Whenever I write about the value of a college education, I get complaints from folks who argue that they have a degree in X, but now they’re working in completely unrelated field Y. “My degree is useless,” they tell me. While I feel for these folks, the anecdotal evidence doesn’t discount the statistics. (And the statistics say that the more education you have, the more you’re likely to earn.)
That said, it’s interesting to note that there are lots of folks who have satisfying careers doing something wholly unrelated to what they studied in college. Me, for example. When I was in school, I studied psychology. (I got a minor in English, and almost another minor in public speaking.) Now I write about money all day long.
My college (Willamette University in Salem) has started an annual tradition of profiling folks whose jobs don’t necessarily match their education. Every year, they highlight a handful of graduates who are doing interesting things. Last year, for instance, they recognized my friend Dagny, who earned a Theater/Spanish double major, but now manufactures and sells funny boxer shorts. And my friend Jim, who earned a law degree but now works as a police officer.
My friend Dagny and her funny boxer shorts.
I’m tickled to be one of the nominees for this year’s awards. Whether or not you attended Willamette University, you can read the nominee bios and vote for your five favorites — even if I’m not one of them. There are some great stories here. My favorites include Rosie Robertson (an art major and compsci minor who is a software designer by day and a board-game designer by night) and Chris Wilson (who uses his art major to buy and sell antique home parts).
Meanwhile, as always, here are some of the financial articles I’ve been reading from around the web:
Over at Wise Bread, David Ning (who usually writes at Money Ning) shares six things you can look forward to when you have more money. I like this story. Kris and I have both noticed that since I’ve paid off my debt and actually built some savings, there are certain unanticipated benefits (such as the ability to be an opportunistic shopper, being able to pounce on great prices because I have the money in savings to do so). Ning’s list names a few advantages, but there are many others. (On a related note, Trent recently noted that an emergency fund is more than just money.)
My wife, who loves the Huffington Post almost as much as she loves NPR, sent me a link to this article that describes the trick to outsmarting advertising. The whole article is interesting, but (spoiler alert!) here’s the good stuff: To reduce the effects of advertising, the author recommends that you slow down when making decisions and take as much control as possible of how much advertising you’re exposed to.
A couple of people sent me e-mail to note that the U.S. tax burden is at its lowest level since 1958, which might explain some of our government’s funding issues. (Of course the other side is that the government is just spending a hell of a lot of money.) This article made we want to learn more on the subject, so I read the Tax Policy Center’s five myths about taxes, plus my own articles about understanding the federal budget and the truth about taxes. For such a boring subject, I find a lot of the debate over taxes interesting.
Finally, my colleague Jonathan Fields recently wrote about how money makes us stupid. “Surveys show we now consider time our most precious resource, even over money,” Fields writes. “Yet all too often, we look for the biggest, baddest, most voluminous, time-consuming solution we can find for the money, assuming that the option with the greatest volume will provide the greatest value.” Instead, he says, we should strive for the best value. I can sense a fascinating GRS post in the making here…
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