Review: Living Rich by Spending Smart

Each Friday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book of interest.

Living Rich by Spending SmartUnlike most books that describe paths to financial prosperity, Gregory Karp’s focus is solely on one area: cutting spending. Karp’s about as up front about this philosophy as he can be – the first eight words in the introduction of the book are “Controlling Spending Is the Key to Building Wealth.” In big, bold letters.

Right off the bat, this philosophy will probably tell you whether this is an appropriate book for you to read or not. If you disagree with this philosophy and don’t want to read about it, you shouldn’t bother reading this book, or this review, for that matter. However, if you do agree with that philosophy – that controlling spending is the key to wealth (or at least a major key) – then you’re in for a treat with Living Rich by Spending Smart. This is unabashed frugality – Karp is all about maximizing the value of every buck you spend and finding financial prosperity through that process.

Let’s dig into the book, shall we?

A Walk Through Living Rich by Spending Smart

Although the book is broken into eight chapters, each chapter itself is a series of short essays, making the entire book feel as though it’s a collection of blog postings. For me, that’s an appealing thing – it makes it easily available for bite-sized readings and it’s easy to pick up and glance at and then put down again, which is perfect for learning about new, simple tactics and skills. In fact, for me it was the kind of book where I found myself jotting down ideas and scribbling in the margins, which means one of two things: it made me think, or it gave me ideas for stuff to do myself. In Karp’s case, it was a bit of both.

Chapter 1 – Financial FITness
The FIT is in capital letters because of Karp’s thesis here that food, insurance, and telecommunications are the three biggest areas to start looking for ways to cut spending. I agree with him to an extent – they’re the three biggest areas to cut without a major lifestyle change – cutting housing or automobiles can save even more, but often require significant changes to your day to day life.

To cut food costs, Karp suggests eliminating (or severely reducing) eating out and also adopting a sensible grocery shopping strategy: hit the flyers, make a meal plan and a shopping list, and clip coupons. He also advocates stockpiling food that doesn’t perish easily – buy your beans in bulk, in other words.

His strongest statements here are for life insurance, though – he advocates canceling whatever policy you currently have if it’s not a term policy, and getting a term policy, similar to advice I’ve heard elsewhere, but more extreme. I think he’s correct, for the most part, with the exception being people who have had whole life insurance since birth where the investment value may now be enough that it’s not worth canceling in adulthood. I do agree that term is the best choice for any adult, though.

Chapter 2 – Know Thine Enemy: It Is Us
Psychology is the main point of this chapter, which focuses in on how we psychologically trick ourselves regularly into making poor financial choices. He uses the oft-repeated nugget about shoe shopping for a great example here:

Imagine you’re in a downtown store, considering buying a fabulous pair of shoes for $75. Another customer notices, “Hey, I just saw those same shoes on sale at Bloomingdale’s for $50,” she says. It’s a five block walk.

This is a spending decision that represents a fork in the road. Do you walk the five blocks for the better deal? [...] Now imagine you’re eyeing a $2,500 living room set and learn that same set is available five blocks away for $2,475. Do you hoof it to the other store?

This is a good example of psychology, actually, as both cases are merely asking whether it’s fine to walk five blocks for $25. But, unsurprisingly, people react vastly differently in each situation.

In short, this chapter covers much the same ground as Ron Gallen’s excellent The Money Trap – there are countless little mental tricks that often swipe money right out of our wallets, and the best way to avoid them is to think carefully about each dollar we spend.

My favorite piece was Karp’s comments on the lies people tell themselves, such as “thinking about money is for greedy people” or “I could die tomorrow, so I’ll live for today.” Both of these are merely excuses to avoid plotting a strong financial path, mostly due to an avoidance of goals. You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, right?

Chapter 3 – What a Waste!
This is perhaps the most entertaining chapter in the book, as Karp rants about some of his spending pet peeves: bottled water, extended warranties, smoking, timeshares, ink jet cartridges (refill rage, indeed!), the lottery, textbooks, hybrid vehicles, and greeting cards. Most of the rants are quite entertaining and are very spot-on – each one of these are vastly overpriced for what you get.

I particularly agree with him on bottled water. Get a few quality water bottles, fill them yourself, and keep them in the fridge. For just the cost of one case of bottles, you’ve got an infinite number of bottles, plus you’re not filling up the landfills with your junk.

