Reader Mailbag #69

Each Monday, The Simple Dollar opens up the reader mailbags and answers ten to twenty simple questions offered up by the readers on personal finance topics and many other things. Got a question? Ask it in the comments. You might also enjoy the archive of earlier reader mailbags.

I’m 22 and I’ll be starting grad school in the fall. I have almost enough cash in the bank to pay tuition for my two year program (including the mandatory summer semesters), but I don’t have any additional cash for housing, food, textbooks, etc. I plan to work a lot of overtime this summer and save what I can from that, and then work as much as possible while I’m in school to help cover expenses. Because of my assets, I can’t currently get student loans, but I will probably become eligible later as my assets decrease, hence my question:

Should I contribute to my Roth IRA these coming two years, or should I keep my earnings as cash and put them toward expenses? If I contribute to the Roth, I’d become eligible for low interest student loans fairly soon. Would it be a better deal to have student debt and have the corresponding amount of money in a Roth with two more years of compound interest, or to graduate debt free?
– Ariel

There really is no “best” answer here, as both paths are good ones to financial security. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

The “no debt” person will clearly argue for avoiding the debt and getting out of college without anything on your plate. That affords you a lot of life and career freedoms that might not be in place otherwise.

The “save for retirement” person can argue quite well for putting money into the Roth IRA, because the younger you are when you invest, the more years you have for compounding to work in your favor.

What would I do? I’d probably sock money into the Roth and take on student loans. The student loans are usually low interest and that interest is tax-deductible, plus they have flexible repayment that stops if you’re jobless. Sure, you’ll have some debt after college, but you’ll also have a healthy start on retirement, which will be a big advantage down the road.

Questions like this are what financial advisors feast on, because there’s reasonable logic no matter which way you choose. Thus, they can make a good case either way and will focus on whichever one will net them the most commissions.

We are dealing with a huge credit card debt that both me and my husband has piled. I have curbed my indiscriminate spending habits, have built some emergency fund. I also have a regular retirement savings and seperate savings for my kids education.
Unfortunately my husband is struglling with his debt and I am failing to help him with it. It is creating a lot of tension in our family.
As we are Indians I have a sizeable amount of gold jewellery that is lying unused in my locker. Should I sell off a part of it to help my husband and end the tension between us?

– Sudipta

Will selling the jewelry make you resent your husband?

For me, that’s the biggest factor in your story. If it will not, then by all means, find a reputable dealer and unload that gold – it’s an asset, after all, that is probably best used elsewhere right now.

However, if you’ll resent him for “making” you sell the jewelry, don’t do it. That’s the kind of sand in the oil that can destroy the engine of a good marriage over time.

Another key piece: you need to talk about this, just the two of you. Talk about all of the anger and hurt feelings and mistrust and angst about the debt. Get it all out there on the table.

As an older graduate student, I am finding that I am racking up quite a nice debt ($20-30K) in student loan money. I am working p/t while I am in school, so that I finish faster. What do you suggest I do with the debt once I start paying it? Should I try to pay it off in as little time as possible, or to hang onto it and pay it off over more years. I already have a good credit history. But, I have barely any retirement money saved, and will be 40 in a few years. I am wondering if money is better off split between the two, favoring the retirement fund. Thank you.
– Marie

There’s no reason to accelerate payment on student loan debt, particularly if it’s taking away from retirement savings. Student loan debt is usually low interest and has some of the most forgiving policies one can ask for – forbearance if you’re out of work, for example, and the interest is usually tax-deductible.

If you’re nearing 40 and have no retirement savings, I would “split,” as you word it, and start saving for retirement instead of making extra student debt payments. You’ll never again be this young – and that means you’ll never again have this good of an opportunity to maximize the compounding of your retirement savings.

How do you make a resignation letter look respectable, but not ramble? Where is the happy medium?
– Mol

Keep it simple – don’t ramble at all. Most of the reasons for your resignation will be revealed in conversation, not in the letter.

