Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No-Vacation Nation = United States

The United States is the only economy in the world that DOES NOT guarantee its workers paid vacation. I guess there is no concept of work-life balance here, unless work is your entire life.

Statutory minimum Vacation by Country (Wiki) (Even China has 11 days of minimum leave)
Center for Economic and Policy Research's No-Vacation Nation (PDF)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Higher education - a financial mistake?

Now, a college degree is similar to a high school degree a generation ago.  Despite that, many college grads are not getting good jobs to offset earnings lost while attending the college and also typically graduate with a student debt. The average debt range from $ 20,000 in a public university to $33,000 in a private one according to Project student loan, which is about $2 500 to $4 000 a semester. College gives education, first taste of independence as well as responsibilities. It is sort of transition to the adulthood from the childhood. It also gives us the basic educational credential to get into most careers. So, even college is expensive, there is no doubt in my mind that it's necessary. My question is what about higher education after college?

Some of my friends decided to work right after graduating from college. While others, such as me, opted out for full-time graduate degrees. We rationalized that a graduate degree will translate into better jobs and more money. Some friends in the workforce even teased us that we are still in school to avoid real life responsibilities or couldn't find good enough jobs. After a full time graduate school for years, I am making same money as my cousin, who graduated from a college a year ago. Most of my friends who are working already have saved up money to put down-payment for a house, have paid off their student and car loans. Most of them also went back to grad school part time and will be finishing up their graduate degrees. Right now, I have a graduate degree but no work experience or savings. In contrast, my friends have work experience, some savings and partially completed graduate work (if they wanted). I understand that not everything is about money. My graduate education gave me knowledge and additional credentials in form of a degree. However, this extra education seems like a bad financial decision on my part. With the graduate degree, I will probably make similar money as my friends eventually, but it seems that I have I lost significant income during that period. However, another side of argument is that an advanced degree will lead to quicker rise to the top. Hence, a graduate degree in theory should make up for lost income (and more) over time. Let’s see, time will tell. 

My Debt Roundup – May 2010

My debt is at $17,784, a reduction of $1, 448 from last month. Compared to last few months, my debt repayment has slightly reduced. I know I am spending more money than before but really don’t know on what exact items. At this rate of repayment, I still need more than ONE year to be completely debt free (that’s summer of next year). I really wanted to be debt free by end of 2010. Help me! Any ideas?