Friday, December 18, 2009

If I had a Million Dollars I Would

Friday is dedicated to answer questions from the Frequently Asked Questions. If you have questions you want added to the FAQ, you can ask them on any FAQ Friday post or in the FAQ page.


What would you do if you were given a million dollars, taxes were already taken out and you had to accept it?


I'm not sure how this would happen, where I would be forced to take money, but here's my answer. My husband and I talked this over, because it was kind of hard for us to come up with an answer that accounted for all of the money. The first $100,000 would be a tithe, split between the local church we attend and our "home church" that Dan is in the process of being ordained by. That was the easy part.

Another $100,000 to $200,000 would go into setting up a modestly built-by-us, sustainable homestead.

This is where it gets sticky. My husband wants to help our kids through college. I think putting kids through college teaches them they don't have to work for their goals. With our current income, we'd be splitting our annual $2 from UPromise between ten kids. I'm not sure how he's planning on helping more.

In real life, I am winning this debate by default, but if we had $1,000,000, he would have a better chance at winning the debate. At this point in real life, we are considering it an open discussion, since it is so far off.

If it weren't for the college debate, the rest would be put into savings of some sort. I'm sure we would be booted from government health insurance and would start paying our own health insurance with that money. (We are still on the government insurance and waiting to see what happens with the health care bill before deciding on the most economical way to proceed.)

My husband would continue college and continue working and seek a pastorate. I would still mystery shop for free restaurant meals. It's kind of a boring answer. Sorry if you were hoping for something more exciting.

What I find interesting is that the premise of the question suggests that we are frugal due to a lack of funds. That is not true. We are frugal because it is the right thing to do. Having a lack of funds has just given us better practice at being frugal.


Anonymous said...

Actually, not helping your kids pay for college perpetuates the poverty cycle. Brava, Emily.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE put your children through college. I've seen many case in which bright bright children end up unable, frustrated, stressed, and get downright tired of balancing the work/school/life of trying to put themseleves through college (or more particularily through grad school) and just end up burnt out.

My parents put me through college, and I can't thank them enough allowing me to be debt free as I start my adult life.

My husband's parents did not. Luckily he is a 'think ahead' strategic thinker, and took a full time job, while schooling part time (quite heavily) and managed to graduate with his peers and without debt. His brother on the other hand has decided it's not worth it and quit.

With 10 children, yes, odds are some may have the willpower to push through (ie: my husband), but the vast majority in general, unfortunately, are just unable to do so.

I won't look it up, though I'm sure someone eventually will... but I'm nearly certain not helping your kids through college does more damage than good.

Scottish Twins said...

Emily - you are brilliant at what you do. You know exactly the type of response you are going to get from the college statement and that it is going to bring people back here all day long checking the comments section to see the debate. Laugh your way to the bank woman! You're one smart cookie for knowing how to make a buck off of a bunch on silly women who get so upset over an internet personality's opinions.

And I agree to an EXTENT about the college thing. While we have some family members who contribute to college funds, it won't be near enough to fully cover the cost by the tiome my kids are college age. We will not be covering the rest of the tab in full, but rather expect our kids to be resourceful enough to figure out a way to pay for it on their own. If that means they have to work for a few years before they go to school or only go to school part-time while they work - so be it.

The entitlement in this country is amazing. You don't HAVE to go to college to be successful - I have many family members that are proof of that. You are not going to end up living in poverty if you have to pay for college on your own. You may end up swimming in debt to your eyeballs if you get unrealistic and attend an expensive private school when you are paying for it all on your own, but making smart decisions about which schools to go to based on your method of payment is the way to do it.

And this is one of the great things about homeschooling. Hopefully your children can either graduate at an early age and work for several years to save up money for college before they actually attend or find some vocational training when they are young.

As long as you teach your children about responsible spending, how to be resourceful, and frugal living they are going to be fine. I know many college grads whose mommies and daddies paid for every cent that are still up to their eyeballs in debt/living in poverty because they never learned responsible spending.

And good choice on the homestead. We would do the exact same thing (although probably on a slightly larger scale with a fully functioning farm business to live off of) if we won the lottery :)

Patty said...

I am with you Emily. I'm not frugal b/c I have to, I am because I am. My opinion on the college part is mixed. For one my husband and I both have masters degrees but I don't think everyone NEEDS college. For two, every student makes a different college experience for themselves. My parents 'helped' me because I lived at home and my dad was a prof (we carpooled) at the public college I attended but otherwise I had scholarships or 'jobs' on campus. My jobs were related to my studies such as working in the science labs or student teaching. I value what I had and the fact that it was my own two feet that got me those opportunities. My husbands bachelors was paid for through a family trust. He still worked hard and got ahead but this gave him the chance to attend a private school. We both had full rides for our MS and we both worked hard to keep it that way. Thankfully we came out debt free and were able to use our first few years of working to get cars, get married and get a house. Now that we are a few years into the corporate world we've noticed many things. For one, having a bachelors or MS does help get in the door with job interviews, but it does not correlate to employee skill or work ethic. The tasks we do we could have done out of high school and we would have built up more raises and vacation days with those extra 6 years that were spent in school. I don't regret college or grad school, those were great opportunities but how will the world be in 15-20 yrs? Will we value college, online home self taught college or apprenticeships? So Emily, just teach your kids as much as you can while you are with them, let them learn different perspectives on topics and make their own belief decisions and maybe save up a little bit to get them started in school if college is what they want but don't worry about having a million set aside for everyones schooling.

Patty said...

Oh I have "If I had a million dollars..." song stuck in my head.

Anonymous said...

To above posters... find me an secure, entry level job, that pays well, offers benefits and doesn't require at least some sort of degree beyond high school. Times have changed. Folks who have "made it" without college degrees would not neccesarily make it NOW.

Heather said...

We plan to pay half of our children's college education. They're expected to chip in the other half, because we too believe that kids need to work toward their goals and share the responsibility.

I paid my entire way through college, and I went to school with kids who had absolutely no expenses. Their parents gave them everything, and didn't even expect them to work part time for pocket money. I noticed quite a difference in their work ethic versus my own.

Emily said...

Anon, you can be an entrepreneur with any level of education.

Scottish Twins said...

Anon - I agree with Emily. Entrepreneurs can always makes it. You don't need a degree in business to run a successful business, you just need motivation, determination and a hard work ethic!

Jenny @ The Zepf Life said...

I find this very fascinating. I too was under the impression you were so frugal because you had to be. I too enjoy being frugal. However if money was no object, I would pay someone to clean my bathrooms! That is my least favorite chore! We would buy a house/build a house on a lot of land where our kids could play and just have fun. I would quit my part time job and stay home full time. We would buy animals, chickens for eggs, and not sure what else, maybe goats, cause they are just fun. And maybe a few more dogs. But my car I will still keep the same, it will be paid off in one month. I would help out my family and give each of my siblings money. And make sure my parents were comfortable and didn't need anything. That would be the best, for my parents to not have to worry about anything.

Treva said...

My comment is based on the thought that college is being paid for and that no scholarships have been awarded, which can cause a myriad of other responses.