Simply state the date of your planned departure, offer your assistance during the transition, and make a short statement that you valued your time with the company – something like “Thank you for the support and the opportunities that you have provided to me over the last eight years. I have greatly enjoyed my tenure with the company.”

Don’t worry about any other details. If they need to be discussed, they will be discussed in other venues. There’s no need to actually include any of that in a resignation letter. Just keep it short, sweet, and respectful.

What are your feelings on a writer that plagarizes? For example, Chris Anderson apparently plagiarized from Wikipedia for his latest book.
– Elvis

First of all, I do understand how someone can plagiarize in the way described in the article linked above. As I’m writing my second book – a much more complex work than the first one – I find it littered with notes, clippings, and material of all sorts. It’s a lot of work to keep proper attribution straight – and then when you add in an editor who doesn’t understand fully what your notes are referencing, it’s easy for a piece or two to wind up without proper annotation – which seems to be what happened here.

I enjoy works that call upon lots of different sources to create a fresh new conclusion.

That being said, plagiarism is theft, period. If you take someone else’s work without any form of credit (unless they’ve allowed you to do this), you’re stealing from them, no different than if you walked into their garage and took their lawnmower. Material items and intellectual items are both the result of a serious time investment and stealing either one is wholly wrong and should be punished.

As for a writer, I tend heavily towards a “fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me” approach. If a writer makes a mistake once and owns up to it, I let it slide, knowing as I do how things like this can happen inadvertently. However, I would then expect extra care from the writer to avoid similar mistakes in the future. If it happened again, though, I would no longer trust the writer, believing that the person has a serious problem.

How many monitors do you have for your main computer that you work on?
– Sandra

I currently have one – a 24″ Dell monitor that suits my current needs.

I am currently considering a second monitor, exactly the same size as the first, to sit over to the right. The big advantage of a second monitor is that it would allow me to see things at a glance that I currently have to either switch windows for or use a keyboard shortcut to see, breaking my train of thought. Having a second screen would allow me to glance quickly without such interruption.

At my previous employer, I had two screens on my desk, and such quick switching was both intuitive and useful for me.

You’ve talked many times about how you follow individual stocks for kicks. Why don’t you jump in and actually clean up on this rebounding market?
– Shane

I largely believe individual stocks are essentially investment gambling and I don’t have an interest in putting a large portion of our money at risk. If I just put a small portion at risk, it would be eaten up by brokerage fees.

So, for now, I sit on the sidelines. My intent, over the long haul, is to learn more by watching and studying, then eventually move to something like the “Black Swan” investment model. Basically, I’d have 80% or so of our money in something really safe, then I’d actively invest with the other 20%, attempting to hit investment home runs with it.

I’ve been doing well on my own lately. For example, in March and April, I was following Spartech closely and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why it was staying so low. Since then, it’s doubled.

After seven months of unemployment, I finally found a job and I start next week. I’ve completely used up my emergency fund and had to live on my credit card for a while. Should I use my first check to start paying down the credit card or start rebuilding my emergency fund?
– Andy

Rebuild the emergency fund, at least to $1,000 or so, before you focus on knocking down those debts. Just because things are going well at the moment doesn’t mean your car won’t break down next week.

You’re obviously living pretty lean now. Don’t undo that because you have a job – keep sticking with the things that are working for you in your leaner life. Many people have a tendency to let their lives expand to meet their paychecks. If you can avoid that, you’ll be in good shape.

Did you take your kids to see Up? What did you think of it?
– Yan

We had planned a family excursion to see Up the day after Father’s Day and my son was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, on the day we were planning to see it, my daughter got really ill. After some discussion, my wife and I made the decision that one of us would take our son to see the movie and the other would stay home.

So, my son and I went to see Up last Monday and we both loved it, for drastically different reasons. My son kept talking about the dogs, particularly Dug, and the balloons. I was far more captivated by the relationship between Carl and his wife as well as between Carl and Russell.

