dcsimg
Table of Contents

Fastest growing careers 2015 – A Get Rich Slowly interactive tool and guide

We asked Susan Johnston to help us introduce our new, interactive tool with a comprehensive guide designed to help students enter one of the fastest growing careers on a better financial footing. Susan has covered business and personal finance subjects for publications such as The Boston Globe, Mint.com, USNews.com, and Entrepreneur.com.

[Editorial note: Together, the tool and guide form an extensive resource for students and parents planning to pursue higher education. Given its length, we designed the table of contents to help you jump to the tool and different areas in the guide more easily.]

Rising college costs and rampant student loan debt have many people feeling extra mindful about how to get the best possible return on their investment in education. Instead of simply applying to college “because that’s what people do after high school,” it is now more important than ever to carefully weigh your career prospects (is this major likely to lead to a decent-paying job in the future?) against your projected college costs before starting a degree program.

To help you position yourself to successfully enter one of the fastest growing careers, we created an interactive tool that matches the jobs projected to have high-growth potential in the future, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to colleges that offer degree programs that can help you enter those fields. Then we added national and state median salary data as well as tuition data to the tool so you can reverse-engineer your decision about which occupation you think is best to pursue.

How to use the interactive tool

A good strategy to have in mind when you are deciding which college degree could help you enter one of the fastest growing careers is to:

  • Consider which career interests you the most
    (Sort the Compare Careers table by occupation, national projected growth rate, or national median salary.)
  • Explore the list of colleges that offer degree programs for that career
    (Click the “See Programs” link for the career you would like to explore to change the list of colleges in the second table.)
  • Compare tuition and salary data
    (Sort the College Listings table by state or any of the columns to further analyze the results.)
    [School tuition -- http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/]
    [State salaries -- http://www.projectionscentral.com/]

The interactive tool below was designed to follow that strategy and be as intuitive as possible, so it has two tables – the Compare Careers table and the College Listings table. The top table lets you compare occupations based on their national projected growth rate and national median salary. (You can expand the table to see the complete list.) The careers are sorted based on their projected growth rate – highest to lowest – and numbered 1 through 26 by default so you can always tell how a career compares in terms of its projected growth rate even if you re-sort the list. (You can re-sort the list based on occupation or national median salary by clicking on the column heading.)

Once you select a career in the Compare Careers table, the second table automatically provides a list of colleges that offer degree programs specific to that career. The College Listings table is sorted by school tuition – lowest to highest – to begin with, but it is also interesting to sort the table alphabetically by school, by state, or by median annual wage for state. (Each of the columns in the College Listings table can be sorted by clicking on the column heading.) You can also filter the college listings by adding a search term, such as the name of a specific college, to the Filter Records box above the second table.

The purpose of the tool is to help you gain clarity on the career path you want to pursue and to point you to some of the nonprofit schools that offer degree programs that feed into those careers. It is not an exhaustive list of schools and, although the tuition data represented in the tool is publicly available information, there are still gaps. For example, there may be “N/A” results that offer no tuition information, which simply means that tuition data isn’t available in IPEDS for that institution. In addition, tuition information changes frequently, so it is possible that data may not be 100 percent accurate. It is always best to contact the college or university directly to get more accurate, up-to-date information about tuition.

[Note: Input into the Filter Records box is taken quite literally. So entering “CA” in the box will return results that include “California” if they exist for that career, but it will also return a result like “Trevecca Nazarene University” since “Trevecca” has the C-A combination in the school’s name. You can then click on the State column heading to sort all the schools in the filtered results by state if you like. To back out of the filtered results, you can click “x” in the Filter Records box, delete the previous input, or just search for a new program in the Compare Careers table.]

How to understand and narrow the results

The instructions are relatively simple, but understanding what to do with the information the interactive tool provides is where it gets interesting.

How do you determine which career to pursue?

The options available to graduating high school students are growing at an unprecedented pace. Who thought that a social media consultant would be a mainstream occupation even 10 short years ago?

Ironically, the technology which created the hundreds of new career options available today also offers the tools that can help you narrow your search. Ordinarily, you would enter a search term like “career choices” in Google and be left sifting through the millions of results presented for your consideration with no meaningful way to compare them. It’s a daunting task. But Get Rich Slowly’s widget displays a targeted list of career options to consider and, for each of these possibilities, it lists two critical variables:

  • National projected growth rate – the rate at which the number of jobs for that career is expected to grow nationally in the next 10 years
  • National median salary – the median (or middle) salary for that occupation in 2013

National projected growth rate
Twenty-six occupations (as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) are identified and sorted on the basis of growth, i.e., the number of jobs expected to be added to an occupation. We selected careers that expect better than 14 percent growth in the next 10 years. This is an important factor to consider because the higher-than-expected increase in the number of jobs for a particular occupation bodes well for job security in that field.

National median salary
Next to each of the fastest growing careers is the national median salary for 2013 as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — the most current data available from the BLS — but don’t count on making that amount exactly. Chances are you will be able to earn more in cities that have a high cost of living and less in other locations. However, the table does give you a fairly good idea of how different occupations compare in terms of salary.

These two factors are especially valuable when you find two or three careers that appeal to you but aren’t sure which to pursue. For example, let’s say you are interested in healthcare. Should you qualify yourself to become a nurse practitioner or a registered nurse?

If you think several occupations could be a good fit, the deciding factor may very well be the kind of income you could hope to earn in that career or profession. If, for example, nurse practitioners are expected to generate about $93,000 per year and registered nurses are projected to earn approximately $66,000 per year, you may decide that the higher median salary could provide a better return on your investment and thus opt to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. Furthermore, when you see that the number of jobs for nurse practitioners is expected to grow at 23 percent per year as compared to 18 percent for registered nurses, it would appear that the former occupation could offer better job security and further clarify your choice.

Remember that, if you don’t see an occupation which interests you as you begin to work with the widget, you can expand the table to show the entire list – or scroll down the list with your mouse or the scroll bar on the right side of the table.

Should you aim for one of the “big-name schools” or try for one that is close to home?

High-profile institutions like Harvard and Stanford enjoy an enviable reputation, but a different college could offer similar benefits for less. If you are trying to strike a balance between your goals and your resources, then finding a college that offers the right program at a price you can afford takes on greater importance. Nonetheless, it is a difficult decision since colleges offer so many different programs and courses, and we explore it further in the “Evaluating cost and establishing value” section below. In the end, evaluating how important the reputation of a big-name school is to your success will be a decision only you can make, but there are a lot of other factors to consider beyond reputation. Another important choice is whether to pick a residential university or one of the increasingly popular online colleges. In short, with so many choices, how do you find the college that offers the right program at a price you can afford?

Evaluating prospective colleges gets even more complicated when you consider the cost. Finding the true cost for attending every college you are considering can be overwhelming and even disheartening. However, once you select an occupation, the tool ignores institutions that don’t offer an appropriate degree – and then it lists not only the college, but also the state that it is in and the tuition at that institution. If you don’t care about location, the tool allows you to track down the lowest cost to get qualified. Here is an example:

Let’s say you are a photographer considering a way to advance your career in the general area of art or design. In the Compare Careers table, you’d find an option labeled “Graphic Designers.”

If you select that option, you will see that the listings in the second table change to reflect the bachelor’s and certificate programs available for your consideration. The College Listings table contains a few more items of information to help you as well:

  • It lists multiple possible courses for each institution. For example, if you follow the example, you will see that Stevens-Henager offers a certificate program in Web Design and a bachelor’s degree course in Graphic Design.
  • It shows which state the institution is in. Noticing the state helps you quickly decide whether you want to consider that college or not. Chances are you will see the names of institutions you didn’t know existed!
  • It also lists the tuition each institution charges for the programs listed. As with the income data, the exact numbers may vary; but even still, the information provided is useful to compare various colleges and have a ballpark number for what your tuition could be at that institution. (The schools in a given state are sorted from the lowest tuition to the highest for your convenience.)
  • Finally, the second table offers a way to refine the income numbers contained in the Compare Careers table. Whereas, the first table provides a national median salary figure, the second table displays the median annual wage for the state where the college is located. This information may cause you to pursue your college education in one state and then move to another state to get a job; but if, like many, you choose to study in your home state and pursue a career there as well, the interactive tool gives you an idea of what to expect so you can make a better, more informed decision.

Interactive tool

Tips for choosing the right degree

Now that you are familiar with the tool and have an idea about which of the fastest growing careers you would like to enter, it is time to understand the degree program involved and some of the steps you can take to help you gain entry into your chosen field. Degree programs can vary widely. Some careers, like medicine, engineering and accounting, require very specific coursework and degrees to pursue those paths. Without passing an anatomy course, you probably shouldn’t expect to be accepted to medical school so that you can eventually practice medicine, for example.

But in other cases, the job you want may not have such a proscribed educational path. “In the liberal arts and humanities, English and psychology students go into everything,” says Elizabeth Enck, assistant director of career services at the University of Central Oklahoma. “One major doesn’t always equal one career.” With the right internships and experience, an English or psychology major might pursue work in social services, human resources, marketing communications or any number of other career paths. They might later pursue graduate work to become a lawyer, professor or other professional.

While the return on investment of a given degree is an important consideration, it isn’t the only one that should factor into your decision. “I would not want someone to decide on a degree just based on pay,” Enck says. “You do have to think about life. Your ability to do that major or your interest in it should all be taken into consideration.” Remember, if one high-paying, high-growth job isn’t a fit for your interests, there are likely others to consider that will give you a balance of return on investment and job satisfaction.

Here’s a look at the steps you can take to help zero in on the right degree for your career interests.

  • Take an exploratory course.If your schedule allows you to take a course or two before you commit to a full degree program, that experience can give a taste of the topics covered and help you decide if you are cut out to pursue that major. In some cases, an online school may offer a certificate program that can be continued as a full degree program – but you should check with the school you are considering to confirm that this option is available. That way you would still get a tangible credential after completing a proscribed number of courses even if you decide not to pursue a full degree.

    If you are curious about engineering but discover partway through the semester that you feel overwhelmed by the technical aspects of the course, it is a lot better to discover and recognize that early in your studies so you can re-evaluate your career path before you are too deep into the program. If you don’t wind up pursuing a degree in that discipline, perhaps those credits can be used as electives later. It also helps to remain open to other possibilities even after you settle on a specific degree. “Even once you commit on a major, take some time to explore different options,” Enck suggests. “If you decide that’s not for you, you can explore something else.”

  • Skim job listings.Even though you might be a few years away from graduating and applying for full-time jobs, looking at job listings now can help you understand what is important to companies that are hiring for the jobs you want and what type of educational background these employers seek. Some job listings may say that a certain degree is required or strongly preferred and, if you notice a pattern, it could help steer you toward a more employable degree. In other cases, employers may be more interested in your having a degree (not necessarily a specific one) and having relevant knowledge of their industry, which you could gain through internships and informational interviews (see below).