Chapter 4 – The Big Picture
The message here is simple: shop around. From the smallest to the biggest purchases, you simply save money by taking that extra step and being a careful shopper.

Here’s an example: my recent experience with shopping around for prices on the video game Rock Band for a gift. If you just do a quick glancing around, you’ll quickly observe that the standard price for the basic Rock Band kit is $169.99. Shopping around, however, reveals better prices – you can get it for as low as $139.99 (for the Wii version) on Amazon.com, or $147 for any version at Sam’s Club. Instead of just hopping on board with the purchase at the first place I found it at, I saved $23-30 by merely shopping around for a bit.

Karp offers a lot of good tactics for shopping around, but the real key to making it work is actually doing it. Instead of just buying something the first place you see it, put in a bit of time to see if you can find a cheaper price, whether it’s just looking on another shelf for the generic version of the product or doing online shopping for that new laptop.

Chapter 5 – Around the House
This chapter is a collection of short pieces on how to reduce spending in specific areas, from air conditioners and pets to prescription drugs and television. Solid advice, all around.

The section that really stood out to me was the section on lawn and garden care, which was loaded with a number of smart ideas. For example, one tactic that I’ve long used to kill weeds in the cracks in pavement is to dump vinegar on them, which Karp espouses, but he claims you can dilute the vinegar 1:1 with tap water and it still has the killing effect. The compost bin is another brilliant idea – we use a barrel composter and just toss all of our vegetable waste, coffee grounds, and eggshells in it. Every few days we spin it around, and about once a month we add a big fistful of garden dirt and some water to it. Twice a year, we stop putting compost in it for about three weeks and hit it twice a week with water and a fistful of dirt, then empty it out on our garden (once just before planting and once at the very end of harvest). That’s it – no fertilizer expense needed and a lot less garbage, too.

Chapter 6 – Financial Foolishness
Here, Karp focuses on financial institutions – credit card companies, banks, and investment houses. Most of the advice is standard stuff, but it’s important stuff – pay more than the minimum on your debts, snowball the payments, and don’t buy into the idea that shuffling your debt around will somehow make it disappear. You’re still in debt – it’s just wearing different running shoes.

Perhaps the most stunning advice (for many people) is Karp’s suggestion that individuals stop using personal checks if at all possible and instead use electronic transfers for their money moves. His argument? Personal checks are loaded with your personal information and are ripe sources for identity theft, particularly in the hands of unwise cashiers who do things like write driver’s license numbers directly on the checks themselves. I’ve largely moved away from personal checks myself, not just because of identity theft, but because online banking by comparison makes check writing seem awfully inconvenient.

Chapter 7 – That Time of Year
Here, Karp (unsurprisingly) focuses on special occasions – holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings, and so on. The advice across all categories is pretty consistent: plan ahead, shop early, and budget for what you spend. If you’re running through a Target store an hour before the event searching for a gift, you’re going to make a poor buying decision and lose out, guaranteed (and not really save any time, either).

Another aspect I liked: he pretty consistently says to skip the greeting card, or at the very least, give one with a blank interior that’s inexpensive and filled with more personal sentiments. My feelings exactly.

Chapter 8 – Life Happens
The book closes with a look at mega-ticket items: houses, cars, weddings, college educations, and so on. These items are often so expensive that trimming off even 10% can make a gigantic difference in your day-to-day bottom line.

Two big points stuck out at me. Karp is strongly in favor of the late model used plan for buying a car. In his eyes, the best bang for the buck you can get is a car that’s just three years old or so – new enough to be still several years from big problems, but old enough so that you’re not paying that new premium. Cars coming off of leases are perfect. Also, for college education, he strongly advocates the two-and-two plan – get your general education requirements out of the way for cheap at a local college (even in your spare time during high school), then you’ll only need two or three years of expensive tuition costs at the university. Solid plan.

Some Thoughts on Living Rich by Spending Smart

This book reads like a well-written frugality blog. I think that’s actually a very good model for a compelling book, but it may be too bite-sized for some people to really enjoy. If that sentence intrigued you, you’ll like the format here.

Do I really buy into the idea that controlling spending is the key to building wealth? I think there are two keys: controlling your spending and increasing your income. Doing them simultaneously is the key to building wealth. This book succeeds at describing one half of the equation.

