24 Year Old With Options

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KeystoneK
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Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:38 pm

24 Year Old With Options

Post by KeystoneK » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm

Hello everyone. I have been reading this forum and wiki for the last 8 months and have learned so much. I graduated from college in May of 2018 and have been working on getting my life/finances in order. Looking for some guidance on my next steps after I completed my goal of an emergency fund. There are a few questions at the bottom of this that fall into the range of Personal Finance (rule breaking!), but I wanted to keep it in one thread.

Age: 24 (Male)

Salary: $58,500

Career: Supply Chain Management (Salary outlook is good! Likely would never make more than $150,000 unless I really move up the ladder)

Location: Chicago, IL.

Goal: Living frugally while not missing out on experiences and retiring “early” at 50. In reality, I would like to go back to school at some point for a Masters and be an adjunct Professor in "retirement."

Roth IRA ($6,000)
- 25% US Large Cap (Fidelity ZERO Large Cap Index Fund)
- 50% US Small/Mid Cap (Fidelity ZERO Extended Market Index Fund)
- 25% International (Fidelity ZERO International Index Fund)

Traditional 401K with 6% match ($2,500 right now)
- 10% US Bond at 0.020% tracking Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond TR
- 50% US Large Cap Equity Index Fund at 0.010% tracking Russell 1000 TR
- 40% US Small/Mid Cap Equity Index Fund at 0.075% tracking Russell 2500 TR

Emergency Fund (1 year)
- $16,500 in Ally in a savings account returning ~2.1%
- $5,000 in Checking/Savings at Bank of America

Debt ($20,200 in total student loans)
- $3,400 @ 3.61%
- $2,266 @ 3.61%
- $5,242 @ 3.51%
- $2,053 @ 3.51%
- $5,243 @ 4.2%
- $1,994 @ 4.2%

Expenses ($1,800 a month)
- Not going to breakdown entirely, but I spend a total of $1,800 a month living in Chicago. This includes everything from rent, student loans, car, food, etc… I believe I can cut this back to $1,500 if I cut back on some poor spending habits. In the next year, I expect to no longer have roommates which will bump my total expenses up about $400.

____________________________________

Now that I have hit my goal of maxing out my Roth IRA for the year and creating a 1-year emergency fund, I am at an impasse on what to do next. From reading this forum over the last few months, I expect to hear that there won't be a "bad" decision to make. However, I wouldn't mind reading the comments from people with more experience.

My two options are below:
1) Begin maxing my 401K + my Roth IRA. Which is the equivalent of a 43% savings rate on gross income.
2) Continue paying into the 6% match for my 401K, contribute max to Roth IRA annually, and then begin to pay down student loans.

Outside of that big question, I have a few small ones.
1) Is a Traditional 401k the safe way to go? This is assuming I do not know if I will be making more in the future or if taxes will be higher. Is a Roth 401k a better option if I continue living in Illinois for the long term?
2) When saving for something other than direct index investing (family car, house, etc.) and it requires diverting funds from investing, what accounts should you reduce spending on? Would 401k be the first?
3) If you are unsure where you will ultimately spend your life, is buying a home still a good idea?
4) If I were to go back to school for a Master's degree, does the schools ranking really matter if my plan is to use the degree to teach?

Thanks ahead of time. :sharebeer

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Watty
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by Watty » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:44 pm

You are doing fantastic.
KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
1) Is a Traditional 401k the safe way to go? This is assuming I do not know if I will be making more in the future or if taxes will be higher. Is a Roth 401k a better option if I continue living in Illinois for the long term?
The Traditional 401k is great for you now. One thing I did that worked well for me when I was a bit older for you was that I committed to myself to save half of any future pay increases that I got. I was able to stick with that for a long time and it was painless because I never got used to the money. If you can do that then by the time you are in your 30s you can be saving up a large percentage of your income. Note: saving can be more than just for retirementment account since saving up for something like a house downpayment or your next car would also count.

