Am I being unrealistic in terms of not wanting to go to college? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 97 Old 12-26-2010, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I might be looking for some self-validation here but I know that I am looking for some BTDT stories.

 

My husband and I are 20yo, two children, not college educated.  I am a SAHM, and my husband works in sales and is commissioned.  We make around $20k a year, and things are very tight money-wise, but we get by.  We also have some credit card debt that we are paying off.  My husband owns a little beater car and uses his parents' old Explorer when we need to go somewhere as a family.  We're currently living in his parents basement and not paying rent (until taxes come). 

 

My husband wants to start college in the summer.  He wants to take the time in the spring (and currently) to refresh his memory and study for his placement test so that he won't get stuck in high school level courses (as I did) when he really should be in college level courses.  His job isn't offering more hours, and since he's got the time, and since we're getting by on his current income, he feels that college would be a good use of his time.

 

I currently have no real interest in going to college.  I love and enjoy being a SAHM.  I can be incredibly frugal when I apply myself (i.e. not get lazy and go buy a bottle of laundry soap because I don't feel like making my own) and I enjoy living a minimalist lifestyle.  I honestly could do without TV, the latest trendy clothing, etc.  I sew, I knit, I'm a great homemaker, if they even call it that anymore.  I can honestly and accurately say that I can hold down a household pretty well.

 

We would one day love to buy our own house and our own car.  We have good credit.  My husband has dreams of living away from the big city and moving to a rural area (byebye Chicago!).  I'd like to live somewhat off the grid ;)  so our hopes kind of go hand in hand.  We want more children (at least three more). 

 

If my husband is able to get a college education and make more than he currently does, would we be able to survive financially if I were to be a SAHM?  Being a WAHM isn't out of the question either- as I said, I sew, knit, and have a love for screen-printing.  I understand that being a WAHM doesn't lead to the big bucks but it can put food on the table.

 

Is this doable?  Really.  Every time I hear the word "college" in a sentence referring to me, I cringe.  I was so over educated when I was little (hot housed, etc) and I really dislike being taught things.  I catch onto things extremely fast and courses are much too slow paced for me.  I'd love to be able to stay home with my children during their childhoods forever- we have hopes of homeschooling (perhaps unschooling). 

 

Way way in the future I'd perhaps like to become a RN and move on to becoming a lactation consultant or midwife, but I'd like that to happen once my children are grown (or at least older than 8yo).

 

Am I being totally unrealistic?

 


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#2 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 05:19 AM
 
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Well if I had to do it over again I would opt for a 2 year local college that gave me some sort of certificate.Like a pharmacy tech,lpn,or person who draws blood/does US. I think a 4 year is good only if it is not just a general degree.Mine was general and useless.I wish I had done social work or RN.

 

I think you can do fine without going to college.I tell my kids to start out with something that will get you a job in 2 years or less.Dental tech and vet tech come to mind as well.Ofcourse you can work at any place that allows you to work your way up.Saw many people do that at the nursing homes I worked at.No college degree for them,but they make better money than me now by just working their way up the *ladder*.

 

The biggest concern with depending on only dh to get a degree is that you could divorce,or dh could die leaving you to find a way to make it on your own. I am there now and that is not a good place to be.I do have a friend that got her LPN in her 50's. I would suggest trying to get something under your belt sooner rather than later just in case.You can still be a sahm,but if say you have a LPN you would just need to do a bit of updating rather than full time classes.

 

Best wishes for you both!!!!

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#3 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 05:49 AM
 
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I think it is a fine plan--does your husband have an idea of what degree he wants to get? What are the career prospects of said degree? Even a liberal arts degree from a decently ranked school isn't a career-killer, but he'll have to decide what kind of career to pursue afterwards instead of just having that laid out for him (as would be the case with a degree in say, engineering or nursing or social work).

The only catch I would see is that it really does place a lot of the burden on your husband while putting yourself at a disadvantage if you were to be separated/single again OR if there was some catastrophe and your husband couldn't work. If your relationship is strong and you truly can't imagine separating, then you might be fine with accepting this risk. Have you discussed what would happen, financially, to your family if your husband became disabled or something that limited his ability to work? Would you be okay with making some drastic shifts in your own life at that time, like perhaps going back to school? I think those two what-if situations are definitely something to think about, but I don't think it means you need to run off right now and get a degree.