If that’s the case, where’s the books on genuinely earning more? There are lots of books on that topic. You just have to look more carefully for them, because there is no easy to follow recipe for earning more. You can always find frugal tactics that work – earning more, though, isn’t as straightforward.

Is Living Rich by Spending Smart Worth Reading?

That first sentence of the book really says it all. Controlling Spending Is the Key to Building Wealth. Do you strongly agree (or at least partially agree) with that phrase? If you do, this book is a worthwhile read – it really does a good job of hitting a lot of areas where spending can be reduced. On the other hand, if you think that phrase is rubbish, you’ll think this book is rubbish, too.

Most of the ideas in this book are ones I’ve heard before, but if you’ve read a lot of books on frugality, you already know the secret to reading more – it only takes one or two new tactics to make the new book worth reading, because each tactic you adopt will likely save you a significant amount. I found enough meat within this book to make it well worth my while, and it’d be worth even more to a person who has never read extensively about frugal topics.

Better yet, Karp makes it enjoyable. Several of the sections in this book would have made fantastic blog posts, and I’d love to read a whole collection of his rants on ways people waste money (like his priceless bottled water rant). Even if you think the advice described above is basic, there are elements of this book that are simply entertaining to read.

In short, if you’re into frugality at all, this is one well worth checking out (at the library, of course).

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  1. Michael says:

    “Controlling Spending is the Key to Building Wealth”

    Ok, I’ll bite. I agree, but only partially. The amount of that wealth building is still directly proportional to the amount of money you bring home.

    You need a two pronged attack to be wealthy. Watch what you spend, but don’t neglect opportunities to increase your income!

    ~Michael

  2. Jason S says:

    The 2+2 college thing is really smart, and I don’t say that just because I work at a community college. Same classes (often, some of the same teachers as local 4-yr schools). Smaller sections. Lower tuition. Easier-to-get scholarships for well-prepared students. Win-win, in almost every case.

    ALSO–and this is great–here in Iowa, as in most states, there’s this great opportunity called PSEO–post-secondary enrollment option. High schoolers can take up to 11 credit hours per semester (provided classes are approved by the district) AT NO COST. They usually don’t even pay for books. I have personally worked with loads of kids who have accumulated a semester or more of credits FOR FREE. It’s a huge head start for college-bound students–especially if it helps them graduate from a university in 4 yrs or less.

    THANKS FOR THIS REVIEW! I plan to hunt it down (public libraries are the best!) ASAP.

  3. Joe Bob says:

    I can’t agree more on the idea that studnts should get the basic requirements for a degree at the local community college.

    There are some exceptions though. i know some folks who did that and went to major in engineering and the university professors felt like they were behind the curve when compared to the students who had taken the basics there.

    I can tell you this — I have done it both ways with my two boys and my daughter who is in high school now will definitely be heading to the local community college first.

    Very good review — Thanks for the site, too.

  4. Eric says:

    Your approval of his rant on hybrid vehicles you mention in chapter 3 doesn’t sound like the Trent who advocates getting Honda Insights. What did he really say about hybrids?

  5. kainr2 says:

    Good advice, especially on the college deal. I did the same thing for the college education. There is absolute no good reasons to take General Education courses at university: further drive, more expensive tuition, and less diverse students.

    Also, studying in a community college, I got time to work part-time, which worth more in the resume than the courses I took in the university.

  6. BonzoGal says:

    I second Eric’s question- what’s wrong with hybrids? Also, why does he consider textbooks to be too spendy? I know they’re super expensive, but you can try to buy used ones when you can, and they’re really an essential spend.

  7. Vicky says:

    I was under the impression that it was a rant on the cost of those products (hybrid cars, textbooks, and ink) compared to what you get, not necessarily a rant against the products themselves.

  8. Lisa says:

    I agree with most things, except for one. I am moving to a new town where the city water has levels of arsenic in it. There is a high rate of cancer in that city. Call me silly, but I’m going to buy bottled water when I move there. I saw Erin Brocovicz.

  9. K says:

    Eric – Honda Insignts aren’t being manufactured anymore, so if you buy one it would be used. Obviously if you can get the price in the range where it is comparable to “regular” vehicles, a hybrid will save money in overall costs. But if you do the math, a new hybid takes 10-15 years to pay off, a decision that doesn’t really make a lot of sense financially.