I love the college debate going on! My take on helping is that I do not have to pay money to help my daughter go to college. I can provide for some basic necessities, like a place to live and food. One thing I think we often forget is that our children do not have to go away to college. The first 2 years of college are mostly general education requirements -- college English; some type of math, science,history and a foreign language; some form of arts; statistics; physical education; etc. These classes can be had at a community college for a fraction of the cost of a 4 year school. Even with a commute, it's cheaper than going away to a school.

And after those basic courses, the most popular bachelor's degrees can be had at local 4 year colleges, thus reducing cost again by staying in-state. "According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES),, the three most common bachelor's degree programs are business, the social sciences and education." Found at

A lot of people will argue that college is a time to learn how to live on your own as an adult. Yet I feel that an adult child living at home, but attending college and working part-time b/c they are responsible for their own tuition, books, fees, and whatever other bills they have (phone, car insurance, etc.) is learning about the real world. Loans are not necessary. But for some reason, especially in America, we think our children have to go away to college to learn how to live on their own and that they have to take on massive loan debt in order to get a decent education. This simply is not true.

When I was pregnant with my daughter my credit union asked me if I wanted to open an education savings plan for my child. I asked them, "What if she doesn't want to go to college? What if she wants to go to a trade school and become a plumber or an electrician? Or what if she wants to get into a nursing program through a hospital? What happens to the money then?" And I was told the money could easily be saved and rolled over to my grandchild. Not that I don't love my future grandchild, but 1) I may not have one and 2) he/she may not want college either. I have to agree with the financial experts that it's better to save for retirement so you are not a burden to your children in your later years; after all your children will have many years to work and pay back loans they may take out to complete college.

As for living on their own, a child can be well taught before college how the "real" world works. At 16 I had a job and when I got my first job my mom said, "Great! Your car insurance is due and you need to put gas in the car." And from that point on those bills, along with a chunk of my clothing, my books for school (private school), my school supplies, and my spending money were my responsibility. So before college I had a pretty good idea of what the "real" world expected of me.

Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

Big difference between wanting to help kids through college & putting them through college. Helping anyone doesn't always teach that you don't have to work for things. I'd literally compare that to having government insurance, food stamps, rent assistance, etc. No, I've been there. But if one doesn't plan on getting off the government breast, it's no different than *putting* your children through college. I worked my way off government assistance, & I worked hard because the last thing I wanted to do was have others pay my way all my life. I used it as a springboard for many other things in my life. If you *help* a child with not only college, but many things in life, you teach them that it is OK to ask for help. You teach them to use the help they're given as a springboard. Rock on to your husband for teaching them that help is ok!

To Scottish twins. I doubt I'll be back for the sole purpose of checking the comments. I have a life, for one, not to mention, it's my opinion & quite frankly I don't care who agrees or not. I refuse to go through life without my voice being heard. Whether my voice is wrong or right, I won't be hushed. Silly woman? I think not. That reeks of stereotyping & judgment to me. How sad.

Now I'm going to go on with my day, and most likely & promptly forget about this.

Scottish Twins said...

Michaela Leeper - there is a difference between someone who respectfully disagrees with Emily's argument, as you just have, and someone who comes here and posts multiple times per day anonymously just to harass and belittle her. The people belittling her are the silly ones, because they don't realize that Emily is making money off of their visits.

I am sorry if that comment offended you, because it was not intended for people like you. But I have a feeling this apology will fall on deaf ears since you "have a life", "don't care" and are going to "forget about this."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Scottish Twins. People are drawn to controvery and if you want a successful blog, then you combine an interesting concept and some controversy and you will make money. well played, emily!

I will help my son to the extent that I am able, which means he will have to help himself some. I feel that if I help him, I am supporting, through my actions, my words that education is important and matters. As for being self employed, the issue with that is finding a good idea and selling it. Anyone can do it, but you have to have some innate talents in terms of marketing and being able to fill a need in society that people will spend money on. I don't think it's as easy as it sounds. But I've also never tried so, who knows.

I am a fan of education for the sake of education. I think that the college experieince is more than just schooling for a career. If my son and I spent thousands on school and he went to work at Target, I would still feel it was money well spent.

Anonymous said...

The notion that parents have to pay for their child's college education is ridiculous. My parents didn't contribute anything to my college education and I'm currently working on my PhD at an Ivy Leaugue University. I put myself through college by going to a community college for 2 1/2 years and then a state university for 2 1/2 years and working 20 - 35 hours a week the entire time and making use of financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans. Because I was working so hard to pay for school, I made sure that I worked even harder to get good grades. I had the foresight to participate in summer internships, which made my graduate school application much more competitive. In my field, graduate school is always free, paid for by the university in the form of a teaching or research assistantship. I'm getting a quarter of a million dollar education basically for free!!! And when I graduate, my annual salary will be more than twice what I took out in student loans for my entire undergraduate education. My point is that you just need to teach your kids to work hard, value education, and to be resourceful and self-reliant. That being said, it would have been really nice if my parents had paid for the occasional plane ticket home or sent me a gift card for groceries every once in a while.

Irene said...

Emily I understand the debate about putting your children through college - my husband and I have that debate, and don't even have kids yet. But I want to point out that you only went to school for one year, and I believe you've posted that your husband's tuition is only $4K/year. This seems like a very reasonable amount to expect a student to come up with. However, what if your children want a different college experience? What if they want to (and can) go to Harvard, or Yale? Or simply want to go out of state and have the "typical" college experience of attending a large school, living in dorms, etc? This type of college experience currently costs upwards of $30K/year. And that's a LOT of debt to start an adult life with.

I am guessing your answer will be something along the lines of "We will teach our children to be frugal, and this will extend to their college experience as well" but education is PRICELESS and if your child had the opportunity to attend a highly accredited, Ivy League school, wouldn't you want them to take it? Also, don't undersestimate the "rebel" factor of an 18 year old!

Renee said...

WOW! I'm surprised by so many people who are vehemently upset about you not wanting to pay for your kids to go to college. There is NOTHING wrong with that!

1. If a college education were harder to achieve these days, it would carry much more prestige and accomplishment. Instead the ease of access has created a bunch of pseudo-adults that think they're entitled to live the lifestyle their parents created for them without ever working for it.

2. If you think you have to go to college to get a good job, then you are VERY short sighted. AND if you want to be wealthy, you're actually better off making LESS, yep that's right, LESS than $80,000/year. Check out "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley.

Would I help my kids get through college? That would completely depend on them and their attitude toward hard work and the importance of education. The will in NO WAY be entitled to that money just because they make it through High School.

Anonymous said...

Students who pursue business as a major are actually on the decline right now due to the current economy, and for every entrepeneur, there are many, many who have failed. I think that is a very generic answer, but thanks anyway!

Ellie said...

I think my parent's handled the college situation pretty well. I wanted to go to a particular private school, which was pretty costly. I made good grades and did great on my SAT, so I was awarded a really good scholarship but there was still going to be a pretty large bill. I paid for everything that I could, by working a part-time job and also doing a work-study job. They loaned me whatever money I needed, but I was always expected to pay it back in a timely manner by either working it off (they own their own business) or with the extra money that I made while I lived at home in the summers, when I was able to work multiple jobs. I never owed them money for very long. And I get to say that I put myself through college.

Anonymous said...