There are lots of opinions on when to use a Roth but with you being single and filing in the single tax brackets you get into the higher tax brackets real quick. There is a good chance that you will eventually get married and be filing in the lower married tax brackets and have plenty of time to make Roth contributions then. If you go back to school or retire at 50 you may be able to even structure your income so you can do Roth conversions in the 0% federal tax bracket.

I would guess that you are on the borderline of the 12 and 22 percent federal tax brackets now so it would would be good to contribute enough to get your employer's 401k match and get down into the 12% federal tax bracket but after that I would focus on paying off your student loans.
KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
2) When saving for something other than direct index investing (family car, house, etc.) and it requires diverting funds from investing, what accounts should you reduce spending on? Would 401k be the first?
Your net worth is the same whichever you do and you have great options in your 401k so it really does not matter much.

One thing I have done for years was to make a simple spreadsheet with my net worth that I update each year on January 1st. That way I can see how my net worth is progressing regardless of which account I put the money in or if I used the funds to do things like pay down my mortage. It would be good for you to start doing that.
KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
3) If you are unsure where you will ultimately spend your life, is buying a home still a good idea?
There is no hurry to buy a home and lots of good reasons not to buy one until you are around 30 or even older.

One big consideration is if you don't own a home it will be a lot easier to relocate for a job or go back to school if you want to. There have been a number of times when I have seen job offers or promotions go to someone because they could easily relocate. In one extreme situation someone was promoted for an unexpected and urgent opening for a facility manager position on a Wednesday because they could be in a different state on Monday. They came back a few weeks later to pack up their apartment.

Even if you don't have something as dramatic as that you could get a great job offer on the other side of town that would result in a terrible commute if you owned a house. With an apartment you could more easily move.

Quirkz
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by Quirkz » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:02 pm

Looks like you're starting off well.

After making sure you've got some investments, prioritizing paying off the loans seems to be the next good choice.

Normally I favor Traditional over Roth for investments, but you're in a position where the Roth (or a blend of the two) *might* make sense, if you've got enough deductions to stay fully into the 12% bracket. As your earnings rise and you're solidly into the 22% bracket (or if you're already there), Traditional becomes the more clear winner in my mind.

Regarding the student loans and taxes, make sure you're taking the deduction for interest paid. You probably are, but when I was young I missed it for a couple of years, so I take care to point that one out.

Watty's suggestion to let your savings grow with your income, so that you don't miss the extra money, is an excellent one.

I also agree there's no rush on a house, especially if there's much chance at all of work, roommate situation, marriage, and other big things being in flux - often, though not always, true of most people in their 20s. The flexibility can be valuable. Once the loans are paid off it'll be good to start saving up, but you don't need to rush to pull the trigger until you're convinced things are going to be stable for a while.

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ruralavalon
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Location: Illinois

Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by ruralavalon » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:38 pm

Welcome to the forum :) .

Your savings rate is very good, and will be the most important factor in investing as you start. It is good to see you starting young and using very diversified, low-cost index funds.


KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
Now that I have hit my goal of maxing out my Roth IRA for the year and creating a 1-year emergency fund, I am at an impasse on what to do next. From reading this forum over the last few months, I expect to hear that there won't be a "bad" decision to make. However, I wouldn't mind reading the comments from people with more experience.
Rather than a 1 year emergency fund I suggest taking some of that cash and paying off this student debt:
- $5,243 @ 4.2%
- $1,994 @ 4.2%


KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
My two options are below:
1) Begin maxing my 401K + my Roth IRA. Which is the equivalent of a 43% savings rate on gross income.
2) Continue paying into the 6% match for my 401K, contribute max to Roth IRA annually, and then begin to pay down student loans.
You are right, either choice is good.

My suggestion is # 1, because the annual contribution limits are on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.


KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
Outside of that big question, I have a few small ones.
1) Is a Traditional 401k the safe way to go? This is assuming I do not know if I will be making more in the future or if taxes will be higher. Is a Roth 401k a better option if I continue living in Illinois for the long term?
For most people traditional 401k contributions will likely be better.