    “It’s a lot less stressful to look through the job postings when you’re not job-searching yet,” Enck points out. “It will give some good ideas about job titles and employers that do have real job postings out there.” She also advises students to use the website LinkedIn to locate people that occupy positions they are interested in to learn about what educational path led to that specific job.

  • Go on informational interviews.Talk to people in your intended field before you settle on a degree. They can give you realistic advice from the trenches that you may not find online or in career books. “I’m a big fan of informational interviews, going and talking to people in those fields,” Enck says. “What advice do you have for somebody considering this? What do they like about this job? Ask about education or training that’s needed or recommended for getting into that field and learn about qualifications beyond a degree.” This is your chance to pick their brains and learn from more seasoned professionals. Nowadays, you might have an informational interview in a coffee shop or connect with someone online through Skype or Google Hangouts. Just as your educational options are no longer constrained by geography, neither are the possibilities for informational interviews.

    Remember that one person’s experiences on the job aren’t necessarily representative of the broader population, so try to talk to several people before you draw any conclusions. You can locate people to contact for informational interviews on LinkedIn or through friends and family members. Perhaps even a sit-down with a professor in a program you are considering could help you decide if that degree is right for you.

    “Just start asking around and start telling people you’re exploring different career options,” Enck says. “People really love talking about what they do to people who are interested.” Many professionals are willing to take the time to talk to younger people who express interest in the field because other people helped them when they were first starting out. Even so, be respectful of their time and do some research beforehand so you aren’t asking questions that could be easily answered with a quick Google search. Come prepared so you can use the time productively and the other person leaves feeling like they’ve really helped you.

Tips for finding the right school

Having identified the area(s) you plan to pursue and the degree programs that can help arm you with the knowledge and credentials needed to get a job in that area, it is important to take a good look at the schools that offer those degrees. Whether your interests lie in engineering, accounting or another field, the chances are good that you could have multiple options to consider.

Depending on your needs, you might think about traditional college programs as well as online college programs. Online degrees are now more widely accepted and offer cost savings since you are not paying for a meal plan, dorm room and travel costs. In addition, you can often work while you complete your education online. However, just as not all on-campus programs are created equal, neither are online colleges. And although we pay special attention below to issues that relate to distance learning, many of these tips apply to evaluating a traditional college as well.

So how do you identity the best schools for your needs and career goals? We talked to Ken Brauchle, dean of extended learning at Indiana State University, about the questions students should consider as they are exploring colleges and trying to find the one that will move them closer to their desired career path.

  • How is the program delivered?With an online degree, curriculum delivery methods vary from school to school, so think about how you work best. Do you need lots of structure and deadlines? Are you self-disciplined enough to absorb material at your own pace? Do you want an accelerated program or will you need to space out your courses due to other obligations such as work or family? Some schools now offer competency-based programs where students simply need to pass a test demonstrating mastery of the material. This approach may work for busy professionals who have already picked up knowledge on the job and mainly want a degree to substantiate what they have learned through experience.

    “Most institutions will help [students work through the program],” Brauchle says. “They do need to take stock of themselves. If they know that they procrastinate, they don’t want to be in a competency-based program and may want to get into a program that has a lot more structure.” Be honest with yourself and what you can reasonably take on. A program with regular online lectures or discussions and weekly homework might suit students who need more organization and can set aside specific hours each week to participate, but others may not need that outside accountability.

  • Is the school accredited?To be eligible for financial federal aid, the college must be accredited. Brauchle says most will be accredited for this reason, but it is worth checking. Regional accreditation is the “golden standard,” according to Brauchle. Even if you are not planning to use federal financial aid, there is another good reason to look for an accredited school: Accreditation also improves the likelihood that your credits will be transferable to another regionally accredited college or university in the future. There are six regional accrediting associations, so check the website of the association in the region where the college is located (for instance, Southern, Western, New England and so on) to confirm.
  • What is the school’s reputation?“Beyond accreditation, look at the reputation of the institution,” Brauchle says. “Is it known where you’re going to live and work? Most people are looking to get an education, but they’re also looking to get a credential. You want to make sure that the credential you have is valued by other people as well.”If you are considering an online program, it means you’re not limited by geography. If you live in Arkansas, you could pursue an online degree from a college in Maine, Montana or virtually any other state without leaving your home. That said, many students choose to pursue an online degree from a nearby college (and there may be cost savings for doing so if the school offers a discount to in-state students who take classes online). “Something like 80 percent of students in a distance education program are enrolled in a program within 150 miles of their home,” Brauchle says. “That’s largely because they know the institution or friends or relatives know it. Not only do they know it, but their employers know it, too.”

    You want quantitative and qualitative information about its reputation. Look at rankings, definitely; but also talk to friends, family members or coworkers about how the program is perceived in the marketplace. With some online degree programs, your degree will look identical to the degree of someone who attended classes on campus, which should help remove any potential stigma of online learning. In other cases, your degree might say “extension school” or “distance learning,” which could draw attention to that fact. Brauchle suggests that if the issue comes up with employers, you should stress how earning an online degree helped you communicate at a distance (a useful skill in today’s market) and improved your self-discipline (also an asset). “Turn what could be a negative into a positive,” he says.

  • What can you learn from the experiences of others?Look for third-party information (not from the university) about the program online, but don’t believe everything you read. Online reviews may offer insights, but keep in mind that these aren’t always legitimate. In the not-too-distant past, competitors hired people to post nasty reviews or they did so themselves. Plus, one student who had a bad experience is likely to be vocal about it, points out Brauchle, while students who had a good experience might not be.

    Another way to find out what the program is really like is by talking to current or recent students. “Most legitimate institutions would have no problem putting you in touch with students,” Brauchle says. “Ask that student to refer you to someone else, too, because [the college] can certainly find someone who can cherry-pick a reference.” Ask students to tell you about their favorite courses or instructors, what they got out of the program, how they balance schoolwork with other priorities and the level of support they receive from the college.

  • Who is delivering the program?The quality of professors or instructors matters whether you are studying in a classroom or online, so find out who teaches the courses. “Is it the same program that they’re offering on campus or a special program that’s old offered via distance?” Brauchle says. “It might be a separate unit that’s delivering the instruction for off-campus programs.” To get a feel for the curriculum, you could talk to academic department heads and ask to see a syllabus. This can give you an idea of the texts the courses use. You can then go online to view the books’ tables of contents.
  • How much does it cost?Cost is obviously an important consideration, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. “Cost is a huge issue in higher education,” Brauchle says, “but I think [students] have to weigh the cost with convenience. There’s a relationship between service and cost.” A pricier college might have a larger support staff and be able to answer emails within the hour, while more economical programs might take a little longer to respond. Fortunately, given the wide range of options, it is likely that you will be able to find a program that strikes the right balance for you between affordability and value.

Evaluating cost and establishing value

They say you get what you pay for, but that isn’t always the case with degrees. The most expensive degree won’t always lead to the highest paying job, nor will the cheapest degree automatically relegate you to low-paying work. This section is all about finding that sweet spot between a degree with a reasonable cost and one that will bring you a good, long-term value or return on investment (ROI).

How much will it cost for you?
Once you have figured out the job you want, the degree that will help you get there, and the school that offers that degree and fits your needs, your next step is to look at cost and decide how to pay for college.

Here is a simple worksheet to help you get a handle on your expected expenses:

Cost per credit ______ x credits required for graduation ______ = ________

+ Application fees ______

+ Registration fees ______

+ Textbooks and other ancillary costs _____

Total Cost = _______

If you are attending classes on campus, be sure to factor in transportation costs such as a bus pass, gas and/or parking as well as on-campus housing, food, and entertainment.

Don’t be intimidated if the number is larger than you expected. Students finance their degrees in a variety of ways: contributions from family members, savings, their own income from a job held while in school, tuition reimbursement from an employer, scholarships, financial aid or a combination of all of the above. It is also not uncommon for working students to space out their courses over longer than four years to minimize debt.

Here are some ways to lower your overall costs:

  • Tax credits: If you are no longer listed as a dependent on your parents’ tax return, you may be able to lower your effective college costs by claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which has been extended through December 2017. The maximum credit is $2,500 per student and it can be claimed for four years of postsecondary education for costs including tuition, fees and course materials. The full credit is available to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is below $80,000 for individuals or $160,000 for married couples. If you are a dependent, then your parents may be able to claim this credit. Talk to an accountant if you are unsure about whether you would be eligible for this tax credit.
  • Textbooks: You won’t have a lot of flexibility on the amount you pay in tuition and fees, but you will have a lot more leeway on your textbook costs. The university may encourage you to purchase textbooks online through their bookstore; but as long as you have the book’s ISBN, you can typically do some comparison-shopping online and find a better price for your books.

Here are some strategies to try to save money for textbooks:

  • Rent your textbooks instead of buying them. After all, you probably won’t touch the books again after the final exam, so why keep them around? Compare the cost of renting to owning and decide which makes sense for you.
  • Look into e-textbooks. Find out if your course materials are available in a digital format, as this might be cheaper and definitely more portable than hard copies. The only downside is that you probably can’t resell your digital textbooks; but if you like referring back to your textbooks later, this could be a good option for you.
  • Search online for used textbooks to save money, then resell your books at the end of the semester. (Keep the book in good condition to maximize its resale price). Older editions or foreign versions will often be cheaper, but you may want to check with your professor first to make sure the editions aren’t drastically different.
  • Check them out of the library. If you need your books for just a short time, check with the local library to see if they have the books you need or if they can order them for you. This is also a good option if you are waiting for books to arrive from an online order or you aren’t 100 percent sure you are going to stay in the class. Remember, though, that you may be fined if you write or highlight in a library book.
  • Look for promo codes. If you are buying textbooks online, search for promo or discount codes before you check out. This could give you a discount on your textbooks or score you some free shipping.

Financial aid options

A college degree can cost thousands, tens of thousands or, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, research shows that workers with a college degree can earn significantly more than those with a high school diploma. In fact, the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salaried workers with a bachelor’s degree was $1,108 in 2013, compared to just $651 for those with only a high school diploma.  (Source: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm) The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated in 2011 that an average worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn $2.3 million over a lifetime, while someone with a high school diploma would earn just over half that amount, or $1.3 million.

A look at how to pay for college:

  • 529s: In a 529 college savings plan, money grows tax-free (similar to a Roth IRA) and can be used for eligible college expenses like tuition, room and board, and textbooks. Each state has at least one 529 plan and many offer several different options. You don’t have to choose a plan in your state or the state where you attend college, but some states offer state tax credits or other benefits for residents who invest in their home state’s plan.

    Parents or other relatives can open a 529 plan for a student and contribute over time. If the original beneficiary opts not to attend college, the money can be transferred to a different beneficiary and used to fund his or her college expenses. Withdrawals from a 529 plan to pay for college expenses are not taxed unless someone other than the student or parent owns the account (for instance, a grandparent). If you can plan ahead and open a 529 plan several years before you will need the money, it will give it time to grow and accumulate.