Having been there and done that with paying for my children's college I will have to say, I wish I had made them pay their own.

To long of a story to go into detail but I think children would appreciate their education more if they were responsible for having to pay for it.

And as far as having to have a college degree to get ahead in life, I totally disagree! I know people that have never attended college and are doing quite well for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Renee~ Guess I am short sighted. Blame it on ten years working in higher education, working with first generation students, paying attention to trends, job placement, etc.

Scottish Twins said...

Anonymous - "Students who pursue business as a major are actually on the decline right now due to the current economy, and for every entrepeneur, there are many, many who have failed. I think that is a very generic answer, but thanks anyway!"

There are just as many people with college degrees that fail every single day. Think of the bankers with Ivy League educations that lose everything when the sotck market crashes. Think of the people who go to school and get degrees in English and writing, who never end up doing anything with it or publishing a novel.

The point is, a degree isn't necessary to succeed. If you are willing to work hard enough it is possible! You may have to do some extra work on your own (perhaps learn a trade by working alongside someone who knows what they are doing or get paid next to nothing for a while until you learn a little about how a particular business works), but a formal education is not always necessary.

Jen said...

I think there's got to be a happy medium between paying for your child's college and giving them no help. My parents paid for about 1/4 of my college tuition with the conditions that I kept higher than a B average. I paid for 1/2 of it by saving and working during high school and college and with scholarships. 1/4 is in loans that I am slowly getting paid off.
I work really hard in college because I knew I couldn't afford not to do well.
My husband and I are hoping to teach our son to save the money he is given as gifts for college. We'll help to the extent that we can afford to as long as our kids work up to their abilities. A traditional college may not be the right choice for everyone, but to survive in this market generally some sort of additional training is needed, such as a tech school or certifications.

Anonymous said...

Lots of sweeping generalizations going on here.

Clisby said...

" What if they want to (and can) go to Harvard, or Yale? Or simply want to go out of state ..."

My answer (and our family income is many, many times that of Emily and Dan) would be: "Then they can pay for that themselves."

I have the same attitude as my parents: We'll do our best to help our children through college, but if we can't, we're not going to feel guilty about it. Parents have no obligation whatsoever to give their children a college education.

And unless we hit the lottery, we'll likely make our 2 kids the same offer my parents made their 6 kids: "You can attend any public college/university in this state. If you want to go out of state, or to a private college, you have to come up with the difference in cost."

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently: send our children to college, but0001424052748703438404574597952027438622.html

Diana @ frontyardfoodie said...

Wowsers people! A little love up in here please!

My parents paid for the college I attended but about halfway through I decided that spending their money and spending 5 years of my time wasn't worth it since I was getting married and wanted to be a wife and eventually stay at home mom. Before becoming a mom I just wanted a job, no a career. I got an entry level job at a successful company and am the youngest employee. I went from being at entry level and kept learning until they promoted me. Now I have a great job that pays well and I can keep it until I'm ready for kids.

I guess what I'm trying to say is A. Emily is right about kids paying for their education, it's a good idea because they'll not waste their time since they're paying for it and B. you CAN make it just fine in this world without a degree. I'm living proof!

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna go out there and say DON'T help your kids through college (or apprenticeships, university, trade school). I never got help, and I worked my butt off to get what I wanted.

Also, since you've been to school in Canada, and you live near the border, your kids will know that other countries' universities are often cheaper; or like you, they could go to an institution that's not accredited - I have no problem with schools that aren't accredited, but where people are there to learn.

I think you're right on the money (pun INTENDED). The only people I know who flunked out of college were ones whose parents paid for it. And I know quite a few...


Mary said...

Scottish Twins:
Anonymous - "Students who pursue business as a major are actually on the decline right now due to the current economy, and for every entrepeneur, there are many, many who have failed. I think that is a very generic answer, but thanks anyway!"

There are just as many people with college degrees that fail every single day.

While it is true that there are many un- and underemployed college graduates, on a percent basis, more entrepreneurs fail. Those who become the Paul Orfaleas and Steve Gateses are the very rare exception.

Not everyone goes to college, and those who do not and are able to lead fulfilling lives in blue collar jobs are the rule, not the exception. We will always need food service workers, janitors, etc. But entrepreneurship is not the way most of these will make their livings.

Emily, with you a "submit-to-your-husband-no-matter-what" kind of girl, I wonder why winning the debate to *not* help your children pursue higher education is so important to you when your husband clearly sees it as a priority. If Dan wanted to, would you truly support him taking more hours or finding a different job so he could help his children in this way?

I'm Lori...and maybe I'm you, too. said...

I think that the purpose of the million dollar question is to separate the needs from the wants. Not that people don't believe your frugality is a choice. I might not agree with all of your choices, but I think it's quite clear that they are decisions that you have made and not circumstances that have been forced upon you. (That's kind of the heart of the controversy, isn't it?)
When reading this, what I know I wanted to hear in your answer was not that you would continue to be frugal. I assumed that. My grandma owns most of the county she lives in, but she still saves all of her butter wrappers to grease cake pans and she always will.
It makes sense that your husband would continue on his path. He has a calling, after all, but I would imagine a windfall like that would make it easier for you to take on a job at one of those churches you were talking about that have such a small budget for a pastor. Perhaps that would be why God would drop such a gift in your lap.
But I guess my question would be, if the parameters of your situation changed, would the parameters of your frugality change as well? Would you still watch your pennies but have, oh, a higher price threshhold for produce? You'd like to do more organic corn and meat, I know, so would this be an opportunity for you to do so? I enjoy making my own ricotta, bread, pasta and Italian sausage, and that has nothing to do with my income, but there are certainly things in my home I would do differently if there was an opportunity.

Emily said...

Mary, yes, if Dan took on extra work to pay for kids' college, then that money would be designated for kids' college.

Jessica said...

I don't realistically think we'll be able to afford the full cost of tuition by the time my child(ren) (*there's only one as of now!)make it to college. However, we'll do everything in our power to provide them with the opportunity to pursue their goals.

I disagree with going the cheapest route in college. Sure, you may earn a degree, and it may cost less, but I think the experiences of going out of state to a new campus on your own, and being exposed to a whole new world are priceless. I would actually encourage my child(ren) to go OUT of state - because if they don't see what is out there then, when will they?

Also a college degree today is yesterday's high school diploma. It's just a necessity, in my mind. Clearly, others disagree. But the folks I know without a degree sure have a harder time finding a job with good pay, good benefits and flexibility. I don't want my children to struggle. I want them to work hard, and will expect them to contribute to their schooling costs as I did, but I want them to start out with the best opportunity I can give them. I also hope they'll do well in school like my husband and I - my expensive private out of state school cost me less than in-state public tuition b/c I earned an academic scholarship.

Emily said...

Lori, food quality would change primarily from setting up a homestead. I have goals for a larger garden this coming year, so if we had such a windfall, we would buy some land and set it up with some animals and a large garden. On our current income, this is a process that will take many many years, but a windfall would allow us to set it up more quickly, but still with the same frugal manner.

Elizabeth said...

I just wrote a small post about paying for children and college on my own blog (before reading this one!) at

Clisby said...

"If they don't see what is out there then, when will they?"