The income tax code is progressive, with a lower tax rate for lower income. Retirement usually means that employment income has ended. Therefore, most people are in a lower tax bracket in retirement and for most people traditional 401k contributions will probably be better. In addition when you withdraw from your 401k in retirement, your income is not all taxed at your marginal tax rate specified for your tax bracket. TFB blog post, "The case against Roth 401k". "I think for most people the majority, if not 100%, of the contribution should go to a Traditional 401(k)."

"Until you know you can generate from your Traditional 401(k) enough income to fill the lower brackets, it doesn’t make sense to contribute to a Roth 401(k). For people without a traditional defined benefit pension plan, it means the majority of the retirement savings should go to a Traditional 401(k), not Roth."

Will you be eligible for a substantial pension? A pension changes that analysis, so that Roth contributions are likely better if you have a significant pension coming in addition to Social Security. TFB blog post, "Most TSP participants should switch to the Roth TSP". That post discussed the effect of a federal pension, but the analysis should hold for other pensions.

Wiki article, "Traditional vs Roth".
"Tax considerations:
* If your current marginal tax rate is 15% or less, prefer a Roth.
* If you expect to have higher marginal rates than your current marginal rate for most of your career, prefer a Roth.
* If you will have a traditional account or a pension large enough to meet your expected retirement expenses (and you expect to take that pension shortly after retiring), prefer a Roth.
* Otherwise, prefer a traditional account."


In Illinois you get a state income tax deduction for traditional IRA contributions, and withdrawals from your traditional IRA are not taxed by Illinois.


KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm

3) If you are unsure where you will ultimately spend your life, is buying a home still a good idea?
No. Don't be in a rush to buy a home. You are 24 years old, just one year out of school, single, and don't know how long you might stay in your area.

Don't buy a home until reasonably certain that you will stay in one place indefinitely, or at least for many years.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

Topic Author
KeystoneK
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Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:38 pm

Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by KeystoneK » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:39 am

Thanks for the insight everyone.

Going forward, I will be sticking with a Traditional 401k for the flexibility it offers. Perhaps one day I will begin to do a “blend” of Roth and Traditional, but at this time I like the flexibility and simplicity of staying with a Traditional.

As Watty stated in the post above, as raises come along I will immediately save a portion of that and thus avoid inflating my spending/lifestyle. I will also create a spreadsheet that tracks my year-to-year financial situation. I don’t want to monitor it more than that, but this will help keep things in perspective.

In regards to the student debt, I do like Ruralavalon’s suggestion of paying down some of the debt. That would be a significant enough payment that it would feel like I made an impact on my debts. Not only is the interest rate high enough to make sense financially, it will allow me to just focus on investing and not feel like I am making a bad decision.
ruralavalon wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:38 pm
In Illinois you get a state income tax deduction for traditional IRA contributions, and withdrawals from your traditional IRA are not taxed by Illinois.
I did not know about the traditional IRA contributions not being taxed in Illinois. Does that mean I can “avoid” paying taxes by opening a Traditional IRA and also a Roth IRA? It would appear that if I invested $6,000 into the traditional IRA and then immediately converted it to a Roth IRA, it would save me just under $300. Is that the case? Is there a disadvantage to doing this?

It makes sense to continue renting, especially since I am not certain of my plans going forward. Having the flexibility to move in the short-term without the headache of figuring out the house is nice.

Outside of potential tax saving opportunities, I plan on avoiding any allocation research. My plan is to stick to low-cost index funds that make sense for my age bracket and risk tolerance. Going forward, my financial focus will be left on making sure my personal finances are in order to maximize my savings and still enjoy things...

After graduating from college, I was constantly talking to my grandmother about my career outlook and what I should get into to maximize my income. She was very successful late in life (after raising 4 kids and going back to work) and she had some great wisdom. Before she passed away she gave me some financial advise: "It's not about how much you make, it's how much you save." Just going to stick to that.