    A Coverdell Education Savings Account (or ESA) works in a similar fashion to how the 529 works, except that Coverdell funds can be used for primary and secondary school costs as well, not just for college. Coverdell ESAs also have maximum contribution limits, while 529s do not.

  • Scholarships: Scholarships are basically free money, so this should be your first stop before you borrow money that needs to be paid back (or even spend your own money). There are two main types of scholarships: need-based (where you have to demonstrate financial need) and merit-based (where you are awarded the money based on academic, athletic or musical achievement). These could be ongoing (where you continue to receive the scholarship as long as you are enrolled and meet certain criteria) or they may be one-time awards. If you receive merit-based scholarships from your college or university, you may be required to maintain a certain grade point average each semester or risk losing that scholarship money the following semester.

    You would be amazed at the number of obscure scholarships offered by local Rotary clubs, alumni groups, cultural or religious organizations and more for all kinds of wacky things like being left-handed, having a certain last name, living in a certain town or playing a certain instrument. These are typically one-time awards — but let’s face it, every little bit helps. Depending on the type of scholarship, you may need to write a scholarship essay (which is good practice for admissions essays in any event), submit samples of your artwork or musical talent or participate in an interview process. Search online for scholarships that fit your academic or other interests, but be wary of any scholarship that charges a fee to apply.

    Many scholarships can be used for online degrees and, depending on the stipulations of the particular scholarship, you may be able to use scholarship money for college-related costs such as textbooks, lab fees or living expenses. In most cases, the IRS does not tax scholarship money used to pay for college.

  • Federal aid: The Office of Federal Student Aid offers more than $150 billion in aid to students each year. Federal aid is means-tested; in other words, you and your family’s expected contribution to college costs will largely determine the amount of aid you get. Students of any age can qualify for federal financial aid provided they have financial need, have not had any drug convictions, are a US citizen or eligible noncitizen and are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program.

Even if you think your family earns too much money to qualify, you should still apply for federal aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is available online and includes information like social security number, birth date, income, assets and household size. However, certain assets like the parents’ retirement plans or 401(k)s, personal property and home equity are not factored into the federal needs-based calculation and are not expected to be used toward college costs.

The FAFSA is your gateway not only to federal aid but also to state and institutional aid (more on those below), and you will need to submit a FAFSA each year you are in school to continue to qualify for federal aid. Pay close attention to the application deadlines so you don’t miss out on financial aid.

Three types of federal aid available:

  • Grants: Like scholarships, grants are not repaid. If you had a parent who was killed serving in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11, for instance, you might be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funding or an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
  • Work-study: Through part-time work-study jobs at their school, students earn at least minimum wage and the money goes toward their education costs. A lot of work-study jobs are on-campus positions, so this option may not apply to online students.
  • Federal student loans: Loans often make up the largest portion of a student’s federal aid package. (See below for more on the key differences between federal and private loans.)

“In some cases, you may be able to take out a direct federal student loan to fund your education at a college and university outside the United States; however, international schools do not participate in federal grants.”

Three more financial aid options:

  • State aid: In addition to federal aid, almost every state education agency has at least one grant or scholarship available to residents of those states. Often, you need to attend a school in your home state in order to qualify, but that is not always the case. Like federal aid, state aid is typically means-tested using the FAFSA. Some states like Texas even offer a tuition rebate for undergraduates. Check with your state’s education agency for more information.
  • Institutional aid: On top of any state or federal aid you receive, your school may have its own financial aid office that awards money to students who need it. Because state, institutional and federal aid are all based on the FAFSA, your total award will likely factor in money from all three sources. However, a school’s financial aid office may have some discretion in awarding additional money for special circumstances. For instance, if you lost a parent or your parent lost his or her job after you filed your FAFSA, these scenarios would significantly change your financial picture. Notify your school’s financial aid office and ask if they can adjust the amount of your aid based on this change.
  • Student loans: In 2012, nearly three-quarters of students graduating from four-year universities had student loan debt, averaging over $29,000 per student, reports the Institute for College Access & Success. Many students don’t fully understand the implications of these loans until they have to start repaying them and realize just how quickly interest can accrue.

When you borrow money for school, you are required to pay back that principal (the original amount borrowed) plus interest (the cost of borrowing that money). Compound interest means that if you start with a high interest rate or you defer payments while the interest continues to accumulate, you can wind up owing a lot more than the original principal. Making interest-only payments during school (if you can) can reduce the overall amount of interest you owe and get you into the habit of making loan payments.

In addition to taking out loans for tuition, you can borrow money to cover living expenses while you are in school, but only try to borrow as much money as you need because it can be expensive to repay. However, taking out a student loan may be more advantageous than financing your education with a credit card, because student loans typically carry a lower interest rate than credit cards and that interest may be tax-deductible (unlike the interest on credit cards).

A look at some of the differences between federal and private student loans:

Federal Loans Private Loans
Interest Rates Generally a low, fixed interest rate Can be a variable or fixed interest rate
Subsidized Interest Some federal loans subsidize interest while you are in school Private loans generally do not subsidize interest while you are in school
Credit Check Federal loans generally do not require a credit check or co-signer Private student loans may require a credit check and co-signer
Repayment Plans or Loan Forgiveness With a federal loan, you may be eligible for an income-based repayment plan or loan forgiveness if you work in certain public service professions for at least 10 years Private loans generally do not have these options

Making a decision about which career path to take and which college to attend isn’t easy, but the Get Rich Slowly interactive tool offers a more fact-based approach on which to start that process of comparing careers and colleges. Coupled with the tips in the article and your own, independent research, hopefully you can move forward more confidently to pursue your education and career goals.

Sources

  • Elizabeth Enck, interviewed by phone by the author on September 10, 2014
  • Ken Brauchle, interviewed by phone by the author on September 10, 2014
  • IRS American Opportunity Tax Credit, updated May 31, 2013, https://www.irs.gov/uac/American-Opportunity-Tax-Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit: Questions and Answers, https://www.irs.gov/uac/American-Opportunity-Tax-Credit:-Questions-and-Answers
  • Employment Projections, Earnings and unemployment rates by educational achievement, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 24, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
  • The College Payoff Executive Summary, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, https://georgetown.app.box.com/s/ctg48m85ftqm7q1vex8y
  • Types of Aid, Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov/types
  • State Financial Aid Programs, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, http://www.nasfaa.org/students/State_Financial_Aid_Programs.aspx
  • International Schools, Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/types/international
  • Quick Facts About Student Debt, The Institute for College Access and Success, March 2014, http://ticas.org/posd/homefiles/pub/Debt_Facts_and_Sources.pdf
  • Eligibility, Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility
  • Federal Versus Private Loans, Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov/types/loans/federal-vs-private

Comments

8 Responses to “Fastest growing careers 2015 – A Get Rich Slowly interactive tool and guide”
  1. Heather says:

    I see a lot of information about how to use the tool, but I do not see the actual tool. Has it been discontinued? Where is it?

    loading....

    • Get Rich Slowly Editors says:

      Hi Heather,
      I apologize — the tool isn’t loading for me, but is for my colleague using another browser (Chrome). We are looking into the fix right now. I really appreciate you bringing this to our attention!
      – Katie and the GRS team.

      loading....

      • Aubrey says:

        I’m using google chrome and the Interactive Tool is not loading

        loading....

        • Linda Vergon says:

          Hi Aubrey,

          You might try to clear your browser history and try again. I also noticed in Internet Explorer that the “Interactive Tool” heading appeared without the tool. But when I clicked on “Interactive Tool” in the “Table of Contents” box on the left side, then the tool actually appeared.

          Please let us know if that helps.

          Best,

          Linda Vergon
          Editor of GetRichSlowly.org

          loading....

  2. Joseph P. McGrath Jr says:

    Are there others out there who owe student loans, struggling financially, and still not in their career. I owe 70,000, have a number of years experience in the Sports Industry in Community Relations, Customer Service, and Merchandise either in the Philadelphia, PA or willing to relocate? Are there contacts out there who can offer contacts I can reach out about opportunities within the industry? Also are there assistance and grants to apply for to get my balance to a zero balance?

    loading....

  3. Leslie Frey says:

    This is a valuable resource in many ways.

    I am concerned that the colleges listed here are only “online colleges.” What was the rationale behind that decision? If I understood that, I would have an easier time digging in deeper.

    Also, there is little guidance given to help young people and adults pick occupations to match their talents, interests, and contributions. There is much more to finding the right occupation than expected growth rate and salary. With the extensive information here, I’m not needing you to go into detail on those issues, but it would be helpful to give some general guidelines. This just so happens to be my area of expertise. Please let me know if I could provide a supplementary piece to compliment the excellent work you’ve done here.

    loading....

  4. Scott says:

    I imagine it is because of the rise of computer software that can handle most of the basic functions. There will always be a need for specialist, but a lot of the stuff can be done by computers or outsourced. These are just predictions, so maybe something will happen in the next year and change everything!

    loading....

  5. Jeff says:

    What the heck. I am used to seeing Accountant on these lists. Oh well. My profession is going to need talent over the next 10 years. A lot of old accountants out there.

    Jeff

    loading....

Leave a Reply

More career & education articles

  • The High Cost of Working Sick (0 comment)

    It was big news recently when Hillary Clinton tried to go to work sick with pneumonia and was forced to leave a 9/11 memorial event. It became even bigger news when every woman in America pointed out she always “works sick” because there’s always something or someone who needs you. Heck, I remember that time when I had a brutal flu and was bedridden, but had to haul myself up and go pick up my…

  • College Grads: How to Increase Your Salary (3 comments)

    My oldest son recently asked: “What can I do to make sure I get a big, fat salary when I graduate?” He’s a sophomore eyeing chemistry as his career. Having spent his summer working nearly 60 hours a week in a warehouse, I think he’s suddenly come to realize the full-court advantage of a college education. So I took his question to the mat. How can a student leverage college experience in order to maximize his…

  • Lessons From Your Summer Job: “Date the ice cream guy” (1 comment)

    Ah, summer employment. Those heady teenage years when you worked from June through August, doing what no adult in their right mind would do, for a wage no adult would agree to, all the while hoping to meet the boy of your dreams. Heaven, right? Well, not exactly. Even with the rosy glow of nostalgia attached, I still remember many of my summer jobs as just plain hard work. Babysitting from the age of 13:…

  • In Case Of Emergency: The College Credit Card (7 comments)

    My favorite scene in the 1985 movie “The Sure Thing” is when John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga are stranded in the middle of nowhere, cold and hungry, and it starts to torrentially pour. Seeking shelter in a locked trailer, John bangs incessantly on the padlock with a stone, while Daphne reaches into her bag looking for lock-picking tools and pulls out … a credit card. “I have a credit card. I have a credit card,”…

  • 21 Ways to Stretch Your Dollar While in College (2 comments)

