President-elect Joe Biden promises to tackle higher education costs, by, among other proposals, making college free. But I see some problems with Biden’s free college plan.
This is not a tit-for-tat fairness argument. I’m not saying I suffered paying for higher education, so you have to suffer too. No, I’m saying that his plan gets a lot of things right, but it skirts around the biggest problem with college – ironically, its cost.
There are no shortage of marketers and, let’s face it, parents, telling us that we’re not good enough. It’s easy to fall into that trap, but I’m here to tell you – you’re good enough, you’re talented enough, and, goshdarnit, people like you. You have everything you need to be successful right now and your hair is super shiny.
The internet is a strange and fascinating place. There is a wealth of information, but not all of it good. Lots of people write content just to sell you stuff. And others are just idiots.
Even good-hearted people trying to impart knowledge can only speak from their own experience. The decisions they made were “good decisions” because they worked out. That, however, doesn’t mean you can or should make the same decisions now that they made in the past.
As much as personal finance bloggers like to say that the path to riches is simple and straightforward, personal finance is personal. Most financial advice is wrong because it fails to take into account how different each person’s situation is and how fast the world is changing. No one’s experience is universal, and the lessons that worked for one person may work for others, but they also might not.
The best time to plan to quit your job is when everything is going well. So naturally most people don’t plan. Still, lawyers love planning and many already have the dream to leave their law firm jobs. So let’s do some fantasizing and planning. Learn some lessons from when I quit my job.
Is money ruining your relationship? It’s easy to say that we fight about money because it’s scarce. But unless your fight is about student loans, gambling or property, there’s a good chance that the fight is not about a make-or-break expense. Most of our fights are about our judgements, not our bank accounts. Once we realize why we fight, we can start to break out of the cycle of fighting over money. I’m a lawyer, not a psychologist – so I’m phrasing this as “ideas” and not “tips.” They’re little brainstorms I had after I had a fight about money.
Many people think becoming rich as a lawyer is automatic. It’s not. Lawyers tend to have high salaries, but also high debts. Also, a fine wardrobe and a well-groomed appearance play a much more significant role in success than say for tech workers. These things don’t have to cost a fortune – but they are still significant costs.
Wealth is in the eye of the beholder. Wealth is not just money, but time and a fulfilling life. And as a lawyer, you are not looking for risky get-rich quick schemes. As a lawyer, you have to look for the common pitfalls and try to avoid that.
My story is very boring. I didn’t win the lottery or find some benefactor. I had a high salary, which is in line with what I expected from my degree. Then I lived reasonably but frugally.
I love the boringness of my big debt payoff story. Of course, others can find it disappointing for being so boring. With student loans exploding, people are looking for hope. The stories with the highest debt and the lowest incomes get a lot of fanfare but they’re not realistic. This can be a problem if regular people start thinking that paying off big debts is easy – it’s not. Getting into big debt on a low-income is a disaster. We need to stop normalizing big debt payoff stories and start glamorizing boring debt payoff.
Being bad at math is often used as an excuse to be bad with money. Never mind that one still needs to learn about and manage one’s own finances. Still, no matter how badly one’s math grades were – money is not about math; it’s about emotions and expectations. This is how expectations destroy finances.
I learned long ago that I’m not an organized person. My hands seem to play tricks on my brain and I can never remember where I put things. But I have figured an easy hack to keep myself from sorting through heaps and piles of things – I just get rid of the heaps and piles. I’m neither a minimalist or a maximalist – I believe in having the right amount of stuff that fits your lifestyle. Minimalism helps you find the right amount of things. Here’s how minimalism helps us remember what really matters.
During this time of uncertainty, everyone is looking for ways to save money. Even small amounts can add up to an emergency fund or just that added bit of security we need to get us through. Here’s an easy money tip that has saved me thousands over the years.