Ummm ... how about after college? Heck, for the price of out-of-state tuition, I could send my kid backpacking across Europe for a year, or provide a hefty downpayment on a house if I felt so inclined. I'm all for people checking out other states, but undergraduate college is an exorbitantly expensive way to do this.

Here's a quick example: If I sent a child to the University of South Carolina next year, it would cost roughly $9,000 in tuition/fees. This does not count room and board, nor does it take any scholarships into account. If I sent that same child to the University of Georgia next year, the tuition/fees would be about $25,000. At the University of NC at Chapel Hill, it would be about $24,000. At Ohio State - about $23,000.

Georgi said...

College is so important in the world today, it is almost impossible to get a job that does not include waiting tables or standing on your feet all day without it. Please pay at least half for your children (if possible)so they do not feel defeated before they start or end up with a mountain of debt when they are done. I too feel that children should contribute, so they feel that they have earned the degree, but I also feel that it is imperative that we help our children, so they do not give up.

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

"Also a college degree today is yesterday's high school diploma."

I totally agree. Masters and PhD.'s are the new way of life. In the future, I think we will see an extension of "childhood" if you will into the college years. Everyone will be expected to get a college degree (B.S.), followed by more specialized training, such as then going to trade school, beauty school, or graduate school.

Think of people today who are successful, but didn't go to college. They may have worked their way up after high school.

But how many high school dropouts are successful today? Very few. That is the future, just replace the words "high school" with the word "college."

For the poster above who said that she never knew a student who didn't finish that was paying his or her own way, I call shenanigans. Current statistics indicate that 25-50% of all students who start college do not finish within six years for their bachelor's.

Some people find that they do not have the intelligence for college, some do not have the temperament, some have family illnesses that call them home, some decide to pursue something else, and some have financial problems.

I assume that almost everyone on here would never encourage or allow his or her child to drop out of high school right now. Think about that when you say you would be okay with your child not going to college. You would not anymore than you would be comfortable with a student dropping out of high school.

A hundred years ago, people finished eighth grade as a standard, high school was above and beyond. We will continue to have jumps like this in education. I am not saying it is right or wrong (over education is leading to delayed adulthood), but it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Considering the genetics and upbringing, I would say the probability of Emily's kids going to college will be much lesser than her winning a million in the lottery!!

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I am more interested in researching her posts about kefir and lacto fermentation much more than an obscure thing as a vapid million dollar dream. I have been reading up on those every now and then and wondering where she came up with those ideas. Carmen

frugalredneck said...

To the post above about find me a high paying job now without education, And I am not saying education if not important. The fact of the matter is that not everyone goes to college. My hubby has a high school diploma, At 20 he started working for Schwans, Driving truck which he loved,(that was around 1990) and made $50,000 a year. 6 years ago he decided he wanted to work for the railroad, His first year he made $60,000. 2 years ago he went to engineer training, and This year looks to be on pace for $91,000. This is not isolated. My brother also makes about 120,000 a yr out in california with a high school diploma. I would rather my hubby do a job he loves, Which is driving the choo choo as we say, Then be in some job just because. My brother loves having his own business more then anything. This country stands on the backs of those less educated but proud and happy to be doing what they are doing. If my kids want to go to college, I will be doing cheers for them. But the fact of the matter is that some of them won't. My 17 year old won't. He is not interested one bit. He never was, But he is prodigal when it comes to computers. He started his home business a year ago, And half the people in town bring their computers to him for fixing and upgrading. He knows where to go to get them the best price, and self taught himself all the ins and outs. He is the happiest I have ever seen him, That is good enough for me. I too like alot of posters agree I would not pay for my kids to go to college, They would learn more from me not. My youngest brother just put himself through UC berkely, graduated this year with very tiny amount of debt, But received not one dime from my parents. He wanted it that bad. Unfortunatley for him, He can't even find a job out there right now in his field, So he has a regular job at this point. Anyway If I had a million dollars, I would soooooo get a homestead going, I dream of this!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, for someone who preaches 'doing with less,' you sure do talk about money a lot.

That's the difference between people who have money, and the people who wish they had money. People who have it don't need to talk about it; those who don't can't talk about anything else.

I would also encourage you to encourage your husband to get a real education that doesn't involve sponging off others as a pastor does. Encourage him to get an engineering degree, a nursing degree; a degree in something that produces a product or provides a meaningful productive service. Heck, a ditch digger has a more honorable trade than a paid preacher.

If he wants to preach, let him do it free of charge. THAT is service to a congregation. Taking their money is nothing short of being a prostitute.

Serena said...

Emily, I think it is great that you chose to live frugally and enjoy it, but I have one question for you... have you ever had the desire to travel and see other places in the world? I understand that right now that is not a possibility for you, but if you were to win a million dollars, would you want to use some of that to take a trip somewhere and see another part of the world, another culture, another way of life?

I'm Lori...and maybe I'm you, too. said...

Emily - You don't have to post this, but I just mentioned you in my blog at You have actually spurred me to add a little more structure to my blogging.

Anonymous said...

And what if your kids don't want to be entrepreneurs?

It's true that a really ambitious, hardworking person can put themselves through college, or can carve out a decent living for themselves without a degree. But more often than not, they end up working minimum wage, living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, I sort of assume that's the future you want for your children.

Emily said...

Carmen, some good resources on lacto-fermenting are the Nourishing Gourmet and GNOWFGLINS, who just wrote about water kefir today.

Serena, I've been to Haiti on a missions trip and we've spent a lot of time in Canada. Travelling is not a huge priority, especially overseas travelling, but we would like to see more of the states, which is quite doable on a small income.

Jessica said...

Just to add to the college debate - some jobs require further degrees than in the past. I've worked for multiple companies in engineering, and many of the 50+ crowd only had associate degrees, which was fine at the time. However, any new hires must have at least a bachelor's degree. Many jobs now require a four-year degree from an accredited university. As someone above said, it's not necessarily right, but that's the way things are going (more schooling, delaying adulthood).

Elizabeth said...

To those who say that a college is a requirement for everyone is sadly out of touch with reality. There are jobs that are needed to be filled that do not require a college degree...garbage men, cashiers, postal workers, janitors, bus drivers, factory workers, truck drivers, and the list goes on and on. Quite frankly, the majority of those jobs have a very decent wage. Would those who think college is "required" be embarassed to declare that their child is a trucker? Maybe, but that is because your priorities are messed up.
I want my children to be happy in a job/career that they have. If that means that it is a career that requires further education than I will push my child in that direction (but we do not have college funds set up, we think a child can manage that themselves just as they can buy a car or house themselves). But if it is a job that "only" requires a tech school or no further schooling at all I will not be disappointed. My goal for my children is not to be filthy stinkin' rich or have a PhD. I want my children to be sucessful in life by being a wonderful friend, having a good family life, and living a comfortable life, and loving what they do,which often one does not need a college degree for. If they want to be a starving artist and are happy because they are absolutely in love with what they do than so be it!
It is not true that those who don't go to college usually end up living on minimum wage. Out of the majority of my relatives they did not have further education. Many own their own businesses or make $50,000+ just working at a factory or as a truck driver. The ones who started college because it was "expected" of them? They quit halfway through, have no degree, are working at dead end jobs and are still paying back their school loans. Sometimes, it is what you do with your life that defines how you turn out. My husband doesn't make as much as several others I know but DUE TO THE FACT that we know how to budget and get by on less we have zero debt. I can't say the same for some of those I know who make three times what we do. It is all a matter of priorites, not education.

