How Much Is Too Much To Spend On Knowledge?
How much money would you pay for a book that you knew would help you?
For me, I don’t even look at the price. But it wasn’t always that way. After you spend a few hundred thousand dollars on education, the difference between $5 and $500 doesn’t seem that much any more.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very frugal. I can’t even get myself to buy a bottled water from Starbucks anymore. Not when I can fill my own up from home or get an ice water in a glass for free. I am not cheap, but I am frugal when it comes to unnecessary spending.
What is not unneccessary, however, is my education. I have never shied away from throwing money at it. But more important than throwing money at it, is implementing lessons learned IMMEDIATELY.
I attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a resident of Arizona. This means I paid out of state tuition. We were on the quarter system, but really it was more of a trimester system, with summer school option split in two. Confused? Don’t worry about it.
My main point is that each ‘trimester’ was about $13,000-$15,000 each, times three… times 4 years in college. Yes, that is a lot of dollars. And when you are 18-22 years old, it all feels like monopoly money anyway since its borrowed money with a government guarentee at a low interest rate that didn’t start accumulating until I graduated college anyway. At 18 years old that seemed like 100 years away.
A quick 4 years later and Oh My F*%$&ing God I owe how much?
Was College Worth It?
If you ask James Altucher, he will tell you “Don’t Send Your Kids To College.”
His reasoning in a nutshell, college is getting too expensive, and the cost benefit of going to college is completely out of whack. Its hard to disagree as the government has guarenteed student loans, it has made student loans easier to get, which has caused colleges to raise their tuition, which has caused students to pay more because they can easily borrow.
Yes, if this sounds like the recent Housing Bubble you are correct, but thats a whole other story I am happy to discuss with anyone (Twitter: @Skyler_Irvine)
But I have learned that there isn’t one solution for everyone. Its all a case by case basis.
If you want to be a doctor, you NEED college. A lot of it.
If you want to start a business, business school may help you, but you do not need it.
If you want to be a plumber, you need to get licensed as a plumber, and you do not need 4 years of college to do so.
What is it you want? The biggest problem with our current system is that an 18 year old doesn’t know what they want. I sure didn’t. I knew I wanted to be happy, that was it. I was aware of the fact that many, if not most, adults are unhappy around the 45 year old mark. I didn’t want to be one of these people.
For me, I went to a college that was closer to paradise than it was to ‘career preperation’. But for me, someone who wanted to be happy, I realized what made me happy. Having free time to learn the hobbies and subjects I enjoyed, being close to the beach, and not setting an alarm in the morning. Simple things.
Sure, it didn’t make me a great college student by any means, but boy was I happy. Until my junior year when I realized I was on pace to graduate in 5 years. Remember when I said how much money school was costing me? Short answer: A LOT!
So what did I do? I maxed out units for 2 summer sessions while everyone else I knew was getting drunk on the beach, then I maxed out the next 2 trimesters while again, everyone was getting drunk on the beach (Did I mention I went to college in paradise? And don’t take this tone as condenscending as I spent my first three years getting drunk on the beach.)
Then with only one trimester to go until graduation I had enough units to double major in Global Studies: Sociopolotical and Economic Relations, and History.
I literally did more in that last year in college than I did in my first three. Its somewhat depressing to think back on, but in regards to shaping me as a person I needed all of those 4 years. But did I need to pay so much money for it? Maybe, maybe not. I can admit I was too entitled and proud to go to a community college (WAY CHEAPER) for two years, but in the long run how much of an economic impact would that have had on me? Maybe it would have hurt me in the long run.
My whole life I was told to get good grades in school so I could get into a good college and then get a good job. I did all those things, minus the good grades in college. But guess what, no one ever asked me for my GPA when I was looking for work. I assume there are many positions out there that do, but I never came accross it personally.
Enter post college, cerca 2007 and I got one of those jobs I had heard so mcuh about my whole life. Decent salary, great benefits, and a travel stipend. That travel stipend ended up being a game changer as I didn’t know it at the time but I would be travelling quite a bit for this job I grew to despise.
