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Old 02-09-2016, 01:16 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by dixonge View Post
that's the long-standing thought, in certain circles...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio_Alger_myth
The U.S. is one of the least upwardly mobile developed countries these days.

"Among the major developed countries, only in Italy and the United Kingdom is there less economic mobility"

America's economic mobility myth - Dec. 9, 2013

I see both sides on the college costs. In general it is much more expensive, that is a measurable fact. On the other hand, community college and in state, public schools in majors with decent job prospects seem to be working out well for our kids so far with a modest cost and good ROI. We've always had them look at free online sources like the Payscale reports by college and major, plus the Job Outlook Handbook. Our local community colleges have reasonable cost, 2 year programs in fields like plumbing and healthcare, so that could have been an option as well.

One of our kids noticed that his entire out of pocket education costs (including 2+ years of room and board in a pricey area) cost less than a single semester at the schools some of his friends attended. Which would still be okay if the families it could easily afford it, the kids were getting grants and/or they were in a high payback major and could pay off the loans easily. But that hasn't always been case.
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:25 PM   #62
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You might be right. I disagree to some extent, but it doesn't really matter. Regardless of why costs are so high, students today have little choice but to pay them. Corporate America requires a college degree these days, and the alternatives to megacorp are generally paying less.

It's either get the degree or continue working for < $10/hr for many, many people.
I am not a "kid", 32, but I've worked for the DoD, A mega insurance company, a large bank and a few start-ups as well... I started my career in corporate America at a company of 2000 employees with no college degree.

I basically pulled a good will hunting, and nailed my interview with smarts.


The rest is history...

I honestly have no clue what its like to have a student loan, my wife didn't have one either. We are not doing amazingly well or anything so I can imagine those saddled with prime educational loans.

I never understood the notion of needing a college degree to "succeed" or "make it" or fill in the blank. I am probably the exception as I am told often by all my friends saddled with college debt in their 30s.
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:32 PM   #63
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I never meant to imply that you could go to the University of your choice, live in dorms and spend $100k and yes I do have two kids who got educated without debt, and nephews who did the same.

One nephew is going on the new GI bill. My son started at community college, chose to live at home and go to the nearby state university, even though he was accepted elsewhere. He will graduate this year with no debt, about 30K was what I saved for his college. He worked through college as his dad required, not because his did could not afford it, but because he wanted his son to learn money management. He has. It was his decision to live at home looking at what he had saved. He is very careful with his money, and figuring how long it will last. Now he already has job opportunities post graduation. My daughter went to college and private schools and is now has a good job in the police force. She worked while going to school and her budget was about the same.

When I was going to school plenty of my friends chose to rent a room from the proverbial old lady with a spare room for rent, or room with friends rather than live in the dorm.

Sometimes it is useful to use some creative thinking rather than rely so heavily on what "we say in networking."
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:35 PM   #64
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How much real growth is in those areas though? Going into the trades is a great option, but only for a few. For the most part, of our job growth is coming in low-wage jobs or jobs that require a college degree or other expensive training. The middle class is shrinking, and for most young people the only way they see into it is a college degree.

The demand for college at these higher prices is there for a reason.


If college is the only way they see into the middle class, perhaps someone needs to enlighten them so they look in other areas.

Go to your local sewer district's Human Resources page and take a good look at the posted job descriptions for all the levels of, say, treatment plant operators. There were something like 5 levels last time I worked in that business. Also look at benefits. People build entire long careers cleaning our wastewater and keeping our water infrastructure going, running complicated equipment, and earning great pensions after years of that work. They DO retire, and they DO need someone to replace them.

The districts often offer paid training and many may offer some sort of tuition reimbursement plan; with shift work, they also have flexibility to attend classes for pursuing further education if they choose.

These folks can get started in high school ROP training or with online training. A college degree is not required.

We all want water to drink and we all want our toilets to empty when we flush them. Someone has to make that happen, someone with the right training but not necessarily a college degree.









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Old 02-09-2016, 01:36 PM   #65
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College costs have gone up largely due to the huge amount of federal (and federal-backed) student loans which threw a giant amount of cash into the pot. "Free money" will do that to prices (see "home prices" and "medical costs" for other examples). Then, people cite the increasing cost of "education" (which apparently cannot be conducted without lavish gymnasiums/fitness bars, single-occupant dorms, and an ever increasing number of admin staff to augment the folks actually teaching) as requiring >more< government aid. I say "turn off the money spigot" and education costs will decrease. As an added benefit, maybe the curricula will more closely approximate the skills needed to be a productive citizen.
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

When the government is the payer, this is no upper limit to the price.
Government subsidizes medical payments and healthcare prices rise.
Government subsidizes housing and housing prices rise.
Government subsidizes college education and college education prices rise.