    The graduation parties are over, and it’s time to get down to business. Armed with a sense of maturity and independence, you are ready to conquer your coursework in order to snare your first dream job. But if you’re like most college students, your pocketbook has nary a dollar to its name. Whether you’re a rising freshman, a dorm veteran or a parent of either, here are 21 commonsense money-saving strategies that can stretch your…

  • Preparing for College (and Life) (2 comments)

    About one month after I graduated from high school, I moved out of my parents’ home for the first time. Freedom! No curfew! No rules! I had been waiting for this day for years. “When I graduate from high school, I am so outta here!” Shortly after moving out, though, I realized I wasn’t quite as well-prepared as I thought I was. One of my similarly immature friends was telling me about a minor car…

  • Layoff: Catastrophe or Opportunity? (18 comments)

    At the age of 50, I was laid off. It was a Thursday morning in August of 2013 and it came on a conference call along with hundreds of co-workers. I had been working in one way or another since the age of 13 — babysitting, apple picking, camp counselor, journalist. It was the first time I had ever been involuntarily out of work. Did I mention it happened while I was technically on vacation?…

  • 8 Tips to Reduce College Costs (5 comments)

    Sticker shock can be a real “wow” moment when parents first consider the costs of sending their child to college. All-in costs — including tuition, room & board, books and incidentals — can range from about $15,000 to over $60,000 annually. Take a deep cleansing breath. Exhale. Have a seat. Take another deep breath and begin thinking strategically. Full college retail price can be financially intimidating, but you can bring your costs down over time…

  • Gap Year Programs: Where do you Stand? (6 comments)

    “Gap years” are nothing new, but it was still pretty surprising when the most watched college decider in the nation – Malia Obama – elected to defer her entrance to Harvard University. My immediate reaction as the mother of a high school freshman was…pretty impressed. It’s never an easy decision to go against the grain of expectations and most 17- or 18-year-old’s reaction to a Harvard acceptance letter would be so long folks, hello Cambridge….

  • Performance reviews and asking for a raise (25 comments)
    This article is by GRS contributor Richard Barrington.

    More and more, companies are dispensing with traditional annual employee reviews. They say this is out of sensitivity to a new generation of employees who find reviews stressful. The real reason may be that dispensing with employee reviews saves companies money — albeit at the expense of their employees. Microsoft and Dell are among the high-profile companies that have made news recently by dumping annual employee…

  • 4 things to do before you ask for a raise (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year — no, not the holidays — performance-review season at work! Now is when many employers evaluate their employees’ contributions to the organization’s mission and bottom line, and then make decisions about raises, bonuses, and promotions accordingly. So it’s a great time to ask for a raise. But if you aren’t able to make a good case for yourself,…

  • What are Pay as you Earn (REPAYE) Student Loans? (10 comments)

    [This is the second installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part I was a best practices guide for repaying student loans.]

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Pay As You Earn (PAYE) was introduced in December 2012 and has been widely touted as one of the best options for those struggling to pay back their student loans. Why is this? PAYE is an income-driven payment plan for federal student loans…

  • How to get an apprenticeship and avoid student loan debt (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Given that student loan debt in the U.S. tops $1.2 trillion and the average graduate owed over $30,000 in 2015, it’s no surprise topics like how to start paying student loans are necessary. However, if you’re still in school or are still saving for college (or you have kids or grandkids in that category), there’s an option for reducing or eliminating the amount of student loans…

  • 7 sure-fire strategies to win college scholarships (26 comments)

    This is a guest post by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. How much can hard work in school and when applying for scholarships reduce the overall costs of getting a college degree? Well, in our family’s experience, it’s amounted to nearly $150,000 so far. (I say that because we have two more children to put through college.) Hard work over the years brought choices Our oldest, Aziza, is a high-achieving, ambitious student. She plans to graduate in four…

  • How to optimize your resume for employment gaps (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    Are you currently taking a hiatus from paid employment? Maybe you want to stay home with your kids until they’re in school. Maybe you haven’t been able to find another job after a layoff. Maybe you had some savings and took a mini-retirement. Or maybe you just wanted a break. Self-imposed or not, taking a break from the paycheck can be scary. You know what I…

  • How to start paying student loans – best practices guide (18 comments)

    [This is the first installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part II will discuss an alternative payment plan, Revised Pay As You Earn or REPAYE.] As someone who started off her debt reduction journey on Get Rich Slowly with some pretty astronomical student loan debt, I’ve learned the hard way about the repayment process. And with school starting up again and many feeling tempted to borrow, I wanted to share some of that…

  • Hourly vs. salary: Which is better? (170 comments)
    This article is by staff writer April Dykman.

    I had a conversation with a friend, we’ll call him Joel, who had two job offers. One was a low-stress 9-to-5 gig, but paid $10,000 less than the other offer, which would require longer hours and greater responsibility. He didn’t like a lot of things about the higher paying position, but he accepted the offer because it was more in line with the salary at his…

  • Strategies for an affordable college education (53 comments)

    As you gaze at your newborn or newly adopted son or daughter, one of these thoughts may run through your head: “Will I be able to afford to put you through school?” “Am I required to put you through school?“ “Right now it’s all I can do to pay for Pampers and child care. I’ll worry about college later.” Time has a way of sneaking up on us. Seemingly overnight, that gurgling infant morphs into…

  • Balancing expectations for bonus-and-raise season (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Megan Wells.

    Everyone’s inner-optimist is a loud-mouth. “Yes, you deserve a gigantic increase in pay.” It’s that time of year when you hear about your bonus and raise. “You’re obviously going to get it. So go ahead. Start fantasizing about it!” That’s just what we do. We see dollar signs and start day-dreaming about what we can do with that extra amount of money. “Which savings account should…

  • The good side of quitting (24 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Does quitting have a bad rap? When it comes to the job market, quitting is happening more these days than at any time in the past several years. We tend to associate quitting with giving up or giving in, so you may be surprised to learn that economists are very happy when people quit. This might be a good time to consider why economists like it…

  • How to minimize your grad school debt (27 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    If you or a loved one will be headed to graduate school this fall, chances are you are worried about more than dorm survival. Instead, you may be wondering how to avoid six-digit student loan debt. It’s a valid fear — no one wants to end up where I started. Fortunately, there are ways to earn a graduate degree while avoiding financial catastrophe. Using myself as…

  • Dorm survival guide — what to splurge on, what to skip (23 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    If you are headed to college this fall (or know someone who is), then you may also be headed to life in a dorm. Like many things, living in a dorm can be an expensive proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you can avoid the expense completely — one good strategy for this is to live at home and attend an online college or…

  • How to homeschool on one income (9 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    When I wrote about the pros and cons of homeschooling recently, I left one major piece of the puzzle untouched: How does a family handle the loss of income if a stay-at-home parent is required? It’s not just the loss of monthly income. The parent who stays at home doing the bulk of the educating is also missing out on some other benefits of employment (employer…

  • Ask the Readers: How are you leveraging personal relationships? (8 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    I recently started a new job; and while I didn’t know anyone at the company prior to applying, that doesn’t mean that everything was one giant coincidence. A few years ago, one of my grad school friends mentioned that he was doing freelance SEO (search engine optimization) work for attorneys. Curious, I asked him to teach me. His response was to conference me in on a…

  • Pros and cons of homeschooling (74 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle.

    What if the average cost to educate a child was over $5,000 but you could drop it to just over $500 per child? According to a really old (1997) report on homeschooling, you could do just that by taking your child out of public school and schooling them at home. Last winter, after several days off school with bitter-cold temperatures, coupled with a few serious cases…

  • When to use intermittent FMLA (10 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Disclosure: I am not an attorney or HR specialist. This is just my experience with, and understanding of, FMLA. According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL) website, “The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides certain employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to…

  • Job search tips that work (19 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    You may have noticed that, since last September, many of my posts here at Get Rich Slowly have focused on the job search. Some of you may have wondered why I would write about such a topic at all, since my job tenure was over seven years. Well, it’s because I have been job-hunting. And I succeeded! As I write this, I just wrapped up my…

  • 10 tips for when you can’t find a job (19 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    For the last few months, I’ve been talking about various aspects of job-hunting. But what do you do if you can’t find a job? OK, you can start with cutting your budget to the bone and applying for public assistance programs if you are eligible. But what next? Well, as with many things, the short answer is: It depends. On what, you may ask? Here’s what…

  • Investigating a potential employer: Using financial metrics to protect your future (4 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    There is much to consider before you decide to join a company. Of course it is important to understand the company culture, the workload, management style, performance expectations, pay and benefits. But you will also want to be sure that a prospective employer is viable. To help you gauge how strong your continued employment and even potential for career growth is within the company, you may…

  • How to interview a prospective employer (12 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Speaking about building wealth, J.D. Roth felt that he could never make this point emphatically enough: “Frugality is important, but if you want to make real progress, increase your income.” It’s in this context that being able to ace an interview becomes a very important skill. And certainly part of the interview process should include your asking questions of a prospective employer to make sure that the…

  • Should I get a part-time job in college? (34 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Short answer? Yes. But that wasn’t very interesting, now was it? So let’s weigh the options for working while in school to get a better understanding of why you should consider it. Working as a way to pay for school There are lots of stories about people working their way through school. Unfortunately, it is becoming less common in some quarters, but perhaps the biggest reason…

  • Flexibility can help you reinvent your career (22 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    I’ve talked about graduate school before, but mostly in terms of how my decision got me deep into student loan debt. I’ve talked less about that decision in terms of its impact on my career. For a long time, I thought my career path was clear. I started working at a writing center as an undergraduate and stayed there for four years. I adored what I did;…

  • Ask the Readers: What are your best tips for interview success? (30 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    I have watched a number of people go through the interview process over the years. For some, it’s nerve-racking. Often, the process is mysterious: How do you know what the interviewer is looking for in a candidate? Do they want someone to fit seamlessly into their culture or do they value skill, experience, or reputation above all else? A few of my friends welcome the experience. Even…

  • How to turn down a job offer (or resign) gracefully (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    So, you’ve done it. You’ve considered all the costs of a new job, networked your heart out, and considered all aspects of your job offer. Now you are facing one of two outcomes: Pull the trigger! Take the new job. Not good enough! For whatever reason, you’ve decided to decline the offer. Either way, someone is going to be on the receiving end of some bad news….