Roxanna said...

I have a question :) To get finincial aid a college student is based of their parent's income till they are 25 OR have dependents of their own. Because of this they have to their parent's co-sign on their loans and also provide their finianical info for even the PELL grant and other grants/loans.

If your children have the drive to want to go to college but also want/need to take out a loan and get grants are you and your DH willing to provide your finiancial info thill they are 25?

Betsy said...

The college debate always forgets that some of us liked college. :) I went because I felt a calling to be a nurse. Kinda need a degree for that. So, I went, on scholarships, and I lived at home. I graduated with about $3000 in debt.

Grad school? I went into too much debt, and I wish I hadn't. But that's not the same situation, either.

I think that I'd love to help our children out with school, either by letting them live at home or helping with basic needs (insurance, buying clothes for Christmas, etc), or something of the sort.

By saying, "people don't need college," I think it cuts out a whole lot of professions that God might very well be calling our children into.

God doesn't call everyone to be an entrepreneur. (thank goodness!! How stressful a life that would be!! We couldn't handle it around here) Nor does God call everyone to work physical labor (everyone's back is not as strong as everyone else's, of course). I really do think that God places callings on people for medicine, for business, for public school teaching, and for other jobs that require degrees.

To say that "degrees are useless" cuts out a huge portion of where God can use folks.

Clisby said...


Where are you seeing all those 50+ engineers with just associate degrees? What exactly are they doing?

My brother, a mechanical engineer, is 50+. When he graduated in 1978, a BS in engineering from an accredited 4-year college/university was the norm for people who wanted good engineering jobs. My father, who earned his engineering degree from Georgia Tech in 1950, was in charge of hiring engineers at a large plant at that time (1970s). He was looking for graduates of Georgia Tech, MIT, VPI, Clemson University, etc. - he wouldn't have even considered someone with an associate degree. There's nothing new about needing a 4-year-degree for an engineering job.

liveoncejuicy said...

My dad and step-mother both have college degrees. They had the same mindset as Emily, that parents shouldn't pay for their kids college degrees. I'm not 100 percent in either direction. I have a daughter who will graduate from high school next year (2011), and has her mind set on going away to college. Paying for it is a moot point, because I can't afford to. But I'll support her while she's in school as much as I can. More importantly though, I've been supporting her since she's been in high school in her goal of college by encouraging her to get good grades, helping her research scholarships, and talking with her about what it takes to finance an education.

I have eight siblings. At 38 I'm the oldest...and when I'm 40 I'll be the first of them to get a college degree. My parents didn't pay for my college. They didn't have to, I got good grades and could have at least attended a local state university without debt. But they also didn't give me or my siblings the more important encouragement and support in figuring out HOW to do it on my own.

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

You graduate college, you get a job. Let's say it is a job that doesn't require a degree...someone said truck driver or postal worker. Fine, but the chances are, to advance in that job, the worker will need a degree.

If you are up for a promotion and all things are equal, the degreed person will receive it. They have made an investment (financially and time-wise) in the future and in the company. They have proven that they have perseverance and can get things accomplished. Also, the sacrifice of four years of wages shows the employer that the employee has what it takes.

I don't even know that you can get an entry level job without college now in most parts of the country. Truck drivers often have to be 21 here. What has the young person been doing for three years?

Remember, your child is competing against everyone else for jobs. If everyone else has a college degree and your child doesn't (even if the job doesn't need one or doesn't require one), your child will not get the job.

I have seen ads for secretaries and receptionists needing college degrees now. Basic high school education is poor and certifies little, so now the standards have been raised.

"There are jobs that are needed to be filled that do not require a college degree...garbage men, cashiers, postal workers, janitors, bus drivers, factory workers, truck drivers, and the list goes on and on. Quite frankly, the majority of those jobs have a very decent wage."

Really, where in this country can you live on a cashier's wage? Where can you raise a family working as janitor? Thirty years ago, yes, possible. Today, no. More jobs have been created that pay well, raising the standard of living and costs, making life hard financially for these working class positions. Emily's family has a janitor dad. Her lifestyle is not sustainable long-term.

And factory workers? Are you living in the US? Those jobs will NOT be here in ten or twenty years. The postal service is in trouble as well.

Garbage men, truck drivers, and bus drivers do have good salaries. However, in my area, a degree is needed for garbage men. The posts I see are looking for "sanitation experts" with experience and at least a two-year degree.

Let's get real...not everyone can be a business owner. Our country cannot sustain an infinite number of businesses. Not everyone can own a business making over 50k per year. What about business capital? The person usually needs to work for a few years first to raise that capital.

Also, a huge issue in this country is health insurance. It is not easy to have your own insurance when you are self-employed. Many people prefer the stability of a job with insurance benefits.

If you are commenting and stating "Most of my relatives don't have degrees and are doing great for themselves!" ask yourself, how old are my relatives? What generation are they a part of?

We are not living in 1930, 1950, 1970, or even 1990 anymore. This is not the future. You cannot base the future of your children on what your grandparents did (left school in eighth grade), what your parents did (graduated high school only), or even what you did (earned an AA or AS). Your children are going to have to go beyond. What was good enough for your relatives falls short now.

heather said...

i've mentioned some of this before...i strongly believe a college education is crucial. as times change, i believe you will see the middle class disappear. just as a high school diploma used to be something that was "worth" a good career and it no longer is.

another thing that is changing against our children's odds is being bilingual. maybe it's where i live...but i can tell you that many, many of my girl's classmates are spanish speaking first, then english speaking. when it's time to enter the work force my girls will be at a disadvantage if competing against someone who is bilingual. so i am seriously considering spanish classes for them. this may tick some people off...but i'm just making an observation and giving food for thought. i'm in florida- i'm sure that other floridians, texans, californians, and many in the south and southwest know what i'm talking about.

you will have those who are successful likely because they have further education. and those who will be serving up big macs. i can't speak for anyone else, but i know what i prefer for my children. sure there's the success story of someone with no further education becoming a great entrepreneur...but really how likely is that?

i personally feel that it's selfish to have many children and not provide a hand up (not a hand out) for those children to become successful, self sustaining, responsible adults. just my opinion know we all have them.

my parents didn't have support to go through school, they did it themselves. they also agreed to have just one child so that they could provide adequately for that child including a college education. my husband was tossed from foster homes to relatives and also had no help, he is a veteran, a hospice nurse (LPN) and now going back to school because the reality is that he needs different initials behind his name to comfortably support us. (i was the breadwinner before cancer, now i'm disabled.)

i think a bit differently than my parents. i felt being an only child was lonely. i didn't want that for my children so i have two that are close in age. i would love to have more but this goes back to what i feel is irresponsible and selfish. i want to assure my girls will have what they need to be successful and that includes a good education. maybe they will qualify for grants and scholarships. i certainly don't want them to start off adulthood in the hole with student loans.

there is plenty of time for them to be on their own, paying their own way and taking care of their own responsibilities. gosh...there is just so much time for that.

though again i seriously believe that times will change, there will be those who are successful and those who are not. there are plenty of jobs that don't require a college education, but by golly will they be struggling to just make ends meet. that's a reality, atleast to me.

so, i doubt i will change anyone's mind on having 5, 10 or more kids and then expecting them to up and make their way alone and without help the moment they turn 18. i certainly wish i could. even with my parents help i wasn't self sustaining until i was about 25 and expecting my first child. it was then that i realized that i really needed to be serious because i was now responsible for another life. some get there earlier, some later.

again these are just my opinions. i know that they will not cause emily or likely anyone to have a second thought. emily appears to be truly happy with the way her family lives and believes. it's not my cup of tea and that's ok.

however, i do worry about the children. times are changing, and times will be tough for those who don't have the support of their parents. they were for my parents and my husband. and with my perception of the ongoing changes in the world, i really worry.