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ruralavalon
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Location: Illinois

Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by ruralavalon » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:15 am

KeystoneK wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:39 am
ruralavalon wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:38 pm
In Illinois you get a state income tax deduction for traditional IRA contributions, and withdrawals from your traditional IRA are not taxed by Illinois.
I did not know about the traditional IRA contributions not being taxed in Illinois. Does that mean I can “avoid” paying taxes by opening a Traditional IRA and also a Roth IRA? It would appear that if I invested $6,000 into the traditional IRA and then immediately converted it to a Roth IRA, it would save me just under $300. Is that the case? Is there a disadvantage to doing this?
I don't see any point to immediately converting to a Roth IRA.

There is federal income tax to consider, not just Illinois income tax

I know that a withdrawal from a traditional IRA by someone in retirement is not taxed by Illinois, I don't know how a withdrawal by someone age 24 from a traditional IRA would be treated by Illinois.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

vtjon02
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Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 6:08 pm

Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by vtjon02 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:45 am

Although not one of your questions, I'd consider scaling back your small/mid cap allocation. Having a tilt is fine, but I believe you are dramatically overexposed.

Also +1 to the idea of scaling your e-fund back to 6 months and paying down your highest interest student loans.

Otherwise you are doing great.

lakpr
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by lakpr » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:33 am

ruralavalon wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:15 am
There is federal income tax to consider, not just Illinois income tax

I know that a withdrawal from a traditional IRA by someone in retirement is not taxed by Illinois, I don't know how a withdrawal by someone age 24 from a traditional IRA would be treated by Illinois.
I do recommend the approach of contributing to the traditional IRA, then converting to Roth IRA. The OP will be in 12% tax bracket after his contributions to traditional 401k, and him being young, his income is only going to rise in the future. Paying 12% taxes to IRS is not bad.

The only knock on this plan is that since it is a Roth conversion, the money cannot be withdrawn, until 5 years have elapsed. Every Roth conversion has its own 5 year clock. So if there is ever a need to tap the Roth funds before age 59.5, it needs to be very carefully done so you don’t tap either the “contributions” or their subsequent earnings, from the previous 5 years.

Lazareth
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Location: New England

Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by Lazareth » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:46 pm

lakpr wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:33 am
ruralavalon wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:15 am
The only knock on this plan is that since it is a Roth conversion, the money cannot be withdrawn, until 5 years have elapsed. Every Roth conversion has its own 5 year clock.
This appears to differ from what I read at bankrate.com: "The 5-year rule for Roth IRA distributions stipulates that 5 years must have passed since the tax year of your first Roth IRA contribution before you can withdraw the earnings in the account tax-free. Keep in mind that the five year clock begins ticking on January 1st of the year you made your first contribution to the account." https://www.bankrate.com/investing/ira/ ... year-rule/

Bankrate seems to imply that the restriction applies to only the earnings portion, and the five year window applies to Jan 1 of the year of the first contribution to the account (and not the subsequent contributions which could include conversions?)

lakpr
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by lakpr » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:44 pm

@Lazareth,

There are two different 5 year rules. One for being able to withdraw earnings on contributions without penalty, and one for Roth conversions

The second 5 year rule is specifically enacted by Congress from preventing people to use the Roth account as a workaround. If someone were to withdraw money directly from a traditional IRA before age 59.5, he/she is subject to both taxes and penalties. If the same person were to roll a traditional IRA into Roth, no penalties but tax due. But now on the basis of “Roth established 5 years ago”, the person withdraws the money, what just happened? IRs got cheated out of the 10% penalty.

Congress therefore mandated that every Roth conversion must remain 5 years in the account before it can be withdrawn. None of this applies, of course, if the IRA owner is older than 59.5

baseball2horse
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by baseball2horse » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:53 pm

lakpr wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:44 pm
@Lazareth,

There are two different 5 year rules. One for being able to withdraw earnings on contributions without penalty, and one for Roth conversions

The second 5 year rule is specifically enacted by Congress from preventing people to use the Roth account as a workaround. If someone were to withdraw money directly from a traditional IRA before age 59.5, he/she is subject to both taxes and penalties. If the same person were to roll a traditional IRA into Roth, no penalties but tax due. But now on the basis of “Roth established 5 years ago”, the person withdraws the money, what just happened? IRs got cheated out of the 10% penalty.