  • What else to consider when accepting a job offer (22 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Let’s say that you and your prospective employer come to a satisfactory arrangement and you accept a new position. Surely you can loosen the purse strings a bit and relax now, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes promises and expectations don’t align with reality. While this can sometimes occur because a company is deceptive, other times this happens because everyone — both employer and potential employee — are…

  • What does it cost to commute? (47 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    In recent posts exploring job searches and the cost of jobs in general, the subject of commute came up in a number of the comments. Readers pointed out that a commute makes a huge difference in whether a job is desirable or not because it has a significant impact on quality of life. I couldn’t agree more. When Jake and I were looking to buy a…

  • Consider more than salary when evaluating a job offer (37 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    Once you have been offered a new job, you might assume the process is at an end. But is it really? Not all jobs are created equal, and the goal in getting a new job is (typically) to improve your situation. So job offers must be evaluated carefully to ensure that your goals, personal finance and otherwise, are being served. Salary considerations The standard advice when…

  • How to curate your social media presence when job-hunting (16 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently, I’ve been posting on job-related topics like networking strategies and job tenure. Because my current position entails working with college students, I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to talk to various undergraduate groups about getting into graduate school. In fact, I’m giving one such presentation next week. Many of the things I cover in such presentations are also broadly applicable to any situation where you are competing…

  • What does your job tenure say about you? (26 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a “typical” career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For…

  • Networking strategies can help you overcome the fear of trying to advance your career (15 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. I’ve written about the power of personal networks before. Unfortunately, lots of people find networking intimidating for a variety of reasons. Certainly, I used to! For me, breaking networking down into a system that I can follow helps me overcome nervousness and network effectively. Here are the two main networking strategies that I use. Networking via “keeping it warm” What it is: Keeping it warm is a pretty…

  • The 9-to-5 job: Challenging how we earn a living (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is Part III in a series about challenging traditional measures of financial success. Part I was The “Ivory Tower”: Reconsidering the college investment. Part II was Challenging traditional measures of financial success: Homeownership.) It was the first semester of my first year of college. My friend and I were driving around our small town, looking for something to eat. But we didn’t have much money, so our…

  • Why I voluntarily slashed my salary (77 comments)

    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. She is currently a staff writer at Money Talks News, freelances for a number of magazines and PF sites, and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com. In January 2007, I wrote an article about being recently divorced, helping to support a disabled adult child and working toward a university degree in my late 40s. “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” went…

  • My unconventional plans to pay for my daughter’s college education (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. I just sat down to write this post a moment ago and literally stared at the screen for twenty minutes. I’m still ready to bolt out the door at a second’s notice, if needed, and the tears won’t stop rolling down my face. But thankfully, these are good tears. My mother told me I might feel this way on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. Like it…

  • Preventing failure before it is an option (29 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Lisa Aberle. When I wrote an article about poverty, I wasn’t sure where Brandon and Leah, the two people I shared about, would be in the next few months. I needn’t have wondered. Turns out, nothing has changed. Despite receiving money from various people for rent, access to free babysitting, and bags of groceries, the last few months have been peppered with evictions, arrests, jail, and now prison. Unfortunately, I…

  • What to consider before you invest in a college education (27 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life working at three universities, wearing many different hats during that time. As you can imagine, this means that I’ve developed an opinion or two when it comes to higher education! Based on what I’ve experienced (and what I’ve seen other people go through), one of the most difficult things for people is matching a degree program to their…

  • The “Ivory Tower”: Reconsidering the college investment (62 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. (This is Part I in a series about challenging traditional measures of financial success. Part II is Challenging traditional measures of financial success: Homeownership. Part III is The 9-to-5 job: Challenging how we earn a living.) Not going to college was never really an option for me. “Don’t even joke about that,” my mom once said when I brought up the idea as a teenager. My parents…

  • Why you must teach your children about money (52 comments)

    Former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman has been researching the importance of teaching children about money, and she asked if she could share some things she’s learned. This is the first of two articles on the subject. Donna writes for Money Talks News and blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com. While researching a magazine article on “raising money-smart kids,” I felt sorry for parents and terribly worried about their children. (Also greatly relieved that…

  • Taking the Chairman’s Flight and other career-limiting moves to avoid (114 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Sam. Sam spent 13 years working in Equities on Wall Street and discusses financial independence strategies on Financial Samurai. Sam is also the founder of the Yakezie Network, the largest personal finance blog network on the web. Working on Wall Street was tough. I felt like I was constantly being hazed by anybody senior to me. “Sam, go get me some coffee.” “Sam, I ordered a double macchiato with…

  • Book review: “Eventual Millionaire” (15 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books and tools out there that are useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be helpful if I shared some of what I learn with you. My recent reviews include “Personal Finance for Dummies, Fifth edition,” by Eric Tyson, MBA. This week, I’m…

  • Get Rich Slowly: The Course (27 comments)

    This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money. Here it is, 2:22 on a Tuesday afternoon. I’ve been up for more than 48 hours straight with only brief naps snatched here and there. I’m exhausted — but I’m happy. What’s the deal? Am I a proud new papa? Well, as most of you are aware by now, I am a…

  • My year-long quest to create a guide to mastering money (25 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money, where he recently wrote about how to be happy. “How would you like to write an Unconventional Guide?” my friend Chris Guillebeau asked me last spring. As long-time readers know, I’ve joined Chris to travel across the U.S. by train, travel across Norway by train, and produce the first three editions…

  • What’s the value of work-life balance? (54 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith. I was really struck by Kristin Wong’s recent article “Overwork and the illusion of a ‘high-paying’ job.” It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with personally, though I’ve seen people close to me wrestle with it. As an attorney, Jake makes a six-figure salary at his new job, but probably works 80+ hours in a week. While this is undoubtedly tough (on his health, on his…

  • Overwork and the illusion of a “high-paying” job (68 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. I recently read a short article in The New Yorker titled “The Cult of Overwork.” In it, James Surowiecki writes: “For decades, junior bankers and Wall Street firms had an unspoken pact: in exchange for reasonably high-paying jobs and a shot at obscene wealth, young analysts agreed to work fifteen hours a day, and forgo anything resembling a normal life.” Reading that, I had a thought. If you’re…

  • A case for “hard work pays off” (42 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong. Over the weekend, a friend of mine came to visit. She’s a career counselor and, while I wasn’t looking for free advice, the conversation naturally turned to my job hunt. “How’s it going?” she asked. “It’s bleak,” I complained. “Oh, I know.” She told me about clients she’s worked with who went on second and third interviews. Those clients were sure they got the job. Then they…

  • Phishing, vishing, and SMShing (28 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A few days before Christmas, I was having lunch out when I opened an email that appeared to come from American Express: “Please click this link to authorize a recent charge on your account.” “Well, that’s weird,” I thought. I hadn’t used my American Express card in several months. I was stunned as I read the rest of the email. They wanted me to confirm a purchase…

  • Ask the Readers: How do you handle irregular income? (40 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. Those of you who have read GRS for a while know that when I started writing here more than four years ago, I was gainfully employed as a writer-editor-project-manager type. I had a steady paycheck, and every two weeks, I knew exactly how much money would magically appear in my checking account. Two years later, I gave up that predictable paycheck to pursue life working on my own…

  • Student loans: Lessons learned, choosing a major, and overcoming regrets (113 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. In 2009, Kasey O. graduated college with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Media Arts & Animation. With the support of her family, friends, school guidance counselors, and high school teachers, she had finally earned a college degree in a field that fulfilled her passion. Kasey was proud, hopeful, and ready to begin her dream career. But unfortunately for Kasey, things weren’t exactly what they seemed. What Kasey didn’t…

  • Ask the Readers: Should you move for work? (37 comments)

    These days, if you’ve got work, you’re among the lucky. And not to be picky, but the sad fact is that even if you have work, there’s a real chance you may be “under-employed” – where you either can’t get enough hours to meet your expenses or the jobs that are available to you are far below your abilities. There are a lot of situations out there: from the long-term unemployed to those who keep…

  • Ask The Reader: What is the best way to save for college? (56 comments)

    No doubt you’re aware of the debt burden facing students upon graduation these days. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the outstanding student loan debt in the US now exceeds $1 trillion. For the 2015 academic year, undergraduates will be borrowing at 3.86 percent for subsidized and unsubsidized loans, but the rates go up to 5.41 percent for graduate students and 6.41 percent for parents who borrow to pay for their child’s college education….

  • Changing careers: The grass isn’t always greener (76 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a decision that will change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. After 10 years in the mortuary industry, we decided that it was time for my husband to make a change. He was frustrated, burnt out, and tired of working weekends, late nights, and holidays. He began to wonder if there was something else that he…

  • Ask the Readers: What personal finance skills should college students learn? (70 comments)

    Last Friday, J.D. asked you what concepts have contributed to your financial success, and you responded with lots of good thoughts. Today, reader D. Post has a question for you about personal finance skills college students should learn. Here’s his situation: GRS, I’ve just about made it through college and am about to start my senior year! I’ve had a fun time at school and still have a good-sized chunk of change in the bank,…

  • 4 signs you’re over your job & 5 things you can do about it (29 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Kristin Wong.

    Over the summer, I read a book that likened a miserable job to hanging onto the edge of a cliff. I thought it was an appropriate analogy. Like most people, I’ve been there, and that’s totally what it feels like. You know you have to let go, but letting go is scary. You could land in a better spot, or you could meet your ruin. The author argued…

  • The Opposite of Spoiled: The Right Way to Teach Kids About Money (61 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. What’s the best way to teach kids about money? That question has haunted folks for decades — maybe centuries. There are dozens of financial literacy programs in the United States right now, but none of them seems to…

  • Book Review: ‘The Money Book for the Young Fabulous & Broke’ (48 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Honey Smith. There are many personal finance books out there, useful to people in all stages of personal finance. I have a lot to learn before reaching financial independence, and the editorial elves thought it would be useful if I shared some of what I learn with you. My recent reviews include “Change Your Life in 7 Days” and “More Money, Please: The Financial Secrets You Never Learned in…

  • Ask the Readers: What would it take to quit your job and pursue your passion? (86 comments)

    This guest post is from Michelle who blogs at Making Sense of Cents. Lately I have been thinking a lot about whether I should pursue what I love and enjoy my life more, or stick it out with my job that provides stable income. Recently, I was reading a post about how one reader quit her very promising and high-paying career so that she could enjoy life instead. After I read that post, I read about how…

  • Time-management strategies for working parents (46 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Holly Johnson. I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “A mother’s work is never done.” This is especially true for parents who continue working after they’ve had kids. Even after putting in a full day on the job, working parents still have a variety of things that have to be done. In fact, finishing up your day job usually means beginning work on a second wave of responsibilities. If you’re…

  • Should you ever work for free? (42 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I lose count of my “jobs” these days: my literary writing (that theoretically pays, or had better one day or else), a nonprofit board on which I serve as president, and the magazine I started last summer. While I certainly put the same intensity into everything, I can definitely say that I work more hours for free than I do for pay. So when I got the advice from a…

  • Reader Stories: How I built up the courage to quit a promising career with a six-figure salary (42 comments)

    This reader story is from a longtime GRS reader Sumitha, who blogs at afineparent.com. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here’s how. I said goodbye to a promising career with a six-figure salary last month. I have dreamed about this moment for over…