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#4 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 06:31 AM
 
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I was incredibly happy as a SAHM for 11 years, living the simple frugal life and things were okay financially.  Then my marriage ended and while things are still okay financially, I do wish that I had planned for an alternate future.  I already had a college degree and work experience, but I wanted a masters.  I could have done one course a semester pretty easily while my kids were small.  If I had I would have the masters by now.  You know, marriages end, people get disabled or worse.  If you are interested in nursing, you could  just take that one class a semester to push you towards the license over time.  It will be easier in Chicago rather than in the country, too.  And medical fields will probably be a good choice for a rural area.  I don't think that there is anything wrong with being a sahm, but plan for a future too.  The other thing is, once the kids are more independent, it can be hard to fill the days and you might enjoy having a career (even a part time one) that you enjoy.  The other thing is if both you and your husband are in school right now, your odds of financial aid might be better.  I had to offer my two cents.  I see alot of women reeling after a happy life of sahm and then a shocking and unexpected outcome (widowhood, bankruptcy, divorce, etc.).  It can be hard when you are in your 40s and worse if you happen to be in your 50s or 60s.  It doesn't have to be college, either, careers come in other shapes and sizes, but do plan for one...  please...

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#5 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 06:31 AM
 
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Not a popular opinion, but I don't believe in a college education just for the sake of a college education.  Meaning, you don't go to college just to have the degree.  IMO, you go to college because you want a particular job/career and need that training for that job/career.  Now, I don't believe that any education is wasted, but I believe you should have a goal in mind and that a college degree should be a step towards reaching that goal.  I don't believe anyone should go to college without a goal in mind.

 

It is entirely possible to make a good living without a college degree.  My DH doesn't have his degree yet, he's still going, and he makes plenty of money to live off of (not with our current house, but he will be making more with his degree, so we are keeping the house and getting by until then.)  I have a teaching degree, but I do not use my degree and when I was working full time, not as a teacher, I was making more money than I did teaching, and almost as much as my DH makes now.  My sister doesn't have a degree and owns her own cake shop.  Plenty of people make plenty of money with no college degree. 

 

If all you want to do is be a SAHM, then I see no reason to go to school at this time.  If you want the degree later, to be an RN or anything else, then you can always go later.  My grandfather didn't get his electrical engineering degree until he was 40, my DH will be 41 when he graduates a year from now, my aunt was 35 when she got her teaching degree. 

 

I do agree though that having a "back up plan" is ALWAYS a good idea.  Starting your own business working from home selling your crafts, getting experience at a part time job, saving money to go to college later, whatever that back up plan might be for you, it's always a good idea to have a back up plan. 

 

One thing I will suggest for your DH...really hunt and dig and put in the work for scholarships and avoid loans as much as possible.  It's entirely possible to go to school without student loan debt, but it does take more work. 

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#6 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 07:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

Not a popular opinion, but I don't believe in a college education just for the sake of a college education.  Meaning, you don't go to college just to have the degree.  IMO, you go to college because you want a particular job/career and need that training for that job/career.  Now, I don't believe that any education is wasted, but I believe you should have a goal in mind and that a college degree should be a step towards reaching that goal.  I don't believe anyone should go to college without a goal in mind.

 

It is entirely possible to make a good living without a college degree.  My DH doesn't have his degree yet, he's still going, and he makes plenty of money to live off of (not with our current house, but he will be making more with his degree, so we are keeping the house and getting by until then.)  I have a teaching degree, but I do not use my degree and when I was working full time, not as a teacher, I was making more money than I did teaching, and almost as much as my DH makes now.  My sister doesn't have a degree and owns her own cake shop.  Plenty of people make plenty of money with no college degree. 

 

If all you want to do is be a SAHM, then I see no reason to go to school at this time.  If you want the degree later, to be an RN or anything else, then you can always go later.  My grandfather didn't get his electrical engineering degree until he was 40, my DH will be 41 when he graduates a year from now, my aunt was 35 when she got her teaching degree. 

 

I do agree though that having a "back up plan" is ALWAYS a good idea.  Starting your own business working from home selling your crafts, getting experience at a part time job, saving money to go to college later, whatever that back up plan might be for you, it's always a good idea to have a back up plan. 

