is appreciated.

BPA

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2015, 08:22:51 AM »

- Move to avoid the three-hour commute (that is crazy!), OR investigate creative scheduling (four 10-hour days?), OR working from home. 
- Investigate ways to set limits on your work; for example, check emails once in the evening -- then no more.
- Look for stress relievers:  Exericise, for example, might be a healthful release after a tough day. 
- Save, save, save and create an exit strategy for yourself; just knowing, "I have X amount of time left in this high-stress environment" can make it easier. 

If you really feel a pull towards counseling, keep in mind that options exist -- options that require no formal education and little training of any type -- that would provide you with an outlet for this desire:  The first one that comes to mind is Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Another is Guardian Ad Litem services.  Of course, these don't come with a paycheck, so you'd need to pursue a different supplemental pay scheme.   

I agree with  Mrs. Pete. I was considering a similar strategy to yours but then thought, "Hmmm.  If I stick it out a bit longer, I won't even need a paying second career."  The benefits are that the pressure will be off.  It's also part of my transition plan.  I am going to go very part-time with my second degree studies such that I am starting while still employed and continuing once I RE. 

Good luck!

Murse

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2015, 10:54:49 AM »
Are you ever wanting to fire, or are you saying you want to do this job for the rest of your life??

Yes, I want to FIRE.  I'd like to not work forever and I'm planning not to but I'd definitely rather have a career I can use to supplement my income just in case.  I can't see myself working in pharma in my 50s; this is the alternative I'm considering.

I think this goal will push you back too far and will not be worth it financially speaking. As my name suggests im in nursing school, I was entertaining the idea of becoming a nurse practitioner because from my side of the fence the job looks less physical. I would prefer a mentally exhausting job rather then physical. Once I crunched the numbers and added up tuition, opportunity cost, time, and stress I found that it is not worth it (in my state.) the income is only marginally higher and it would add many years onto my fire date. I decided I would be a nurse, likely get my bachelors, and if after I  am FI I want to be a NP I can.

My advice is to shadow prior to making any kind of decision . It may be worth it to you. Only you can say how many extra years working is worth the job. You may be idealizing this career, shadow and ask about the good, bad and ugly. Also if you decide you wana work with psych patients look into psychiatric NP's. They make very good money in many states.

epipenguin

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2015, 11:16:54 AM »
This seems very similar to the track I decided to take. I actually was never all that interested in retiring early but thought that a nice low stress job where I could make my own hours would be good. But I had to get a master's degree to get licensed. I don't know if it was worth it, at this point. It was a lot of money down the drain in tuition, and a lot of money in a business partnership that didn't work. I am in a field where you need to build your practice,and I am quite introverted and not a great marketer. I am looking at basically starting from scratch once I am out from under the partnership. I am still doing my old job, albeit part time, which is much less stressful than it used to be. And there's a part of me that thinks I should just coast doing what I'm doing now without bothering to restart career #2. Which has been majorly stressful in the past year on its own due to the business issues. But...I do still have the dream of working for myself so I may give it one more try.

Anyway, I would definitely fix some issues about your life and current job. And then look into what prerequisites that you could do that would satisfy both the company and your desired field, and perhaps start doing those on the company's dime.

MrsPete

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2015, 11:15:48 AM »
The hardest part is my brain never 'turns off' because of the amount of work I have.  So even when putting away the laptop/work phone, I still often times have trouble sleeping just thinking about the amount of work I have to do. 
I suggest you make yourself your first counseling client.  Consider how you would approach this question in a stranger.  Obviously, you can't say, "Are you stupid?  Just stop thinking about work!" What methods and techniques could be used to help a patient train himself to put work aside? 
I agree with  Mrs. Pete. I was considering a similar strategy to yours but then thought, "Hmmm.  If I stick it out a bit longer, I won't even need a paying second career."
Yes, that was one of my points, but I believe you worded it more concisely. 

Cassie

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Re: To save or not to save...for my 'retirement career'?
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2015, 01:57:13 PM »
You may want to wait until you can afford to quit your job & then go to school.  Also I have 3 graduate degrees in the same general area & the only one that is recognized from state to state is the clinical social work.  However, once you get your master's you will need 3,000 hours under someone else's supervision.  You then need to pass the clinical test which is usually a combo of written plus oral proficiencies. It is difficult.  However, having the clinical designation allows you to practice on your own, charge more $, etc.  Many of the other degrees in the human service areas may or may not allow you to practice depending on the state.