  • Career strategies of high earners (36 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I mentioned in my last post that I read Barbara Stanny’s “Secrets of Six-Figure Women.” Stanny interviewed 150 women who earn more than $100,000 annually and sought to find what traits, experiences and motivators they shared in common. Unlike most books, this one didn’t take me three months to finish. It’s a fast read, and I think that has a lot to do with how relatable it is. I’m not saying I…

  • 9 traits of underearners (75 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I just read Barbara Stanny’s “Secrets of Six-Figure Women.” I was happy to find that I share similar traits to the 150 women she interviewed. But there was a section that stood out to me, mostly because I didn’t expect it to stand out to me. We previously reviewed Stanny’s book “Overcoming Underearing.” Guest reviewer Jeremy M. wrote: “[Stanny] learned that the big difference between highly successful…

  • Investing in your investing education: A resource list (23 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Lisa Aberle. Investing isn’t new to me. I opened my first CD in high school back in the good old days of 5 percent interest, and I started contributing to my 401(k) as soon as I was eligible (at age 21). I did everything right according to the articles I read. I: Contributed enough to get the maximum employer match Saved/invested around 10 percent of my income Opened up…

  • A scholarship for small-business folks (12 comments)

    With student debt now topping credit card debt (see page 3 of the PDF), every penny that you can find to put toward education is wanted. We hear a lot about student loans, but not so much about scholarships as a way to pay for education. There are all kinds of scholarships, often sponsored by special-interest groups. Here are a few that Mark Kantrowitz of Finaid.org lists on his site: Scholarship for Left-Handed Students, Little…

  • Ask the Readers: Is traditional advice killing your job search? (25 comments)

    “Vince” was halfway through his MBA program and struggling to find an internship. So, he took his career counselor’s advice and blasted his resume and cover letter to 30 companies.”I just tried to shoot out as many resumes as possible,” says Vince. Nine companies called him back, but the interviews didn’t go well. He only got one offer, and it wasn’t for a particularly great internship. If Vince followed his career counselor’s advice, why was…

  • When you just can’t get the important stuff done (38 comments)

    This is a post from staff writer Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. This post is not for those of you who have focused minds and empty “to do” lists. Nay, not for those rarefied people who go to bed knowing that they got just about…

  • Earning more vs. spending less: The decision (89 comments)

    This is the last article in a series. Here are round 1, round 2, and round 3. The need to specialize I have been wrestling now for some time with the question of where to focus one’s energies: whether to earn more or whether to save more. Of course you want to do both, but to get really good at something it takes time, effort, patience and dedication — just like anything you want to…

  • Should you be a generalist or a specialist? (68 comments)

    Way back in 2009, I read a blog post on whether you should be a generalist or a specialist. Sure, the post’s focus was on freelance commercial writing, but every now and then, I would think about its premise: Can you earn more as a generalist or a specialist in a certain career field? Do generalist careers or specialist careers earn more overall? Is it easier for a generalist to be hired? Or does a…

  • Ask the Readers: If parents are paying for college, are any majors off limits? (257 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jacqueline Whiton, who self-financed her undergraduate education and MBA. She is interested in personal finance and is saving to fund her three teenagers’ anticipated college expenses. After saving since your child was in preschool, you celebrate euphorically when your son or daughter is accepted to the college of his or her choice. You’d always imagined that your math whiz would become a chief financial officer (CFO), but are surprised…

  • Side gigs vs. day jobs (132 comments)

    This post is from new staff writer Honey Smith. If you’re in debt — especially if you’re in significant debt — frugality will only get you so far. To really make a dent, you have to increase your income. The option recommended most frequently on personal finance blogs I have read is freelancing or consulting on the side. Another option is a second job (usually hourly work of some kind). However, side jobs aren’t always…

  • 15 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid (74 comments)

    Timothy M. Hayes, MBA, CFP®, is the founder and President of Landmark Financial Advisory Services, a member of the Garrett Planning Network of fee-only advisors, and an expert in navigating the financial-aid application process. Every January, students and their parents face the daunting prospect of preparing the various financial-aid applications that are required to be submitted in order to determine their eligibility for federal and/or institutional financial aid. Most families find the process, at best,…

  • Review: How I Make Money Blogging (140 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer Donna Freedman. Donna writes the Frugal Cool blog for MSN Money, and writes about frugality and intentional living at Surviving And Thriving. Let me say that initially I was skeptical about both the size and cost of How I Make Money Blogging: The Beginner’s Guide to Building a Money-Making Blog. The $27 freight seemed a bit steep for a 32-page e-book. Then I opened the PDF and began…

  • How Much Is Your Time Worth? (91 comments)

    This is a guest post by Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ. Did you see the Justin Timberlake thriller In Time last year? Probably not. Nobody else did either. Well, I did, I guess. And while the movie wasn’t very good, it contained an interesting idea that I think relates to personal finance. The movie’s plot revolves around a world where everyone is genetically engineered to live until they’re 25. After that, they have exactly one…

  • What Your Loose Change is Really Worth (83 comments)

    For the next week (or two), we’ll be sharing “audition” pieces from folks interested in being new staff writers at Get Rich Slowly. Your job is to let us know what you think of each of these writers. Pay attention, give feedback, and after a couple of weeks we’ll ask which writers you prefer. This article is from Elizabeth Falwell. “You’ve got to look for the date,” my grandfather reminded me as we sorted through…

  • Reader Story: Escaping Poverty (75 comments)

    This guest post from Karin is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. My family was weird. When you’re young, it’s hard to know how a normal family should look and behave. I do…

  • Are You Afraid to Earn More? (137 comments)

    This is a guest post from Rya Hristova. Rya had her reader story featured at Get Rich Slowly last year. She writes a Bulgarian personal-finance blog called kadebg.com. Did you grow up in a modest family? Walking to school or taking the bus instead of having your own car? Wearing clothes your siblings have grown out of, instead of getting designer clothes? Always trying to make do or do without? And now in your adult…

  • Continuing Education May Make You Wiser — But Richer? (100 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. I live in a world in which I am blessed with lots of friends who are writers, but even I — social media maven that I am — would put my writing community at far less than a thousand. Yet a few weeks ago, there I was in Chicago with (according to one estimate) 11,000 writers, editors, publishers, and writing teachers. It was the Association for Writers…

  • Reader Story: I Quit My Passion and Took a Boring Job (245 comments)

    This guest post from long-time GRS reader Knot Theory is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I’m a consumer of the personal finance blogosphere as much as anyone. I support the efforts of J.D. and others who…

  • Reader Story: Re-Evaluating the Rat Race (168 comments)

    This guest post from Joe is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Over the last year, some of my friends have left their day jobs to become a full-time bloggers. Their stories are inspirational, but their choice…

  • How to negotiate your salary (73 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. One of my goals for GRS in 2012 is to write more about earning money. I quit my job a year-and-a-half ago to become self-employed, but I know that most people are employees, and I’m the last person who would suggest that everyone should quit their jobs and become full-time freelancers. For one thing, it’s not right for everyone. It can be lonely, and it doesn’t come…

  • The Best Books About Money (69 comments)

    In my mind, I write about personal finance books all the time. I certainly read them all the time, and I talk about them with the people I know. But the reality is that I haven’t reviewed many books at Get Rich Slowly during the past couple of years. As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking for book recommendations. Last weekend, I sat down to organize my office. As part of…

  • Career Moves: How to Win the Office Politics Game (Part One) (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. “Office politics” is one of those phrases that used to make me groan. I worked in an office from the time I was a freshman in college until I quit my job last year, and let me tell you, I had my fill. I dealt with situations that would make our presidential candidates wince, and I tried many approaches to deal with it, such as pretending to…

  • 10 Career Lessons from Julia Child (52 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman, who believes lavender, chocolate, and honey are the stuff that dreams are made of. Readers, I hope you’ll forgive me for writing another culinary-themed post here at Get Rich Slowly. Last week I wrote about the expense of healthy food cooked at home, and this week I can’t help but to talk about something that’s been on my mind as I’ve read My Life In France by…

  • Why Leaving My Job in Finance Was the Best Decision Ever (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. Ogle writes about travel and entrepreneurship at Location 180. He also helps people build small businesses they can run from anywhere on earth at Location Rebel. This is my third guest post at Get Rich Slowly. The responses from my first two stories — Budgeting for a Lifestyle Change…

  • On the Road to Nowhere: The True Story of My First (and Worst) Job (67 comments)

    It’s Labor Day in the United States, the holiday that traditionally marks the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. Officially, it’s intended as “a day off for the working citizens”. As usual, GRS is taking a short break. This is a reprint of a column from five years ago. Your job is one of your most important assets. It gives you earning power. It can bring you personal fulfillment. But…

  • Five Career Moves with Exponential Returns (62 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. One of my favorite topics to write about is ways to earn more money, though I don’t often cover it here at GRS. As most regular readers know, last summer I quit my day job to work full-time as a freelance writer. Financially and personally, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Nevertheless, there are a significant number of GRS readers who have no interest in…

  • Is an MBA Worth It? (106 comments)

    This is a guest post from long-time reader Gal Josefberg. Gal writes about self-improvement at Equally Happy and healthy living at 60 in 3. I’ve recently hired my second employee, a newly-graduated technical writer who aspires to one day run his own business. He’s proactive, punctual, hardworking and very capable. The mentor in me wants to make sure he has a great career ahead of him. So imagine my alarm when I heard him say,…

  • Reader Story: I’m a Sugar Mama (and Proud of It!) (127 comments)

    This guest post from Kerry is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Hello. My name is Kerry. I’m 26, and I’m the sole provider in my household — and have been for the last three…

  • How I Earn My Money (73 comments)

    A lot of what we write here at Get Rich Slowly is theoretical. “This is how you should do things,” we say. Or, sometimes, the articles are meant for inspiration: “Here are some great ideas for taking control of your finances!” We don’t write as often about the things we actually do with our own money. In the early days of the site, I shared many of my own experiences. I’ve gotten away from that…

  • Follow-up: Taking a 20% pay cut (32 comments)

    I get a lot of requests for follow-ups to reader stories and reader questions. People want to hear how things turned out. Because I want to know how things turned out, too, I’ve started a semi-regular feature at Get Rich Slowly. Whenever I hear back from a previous poster, I’ll share an update so that we can all know what happened. Tim Stobbs wrote in September of 2010 to explain why he loved his 20%…

  • Jump-Start Your Career With a Personal Business Model (10 comments)

    This is a guest post from Tim Clark, an entrepreneur, teacher, and the author or editor of five books on entrepreneurship, personal development, and business models, including the international bestseller Business Model Generation and the forthcoming Business Model You. Clark has shared several guest posts here in the past, on topics like making the most of opportunity, how to decide if you should become an entrepreneur, and more. Clark is also one of my real-life…

  • Ask the Readers: Best Non-U.S. Personal Finance Sites? (52 comments)