"Too much money chasing too few goods" is a classic definition of inflation.
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:45 PM   #66
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College costs have gone up largely due to the huge amount of federal (and federal-backed) student loans which threw a giant amount of cash into the pot. "Free money" will do that to prices (see "home prices" and "medical costs" for other examples). Then, people cite the increasing cost of "education" (which apparently cannot be conducted without lavish gymnasiums/fitness bars, single-occupant dorms, and an ever increasing number of admin staff to augment the folks actually teaching) as requiring >more< government aid. I say "turn off the money spigot" and education costs will decrease. As an added benefit, maybe the curricula will more closely approximate the skills needed to be a productive citizen.
I completely agree that tuition costs have been encouraged to rise because of the increased flow and availability of student loans.

Several of my front line staff were college students and would brag to others that the only reason they worked was for beer and gas money because they were able to live on their student loans. I was surprised to learn that student loans didn't have to be spent strictly on tuition and books.
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Old 02-09-2016, 02:50 PM   #67
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I disagree with the statement that the current generation has it harder. However, I completely agree with the statement 'that they think they do'.

Each senior generation thinks the younger generation is going to hell in a hand basket! While each younger generation thinks, well if I had it as easy as you.

If I think about the generations that came before me, pioneers, labor workers before labor reform, graduates in war years, (starting with the spats between cave men) and the list goes on.

Having gone through kids, and now grand kids in college, one thing come through loud and clear. They have more toys, and believe they should live just like their parents. i.e. DD was horrified when we suggested she could use a brick and board bookcase in her college apartment.

We live close to a college town. When we are there it is amazing to see the number of college age kids at restaurants. A friend of mine commented, 'I don't remember being able to eat out when I went to college" I think I ate out less than a dozen time in the four years I was at college, and living off campus was virtually for married students only.
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Old 02-09-2016, 02:53 PM   #68
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I never meant to imply that you could go to the University of your choice, live in dorms and spend $100k and yes I do have two kids who got educated without debt, and a nephews who did the same.

One nephew is going on the new GI bill. My son stated at community college, chose to live at home and go to the nearby state university, even though he was accepted elsewhere. He will graduate this year with no debt, about 30K was what I saved for his college. He worked through college as his dad required, not because his did could not afford it, but because he wanted his son to learn money management. He has. It was his decision to live at home looking at what he had saved. He is very careful with his money, and figuring how long it will last. Now he already has job opportunities post graduation. My daughter went to college and private schools and is now has a good job in the police force. She worked while going to school and her budget was about the same.

When I was going to school plenty of my friends chose to rent a room from the proverbial old lady with a spare room for rent, or room with friends rather than live in the dorm.

Sometimes it is useful to use some creative thinking rather than rely so heavily on what "we say in networking."
Sorry about the snarky comment. They've correctly deleted it.

Yes, smart kids living at home with helpful parents with 30k to give them are able to graduate without debt these days, if they go to community college and transfer to save money.

My point is that 25 years ago, I was able to do it while living away from home, going to a very good state school the whole time, with only about 3k/year in financial help from my family.

25 years ago, even if your parents gave you luggage and a bus ticket for your 18th birthday (many did and do), tuition wasn't a massive barrier to getting a degree.

Today it is, unless they are willing to pile up the debt.
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:02 PM   #69
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A friend of mine's daughter graduates from Sam Houston State in 3.5 years. She applied for just about every scholarship she could think of, lived at home and worked part time. She had money left over in her school account when she graduated. She got a job upon graduation as a school teacher in her home town.
Our granddaughter did basically the same thing. SHSU and graduates this summer with no debt. She held a couple of part time jobs and made about $5K each year. With the grants and her scrounging, she will get her degree and be debt free.
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:07 PM   #70
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:15 PM   #71
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I never understood the notion of needing a college degree to "succeed" or "make it" or fill in the blank. I am probably the exception as I am told often by all my friends saddled with college debt in their 30s.
You are not an exception. In my experience, a college degree with a high GPA "may" help you get your foot in the door at some mega corps, but after that, it's what you can actually contribute. Often, many companies will hire people with special work/industry experience and no degree. Once in the company, I've seen many folks without a degree compete very well.
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:17 PM   #72
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I never understood the notion of needing a college degree to "succeed" or "make it" or fill in the blank. I am probably the exception as I am told often by all my friends saddled with college debt in their 30s.
"man...if I just had that chemical engineering degree...."

almost every employer that requires a degree does so to separate the wheat from the chaff right off the bat - then you're on your own
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:33 PM   #73
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I had an HR rep tell me once, half serious and half joking:

The reason we require a college degree is that have proven they have the self discipline to make an 8:00 class. Everything else we can teach them.
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Old 02-09-2016, 04:00 PM   #74
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Thank you, President Roosevelt... SS began the year I was born... I began participation in 1950 or 1951, and my last contribution was in 1990. First check received in 1998.