 

One thing I will suggest for your DH...really hunt and dig and put in the work for scholarships and avoid loans as much as possible.  It's entirely possible to go to school without student loan debt, but it does take more work. 



I kind of agree with parts of this on principal.  I certainly would not advocate taking out student loans for an unknown goal.  But if a person has a four year degree in any subject, it is possible to get into grad school and have a professional career.  It can also make a career change more feasible.  I think a good compromise is always a two year associates degree at a community college where at least the basic requirements are out of the way and a trade can also be pursued there.  Too many people go to college because they think they are supposed to, though, and in the process pile up massive student loan debt which can sometimes never be repaid.  I would definitely NOT suggest that for the OP or her husband.  Frugality and freedom from debt makes every goal in life MUCH more feasible.  At my local comm. college, you can take a class for about $300.  Two classes a year, $600 divide by 12, equals $50 a month.  I do think that is a good investment in a sahm's future.  If you can't squeeze $50, make it one class a year at $25 a month.

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#7 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 07:22 AM
 
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If you want to be a SAHM and you can afford to do so, then I don't see anything wrong with that. However, I think your idea of becoming a nurse sounds like a fantastic idea. You can work very few hours as a PRN (as needed) nurse. My sister works two 12 hour shifts and that is enough to get health insurance and a decent paycheck. I don't really understand the sentence you "hate being taught things." Maybe you didn't mean it that way- but I sure hope you don't pass that mindset on to your kids! College is way different that high school, you may enjoy it more. If you want to be an educated person (and have a decent job one day), there is always distance learning. You can earn your degree online. Of course with nursing you will have a lot of labs and clinicals to do in the classroom and in a healthcare setting- but at least it isn't sitting and listening to lectures as that is on your feet learning as you work (which you said you like). It will be easier for you to go to college now with 2 kids then with 5 kids, and I honestly believe that as a mother (and having kids to take care of) that you should better yourself so that not only are you a good example but also so that you can support your children if something should ever happen to your DH.

 

Also, no I don't think being a WAHM and selling crafts puts food on the table. If you are lucky and can sell anything (the market is VERY saturated with tons of SAHMs who want to sell their crafts), it usually is enough to buy more supplies and have a little pocket money. But I do think it is fantastic that you like to craft and want to try to sell your stuff- it is worth a shot.

 

As far as your DH going to college, I think that is really an incredible idea that he wants to better himself to be able to care for his family better! What is he going to school for? If it is something that he can find a good job in, then your dream of staying a SAHM will be more obtainable.


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#8 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 09:24 AM
 
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My mom went back to college the year I started college, to get her BSN. She was tired of working "survival jobs" periodically whenever my father couldn't make enough on his own. She now works 32 hours/week at a high hourly wage and is very happy with her investment. Her advice to young SAHMs with no great passion for a career is to not wait quite as long as she did to go back, but definitely to not feel guilty about delaying until the kids are in school all day. 

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#9 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 09:39 AM
 
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It's great that your dh wants to go to college and be better qualified for a job that will support the family. It sounds as if you are in a good position, with your frugal ways, to support him in that goal.

I also want to second that things change and you may need to be able to support your children by yourself. It's always better to have that option and never need it than not to have it.

If you want to be an RN someday, getting a college education - which you will need - is something you can start working on now. You don't have to plunge into full-time school while your kids are little. But you can take one course at a time at your local community college. That would give you an invaluable head start.

I agree with the pp that selling crafts is not a realistic goal for contributing financially in a substantive way.
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#10 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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I didn't go to college because when I was younger

1) I thought that I couldn't afford it

2) no one else in our family had gone on to college and, as lame as it sounds,  I didn't know how

3) I went to a large regional high school but came from "that town" where everyone was on crack, in fights and didn't finish high school let alone go on to college so I feel like I sort of fell through the cracks as far as mentoring/guidance etc from counselors and teachers. (possible exaggeration but  you know what I mean!)

 

I always felt less than, very small and unintelligent because of it. My goal (if I had known it in high school!) would have been to become an elementary school/daycare teacher/working with 'at risk' kids etc.