    Lisa – get a brita filter if you want cleaner water, but tap water in most cities is fine and has been tested to be safe. Bottled water is a huge waste of money, not to mention all the waste (or pollution if you recycle).

  10. Jules says:

    @ Eric and BonzoGal: I think it’s because many of the so-called “hybrids” are not truly hybrids. Rather than using the engine to charge the battery, and changing to battery power when batteries become more efficient (as the Prius does), most “hybrids” (Lexus for certain, less certain about Honda) use the battery to give power to the engine.

  11. BonzoGal says:

    Thanks Jules!

  12. George says:

    @BonzoGal – textbooks, even used ones, are just a big revenue stream for the campus bookstores. If you buy used ones and resell them back to the bookstore, the “rental fee” will pay for the book after only a few “rentals”. Privately buying/selling your used textbook is usually a better bargain.

  13. George says:

    Controlling spending is more important than increasing income. Why? Well if you can’t control spending, then you have means to control spending even when the income goes up. Just look at our Federal Government to see the pattern and consequences…

  14. George says:

    er, “NO means” to control spending.

  15. Margaret says:

    DO NOT cancel your old insurance until you have your new insurance!!!! Yes, universal life sucks, but if you cancel then don’t get approved for new insurance (or for whatever reason the new insurance would be more expensive), you will be screwed. That being said, if you have universal life, CHANGE YOUR POLICY NOW! Due to some bad advice and not knowing anything about insurance, our first policy was universal life. I started hearing about term being better about three years ago, but delayed looking into it further until 6 months ago. We have since switched, but we were just pouring money down the tubes for the old insurance, PLUS I moved into an older age bracket so our current premiums are higher than they would have been if I had switched two years ago. Grrr. Oh well, only one bad financial move of many I have made in my life.

  16. Tracy says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this book. I have a comment about wedding gifts. I recently got married and we received a number of gifts that weren’t on the registry with no gift receipts. We live in a small apartment and not only do we lack the space for some of these gifts, we aren’t able to return them.

    One family sent us two very nice kitchen gift sets they probably spent a total of $200 for. Unfortunately, we don’t need these items and can’t return them. I have sold one set on Craigslist, but for less than the purchase price. We would have preferred a gift card or cash.

    Moral of this story, stick to the registry or buy a gift card. At the very least, include a gift receipt for items not on a registry. It’s not out of disrespect that we don’t want to keep these gifts, we just simply don’t need them and don’t have space for them.

  17. BonzoGal says:

    @George- thanks, that’s too true. I worked at a community college campus bookstore for a couple of semesters, and their markup on textbooks was unbelievable! They really do rip off students.

    That being said, I’d still like Trent to elaborate on what Gregory Karp’s carp (cough cough) with textbooks is. I’m just curious.

    The real pisser with some texts is that they change the editions often enough that you CAN’T sell back many books- they’re already outdated by the next semester! I can understand that with some science and current events classes, but in literature? Puh-leeze.

  18. Andy says:

    Tracy, once my wife and I regifted this expensive but horrible looking candlestick set to some friends. We were hoping they would like the style. We had it gift wrapped so that it looked like it came from a local fancy department store. Well, we had dinner with these friends, and she (forgetting who had given her the sticks) complained how the store wouldn’t take the sticks back! We acted like we didn’t know what she meant, but on the way home we laughed so hard we cried.

    So, your gifts might be regifts!

  19. James says:

    I’d be interested to hear more of what the author says about ink jet cartridges (chapter 3), and I’d also be interested in what Trent and the blog commenters say. I’ve had such bad luck with the recycled ones, making a mess, or my Canon machine not recognizing them at all. I like the savings at the local Rapid Refill place, but the frustration can be time-consuming.

  20. RK says:

    I’d love to learn more about your barrell composter, Trent. I’ve been considering acquiring one but I get so confused when I check them out online. I’d love to know what features you think are important and what you consider to be a reasonable price. Thanks.

  21. Jessica says:

    @RK- My barrel composter is a $12 garbage bin. We drilled holes around the edge of the lid to allow air in, and used a couple of bungee cords to secure the top. We toss in our coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells and some yard waste and roll it around every couple of days. If it gets too dry we give it a little water.

  22. Troy says:

    The “2 & 2″ plan for college going to community college for the first two years, then trnasferring to a 4 year university for the remaining 2 or 3 may work for some, but fails to recognize one of the main values of “college”…the education you receive out of the classroom.