Katie said...

I totally agree with Betsy--many of us actually really liked college. There is so much more to going to college than earning a degree. I went to the biggest university in my state, and the amount of learning and knowledge there was unbelievable. Even now when I go back to visit friends, I am amazed and in awe. Think of all the students and faculty, masters and PhD candidates, professors and lecturers--all the labs and experiments going on. If any thing, going to an enormous, liberal campus made me closer to God. It made me begin to grasp the concept of an omniscient God. One single campus can hold all that knowing in so many buildings and in so many people, so how awesome can one being be to know everything there is to know?

I was lucky to have parents with the foresight to pay for my education. It enabled me to have four years of pure learning. I learned about myself, my culture, my beliefs, and of course I learned a tremendous amount of science, literature, history, French, art, psychology, and music. I look back on those days with such fondness. It certainly did not dampen my ability to work hard. I am still tremendously grateful to have had a free education courtesy of my parents. I currently have a mountain of debt--courtesy of medical school. If I had not had the comfort of knowing my finances were stable as an undergrad, would I have had the opportunity for volunteering? For extracurriculars? Had I not volunteered and participated would I have gotten into medical school? Would I now be a successful physician if "mommy and daddy" had not helped?

We can all hold ourselves and our children to high standards, but not impossible ones. Teach your children wisely, and if you have the means, be generous in your financial support.

Katie Recka, MD
(ps I love you mom and dad!)

Elizabeth said...

I did not mean to imply that cashiers make enough to support a family, my point was that the majority of jobs I mentioned do indeed provide a comfortable salary. Even janitors in our area make $10+ and hour, and our cost of living here is much lower than some other states so that can provide for a small family.
In our state (Iowa) one does not need a degree to drive a truck or be a garbage man. And quite honestly, I find your idea that you can not advance higher in a position if you do not have a college degree or that you can't get a job the opposite of what I see. Maybe in your line of work, but specifically around here more jobs are being given out to those without college degrees because one who has a degree is often demanding much more money. In the long run that college graduate may make more money but just as an example:
My husband works in maintainance. When he applied for his job many college graduates or those skilled in certain areas (electricians, plumbers, contractors) also applied. My husband never went to college and really had no experience in that area. But he told the interviewers that he was willing to start out at a lower salary and learn as he goes. Guess who got the job? He is the maintainance supervisor and has gained valuable job experience that instead of going to school for he instead learned on the job. His job is secure and while we are far from rich we are comfortable enough that I can stay home with our three children.
I am not anti-college. But I am also not one who thinks college is required for all decent paying jobs. And I don't think it will be that way in the future. For the $100,000+ yearly careers, sure, I assume 99% of those jobs require a degree. But if someone can live comfortably on $25,000, $50,000 or $70,000 and enjoy their line of work I see no need for that person to have had to go to college.
College tends to be a "status symbol" for too many people, as though those who went to college don't just have a better education but are also the smartest cookies on the block. All I can say is that in our area it is the college graduates that are having the most difficult time finding work in their specialized field.

Elizabeth said...

A reply to Heather:
I would never limit my family size to one or two children for the sole reason of college financial support. That is not relying on faith and God to provide what we need. Who is to say that in 18 years we, ourselves, wouldn't be much better off financially ourselves and would be able to afford college for our children? Who is to say that college tuition will even be the same...maybe it will be free in 18 years? What if one was financially stable and had 6 children and then lost all their money and couldn't afford to pay for those children to go to college? I hear many people say "We couldn't afford college for any more children so this is our last". Basing your family size on college? Wow, that is putting a lot of stock in something that your child may even decide agaisnt. That your child could pay for themselves if they had to, or that (like I said) may not be as expensive as it is now when they are grown up.

Elaine said...

To Anon at 12:15 who thinks so poorly of preachers: You obviously are not a church-goer, so your opinion of church-going people who tithe, part of which pays their pastor's salary, is moot.

Anonymous said...

With a family income of $12K/year you are helping your kids pay for college. They'll be eligible for all kinds of grants. And if they are reasonably articulate, score well on standardized tests, and/or have some athletic ability, they should have no trouble winning scholarships.

Our Family Is His said...

We have chatted about this before. We would first tithe. We would do it as privately as possible as not to make it seem we were doing it for kudos or special treatment. We would also give a special donation to the children's area with the understanding it was to be used (if the church is open to this) for a special needs area for children.

Then we would build a home that would truly fit our family's needs. This would not be extravagant by the world's standards. But it WOULD fit our needs. It would be on enough land to sustain us, and include everything we need for our special needs sons (we have two of them).

We would put quite a bit into safer interest bearing accounts for future use by our children as they get older and need things due to their special needs for when we are no longer on this earth.

The rest would be put away for us and anything we would need in the future.

I know, sounds boring to a lot of people. But that would excite us to no end.

To Anonymous, who said, "To above posters... find me an secure, entry level job, that pays well, offers benefits and doesn't require at least some sort of degree beyond high school. Times have changed. Folks who have "made it" without college degrees would not neccesarily make it NOW."

I would be glad to show you a job (not a business even) that entry-level (no college required at all) starts at $36,000 (in an area in which that is a very decent pay) with full benefits and profit sharing. I managed many of those, then moved up in the company to manage very technical type jobs. In the IT industry experience and skill/talent is so much more important than the old diploma.

Georgi said...

Emily, I like your blog because you do tend to stir up the controversy. I may not always agree with what you have to say, but it is always interesting and bound to cause arguments among your readers. :-)

Melissa said...

This is just another "money given/gifts given = spoiled ungrateful adults" vs. "poverty/limited means = people who really appreciate it" arguments. It's tiring to read this from both sides.
If my parents had had the foresight to have an education plan for my sister and I we both would have been extremely grateful.
I will help my children with their post secondary education costs and I can assure you they will work as hard as people who pay their own way. It's how children are raised and presented with the privileges, not the privileges themselves.
Again, there is a balance.

Kerri said...

I haven't seen this addressed in the comments section, but I am curious about what you would think about this:

Would you consider saving some money in case one or some of your children wanted to go on a missions assignment? I know a lot of Mormons do this, and I'm not LDS, but I think in some ways it is a good idea.

Every year we get letters from some of the college-age kids in our church who are wanting to go on summer missions and need financial support.