It was really a movie that both a three year old and an adult could get something really enjoyable out of – and that’s a pretty high compliment. It’s something that Pixar simply does well.

Why aren’t you on LinkedIn?
– Jeff

Why don’t you comment on FriendFeed?
– Louise

Why are you ignoring my invitation to Facebook?
– Andy

To put it simply, I don’t have time to participate heavily on all of these services. Instead, I tried them all and followed the conversation – and it led me to Twitter. I think Twitter’s the best “social media” service for actually carrying on conversations with like-minded people – and finding new ones. Facebook and LinkedIn (beyond the basic signing-up and getting your info out there) are good for keeping up with people you know – but that doesn’t get me heavily involved over the long term.

FriendFeed basically combines all of these together, so I signed up there as well and created a single feed for my site, Twitter, and anything I put on Facebook. If you want to follow me there, feel free, and I occasionally jump into discussions there.

However, Twitter is where I spend most of my time. I post links, chat with people, and share interesting stuff on there all the time. It just fits me better.

Got any questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll use them in future mailbags.

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  1. To Ariel:

    Like Trent, I’d suggest contributing to the Roth while taking on student loans. Given that you’re only going to be working part-time, it’s very likely that you’ll qualify for the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit as well.

    With that extra immediate 10% return, it’s hard to see how paying off low-rate, tax deductible interest will earn you a greater rate of return.

  2. Papa Charley says:

    Agree with Trent and commenter 1. START THE ROTH WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG. I started a few months ago when I turned 36 and my backside is still sore from kicking myself over the 15 or so lost years of investing.

    Further down the page, as a writer (wannabe) I also worry about plagiarism. I don’t know what I don’t know and I worry about writing something that someone else may have. This may be a bit different than direct quoting wikipedia without a reference, but I even worry about the legalities of writing, for example, “I personally uses Trent Hamm’s (The Simple Dollar blog) distribution model for retirement savings of contributing to your 401k to the point where you’ve reached your company’s matching maximum, then putting the rest in a Roth.” Is that plagiarism? Can I write that in a book? Or can I only offer that as free information on a blog?

    With so much free information on the internet, I worry that this becomes exceptionally murky waters.

  3. a conscience life says:

    The idea of putting money in an emergency fund *before* paying off credit card debt strikes me as terrible advice. Given the high rate of interest one must pay on credit card debt, you are only throwing away money by not paying this down first. Remember that any money that you pay down on the credit card frees up credit that you can use as an emergency fund (if necessary) while any debt left on the card accrues interest and costs you more money.

    Consider two scenarios in which it takes 3 months to save $1000.
    In scenario (A) you have been paying down the credit card debt and so you have freed up $1000 free on you credit line that you can use in an emergency, if needed.

    Scenario (B), you have put this money in an account that earns 3% interest (generous, I know). BUT at the same time you are paying 18% interest on a credit card debt that has $1000 more than it could have. Since you are earning 3% in your bank account, we can assume that you are actually only loosing money at a rate of 15%. This means that in 3 months, you would be roughly $40 worse off than you would be in scenario A.

    What is $40, you ask? A lot if you are having financial problems. I hate to be mean, but in this case I just cannot imagine what would prompt you to advise someone to loose money. Am I missing something here?

  4. michael says:

    Hey Trent, I wasn’t sure where to put this, as it seems twitter would be a funny place to go with it. Anyway, I know you’ve replied to one or two comments in the comments section and figured you’d at the very least see this.

    I saw that you’re looking for an assistant. Send me an email, we could seriously chat about it. Or not, since it’s a little weird to suggest such a thing through a comment. :) Either way, I’m interested in the idea and wanted to let you know!

  5. femmeknitzi says:

    I love the reader mailbag and this time, I actually have a question for you!