    The first 2 years of “normal” college, moving away from home with all of the learning and independence as well as the roommates, friendships and experiences are some of the best experiences of many peoples lives. Giving that up to save a few bucks on tuition…nah…those memories are priceless. Think long and hard on this one.

  23. Robert says:

    Regarding Inkjet cartridges : Most printers made in the last couple of years are designed to communicate with a chip built in to the ink or toner cartridge. If the cartridge’s chip reports that too many pages have already been printed, the printer will refuse to accept the cartridge.

    This is supposedly to prevent unscrupulous vendors from passing off refilled or knock off cartridges as OEM new ones. But this tactic is also intended to help the manufacturers sell more new cartridges. The manufacturers usually lose money on the sale of a new printer because they normally sell printers for less than the cost to manufacture it. The manufacturers count on recouping their loss in higher markups on ink and toner cartridges.

    That said, I have been encouraging the staff at the remote sites I support for my employer to buy new OEM cartridges rather than the refilled ones from companies like Corporate Express. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had to go to a site to look in to printer issues, only to discover the cause was a poorly refilled cartridge (especially if the company doing the refill failed to recondition that other parts that wear out such as the image transfer roller in many toner cartridges). Often the companies refilling cartridges use the wrong type of ink or toner, leading to printing that smears or even potentially damaging the printer. Toner is especially sensitive, since different types are designed for different temperature and pressure combinations. Use of the wrong formula toner can lead to caking of the toner on the fusor rollers, requiring expensive replacements.

    While it’s often not as critical if a home user gets the occasional “bum” cartridge, if I have to go on-site the company is spending in excess of $100 for my time and travel expenses. Add in the potential lost sales if the sales department at a site can’t get a proposal out in time, or the poor impression it gives a customer when they are handed a printout of their bill that smears over their hands, and the losses far, far exceed the savings for using cheap cartridges for many businesses.

  24. Shevy says:

    @Troy

    Do you not move away when you go to college or university for the last 2 years? You get all the same experiences, but you have 2 years more maturity to be able to deal with some of the excesses with which you will inevitably be confronted.

    Going to a 4 year university and wasting the first year by partying to the exclusion of studying makes going straight to university an even more expensive option than it first appears.

    Plus, if you can get some of the credits at community college when you’re still in high school it means that you may graduate and be able to put your diploma to work earlier than by going straight to a 4 year university.

  25. Kate says:

    I fully agree with the 2 + 2 college plan. Many people feel that the “partying/living with all the comforts of home and then some” is a rite of passage and a requirement for the full college experience. I was amazed at the amount of “stuff” parents bought for their kids when I helped my children move into their dorms–new wide screen TV’s , new furniture, etc., etc., etc. My advice to my kids was to take as little as they could because they would be moving again.
    As for textbooks–the prices are outrageous. I have saved lots of dollars by shopping for them used at Amazon, alibris.com and Abe books or checking them out from the library–sometimes professors will let you borrow a copy. My kids would send me the list of what they needed and I would start comparison shopping. As for newer editions–ask the professor if there were many changes and if an older edition will do.

  26. Vicky says:

    @RK – As I understand it, barrel composters are faster than those which contact the ground, but in my experience the ground-contact style does more for my garden as it attracts worms and really improves the soil as I move it from place to place in my garden patch. I would also have a hard time maneuvering a barrel composter large enough for my needs – I fill mine to the top monthly, but due to the magic of composting, it keeps falling back to half-full.

    I was able to get a Soilsaver composter from my local beautification club for $15 (they were subsidizing the cost).

    I always enjoy finding more things to add to my compost. Shrub clippings, leaves, potato peel, corn leaves and husks, hair, brown paper bags, coffee grinds with filter, tea bags, apple cores, end-of-season annuals, leftover rice, stale bread, watermelon rind, etc. I also keep a worm bin, which is fun. :)

  27. Christine in Iowa says:

    @Troy, Shevy, & Kate
    I agree with Troy, part of college is the WHOLE experience. And that doesn’t necessarily mean “partying/living with all the comforts of home and then some”.
    But the vast majority of friendships and getting to know you activities take place in that first year. Transfer students are a different bunch.
    Fortunately, I have a few years to consider this. My oldest wants to go to MIT which is going to cost BIG bucks!