    People are the same all around the world. Everyone struggles with the same things — including money. Because of this, financial advice from one country is generally applicable to other countries, as well. Sort of. While general advice is easy to transfer from one culture to another, the specifics are often lost in translation. In the U.S., we have a Roth IRA. But in Canada, they have an RRSP. And in the U.K.? Well, I’m…

  • An Interview with Thomas Stanley, Co-Author of “The Millionaire Next Door” (73 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. A while back, I mentioned the book The Millionaire Next Door to one of my colleagues at The Motley Fool. “That book changed my life,” she gushed. For some people, it really can be…

  • Studs Terkel’s Working (22 comments)

    A couple of weeks ago, I shared an instructional video from 1948 called You and Your Work. This film painted an ideal (and idealized) view of the workplace and the worker’s role in it. But we all know work isn’t really like that, right? Yes it’s important to work hard, and yes it’s important to maintain a positive attitude, but jobs and careers are complicated. They make up a huge part of our lives, yet…

  • The Time Value of Money (or Why 25 Years of Cable TV Doesn’t Cost as Much as You Think) (31 comments)

    This guest post is from Stephen Popick, a government economist and founder of Coffeecents.org, a personal finance program for young adults. Popick is the long-time administrator of the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. He loves coffee, even if his habit will cost him a latte-a-day million in thirty years. Just after Christmas, Carl Hendley of The Motley Fool wrote about his cable bill and how much lost investment income that money represented. As an economist,…

  • The Importance of Salary Negotiation (76 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I have a good friend who recently graduated from MIT with a PhD in something I can’t even pronounce, let alone do. Even in this rocky economy, he has competing job offers. That’s a great position to be in, and I’m happy for him. But when he told me about his options,…

  • Want to Make More Money? Go Back to School! (31 comments)

    Lately, I’ve been more vocal about the importance of looking for ways to boost your income. Cutting costs is awesome — don’t stop — but if you really want to supercharge your debt reduction or your saving, you have to look for ways to earn more money. “That’s great,” some commenters have said, “but how do we earn more money.” That’s a fair question, though it’s much tougher to answer than, “How do I spend…

  • Living Like a Millionaire on Pennies a Day (41 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sean Ogle, a former portfolio analyst who is now pursuing his goals of starting a business and seeing the world. You can read more from him at Location180. You can also follow him on twitter @seanogle. Last fall, I quit my job. As nice as it was to have a steady paycheck and the prestige of being known as a “portfolio analyst”, there was one key component that was…

  • How to Maximize Your Salary (48 comments)

    This guest post comes from Kimberly Palmer, author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, which hits bookstores today. She’s also the Alpha Consumer blogger at USNews.com. Every time I’ve ever gotten close to a job offer, my Dad sits me down for a little practice negotiation session. He acts like my potential employer, and I act like myself. The conversation usually goes something like this: Dad: “Kim, we…

  • College Savings: The Basics of Saving for College (47 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. Got kids? If so, you’re probably hoping to send them to college. And you know it won’t be cheap. College costs are rising faster than inflation, and have been for decades. But that doesn’t mean you can’t afford a good education for your kids, even if you have a modest salary or…

  • Reader Story: Working for Uncle Sam Overseas (63 comments)

    This guest post from Mike is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Traveling to exotic new places is a passion of mine. My wife reminisces fondly over a dinner conversation we had about nine years ago…

  • Growing Your Human Capital: 11 Ways to Boost Your Income-Producing Ability (34 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Unless your last name is Rockefeller, Hilton, or Walton (as in Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart — four of the seven richest Americans are Sam’s heirs) chances are you had to work for the…

  • Book Review: The Skinny on Real-Estate Investing (22 comments)

    Book Week at Get Rich Slowly comes to a close today. Well, I guess tomorrow’s Ask the Readers is about books, but this is the final review. I’ve saved the best for last. Over the past year, I’ve had a chance to read several titles in the “Skinny On” book series. And although I’ve only mentioned them in passing here at GRS, I love these books. Today I want to tell you about them. The…

  • Book Review: The Simple Dollar (86 comments)

    My colleague Trent Hamm from

  • Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity (52 comments)

    In June 2008, a Get Rich Slowly reader dropped me a line to see if I’d like to have lunch. “My name is Chris,” he said. “My wife Jolie and I will be visiting Portland next week. Do you have time to meet?” “Sure,” I replied. I was just beginning to meet colleagues and readers for lunch, a habit that has since become the best part of this job. “Let’s meet at my favorite Thai…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Survive Until I Get My First Paycheck? (95 comments)

    Isaac wrote recently with a question about how to make the transition from college to the Real World. He has a good degree, but it’ll take him time to find a job, especially since the economy is still sluggish. He’s worried about how he should handle is finances in the meantime. Here’s his question: I recently graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering. I’m currently living at home with my family while I…

  • Reader Story: I Quit My Job and Joined the Peace Corps (44 comments)

    This guest post from Bon is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. I’ve always been a bit of a capitalist so to speak, so when I decided to join the Peace Corps several years ago, not…

  • Ask the Readers: From London to Los Angeles? (74 comments)

    When Kris was young, her family moved all of the time. Her father was in the Air Force, so they were rarely in one place for long. I, on the other hand, have always lived within the same 25-mile radius. For 41 years. More and more, I feel the itch to live somewhere new, if only for a little while. In fact, I wish I’d lived elsewhere when I was younger. But moving (and living…

  • Book Review: The Happiness Project (47 comments)

    One of my core beliefs is this: It’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich. My personal experience bears this out (though I’m fortunate to be both), as do the anecdotes I receive from GRS readers. In fact, of all my fourteen philosophies, this one is most important. It’s so important that I chose to open Your Money: The Missing Manual with a chapter on happiness. No surprise then that for…

  • Invest in Your Most Important Income-Producing Asset (18 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. Your net worth is based not only on how much moolah you have in the bank, but also on your human capital — that is, your ability to earn income. “We can think of…

  • Ask the Readers: What If Your High-Paying Job Makes You Miserable? (109 comments)

    On Thursday, I featured a guest post from Free Money Finance that proved to be surprisingly controversial. His five steps to six figures in seven years offered solid common-sense career advice for those looking to boost their incomes. Many readers disliked the post. (Though they didn’t hate it as much as FMF’s previous guest article.) Though I don’t share all of your complaints, I do think some of you made an excellent point: Just as…

  • Five Steps to Six Figures in Seven Years (144 comments)

    This is a guest post from FMF at Free Money Finance, a personal finance blog designed to help you grow your net worth. You can subscribe to Free Money Finance here. Historically, “making six figures” has been to income earners what “becoming a millionaire” has been for those tracking their net worths — a lofty goal achieved by only a select few. And while neither a six-figure earner nor a millionaire can bask in the…

  • Essential Personal Finance E-Books (20 comments)

    A few days ago, I released The Get Rich Slowly Guide to Roth IRAs as a free e-book. Readers who are interested in opening a retirement account can download this short book — which draws from a series of articles I wrote two years ago — and use it as a reference as they work through the process. Though this is my first e-book (it won’t be my last), there are a variety of other…

  • 5 Ways To Rescue Your Rotten Résumé (33 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kerry K. Taylor, author of Squawkfox, a blog where frugal living is fun. On today’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I will be discussing job-hunting skills. First, though, here’s Kerry’s advice about résumés. If you’re anything like my friends, your résumé is probably a little stale and perhaps a lot rotten. I’m sure your skills are not rotten and don’t deserve to be trashed as rubbish….

  • What’s the Difference Between High-Income Earners and Low-Income Earners? (233 comments)

    In June, a user at Ask Metafilter wondered: What are the differences between someone who makes $100,000/year and someone who makes $30,000? As you might expect, this question generated a lot of discussion — all of it interesting. Many commenters noted that, from their experience, high-income earners generally exhibited several of the following traits: They maintain a strong work ethic. They don’t watch the clock. They seek to improve their skills. They do quality work….

  • What is the Value of a College Education? (156 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jason Barr, who writes about personal development at Start Being Your Best. Jason is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post described what he learned from failure. Jason is 32 years old, has been married for seven years, and has a 2-1/2 year old son. He’s now a financial analyst, but he spent five years in the army as a Chinese linguist. What is the…

  • How to Nail an Interview: 20 Job Interview Tips (37 comments)

    After writing about how to negotiate your salary recently, a couple of readers pointed me to another job-related tool on the web. Steinar Skipsness has created a microsite called How to Nail an Interview. Here’s how he describes it: What is it that certain people say or do during a job interview that makes them stand out? Why do some people struggle to find work, while others land a job in no time? I wanted…

  • Starting a Business After a Job Loss (25 comments)

    This is a guest post from Matt, a long-time GRS reader. After earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering, my father joined a large technology company where he did quite well for himself. The company transferred him twice, requiring him to pick up and move his newly-created family across the country. Then he was laid off. Vowing never to let this happen again, he leveraged his network to recruit good people for a new electrical…

  • Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute (56 comments)

    Most personal-finance blogs write about cutting expenses. But you can obtain powerful results by looking beyond frugality, by boosting your earning power. One of the best ways to increase your income is at the source: during salary negotiations, either when you land a job or during a performance review. This can be scary. For many people, salary negotiations are an awkward thing. I was discussing this subject recently with my friend Michael, who runs the…

  • Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (31 comments)

    We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric lately about how this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but even if it were, what would it mean? I have no frame of reference for these sorts of claims. They smack of hyperbole, but I can’t be sure. In my lifetime, the closest I’ve come to experiencing anything like the Depression was during the recession of the early 1980s,…

  • Book Review: Overcoming Underearning (15 comments)

    This is a guest post from Jeremy M, who writes about experiencing a full life at Lucid Living. When I asked GRS readers recently which books they’d like to see revieweed here, Overcoming Underearning was near the top of the list. Jeremy volunteered to review it, so I sent him a copy! Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning is not what I expected it to be. When I read the title, I expected a book about how…

  • Ask the Readers: Is It Unethical to Work a Second Job? (212 comments)

    To build wealth — or to get out of debt — you must create a positive cash flow. That is, you must spend less than you earn. One way to do this is to cut costs. Another is to increase your income. Because it has worked so well in my own life, I encourage people to boost their income whenever possible: ask for a raise, make money from hobbies, change careers. For many, the most…

  • Free Downloadable Suze Orman Book from Oprah (22 comments)

    Here’s a quick reminder that Suze Orman will be on The Oprah Winfrey Show this afternoon to discuss jumpstarting your personal finances in 2009. Serena wrote to let me know that until next Thursday (15 January 2009), you can download Suze Orman’s new book free from Oprah’s web site. Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan features 200 pages devoted to topics like credit, retirement investing, spending, real estate, and “protecting yourself”. This is a real book,…

  • 10 Essential Steps to Take BEFORE You’re Laid Off (94 comments)

    This is a guest post from Kevin Merritt, founder and CEO of blist, a web-based list-sharing and database application. As a nation we have enjoyed relatively low unemployment for the last five years. At the end of 2007 the unemployment rate stood at 4.6%. By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, during the darkest year of the Great Depression. In October of this year the unemployment rate grew 0.4% to 6.5%,…

  • Daily Links: Allergic-to-Bees Edition (32 comments)

    While pressure-washing the sidewalk on Friday, I disturbed a nest of bees (or hornets or wasps — they’re all the same to me). Two of them stung my right hand. Within 24 hours, it had swollen like a balloon. Even after the doctor prescribed medication, the swelling spread to my forearm. It was like I had a meat claw! Fortunately, things had mostly returned to normal by Sunday evening, which gave me time to piece…

  • Phishing Scams in Plain English (32 comments)

    Internet con artists are clever. Even smart people can be duped sometimes. Even those who keep active watch against scams and schemes can make mistakes. As I checked e-mail this morning, I was baffled by a notice from Paypal. “Your eCheck payment of $29.90 USD to jdroth@xxxx.com has been deposited into your recipient’s account,” the message read. But why would I be paying myself? “Do you know what this is?” I asked Kris. “Why are…

  • The Best Recession-Proof Jobs (114 comments)

    In The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets (which I recently reviewed), author Peter Schiff provides a list of the best jobs to beat the economic collapse he predicts is just around the corner. “I foresee the following as the 10 strongest professions and industries over the coming decade and beyond,” he writes. His list: Engineering, because the abandoned U.S. industrial base will need to be re-tooled. Construction, to rebuild the American infrastructure….