    My fiance and I are getting married in October so we have a pretty hefty list of expenses coming up. We have a wedding fund set aside that’s separate from our emergency fund, but there are a few things we’ve had to use credit for: the rings and a cheap honeymoon in New Orleans.

    So last week, our washer broke. It gets stuck on the fill cycle and won’t move; it just keeps on filling. We have someone coming out to look at it this week to tell us how much it’ll cost to fix.

    This washer is only 5 or 6 years old. But it’s the cheapest Kenmore brand Sears offered at the time. The dryer works fine.

    I know that just about any amount the repair man comes up with will be cheaper than buying a new (but cheap, low-end) front-loading washer. But with the benefits of energy efficiency, low water consumption and better wear and tear on our clothes that new washers offer, at what repair price will it become worth it to buy a new washer?

    Or is it best to just go with the hands down cheapest option because we have the wedding coming up and that MIGHT eat into our emergency savings and then we might actually have an emergency?

    I’m also looking at this from a green perspective too. Is it best to continue using an out-of-date energy consuming product rather than consume a new product, or is it better to save the energy and water consumption by buying a new product and having to throw out the old one?

    Any advice would be welcome. Thanks!

  6. vanaja says:

    Trent, I am shopping for a gas bbq grill. Do you recommend any?

  7. vanaja says:

    And what is the best time I can find lower prices on the grill?

  8. Dan says:

    Everyone gets this wrong. Please allow me to correct.

    18% interest on a credit card is only (ha “only”) 1.5% interest per month. As long as you can earn 1.5% interest or more per MONTH in a savings account, it’s a better choice. Especially because by the time you pay off your credit card, you’ll have a nice bankroll waiting for you.

    My only word of caution, is that credit cards are getting real nasty lately. You used to be able to balance transfer and consolidate for real low percents, but lately, they seem to be able to violate every rule about it. So, the guarantee that your balance will remain at 5% with a 2% minimum on payment isn’t there anymore.

    I recently got caught my a credit card who raised their minimum payment from 2% to 5%. Huge deal considering I’ve budgeted out my money for a Snowball repayment and just got my budget blown by a real nasty credit card.

    Anyhow, if you are sure you can lock in a low debt rate, it’s better to save than pay it down sometimes.

  9. Brittany says:

    Hey Trent,

    I have a question for you about my current situation, and I am betting I am not the only one in the country in this predicament. I was laid off in March, and I am currently collecting unemployment. 30% of my unemployment income goes to my rent (I am on a month to month lease and live in a 1 bedroom alone). My boyfriend is losing his roommates and will also need a place to stay (he too was laid off from the same company, at the same time). We would like to take that next step and move in together, which would cut my rent down to 17% of my unemployment income. Here’s the problem: we are having trouble finding someone who will lease to two college educated, albeit unemployed, upstanding tenants. Our unemployment will not run out until March 2010, and together, we make 3.5 times the rent. Do you know of anything that may improve our chances of signing a new lease?

    Thanks!

    Brittany

  10. Scotty says:

    The key with resignation letters is keeping them short and simple, like Trent says.

    Going on tengents about person X or manager Y, or company decision Z just doesn’t help your case. And no matter how well and tactfully you think you’ve written it, chances are it’s not tactful at all. The vast majority of people don’t have the literary acumen to pull off well worded letters like this. Unless you’re a highly respected, central person on the business, don’t bother. Just keep it short and simple.

    I’ve been tempted a few times go off on a company in a letter, but in hindsight it would have never even mattered. Just keep it short and sweet, and say thank-you for all the opportunities they’ve given you.

  11. Sense says:

    Ariel can also pull money OUT of the Roth after grad school to pay off those loans. However, if the interest rates on those loans are low enough, this becomes a much less-attractive option.

    I’d probably put it all into the Roth to get those loans as soon as possible (assuming those loans don’t accrue interest while in school), and then pull Roth $$ out as necessary for tuition.