The idea of travelling for work sounds exotic, but for the wrong company it sucks. I was at the wrong company for travel. I would recevie about $60 a day from my company any time I was not staying in my own apartment that night. This was in addition to my rental car (paid by company) and hotel (paid by company)
At first I maxed that $60 out every time on steak dinners or cocktails, but eventually I just started being frugal and put that extra money away for future Skyler. When you spend a lot of time on the road staying in crappy hotels, its pretty easy to be frugal.
I would travel for about 2 and a half to 3 weeks per month. That was about an extra $1000/month that I just invested and didn’t think about again. I had a salary and benefits and now an investment account.
Fast forward to peak recession and I am laid off. Have you seen the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney? Yes, that is real. And yes that happend to me. Except it wasn’t George Clooney that did the firing. That would have been weird if it was though.
What Does Working Have to Do With Education?
Great question, and I am glad you asked it!
I spent A LOT of money in college and got a ‘degree’ that was definitely not worth what I paid for it in terms of monetary value. But I learned a LOT about life, myself, relationships, networking, working with team and then working my ass off by myself to achive a goal (graduating on time for example). These were very important life lessons that I maybe could have learned elsewhere, but I will never know for sure.
Then I got a job in the real world. Although I hated it, I learned A LOT! I learned a lot about traveling the country on my own, going through airports, finding rental cars, navigating in strange cities. I learned about building codes, how they vary from city to city, what makes property valuable, how owners of buildings act compared to employees of buildings. I learned a lot to say the least. But this time I was paid for this knowledge.
At the time I thought I was starting a career in business marketing and environmental consulting, but in hindsight it was just more education. Education I was paid for.
Should You Got To College?
This is a tough question to answer because everyone is different. I got a traditional college education in just over 1 year, but it took me 4 years of tuition. I learned a lot about the business world in just 2 years working for a big company. The big company paid me to learn while I paid college to learn.
Since college and that first job, I have started several companies. One company I lost over $100,000 in less than 18 months. Guess how much I learned during that period? Enough to last the rest of my life! In fact, I am now making money today from lessons learned from that company.
After my first company hit it big around 2008-2009 I paid off all of my college debts and then invested in more school. This time I spent over $30,000 to attend Robert Kiyosaki’s Real Estate School. Some consider these a scam, and others have turned this education into a big money making business. I chose the latter.
All in all, I have spent several hundred thousand dollars in education. And I continue to invest today. If someone I trust tells me a book will help me make more money, I will not look at the price of the book. It doesn’t even cross my mind. I easily spend over $500 a month buying books and ebooks on Amazon. I can’t go through a Barnes and Nobel without spending a few hundred bucks.
What Have I Learned By Spending Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars on Education?
Short answer is that I have learned everything I need to know to get to where I am today. And I am happy today. Its all I have ever wanted.
But that doesn’t mean I am going to stop learning. Before its all said and done I will easily eclipse $1 Million in education. How can I justify it?
Because the return on investment in my education is the best return I have ever gotten. Just don’t confuse college with education. College today is a luxury. It is not needed. It can help. But it isn’t a requirement for success, depending on how you define success.
You have access to the internet. You can take classes on youtube. You can download free books, or go to the library. You can go to a 2-year trade school.
College was a good investment for me, and maybe for most people. But it can be a huge weight on someone’s shoulders if they are just trying to buy some time to find themselves.
Find yourself on a trip around the world. Or start a business and try and turn a profit. Seriously, do you know how difficult it is to turn a profit with a new business?
The person that says “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life,” was lying. You will work. Many days. We all have to work. Just know what your end goals are from day one, and work TOWARDS them.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I just want to be happy. To me, that means no debt, freedom to learn the hobbies and skills I choose, not setting an alarm clock in the morning and time to spend with my family and travel. At 30 years old, just 8 short years removed from college, I can say that I am happy.
What makes you happy?
What did you think? Like This? Hate This? Let Me Know!