  • Ask the Readers: Best Part-Time Holiday Jobs? (77 comments)

    Christmas is approaching, and with it come seasonal jobs. For some, these can be a great way to earn extra cash, which can be used to purchase gifts, to pay off debt, or simply to save for the future. Kathy recently sent a question asking which part-time holiday jobs are best: I am currently employed full time as an electrical engineer making a decent amount of money, but with the holiday season coming up, I…

  • How Do You Turn Passion into a Career? (And Should You?) (32 comments)

    Ask Metafilter is one of my favorite sites on the internet; I’ve been an active member there for years. It’s a great place to get advice on many subjects, including money. And careers. Recently a user named Entropic asked a question about “finding your passion”, which received an awesome reply from my pal Grumblebee. Here, with permission (and a tiny bit of editing), is that Ask Metafilter exchange. Entropic How did you find your passion?…

  • Which Personal-Finance Magazine is Best? (72 comments)

    Beth wrote recently looking for help: I’m a public library worker, and my library needs personal finance advice! We feel strongly that we need to keep a personal finance magazine in circulation, but the ones we’ve subscribed to in the past have been met with the deafening silence of complete disinterest. We’ve had Money for a year with no checkouts; before that, we had Fortune for two years with no checkouts. We’re thinking about replacing…

  • Reader Success Story: How I Gave Myself a Raise (19 comments)

    Jon wrote yesterday to share a success story of personal finance principles in action. Here’s a slightly modified version of his e-mail. I’ve been a reading personal finance blogs for some time now, and one thing I’ve seen repeated over and over is: if you are looking for a raise, the easiest thing to do is to ask for one. I was skeptical of this advice until this last week when I made it work…

  • The Difference Between a Career and a Job (62 comments)

    What is the difference between a career and a job? Trent at The Simple Dollar recently suggested the following dichotomy: A job is something you do simply to earn money; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities. A job has minimal impact on your future work life, while a career provides experience and learning to fuel your future. A job offers few networking opportunities, but a career is loaded with them. When you…

  • 50 Prosperity Classics in a Nutshell (12 comments)

    Earlier today I shared my review of 50 Prosperity Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon. The author selected fifty important prosperity books and summarized them in just a few pages. For each book, he also provided a one-sentence capsule summary. I think these one-sentence summaries are clever, so I contacted Butler-Bowdon for permission to reprint them, which he kindly granted. I’ve reproduced them below, grouping them into the book’s four broad categories. For additional information, I’ve linked…

  • The Informational Interview: A Job-Hunter’s Secret Weapon (16 comments)

    This article originally appeared at I Will Teach You to Be Rich in a slightly different format. Finding a job can be tough. Competition is fierce, and even if you’ve got the skills, it’s a challenge to make yourself known to the right people. According to Michael Hampton, Director of Career Development at Western Oregon University, informational interviews are a valuable networking technique that can give you an edge on your competition. The informational interview…

  • Twelve Top Personal Finance Podcasts (39 comments)

    Update: I really have started my own podcast! I’ve joined Jim from Bargaineering to launch The Personal Finance Hour. Please stop by and give it a listen… Occasionally I toy with the idea of creating a Get Rich Slowly podcast. (A podcast is like a short internet-based radio program. Think of it as an “audio blog”.) I think it would be a great way to explore topics in greater depth, and in ways that print…

  • Reader Story: Beware of Scams and Pyramid Schemes (108 comments)

    In the past, I’ve shared the story of the worst job I ever had. In a lot of ways, it felt like I was part of a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing operation. I’ve been approached to participate in similar operations since then: once by my veterinarian (?!?) and once by a stranger in a book store. Sometimes you cannot tell a scam is a scam until you see it up close, and then the…

  • Robert Kiyosaki: Increase Your Financial IQ (72 comments)

    The problem with the standard financial advice is that it’s bad advice. You’ve been told to work hard, save money, get out of debt, live below your means, and invest in a well-diversified portfolio of mutual funds. But this advice is obsolete — so argues Robert Kiyosaki in his new book, Rich Dad’s Increase Your Financial IQ. Increase Your Financial IQ is the latest installment in Kiyosaki’s tremendously popular “Rich Dad” series of books. These…

  • Life After School: Advice for New Graduates (51 comments)

    On Tuesday evening I gave my first-ever presentation about personal finance. I spoke to a group of about 70 graduating seniors from Western Oregon University. My talk went okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good. It’s a start. I learned a lot, and I’ll do better next time. I was the fourth and final speaker of the evening, though. Before I talked about personal finance, three WOU alums spoke about life after college….

  • Luck Is No Accident: 10 Ways to Get More out of Work and Life (46 comments)

    Some people are luckier than others. How many of you believe this? Why do you believe it? Are you one of the lucky ones? Or does luck seem to pass you by? And just what is luck, anyhow? According to John D. Krumboltz and Al S. Levin, there’s no such thing as luck. In fact, they shirk the use of the word in their book Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in…

  • Uncommon Lifestyles and the Truth About the 4-Hour Workweek: An Interview with Tim Ferriss (41 comments)

    One of the fundamental premises of the Get Rich Slowly philosophy is that by making sacrifices and smart moves now, you can create a better life in the future. It’s a philosophy of deferred gratification. But what if you don’t want to wait to enjoy life’s rewards? What if you want to take advantage of opportunities while you’re still young? Is there a way to do this while still maintaining a smart approach to money?…

  • How to Quit Your Job Gracefully (54 comments)

    Deb Perelman at eWeek recently shared some advice on how to quit your job with your bridges intact. Too often smart employees let their guard down during their final days, and they do things that may actually damage their career. Perelman polled coaches, recruiters, and workplace experts to create a list of steps that can help you leave your job with class: Be sure you’re making the right choice. Sometimes that dream job isn’t. Do…

  • Ask the Readers: How To Find Work That You Love? (93 comments)

    During yesterday’s discussion about the value of a college education, several people noted that it’s difficult to decide what to study when you don’t know what you want to do with your life. This reminded me of a recent question from the Get Rich Slowly discussion forums. Shaun wants to know: How do you find work that you love? It’s been said, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”…

  • The Value of a College Education (140 comments)

    I’ve been thinking lately about the value of a college education. I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Willamette University in 1991 (with a minor in English Lit, and almost another minor in Speech Com). What have I done with this degree? Almost nothing. Yet I do not regret the money and years I spent working to earn it. The financial value of a college degree Does earning a college degree make a difference to…

  • Parents.com Stay-at-Home Calculator (44 comments)

    When a new baby arrives, young couples face a decision. If both parents work, who should stay home with the child? The mother? The person with the smallest salary? Or should both parents continue to work? Often this decision is about more than money — personal values may determine the best course of action. But sometimes both parents continue to work because they believe they need the income. In her book Miserly Moms [my review],…

  • Career Advice for the College Graduate (28 comments)

    This is a guest post from Lisa Lessley Briscoe. My friend (and fellow Bearcat) Lisa writes: “I was just poking around on GRS (I don’t usually read) and noticed that you’d posted an entry for college graduates recently. Funny how summer rolls around and you start thinking about stuff.” She’s passed along some additional advice for those just entering the workplace. Congratulations, you just graduated from an excellent liberal arts college! You worked incredibly hard…

  • Get Rich Quack: David Schirmer of The Secret (37 comments)

    In my review of The Secret, I complained about the get rich quick mentality the book espouses. I was particularly cranky at the financial “advice” to visualize checks coming in the mail. That tip came from David Schirmer, an Australian financial “expert”. Here’s the complete passage from The Secret: When I first understood The Secret, every day I would get a bunch of bills in the mail. I thought, “How do I turn this around?”…

  • Nine Tips For Young People Starting Careers (13 comments)

    Jeanne Sahadi at CNN Money has posted the get-started guide to making it, a set of tips for young people starting their careers. I asked five managers I’ve known over the years and my favorite workplace expert what behaviors and attitudes in their eyes mark a new recruit as promising and promotion-worthy. The following attributes will help you succeed: Be willing to ask for help, but be able to take charge. Employers like for employees…

  • 27 Money Tips for College Students (95 comments)

    School’s back in session, and with it come life-lessons in money management for students. But personal finance can be easy, even if you’re just starting out. You just have to know how it works. All of the following are concepts I wish I had known before heading to college. Money Management Now that you’re on your own, you might be tempted to spend money on all the things your parents wouldn’t let you have before….

  • Free Comics from the Federal Reserve (3 comments)

    Many frugal folks are geeks at heart. Now you can indulge both sides of your personality with comic books from the Federal Reserve Bank! The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has been publishing educational cartoon-style booklets since the 1950s. “The Story of the Federal Reserve System” is one of ten titles currently available. The comic book is intended for the general public, especially students in high school and introductory-level college economic courses. Up to…

  • YMOYL 2006 Review (5 comments)

    This is a guest post by Cat Connor. Every year I try to review the steps in Your Money or Your Life to see how we’re doing.  It’s been about two years since my last review, but much to my delight, I found we are following most of the steps well, and I just needed to update some numbers. Step 1: Making Peace With The Past A: Determine your total lifetime earnings The book was…

  • Why I Love Community College (22 comments)

    Community colleges are an oft-overlooked resource for cheap education. They offer classes from trained professionals and provide access to expensive equipment that you otherwise would never be able to use. I love community college for several of reasons: Affordability — Community college classes are affordable. Despite recent tuition increases, a class at Portland Community College costs about $200. Community education courses (non-credit classes) cost even less. Some employers will pay for classes; my business will…