    Contributions to Roths are eligible to be pulled out anytime. special rules apply to the earnings, however, so those won’t be available for withdrawal after 2 years.

  12. Brad says:

    I agree about the IRA. However the only caveat is that you need to be able to pay the student loans off. You really need amazing control. The problem is that unforseen things always happen in life and that cash can come in handy. For me PERSONALLY knowing what I know I would tuck that money into a high interest flexible CD or savings account and use it for whatever may come up. I hate debt now (after being trapped in it for 3 years) and I would never wish it upon anyone.

  13. guinness416 says:

    Every resignation letter I’ve ever submitted has consisted of: “Please consider this formal notice of my resignation. My last day will be XY. I am grateful for the opportunities provided at company ABC.”

    There’s absolutely no reason to put anything else in writing – you will want to discuss the reasons, any extensions to the dates, etc in person and the letter is going to live in a file somwhere for many years.

  14. Kevin says:

    @a conscience life (#2):

    “Remember that any money that you pay down on the credit card frees up credit that you can use as an emergency fund (if necessary)”

    If you’d asked me 2 years ago, I’d have agreed with you 100%. However, times have changed. In the past year or so, banks have developed a nasty habit: As you pay down your credit card, they reduce your credit limit.

    So yes, your logic is perfectly sound, but it assumes your credit limit will remain static. Unfortunately, that assumption is no longer valid these days.

    I agree with Trent. Save the first $1,000 in cash. It’s the only way to absolutely guarantee you’ll have a “buffer” if an unexpected emergency crops up shortly after you start working again.

  15. Tyler says:

    Definitely contribute to the IRA – the gains the market will most likely see in the next two years will greatly outpace the interest your loans would be accruing.

  16. Courtney says:

    @ Dan #5 “18% interest on a credit card is only (ha “only”) 1.5% interest per month. As long as you can earn 1.5% interest or more per MONTH in a savings account, it’s a better choice. Especially because by the time you pay off your credit card, you’ll have a nice bankroll waiting for you.”

    Earning 1.5% interest per month in a savings account is still an 18% annual percentage rate. Last I checked, most savings accounts were paying an APR of about 2% or less…which works out to about 0.17% per month.

  17. Emily says:

    I don’t know why Ariel wrote that having assets prevented her from obtaining loans for graduate school. It’s my experience that you can get up to $20,500 of government Stafford loans per year, for grad school, regardless of assets.

    I was in a similar position before grad school. I had enough saved to pay for one year, could earn one year’s worth while in school, and borrowed one year’s costs. I borrowed 1/3 of the cost each year and kept contributing to a Roth.

    Like someone else said, I can always take the money out of the Roth and use it to pay the loans if I get desperate.

  18. Clare says:

    I agree completely with the advice about keeping a letter of resignation brief and professional. Maybe I’m reading too much into the original question, but I’d also urge discretion and professionalism during the exit interview. It can be so tempting to vent and rant about circumstances/people that have caused you to resign, but even if everything you say is justified, it sometimes makes YOU look bad. Don’t lie, but be civil. Try to leave on the best terms possible: you may be using this employer as a reference for years to come!

  19. Andrea says:

    Be *extremely* careful about your student loans. FOrbearance only is available for a certain time, and lenders make all kinds of nasty deals with interest and other fine print. Student loans can be a good deal, but please please please read EVERYTHING your lender gives you, and know that your loan *will* be sold.

  20. Johanna says:

    @Sudipta: Another important question to ask is, does your husband have his spending under control now? If not, then if you sell the jewelry to pay off his debt, then he will just run the debt back up again, and then you will be right back where you are now, except you will not have any more jewelry.

