Want to make more money? Go back to school!

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 less?” For the most part, we all spend money on the same things. But we all earn money in different ways. We each have different work ethics, abilities, and styles. It’s much more difficult to generalize about ways to earn more money.

All the same, it’s a topic we’ve explored many times in the past here at Get Rich Slowly, in articles like:

If you’re interested in earning more money, take some time to browse through the entrepreneurship archives here at GRS. (It may actually be time to update some of that material so that new readers can see it!)

Today, though, I wanted to share one fantastic way to improve your earning power, one that often gets overlooked: education.

Back to School

When I was sick of working for the family business in 1998 (and it looked like Kris and I might be moving to New Haven, Connecticut), I knew I had to increase my marketability. Nobody was going to hire a psych major whose only work experience was selling boxes. What did I do? I started taking classes at the community college and a local university.

In eighteen months, I earned the equivalent of a computer science minor. I went from knowing only the archaic BASIC language to being able to program in C and C++ and Perl and Tcl/Tk. (And, I’ll admit, Visual BASIC.) More than that, I understood the concepts of programming, which could be applied to other languages, as well.

Although our move to New Haven never materialized, I put my new skills to good use. First, I rewrote our archaic software at the box factory. (For you geeks, we had been running programs written by my father in GFA BASIC on an Atari ST.) Next, I picked up a job programming computers for a researcher at another nearby university. And then one of his colleagues hired me. For most of 1999, I worked three 20-hour-a-week jobs. I made a lot of money — too bad I hadn’t learned to put it to good use.

I’ve heard similar stories from all sorts of people, including friends and GRS readers. In fact, one of the entries in last spring’s video contest came from a woman who is just starting her own mission to improve her education. And she’s doing it the smart way: on the company dime.

Employer-Sponsored Education Programs

In Allison’s short (one-minute!) video, she explains how she was able to take three college classes for only $20.

Not every company will pay for its employees to go back to school — but many do. And, as Allison says, if yours doesn’t, it may be in your best interest to pitch your boss on the benefits of such a program.

At the box factory, we’ve always had a policy that we’ll reimburse for one class per term. But you know what? Few people have ever taken advantage of the offer, and that’s a shame. Even if you don’t use your company’s education reimbursement program to further your career, you can always use it pursue other interests. (I took many writing classes on the box company’s dime.)

So, that’s just one way to earn more money: Better your education. And — if you can do it — have your employer pay for classes!

Note: One of my favorite articles from the archives (and one I don’t think I’ve ever linked back to) is about how to get a college education for $10 a course. You can’t earn a degree this way, but you can get lectures from some top U.S. professors. Actually, this is another article I should update. There are a lot of new, free ways to listen and view college lectures from around the country.
More about...Economics, Education

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