A different time. A different world. Traded pension for money to start my own business in 1986. A good time for interest rates.

So now, with SS as a base, and a reasonable guaranteed income from 2000-2003 Ibonds, back when one could invest 60K/person/year, we continue a "frugal" happy life...

Rich... not in dollars, but in feeling safe and worry-free, and grateful for having lived in the "best of times".
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Old 02-09-2016, 05:16 PM   #75
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Some posters have attributed the problem to the fact that 401k's are not available to everyone and that their contribution limits are too low. That seems to be a reasonable complaint about these plans, but I have to ask -- why does that stop someone from saving money? I saved money before I ever had a 401k, and in the years when I finally did have a 401k and maxed it out, I saved substantially on an after tax basis. I never had a 401k match, so every dollar I have is a result of me first saving it and then investing it.

It seems to me more likely that the real barrier to saving is that wages have been flat in real terms for the last 30-40 years. All the productivity gains in the economy went to capital rather than labor. At the same time, expectations for living standards (including education) have increased.
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Old 02-09-2016, 05:34 PM   #76
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The problem with 401k's is someone has to fund it. That's why folks young and older don't use them. Every year I had to give the speech to sign up for your free money, no one cared when they realized they had to set some aside.
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Old 02-09-2016, 05:38 PM   #77
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The problem with 401k's is someone has to fund it. That's why folks young and older don't use them. Every year I had to give the speech to sign up for your free money, no one cared when they realized they had to set some aside.
They sound like the people who would not save on a pre-tax or an after tax basis. The problem is not the 401k at all, it's a lack of either desire or ability (expenses meet or exceed current income) to save anything.
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:24 PM   #78
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Well, I suppose 401K's could be made both universally available and compulsory by government regulation but where is the line? If one is employed there is already an obligatory SS contribution and a fairly certain payout. This payout along with other elements of the government's safety net should be sufficient to keep some one from having to sleep under a bridge while starving to death but not much beyond that. I don't know where the right balance lies but there are some folks that it takes a lot of doing to save from themselves.
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:53 PM   #79
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It seems to me more likely that the real barrier to saving is that wages have been flat in real terms for the last 30-40 years.
Barrier to savings? There's no barrier, except lack of discipline. We had higher personal savings rates in the past when the gap between income and true necessities (housing, groceries, electricity, health care, etc) was a lot smaller than it is today.

The average US cable TV bill is $99/mo. =$1200/year
The sverage US cell phone plan (individuals and family plans lumped together) runs about $120/mo . = $1440/year.
The average US family spends $2800/year eating out.

Cut those expenditures by 50% (a major sacrifice?),
and we've found $2700 additional to go into retirement savings. That's 4% of earnings before taxes--not a bad start, and just by putting that into savings we'll have doubled the personal savings rate of that average family. Next, we'll start looking at the hedonistic expansions in average house sizes--lots of savings to be had there just by living in the same size house that folks had in the 1960s. I'd bet the available money to be saved there is at least twice as much.

Now, averages aren't the same as medians, but it's not a lack of income that causes our low retirement savings rate, it's, in general, a lack of discipline/desire/etc.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:09 PM   #80
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What "old pension system" are you referring to that was better for the "vast majority" of Americans? There has >never< been a time in the US where the majority (much less a "vast majority") of workers had jobs that led to a pension. So, what was better about that setup for the "vast majority of Americans?" Were people better off before (the majority) had access to a 401K? Or the ability to save in a tax-deferred IRA? All this pining for the good old days ignores some important facts about then vs now. Again--there has never been a time when most American workers were in jobs that were covered by a pension.
Moreover, the post WW-II economy in the US was a blip in time, a freak confluence of events that led to a spike in US wages (and benefits) that won't be replicated (nor should we hope for it, if it comes at the same cost to the rest of humanity that accompanied that time). We live in a global economy, and our businesses and workers must remain competitive with the rest of the world. De-coupling retirement income security from a particular single employer (as we have done with 401Ks and IRAs) is an important step in encouraging worker mobility, freeing employees to seek the best position they can get at the best compensation they can get.
I'm glad you have the time to clearly state positions I share with you in your multiple posts in this thread. It truly is a myth that most ever had pensions to retire with & it's true that the 1950's were a snapshot bubble in time.
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