Congress therefore mandated that every Roth conversion must remain 5 years in the account before it can be withdrawn. None of this applies, of course, if the IRA owner is older than 59.5
Just to clarify, direct contributions to Roth IRAs can still withdrawn immediately with no penalty correct?

lakpr
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by lakpr » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:03 pm

baseball2horse wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:53 pm
Just to clarify, direct contributions to Roth IRAs can still withdrawn immediately with no penalty correct?
Yes. But beware on how your state treats such withdrawals. NJ for example treats withdrawals from any type of IRA before age 59.5 as non-qualified. You may find to your unpleasant surprise that you may owe more in state taxes than Federal.

Also, you need to carefully coordinate with the custodian so that when you withdraw, only contributions made 5 years older or earlier are tapped. If you decide to simply withdraw from your IRA custodian on your own, the custodian might send you a 1099-R with $6000 contributed for 2019 and $5000 distributed for 2019, and all of it (or almost all of it as non-qualified distribution.

Lazareth
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Location: New England

Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by Lazareth » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:14 pm

lakpr wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:44 pm
@Lazareth,

There are two different 5 year rules. One for being able to withdraw earnings on contributions without penalty, and one for Roth conversions

The second 5 year rule is specifically enacted by Congress from preventing people to use the Roth account as a workaround. If someone were to withdraw money directly from a traditional IRA before age 59.5, he/she is subject to both taxes and penalties. If the same person were to roll a traditional IRA into Roth, no penalties but tax due. But now on the basis of “Roth established 5 years ago”, the person withdraws the money, what just happened? IRs got cheated out of the 10% penalty.

Congress therefore mandated that every Roth conversion must remain 5 years in the account before it can be withdrawn. None of this applies, of course, if the IRA owner is older than 59.5
Thank you!

savethebird
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by savethebird » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:52 pm

KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm

4) If I were to go back to school for a Master's degree, does the schools ranking really matter if my plan is to use the degree to teach?
Since the financial questions have been answered... You might try talking with some of your former college profs in your desired field about this. The current situation in higher ed generally is that even folks with PhDs can barely find full-time work, meaning that many are trying to get by teaching enough adjunct classes to make ends meet. In other words, I doubt an MA or the like would be sufficient to teach in most places. My experience is in the humanities, though, so ask around.

Valuethinker
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:09 am

savethebird wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:52 pm
KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm

4) If I were to go back to school for a Master's degree, does the schools ranking really matter if my plan is to use the degree to teach?
Since the financial questions have been answered... You might try talking with some of your former college profs in your desired field about this. The current situation in higher ed generally is that even folks with PhDs can barely find full-time work, meaning that many are trying to get by teaching enough adjunct classes to make ends meet. In other words, I doubt an MA or the like would be sufficient to teach in most places. My experience is in the humanities, though, so ask around.
Business is somewhat different. There is currently a pretty good job market, depending on speciality, I believe.

However B Schools may have priced themselves out of their own market. Demand has been so high, that tuition has risen with it. Something analogous to law schools - but the value of an MBA towards career progression is questionable (outside the top 10 or so schools). In fact the trend now is very much towards specialized masters rather than general MBAs.

Top Phds especially Finance or Accounting can get 6 figure starting salaries. Be warned - only a small percentage of those who start tenure track at a top B School make it to the life of a professor with tenure, high salaries, consulting income etc. Many are called, but even if you get hired as an assistant professor, you probably have only 1/5 of getting tenure. It's then a big jump down to the lower ranked schools, state universities etc. Still not a bad job but not the glory you signed up for in the 10-15 year slog from beginning Phd to tenure decision.