 

Now that I'm older (almost 30!!!) I'm fine with not having gone on to college. I didn't really understand who I was back then or where I wanted to go in life. I used to feel that I had to live a certain way or do certain things.... now I'm more accepting of who I am and doing what I love, to hell with what society thinks! The in between years were not so great, working at crappy, low paying jobs, but we bought a house a while ago and feel that we can live comfortably enough on DH's pay. We've been here 15 mths and our fixer upper is almost fixed up enough to think about starting a family. I spend my days working on the house, I planted a HUGE garden last summer (still eating from it and will for a while!) I cook from scratch, knit, sew, craft, shop frugally and do all that other crunchy home stuff. I like living a very home centred life. I'm good with it. It's more ME. In recent years, I've moved more towards the idea of fostering (and possibly adopting) or at the very least, opening a home daycare. I've found a way to do what I want without needing a college degree. I'm not saying I won't EVER go to college, but this works for now. Added bonus is that I don't need to take the time out of my life to go back to school or build up a pile of debt doing it. 

 

My advice would be to do what you WANT to do, not what you feel you should. Also, if you're not planning on having a career for a while yet (you plan on having 3 more kids and not starting until youngest is 8?) then I wouldn't bother going to school now. First of all you might change your mind on what you want to become. Second, whatever degree you get now might need updating later. And lastly, it sounds more like you want to focus on your kids right now. 


I do like the idea of having skills you can use to bring in money if needed. A craft business may be most obvious to you, but I wouldn't assume you can make a ton of money doing it. It's better to have a bunch of things that would bring in bits of money or something more universal/reliable like childcare to lean on. 

 

If you really want to move to the country/off grid, live NOW like it's really going to happen some day in the future. Make that what you study. How to raise chickens, how to plant a garden, how to live off grid, whatever you're interested in. Look up possible incomes, write up a life plan. I used to think that we'd always be stuck in an apartment in town/city and when we finally did move to our house in the country it all seemed to go so fast! 

 

I think it's great that your DH is going to college seeing it seems to be his dream. Good for him! One thing I'd ask is: Is it his dream to move to the country? Will his future career work well in a country setting? Jobs can be scarce! I keep saying we live in the country (which we do!) be we chose a rural/country area that is a 10 minute highway drive from town and another couple minutes beyond that we're in a small city. A happy medium. :) It's not always black and white. 


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#11 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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I feel very much the way you do, OP.  I do have a 4 year university degree, but without further graduate studies (which I am not in the least bit interested in), it's essentially useless.  I wish that instead of the degree I did, I did a 2 year diploma course in something that's actually useful.  I am hoping to go back to school at some point to get a nursing degree or something similar, although, that will not happen until my children are older.  I worry about how I would support us if I ever needed to do so on my own.


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#12 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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OP I think your pretty young and have a long time to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, but if you are serious as a couple about living an of the grid life/rural life I think your SO/DH needs to think about what jobs people in rural areas do. If I was a twenty something male that wanted to live the rural life I would learn a skill that works there (HVAC, being the person that insemenates the cattle, being a deisel mechanic that fixes tractors--DS1 talked to a guy that ran a tractor dealership and he has a hard time getting qualified help for that job which pays very well BTW.  Or a job that is not dependent on living in a particular spot (Web design or something of that ilk).

 

I know lots of people get a single income families to work, but for our household it has always seemed to work better to have two jobs and not be so concerned about having either of them produce fabulous incomes. I mostly have felt that the past ten years I have worked far more to provide ourselves with a decent retirement and less about our present day lifestyle. 

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#13 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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I'm with EmsMom.  I definitely don't see the point in getting a degree when you have no direction whatsoever, but you clearly have some goals in mind.  And it sounds like your opposition has more to do with your past experiences than on the reality of how it could be at the college level.  I get the concern because I was somewhat hot-housed (I was a kid that was WAY ahead and my family ran with it to an extreme) but you can't shun all learning on that premise.  Times change and the methods of instruction & instruction delivery change.  Plus, at the college level, you have the opportunity to actually study something you have interest in.  It's not the same as learning about stuff that has no true connection for you--ya know?

 

Like others, I would really worry about placing the burden of income on your husband.  He may never leave you, but if he ever fell ill or his industry had him out of work--wow.  That would be truly rough.