  21. beth says:

    I have to agree with Kevin (#9) about putting the cash away before you start paying the cards back down. We just paid all of our cards down (fortunately, after putting a little extra cash away), and the one that we designated as not for work expenses (meaning the only one that we use for non-budgeted household expenses that will need to be pulled from savings, like car repairs and medical copays) cut our limit down by 2/3. After being loyal customers for 7 years with no blemishes. So don’t trust that your credit card will be there as the backup plan any more.

  22. cv says:

    I think I remember you mentioning that your student loans, after consolidation, had something like a 2% interest rate. Federal loans are currently at 4-5% at a minimum, and if you need to get any PLUS or private loans (hello, law or med school debt!), interest rates were near 8% as recently as two years ago. Rates do drop when you go into repayment, if you sign up for direct debit, if you pay on time for several months, etc.

    Yes, student loan debt is generally low-interest, but it varies a lot with the economy and other factors. In your place I’d advise people to check out the loan rates and terms first before making any decisions.

    Also, remember that the interest rate you “earn” by not taking out loans is guaranteed and tax-free, while whatever return you get on investments is not. I’m not saying it’s never the right call to take on more debt while funding retirement, but it really depends on current interest rates.

  23. Anne KD says:

    Having a $1000 emergency fund would have helped me enormously when I was suddenly unemployed/underemployed for a couple of months, then moved five states away to a place with an 11% higher standard of living. As it was, my moving expenses, groceries and better work wardrobe went on the credit card, and I couldn’t pay off some previous utility bills for a good 6 weeks or so, something that truly endeared me further to my former roommates when I told them I was moving out at the end of the month. I got a ‘signing bonus’ since the company didn’t allow moving expenses for someone at my level, but it took a month to show up plus it was taxed up to my eyeballs. So- save the $1000! And let it sit while you pay off some other things, and throw money at the emergency fund when you can.

  24. Jules says:

    I beg to differ on the grad school question: stay out of debt as much as you can.

    I say this because if halfway through you realize that you’ll kill yourself if you stay in the program for another day, not having any student debt makes leaving a lot easier.

  25. Shevy says:

    Johanna makes a good point on the issue of selling assets (in this case, gold jewellery) in order to pay off debt.

    Do not sell assets in order to pay down the debt of any person who has not gotten their spending under control.

    This is very much the same situation as the person who racks up their credit cards and then pays them off with a debt consolidation loan or a mortgage refinance but then turns around and runs up the card again! You only end up in more trouble.

    This is not to say that no one should ever sell their stuff, refi, etc. but you have to be able to be brutally honest with yourself about your chances of recidivism.

  26. Doug says:

    To a conscious life (#2)
    The point of having an emergency fund in place is so that when an emergency happens, one doesn’t have to go back into debt.

    Think of that $40 as an insurance policy against debt. “Murphy Insurance,” if you will.

    Since the unexpected will happen, it pays to be prepared for it. A new tire, a trip to the emergency room, a funeral you have to attend, all these will keep you from getting out of debt. If you have that $1000, you have kept the wolf from the door.

    The funny thing is once you have that little emergency fund, emergencies tend not to happen as often.

    But, to each his own.

  27. Jenn says:

    Trent, I saw UP with my two girls. It was a big treat for them, as we don’t go to the movies more than once every two years or so.

    Of course, I sat and cried through the montage of Carl and Ellie’s life together, and cried again at the end when Carl and Russell became friends. In fact, I’m so italian that I’m misting up now just writing about it.

    What a great movie. It made me want to go home, kiss my husband, hug my kids, and reevaluate my life’s goals.

    Glad you enjoyed it too, hopefully without the hanky.

  28. AnnJo says:

    @femmeknitzi,

    You might consider the possibility of fixing the problem yourselves. A lot of stuff is really pretty easy to fix.

    Spend a few minutes researching the problem (which sounds like a water fill control switch issue). Just plug in “basic washing machine repair” in your search engine and dig in. Parts can be ordered from http://www.repairclinic.com, where you can often also find pictures of the part; searching on the part name will usually find you instructions on how to repair or replace it.