Remember the coin of the realm in academia is publishing. By having good publishing scores, articles in refereed journals especially top ones, a department rises in prestige and access to research funding - so what it wants are the high producing researchers. There's a nod made to teaching ability (business school is better than most academia in this regard, I think) but there's no effort to measure student retention of knowledge and effectiveness of learning - do students really retain & use this stuff. This, at least, was my experience 15 years ago.

But if one's goal is as an adjunct professor at a business school having been working in the real world, well it's a very mixed feast. Some people find niches and are very happy. However adjunct professors are the slaves of the academic system - the system loads coursework & administration on them - marking exam papers for 150 students in 3 days is no joy.

I would imagine there are roles for Supply Chain Management teachers, however it's certainly not something to plan on at the beginning of the career. UNLESS the plan is to get a Phd and pursue that as a career of research and teaching in an academic setting.

EDIT

One thing to consider re teaching career is how much free stuff there is now available on line - Youtube, Khan Academy etc.

In addition, technology means you can take the absolutely best presenter in the field, and podcast him or her to thousands of students.

U of Toronto already has an undergrad course taught in blocks of something like 1200 students (Psych 100) - making that a podcast is simple.

"education" then becomes about seminars and problem groups applying the knowledge absorbed in the student's own time from books & podcasts.

That means you have "star" professors paid star salaries, and you have lots of seminar grunts not paid very much - in effect academic facilitators. That kind of polarisation is already the case in many professions - M&A lawyers who are paid $10m or 60x what their firm pays an associate, etc.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Valuethinker
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Re: 24 Year Old With Options

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:22 am

KeystoneK wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:55 pm
Hello everyone. I have been reading this forum and wiki for the last 8 months and have learned so much. I graduated from college in May of 2018 and have been working on getting my life/finances in order. Looking for some guidance on my next steps after I completed my goal of an emergency fund. There are a few questions at the bottom of this that fall into the range of Personal Finance (rule breaking!), but I wanted to keep it in one thread.

Age: 24 (Male)

Salary: $58,500

Career: Supply Chain Management (Salary outlook is good! Likely would never make more than $150,000 unless I really move up the ladder)

Location: Chicago, IL.

Goal: Living frugally while not missing out on experiences and retiring “early” at 50. In reality, I would like to go back to school at some point for a Masters and be an adjunct Professor in "retirement."
Make sure if there is a professional certification, you have that. There are jobs teaching other people the material to pass professional certification. And if you ever do want to move into teaching it will be essential for employers who are "market oriented".

And talk to your old professors - find out what the requirements are to teach in your field. Most areas require a Phd (but business school can be an exception).
3) If you are unsure where you will ultimately spend your life, is buying a home still a good idea?
Emphatically no. It is not the right moment in your life to take on a huge new financial commitment which makes it impossible for you to relocate easily. You want to wait until you are surer in your career and/or looking at settling down with someone.

I made some comments a while back which were interpreted as "hate on Chicago". Which they are not intended to be ("the American city" as Carl Sandberg put it, and I liked reading both Studs Terkel and Saul Bellow very much) - but I am old enough to remember when New York City nearly went bankrupt - it can happen. The city & the state have serious fiscal issues, and property owners often take the pain for that through higher charges & taxes. Industries can flee in that scenario leaving decaying infrastructure, social costs governments cannot afford, and no tax base to service it with - death spiral. I am not close enough to say that will happen, but the Credit Rating Agency warnings about city & state are clear.
4) If I were to go back to school for a Master's degree, does the schools ranking really matter if my plan is to use the degree to teach?

Thanks ahead of time. :sharebeer
Talk to your professors. I would say yes - but it depends. If your options are only to do part time then you may have to sacrifice on quality.

If it were me, and I wanted a career in Supply Chain Management, I would target the top 5 schools in the country, and go to one of those full time. But that has a financial cost, and in your field it may just not matter (Michigan State U, Pennsylvania State U are the names that hit first recall in this regard; that and Wharton (U Penn)). It may be better to do it part time and get more real world experience.

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