 

There are certificate programs that you could definitely take that would help you pull in some part-time money now if you chose, or could contribute to your later work as an RN.  Phlebotomy being a big one.  If you could get through the nursing program now (which is usually a 2 year course to get a lower level cert) you might be able to work with a visiting nurse association--taking on just one or two clients (whatever your time would comfortably allow) to bring in some extra money to achieve your goals but also to give you some valuable background for the future.  :)


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#14 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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With limited income to put towards college, it definitely makes sense for you DH to go now since he is ready and wanting to go, and then you going if you want to after he is finished.  Really, if you hate the idea of going to college right now, I wouldn't do it.  It would be a lot to make work with 2 young kids and a DH who is working and possibly going to school too., and I think it would be hard to juggle all of that if you weren't completely behind the idea of the classes you were taking.

 

I got my degree 2.5 months before my oldest was born, and while I'm glad I went to college, I really haven't used my degree.  I got a BS in Spanish, then didn't keep up with using the language and lost a lot, so I feel like I have a degree that I can't really use in the job market since I am not fluent.  A couple years back I did teach for a year, but it was extremely part time (1.5 days a week) and I realized I really did NOT want to teach full time.  My current job (baker) has no relation to my degree at all and I could be doing what I do with no degree -- the person who held the position before me didn't have one. 

 

You might be able to find some local shops that would take some of your crafts on consignment to give you some income, though it would be sporadic.  Could there also be the opportunity to teach some craft classes or work in a store that sells those items if it came down to needing a job?  It's always nice to have a back up plan, but college may not be it for you right now.

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#15 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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I am all for back up plans.  I am also all for a degree or certification that will get you a job.  My parents divorced and I spent my childhood very poor watching my mother work full time and put herself through college, she had originally quit to get married.  It took her 8 years but she did it.   I am not totally for a 4 yr general liberal arts degree these days as it costs too much money and will not necessarily help you get more money in the end unless you have a certain goal (teaching, doctor etc).  After watching my mom I got my masters before I even got married.  For me originally it was insurance.  Now that my kids are just about in school all day I am able to work as a substitute and hopefully in the next couple of years move into a part time job.  It gives me a life outside of the house and keeps me current in my industry.  I do enjoy doing all the home stuff with the kids and our garden and our small farm.  But having a purpose outside of the house has been a wonderful thing.  

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#16 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 01:19 PM
 
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From personal experience, having large amounts of debt from student loans (hey, college is an investment, don't worry!!! :eyeroll) can severely limit your options, particularly if a) you don't want to work full time, b) you want to be a SAHP, c) your degree doesn't qualify you for anything in particular, or d) you can't find a job.

 

I have a degree, and I regret it deeply (well, not the degree, the debt.  Paying for my children to go to college is not an option at this point because my husband and I will still be paying down our own loans).  I'm in nursing school at the moment- while pregnant and with two young children at home-  because I *need* a way to pay back all the money I've already borrowed (and getting more debt in the process).

 

College can open doors for you- absolutely- but debt closes doors.  Don't commit to the debt unless you have an idea of what exactly your degree will get you in terms of income.

 

I realize the above sound pretty negative about education, which is odd because I'm a complete nerd, but I think it's important to distinguish between *education* (which can be mostly fee) and a college DEGREE.

And also, if I had millions of dollars, I would probably do nothing BUT go to school and study one random esoteric subject after another. :)

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#17 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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I would say there's no point getting a degree if you really don't know what you want to do. I graduated high school and started college like most kids at my high school did because that's just what you do. My parents really pushed it for opposite reasons. My dad is a lawyer so he obviously believes in the value of higher education and my mom never finished college and wishes that she would have. So I went even though I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up transferring twice and now I'm a 26-year-old SAHM with around $40,000 in student loan debt and no degree because I could never find something that I really wanted to do. After having my daughter, who was an "oops", I finally found something that peaked my interested and that I actually felt passionate about. I'm now starting the certification process to become a doula and my husband and I are planning on becoming Bradley teachers. I realized something important after I dropped out of school this last time too. I always got bored or frustrated with school because I never had a goal in mind. Without some future goal to focus on, I feel like college can be pretty useless(and expensive). If you can find something that you are truly passionate about that requires schooling, I'd say go for it, but don't go to college just because you feel pressured or feel like you just should.