    (Always unplug electrical appliances before working on them!)

  29. deRuiter says:

    Dear Sudipta, You say your husband is “struggling” with debt. What does this mean? If he continues to spend on ANY nonessential items, it means he isn’t trying to solve his problem with debt. If you sell the gold and bail him out, WILL HE CONTINUE TO SPEND ON NON ESSENTIALS? If so, your selling the gold will be pointless as he will make new debts. Why not both of you go to a credit councillor, one who charges a one time fee, for an hour of discussing how your husband can get himself out of his debt spiral? Some times it is easier and less emotionally draining to discuss this sort of thing with a third party. DON’T SIGN UP FOR ANY SERVICES BECAUSE THEY WILL TAKE MORE MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE, pay a flat fee for an hour of help.

  30. leslie says:

    Trent, do you at least check the comments left on your facebook statuses? I realize that they are linked with your twitter, but I like the interaction that the facebook comments allows. However, if I know that you don’t read them, I’ll just reply on twitter instead.

  31. jc says:

    one strike against stafford loans right now is that while a few years ago you could usually get discounts on origination and guarantor fees, those deals have largely been swept away by the credit crunch. so factor that 3-4% immediate cost against any net gains on the Roth side.

    also, someone noted that anyone can get Stafford loans. true, but the more income/assets you have, the harder it is to get the subsidized kind for which the gov’t pays the interest during periods of deferment, etc. with unsubsidized stafford loans, interest builds while you’re in school, etc.

  32. Aaron says:

    If you’re going to graduate school, you’re looking at “Grad PLUS loans.” They have a lot of valuable protections, but they also can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. If at all possible, avoid private loans – those are far more expensive. See finaid.org for details.

    When you leave school, look into income-based repayment (see ibrinfo.org) – it’s a new plan that’s available starting now that bases your payments on your income.

  33. Michael C says:

    @sudipta- I know I am late to the comment party for this post, but regarding the second question I would advise having a marriage counselor present for that conversation. Communication is not easy, its amazingly hard and as a society we forget this. That said, having a counselor or therapist, anyone you can trust and trained in helping this conversations, can be invaluable.

  34. Frank says:

    Considering the amount of free information on the web, I was wondering if you are paying subscriber to any websites (such as consumerreports.org) and if you think those subscriptions return their value.

  35. Russell says:

    @jc- In my tenure as a private university admissions counselor, I haven’t encountered a Stafford plan where access to subsidized aid is determined by assets. As a grad student, Ariel will have access to $8.5k in subsidized aid, and up to $12k in unsubsidized funding. Look here: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/studentloans.jsp. If supplemental loans are needed, the Grad PLUS Loan is a great option. To echo Aaron, I would definitely recommend checking out Income Based Repayment, @ ibrinfo.org. Very cool!

  36. Tordr says:

    Question for the mailbag (or email or whatever, I just want an answer):
    I have asked this question in 2 earlier mailbags, my question is concerning self censorship and content from Consumer Report. For a full write-up of the question see Mailbag 67. My qustion, K’s answer and my follow-up are comments number 33,44 and 51.

  37. ylfoo says:

    Hey Trent,

    I have followed your website and I must admit it is an inspiration to me every time I read new posts. Keep it up~!

    I have a question for you and I believe that your experience and suggestion will be greatly appreciated.

    Presently I find myself doing well in my career, earning comfortably and seriously I kinda of enjoy it as well. On the other hand, I might not know when the ‘enjoyment’ will die on me.

    However deep inside me, there is this inner voice or call that I should try out to be an airline pilot which happens to be my childhood ambition too.

    I will stare in awe whenever I see aircraft in the sky. And I will wonder when I can be in the cockpit. This childhood ambition can be costly due to initial training fees.

    What will you do if you are in my shoes? Stick to the present job? Or to leave the present job and head for the unknown terrain?

    Thank you and I look forward to your reply.

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