Each year I think, "Oh, I wonder if this will be one of our kids someday." We've been thinking about starting to save for this particular area so that we would be able to give quite a bit if our children decide to do something like this for a short time. Maybe the mission agencies really want the kids to raise their support, and I know they say it is important to have the prayer support of so many people, but I just wonder if it wouldn't be more fair to do this as a family as we are able.

Very few of the kids (that I know of) raise money any other way than just asking for it. I do remember one girl who was a hobby photographer and she was using that to raise some money for her missions trip. She would take pictures of your children in an outdoor setting, and made lovely prints. People paid for their prints and then gave her whatever donation they wanted to for the "sitting fee." I don't know if she made all her support that way or not, but I was proud of her for working on it that way.

katie said...

Hi, I just wanted to put in my two cents. In my state, many colleges offer a program called Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO) that allows 11th and 12th grade kids to take college courses for free (paid for by the government)that count for both high-school and college credit. That means that if the student is a hard, somewhat academically advanced person, they will be able to receive their 2-year degree for absolutely free--even the textbooks are paid for. My older brother and my older sister have both gone this route, and I'm planning to go to a Christian university near our house and to live at home next year and the year after that and graduate from high-school with two years of college already under my belt. At the moment, I don't feel the need/desire to have more education than that, but if I do want more in the future, I can always enter into it debt-free--without my parents having paid a penny (except in gas :).

Amber said...

I'll tell you right now that I'm not taking out a second mortgage on my home to pay for my kid's college. My parents couldn't pay for mine and I doubt I'll be able to pay for theirs. I went to a state school (a good school), and graduated with about 35k in debt. I took extra out for living expense or else it would be lower. I have a 4 year degree and not an exorbitant amount of debt. It CAN be done.

Stacy said...

Well, I was away today and just checked the post be honest, I'm disappointed in this discussion. It actually made me feel sad for your kids that you would take such a stance against helping them to pay for college. It's expensive no matter where you go, and it is a time when a young person can learn so much. Also, there are some really good Christian colleges where your kids could learn from first-rate theologians and other godly people in ways that you cannot teach them because you have a different set of experiences and a different background. For example, out here in CA we have Biola University and I'd be so happy to see my children studying there. Many great Christian thinkers have graduated there.

Also, I suppose this isn't the way you see it, but the way you said it seems so dogmatic and cold toward your kids' dreams. Maybe that's not what you meant, but it sounded that way.

I appreciated Betsy's comments above, by the way.

Tara Maureen said...

To the above poster who said that all the people she's seen drop out of college it was their parents who paid for it this I say is why anticdotal information is not fact ;) The latest issue of US News and World Report (ironically the whole issue focused on education) states that children who's parents are not financially able to provide for them through college are 30% more likely to drop out.

As someone who only has an AA and is currently working on a BA I submitt that if my husband had not paid off my student loans from my AA degree, I would most certainly not have gone on to start my BA. I feel blessed that my husband is able to not only provide for my family but loves and cares for me enough to insure that I have the proper education to be able to care for us and our two children if something ever happened to him.

I cannot tell you how many doors have been opened to me by just having an AA. I know that a 2 year degree is somewhat looked down upon as "lesser" but having one has put me in a postion where I have a job that is not only at a livable wage for our area (37-40k/ year working 30 hours/week) but also provides growth and opportunity to make more if I choose to, although I most certainly don't need to.

I would have been so greatful if my mom had provided for us in the way that my husband is for our family. She taught us about hard work, but without the small ammount of college education I have it would have taken me years to get to where I am. I see my two sisters struggle with children in tow and I know this is part of a result to educational funding being closed off to us. My mom is a single mother of 6, and lives below poverty level. "Financial aid" isn't as abundant as one might think.

That being said, my dad made 100k last year and he doesn't even have a HS diploma. But he worked his butt to the bone being a trucker.

crabcakes said...


I agree with you that it's not a parent's responsibility to put their kids through college entirely. I do think that parents should help but not any more than is financially feasable to them and not too much as to not allow their children to have the experience of struggling just a little to make ends meet.

My parents helped with college. But for the rest I worked at the school as an RA to get a room and board and fee waiver. The rest were loans.

I see too many parents borrow against their house and/or retirement funds to put their kids through school and I feel this is a huge mistake.

It is far less expensive for children to pay off their student loans over 5-10-even 20 years than it is for them to support their parents financially through their elder years...which is what exactly will happen if parents use their retirement funds or equity to pay for college.

There is nothing wrong with parents not footing the bill for things like college and weddings. "Help" is good...but where is it written that parents are responsible for these things? I paid my own way for all those things and I'm proud of it. I bought my first home at age 24 and I make with my spouse far below the median income. I still pay my student loans and I have no problem with that.

Treva said...

Here's the part I don't get: Why do some people look down on jobs that don't require a degree? Why do they make comments that are along the lines of saying a person with a minimum wage job will struggle? A job that provides for you, and your family should you have one, is a good job regardless of what it is. Even people with jobs that require a degree can have struggling financial situations. While it can be easier to get by on more money, it's really more about budgetting the money you have.

My dad was furloughed once (civil service) so my mom had to get a job to help keep the bills paid and put food on the table. My mom had almost 15 years office experience before leaving to run and build up the family business she and my dad started, but the first place to offer her a job (within 48 hours of putting in several applications) was a fast food place. She took the job and worked there about 2 years. When you are furloughed you get paid, but it's whenever they settle the budget. In my dad's case, we waited over 3 months for a paycheck and while it was substantial, there were a lot of bills that had backslid during this time and the money was quickly gone. I was always told that any (legal) job that put food on your table was a job worth having.

What if every truck driver decided to quit and get a college degree? How would goods get delivered? You would go to the grocery store to find very little on the shelves b/c there are no drivers making deliveries any more. What if every garbage man did the same thing as the truck drivers? Would you be willing to load your car up with your trash (hopefully not in any leaking bags) to drive 30 minutes or an hour to dispose of it? What if you had to do that 2 times a week b/c all the recycling center employees have quit to persue their degrees and now you have twice as much trash as before? I know for me it would be tough to give up 2-3 hours a week just to get my trash off my property. What if cashiers everywhere quit? You could go to the store and find what you needed, but you couldn't pay for it and therefore couldn't actually take the needed item home, which defeats the purpose entirely.

Rebeccah said...

Most of your post makes sense--putting the money toward health insurance, building a home, putting the rest into savings. However, giving $100,000 to a church? Wouldn't happen. If that's what floats your boat then go for it, but make sure your family is taken care of first.

Refusing to pay for your children's college is something altogether different. My parents had the money to pay for my college education but didn't. Now I'm saddled with student loans that will take years to pay off, my education is taking years longer than it should because I have to work full-time while attending classes, and it's hard to keep my GPA up while raising a family, working, and going to school. I have a 3.47. It would be higher if I didn't have to worry about paying for my education.

We're actually looking at coming into money in the 1 million dollar neighborhood in the near future. We'll build a small house, pay off my student loans, start college funds for the children, and put the rest into savings. I don't understand people who think a million dollars is a fortune and blow it all at once because in reality, if you're blowing it then it won't last long. I also don't understand people who don't prioritize education. I don't want my children to end up living in poverty because I didn't help them receive an education when I could. Paying for college if you can afford it isn't teaching children to be lazy, it's teaching them that education is valuable and that your children are valuable to you.