    @Jason–I live in Iowa too, would you post if you find this book at a library? PLDM doesn’t have it. tx

  28. quatrefoil says:

    Before I lived in an appartment I used to kill weeds in my paving effectively by pouring boiling water on them. Even factoring in the cost of boiling the water, it’s still probably cheaper than the vinegar. I generally used the water I’ve already used to steam veggies so it’s already ‘recycled’. Some tougher weeds required a few goes, but I got into the habit of just pouring the steaming water on the pavers and it kept the weeds under control. If I had water I’d boiled something in, I’d let it cool down and put it on the garden for the extra nutrients instead.

  29. Jason S says:

    @Christine in Iowa~

    Rats. It’s not in our public library system, either (Waterloo/Cedar Falls). But they’re really good at finding stuff via interlibrary loan–half the time, they wind up buying to book for their collection after I return it–so there’s hope yet.

    ***

    For what it’s worth, a higher-than-you’d expect percentage of students at community colleges come from out of the school’s designated “service area.” (At least in Iowa.) Heck, at my school, we oonly charge out-of-staters a premium for a single semester. Kids from more than an hour away generally live in highly dorm-like apartments adjacent to campus, so in respect their college experience is not wildly different from their university peers’.

  30. reulte says:

    Some textbook advice . . .

    Most textbooks are in the University library. If you’re fast or talk to the professor before the semester begins to find out which text s/he is using, you can reserve it for checkout at the beginning of the semester. Sometimes, libraries keep texts in the reference section- – well, you can read/make notes in the library. I even had one professor with double copies of the text he was using- – he loaned me one for the semester (with the stipulation that I wouldn’t get a grade until I returned it). Occasionally, you can find some texts in public libraries as well. Usually there is little or no different between editions- – and when there is a difference, the information is usually the same. Don’t do this with math books where problems are assigned out of the book for grading- – problems are usually the only things changed in math/physics type books. On the other hand, I went through one of my math courses with no book because even though he assigned problems from the book, he never picked up the papers. As long as I was on subject and could do the work demonstrated in class and using an old text on the subject I was fine.
    Also, I never purchased a textbook until the first assigned reading. I never purchase a textbook until and unless the professor says “The final will be 100% from the book”- – which is very rare. Usually the say “from class discussion”.

    Once I ‘rented’ a textbook from the student next to me who stated he was going to spend the weekend doing XXX. I paid a minimal fee for ‘renting’ the book for the weekend.

    These actions saved me a stack of cash during my college years.

    Also, see what you can do to test out of classes. I tested out of a semester’s worth of classes. That save me a semester of books, travel, study time, etc.

  31. Gretchen says:

    I don’t agree with the community college for 2 years route _unless_ the choice is between community college and a mediocre state university. If you are choosing between 2 years at community college or starting out at an ivy league-type caliber institution please do not give up 2 precious years of awesome education just to save money. I went to the state school while in high school (similar program a previous poster talked about) and got about a semester of free classes. But when I got to my ivy league school I realized the classes were way above and beyond the quality I was getting at the state school. I came from an extremely poor family but we pulled it off.

    When I told my high school yearbook teacher, who was a pretty level headed guy, that I got into an ivy, he replied, “if my son gets into that school I would sell my house and live in a shack to send him there!”

    Anyway, all that said, in about 10 or 15 years a lot of kids probably won’t even be going to college because it’ll be more cost-effective to be an entrepreneur right off the bat. Either that or the cost of tuition will go down considerably. It can’t keep increasing and in fact is beginning to be lowered at some institutions already.

  32. Jessica says:

    I did two years at a comm. college, and would recommend it to others as well. I had my own great experiences and I met more interesting people (because classes were more diverse-older adults returning, etc.) than I did at the university I transferred to. You can meet new people at a community college and get a great education-often the people who teach there are there because they want to teach, compared to those who really don’t want to teach at the 4 year/research universities and are doing it as an after thought.

    And frankly, I hated the dorm experience. I was used to doing things on my schedule and being more productive than my dorm-mates who were concerned mostly with partying as much as they could. When I was in community college, I had a part-time job (saved money), was more independent, cooked my own meals (way better than dorm food), was able to control my surroundings (quiet, cool/warm enough), and was treated more like an adult by peers/professors as a comm. college student than at a 4 year institution. Then again, I was/am more mature and happy to be an adult than the average person my age.

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