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#18 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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I do want to add: if you are as smart as you say you are and could get high SAT/ACT scores and pull together some great references AND you apply to one of the top private schools or the very elite public schools, getting a non-professional (liberal arts, even if it's philosophy or Spanish or something that totally doesn't lead you straight into a specific career) degree makes you very competitive for a job. The connections, internships, experiences available at the top schools make you a great candidate in the job market. I think for the vast majority of the population, getting a career-related degree is a good idea, but if you are in that top 2% and can go Ivy League or similar, it's worth it. Plus, the very rich schools have better financial aid packages because their alumni are rich and generous smile.gif Just saying to keep that in mind if you DO get a passion for going back to school in the future and you are worried because you decide you are interested in, say, Asian history or something. I went to an Ivy League and then a top 20 school for undergrad and then the top grad school in my field and the vast majority of my recent graduate friends are doing really well financially, and that's something to say as far as this economy goes.

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#19 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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I don't know if it's realistic, but I never had any desire nor saw any need to go to college.  20's, happy sahm.  I'm good. I looooove learning.  I do not love academia though, nor student loans for something that I have no intention of using.

 

If something dreadful happened, my backup plan would be to move close to family (they would ask me to come home before I even got to asking them, most likely, I have that kind of family) and work ft on a night shift or one of those jobs where you can cram 40 hours into a weekend by doing overnight residential care.  We also have rental properties--I could either sell them or continue to rent them out for income, if we wanted. 

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#20 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 07:48 PM
 
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I never wanted to go to college, but went now and again while working, before I met DH.  All I've ever wanted to do is be a SAHM.  It's been my dream and I thankfully married a man who wouldn't have it any other way.  I will say tho, that my hubby has his Master's and now currently owns his own business (which we love), but that isn't in his field b/c he couldn't find any jobs.

 

I'm not against education, but I hated school.  However, I now have a passion for research :)

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#21 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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I think there are many factors to consider.  What is your dh going to study?  What are the job prospects and typical starting salaries in that field?  If it isn't enough to support you and a few kids on, then you are going to be in a tough spot.  You also are living rent free now.  That's typically one's biggest expense, so while you might be OK on $20k/year now, with no kids and no rent, it might be very different if you had to pay for housing and support kids.

 

Now, I'm not a SAHM, so my perspective is different, but I would never, ever put myself in a position where I had kids and couldn't support myself and the kids.  Marriages fail, people leave, people die, etc.  While we wouldn't have the same standard of living without both our incomes, I could support the kids if I had to.  That is very important to my peace of mind.

 

I work in higher ed.  I wouldn't take out loans for going to college if it weren't to study something that would lead to decent employment.  You can, however, study some things that lead to an associate's degree and reasonable starting salaries, that I think are well worth it.  Many of the allied health fields, for example, make reasonable money with an AA.

 

I don't know anyone who has made any appreciable money selling crafts as a WOHM.  I do know many women who do it, but it doesn't bring in much at all.  Very few people are willing to pay enough for crafts or handmade products to make it a going proposition for most folks.

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#22 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 09:11 PM
 
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I think your Dh going to college is a great idea.  You would be surprised the difference that even just being able to put "some college" on job applications makes before he completes his degree.  

 

Since you do see yourself eventually going back to school, you might look into taking distance learning classes now.  If you take one a semester for the next 8 years, while you do the Sahm thing, you'll have only about 2 left to get a 4 year degree.


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#23 of 97 Old 12-27-2010, 09:42 PM
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It's not crafts, precisely, but my dh brings in decent money as a freelance illustrator.  For years, this was a lot like being unemployed.  He's done much better the last couple years - the long, lean years of building up connections and creating a market for his services have finally paid off.  This means that, although he is a WAHP, he Ws full time AH and doesn't have so much time for P.  Part of his income pays for the daycare that keeps our 3yo dd from dismantling his work computers with her toothbrush and shutting the whole business down.  His long-term plan involves working from 5 am to 3 pm, with a "lunch break" from 7-8 during which he will see the kids off to school.  He's hoping to have that in place by the time our youngest is 6.  Working part time hours has typically been bad news for his business - it means reduced need for his services and a great deal of difficulty finding paying contracts. 