Emily said...

Treva, I agree and would like to add that low-income jobs can be enjoyable. My husband doesn't like it when he has to pick up diarrhea "accidents" in the bathroom, but he likes the mindlessness of his work. It allows him to use his mind to think about class and memorize stuff for exams. I personally have always thought it would be cool to be a truck driver and drive across country.

Anonymous said...

Being a truck driver would be awesome if I were single and childless.

Anonymous said...

I agree that is is wrong to look down on lower paying jobs. I have a Masters degree and, son't get me wrong, I am SO GRATEFUL for my education and VERY glad that I made the decision to go to college. But, I also wait tables part time and, if I lost my full time job I would have no shame at all in continuing to wait tables as long as I could to take care of my family. I would look for a "better" job, but I am not ashamed of waiting tables. In fact, I don't understand people who don't "flip burgers" to make ends meet if they need to. Honest work is honest work.
Still, my full time job provides us a decent wage and excellent insurance and is also honest work. If I had to pick between my degreed job and waiting tables, I would pick my degreed job. I work part time to have a savings during these economic times. The beauty of waiting tables is that "part time" is one shift. Puts some money in the bank so our goals don't suffer.

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

How is anyone here looking down on minimum wage jobs or lesser degreed jobs?

I think that in the future, companies will require college degrees for all jobs, just as a high school degree is required for almost any job right now.

There is nothing wrong with working at McDonald's, at a grocery store, being a sanitation worker, etc., especially if you enjoy the work. But let's be real, people.

Life is not easy or fun on minimum wage for a single person. Add in a few kids and a spouse, and life becomes almost near impossible.

There is no shame in working any job that is legal. However, there is no shame in wanting more for yourself or your children.

You would be hard pressed to survive on minimum wage without government assistance. That's why Emily has this blog; it is indeed extremely rare to make it on so little money. (And her DH does make more than minimum wage, she has the blog, and she also does mystery shopping).

To romanticize "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" and "an honest day's pay for an honest day's wage" is to do a disservice to all those struggling in this country.

We have a bare bones budget. Go and read my blog if you want to see what we do without. And we make almost 6 figures a year. (My DH makes 99% of that). We do live within our means.

But health insurance, dental insurance, investmenting, and saving for retirement (none of which Emily is able to do) cost money. You cannot do these things on minimum wage given the cost of living in our country.

CJ said...

Emily, thanks for answering my FAQ so quickly! I didn't mean to imply that lack of funds is keeping you from living luxuriously. I simply enjoy asking this question to people. I think it tells a lot about them. My DH and I decided that basically we would put it all into saving and live off of the interest.

As far as the college thing, i can see both ways. My parents encouraged me to get good grades and scholarships, which paid for my college. They helped with living expenses, which I am grateful for since I have no debt, but I think it's important to teach your children about the opportunity of merit based scholarships.

Anonymous said...

Cj, my parents did the same. I would venture to guess that most parents aren't completely able to pay for their kids education. My parents encouraged me to do well in school and to get scholorships, letting me know that they could NOT afford to pay my way through my dream college (Smith), but that they would pay for my bachleors as a state college.

I started college when I was 16 (duel enrollment) which was nice, because my parents didn't have to pay anything, the public schools footed the bill. Thenh, when I was 17 I went away to a four year college (I have a late birthday, and was always one of the youngest in my grade). Scholorships paid most of my tuition for the first 2 years, and my parents footed the bill for my living expenses. I studied hard, got all A's and B's and attended...2 parties total I think in that entire time. I was heavily envolved in extra curiculars too, and while I earned some spending mnoney from my part time job teawching aerobics on campus, I can't imagine how I could have done all that I was doing while earning enough money to pay for my education at the same time (thoughI know many people do). I would have missed out on a big part of the college experience. No, not parying, but things like musicals, college democrats, campus ministry, and dance club.

After 2 years, though I was still getting good grades, most of my academic scholorships had run out, and my parents were getting ready to take out loans. I knew they couldn't afford this, I was unhappy with my major, and didn't know how much longer I would need to be in school. I made the choice at that point, to take a one year break (which actually turned into two years--my husband and I moved in together and were married shortly after during that time, and adjusting to taht life change took some time for me).
My husband and I made/make considerabley less than my parents did, and when I went back to school, I didn't have to pay for anything.
At this time I WAS working many hours a week, but definitely not making enough to pay for college. If it weren't for pell grants and assistance from the state govenments via a special Michigan program, I never would have been able to finish my degrees.

The long and short of it is that I have never paid a dime of my own money for college, I feel ENORMOUSLY blessed to have been supported by my family, and my state. I've always gotten good grades and never taken my education for granted; It's the most valuable gift I've ever been given. It's changed my life in incredible ways, I have a career I adore, and moreso, value the knowledge and experience I've gained in school. My education is in no way finished.

If and when my DH and I have children I will do everything in my power to ensure that they are able to persure an education.
My parents are both teachers and raised me to value education. Just because I didn't pay for it doesn't mean I took it for granted, or that I ddint' work hard for it.

Clisby said...

"There is nothing wrong with parents not footing the bill for things like college and weddings."

Oh, please don't get me started on the idiocy of parents paying for weddings. Weddings are for grown-ups. Grown-ups pay their own way.

Alexis said...

Actually, the government does assume that parents will contribute to the cost of a child's education. Financial aid (including loans) for an unmarried undergraduate under 24, who has not served in the military is all based on parental income and resources.

If you actually had $1M in cash, your child wouldn't be able to get any help.

Happily Frugal Mama said...

Anonymous said...

Actually, not helping your kids pay for college perpetuates the poverty cycle. Brava, Emily.


I had ZERO help with college... neither did my husband. We both have degrees (and are paying off student loan debt). We both feel that we worked for it and therefore appreciated it. We both know other adults who had a free ride via Mommy and Daddy (or Grandpappy) and they were much wilder, had lower scores and had the entitlement mentality. We both agree that we will HELP our children as much as possible but we won't be giving them a free ride (even though our socio-economic status would allow such). Not a one of us is ENTITLED to anything. What we have is because we've worked for it. That's the mentality and training I'm passing down to my children... not perpetuating the poverty cycle (which I was suppose to be a casualty of).

So, Emily... you keep on keeping on. We might not all agree with every decision you make (and why should we?)... we all make our decisions and have our own reasons for them. It's a beautiful thing called Free Will!

Anonymous said...

To each his or her own. That I believe. If you are happy with your choices than so be it. But, I do have to say that I want my children to have more than I have. They will have to work for it, but I will help them as much as possible. You can give to your children without them feeling a sense of entitlement. That is called parenting. College is a great way to give them a head start in the world. I believe that giving them the opportunity at a college education is a great thing and children can learn a lot about independence and reality.

Anonymous said...

realise this turned into a college discussion but it started with what would I do with a million dollar windfall. So my 2 cents worth, with that amount of money after providing for your self, your church, your kids, why would there not even be 10,000 dollars to help provide for someone empoverished either in the states or abroad?? As christians we are to care for the orphan and the widow, it should be as natural as paying tithes. Just food for thought.

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