 

While freelance illustration is not precisely like, say, selling one's knitting on Etsy, I think there are some crucial similarities.  Like any other business, it takes time to build clientele.  Once you've done that, you can't really afford to let it go - all those people will find another service provider and you will lose their business and likely not get it back again when you want it.  So even though you are your own boss, you can't really switch from full-time to part-time work at will.  Freelancers don't get employment benefits, like payroll deductions, unemployment and health insurance. 

 

Obviously, this has worked out fine for my family.  I won't recommend against it.  I will say, though, that it works because dh treats it like a business, not like a hobby that occasionally buys some groceries.  As long as you have your eyes wide open going in, you should be able to make it work. 

 

I don't know that you would need a full college degree for that, but some courses in marketing, accounting, and whatever it is you're wanting to do wouldn't hurt.

 

With two kids, your dh should qualify for some decent financial aid.  Almost any degree will qualify him for higher paying jobs.  There are a lot of educational options in the Chicago area.  With his earnings as reported, you're not just saving money by living with family rent-free - in your area, you have no other choice.  It might make your life more difficult for a while, but a college degree will be worth the short-term sacrifice. 

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#24 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 09:26 AM
 
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If things are tight for you when you're not paying rent, it makes a lot of sense that your DH wants to increase his income. Even off the grid houses have roofs that require repairs, not to mention testing the well water and getting the septic system cleaned out.

 

I agree that taking out big loans is not a good idea. But if he stays in sales, chances are good there will be opportunities in his future where a degree really helps - it might be a higher-level sales job, selling something within a company that requires them, or moving into something like a sales manager/regional manager/director role. He is being pretty smart about it.

 

As for you - I personally believe each parents should be within striking distance of every role in the family, and that includes putting food on the table. I agree that a class a semester, if you can swing it, is a great investment in some peace of mind, particularly if it's in something like an allied health field. But do look into salaries and stuff beforehand.


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#25 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by EFmom View Post

I think there are many factors to consider.  What is your dh going to study?  What are the job prospects and typical starting salaries in that field?  If it isn't enough to support you and a few kids on, then you are going to be in a tough spot.  You also are living rent free now.  That's typically one's biggest expense, so while you might be OK on $20k/year now, with no kids and no rent, it might be very different if you had to pay for housing and support kids.


This is what sticks out the most from the OP's post. I honestly cannot imagine trying to raise my children on $20,000 a year, and I oppose getting public assistance just because you don't want to get a job. (Yeah, not PC, but there is it.) Even in a rural area, you're going to be spending at least $400 a month on housing. Assuming you have no tax liability, that's 25% of your husband's pay. If you're in a rural area, you MUST have a car. When you're 20 miles from the grocery store, there's no public transportation, and walking or biking with children just isn't feasible. Begin RIGHT NOW pulling enough out of your husband's pay to cover the additional expenses you'll have when you're independent and then see how that works for 6 months. Then you'll begin to get an idea of whether living off $20K a year is feasible for you.

 

As your children age, they will need and want things, and you won't even have the opportunity to decide on those things. You'll have to say no out of necessity.

 

IMO, you're putting a tremendous burden on your husband and also counting on energy levels and luck to get you through. Whether you can make it shouldn't be dependent on whether you get a chance to make laundry detergent. What if you get the flu? What if one of your girls is really sick or injured? No laundry detergent because you can't afford to buy it and don't have time to make it...

 

If you're planning to live a rural life, I'm assuming you will garden. What about years when there are droughts? What about when you're on a learning curve, and the potatoes you had hoped would help you survive don't make it?

 

I don't think college is necessary if you don't want to go and have goals that can be met elsewhere. I also don't think that you have a realistic picture of what it's like to live on your own because my understanding of your situation is that you haven't ever completely supported yourselves. You're rent-free and also use someone else's kitchen, so you don't know what your energy expenses are. I think it's probably good for you & your husband to sit down and figure out a long-term plan with help from someone who can give you an accurate idea of what living expenses in your area might be. 


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#26 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 09:30 AM
 
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I agree that taking out big loans is not a good idea. But if he stays in sales, chances are good there will be opportunities in his future where a degree really helps - it might be a higher-level sales job, selling something within a company that requires them, or moving into something like a sales manager/regional manager/director role. He is being pretty smart about it.

 


He shouldn't need loans if he makes that little money. He should be able to get grants for pretty much the entire cost of school unless he's going to a really expensive private school (which I think would be a bad idea in this case).


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#27 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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He shouldn't need loans if he makes that little money. He should be able to get grants for pretty much the entire cost of school unless he's going to a really expensive private school (which I think would be a bad idea in this case).

 

Agreeing:  $20k/year with 3 dependents?  Hopefully most of it will be covered by grants.  Thankfully you're married, because when I was under 24yo and tried to apply for loans as an independent--you couldn't unless you were married or could prove your parents were dead.  Didn't matter if you could show tax returns for you AND your parents showing your independence.  irked.gif

 

But also agreeing to look at the starting salaries of new grads in his field of study.  Then look at the salary ranges without doing any further education.  Are these worth what he will go through to get the degree?  Because having been a working adult trying to finish my own degree with the tail end of it just after my first child's birth, the 15 year journey was HARD.  Doing my Master's was a little different because they're shorter programs and frankly, I wouldn't have finished that as quickly if not for it being a teaching program where they combined all of the classes and got you through 15 credits in a year as if you were full-time; but a lot of the Master's programs are like that.  Bachelor's programs are like that for people trying to finish what they've started (where you already have 60 credits).

 

So it will be a while before he even finishes.
 


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#28 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 10:14 AM
 
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I am originally from Chicago, spent the first 30 years of my life there and did my undergrad there. For starters with a family income of 20K and 2 kids unless he goes to one of the private schools like U of C, Northwestern, etc he won't need much in terms of loans. Frankly he can start at one of the city colleges (community college) and with a Pell Grant that should fully cover his cost. If after he gets his AA or AS he can either transfer to UIC again a state school and by the end he really shouldn't need more than 10G for loans, if that.

 

As far as you, not to be patronizing but at 20 you are still young enough that down the road you may change your mind. At 18 I didn't want to go to college instead I got married and had a baby, that marriage ended not long after my son turned 1 and I had to be able to support myself. It was hard and eventually I did go to college and eventually grad school because while college is no guarantee of anything anymore for the work I do, a degree matters. I also know too many women in my peer group who have had marriages/relationships crash and burn and almost all are struggling to go back to school later in life be it a certificate program or degree. It's hard. So while you need not rush to make a career decision you should stay open to it.

 

Good luck!


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#29 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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1) 20k a year is not going to be enough to raise 5 kids on- unless you also own land free and clear on which to make a living with your own hands. Or have a guarantee of never having to pay for housing, ever in your whole lives (and can live under such circumstances.)

 

2) a DH who wants to go to school should be strongly supported. Like others said, help him pick something useful and with the best/most portable job prospects

 

3) Supposing your ultra minimalist lifestyle can stretch things oh so thinly and you can raise the kids on the very low income, your DH cannot retire. He will work until he is completely disabled by aging, and you will be living your old age with nothing- and I don't mean no entertainment/laundry detergent nothing, I mean in the cheapest nursing home out there... unless your kids go to school and do well and can pay out of pocket for said old age. And that is a whole 'nother ball of wax. 


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#30 of 97 Old 12-28-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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I always wanted to be a SAHM, my mother was one, now that the kids are gone she is a housewife. One thing that I knew I had to have was a back up plan, life isn't always fair and I need to know I can support myself and children. I don't worry about Dh running off with another woman, if he dies then yes we have a hefty life insurance policy on him but it won't last forever, and what if he gets in a car crash tomorrow on the way to work and is *just* disabled and unable to work? I did have children young as well, my first was at 20, but I am also an RN. I didn't work for a few years but made sure to keep my skills marketable, and continued my education. I got a job offer in 2009 in my speciality and went back to work *very* part time more to keep in foot in the door then for the money. I couldn't see in this economy turning down a job. I plan to continue like this, some months I work more then I want to, other months I might work 8 hours. I still worry about my mom, their main house is paid off and they have a storage unit business that will be paid off soon but my dad is one that earns the real money. He doesn't believe in insurance, and if he dies tomorrow she will not have enough to live off of for the rest of her life. She has no skills or work experience to make any real money. 


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