Tag Archive | "MBA school"

Financial Aid: The federal government will pay you to abandon your family

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Financial Aid: The federal government will pay you to abandon your family

As some of you may know, I am beginning my MBA at the University of Wisconsin (yay Badges!). To help fund my education, I am taking out some student loans. While filling out a form to request additional funds, I became very perplexed (and I little annoyed) by the fact that my family is not taken into account.

Giving up on being responsibleAccording to Federal guidelines, student aid money can only be for me and no one else in my family. However, the form I was filling out asked about specific monthly financial expenditures such as groceries, insurance, etc. But again, only as it relates to what I spend. The last line of the form, though, asks about child care.

Hoping to include my children on this line (they consume more resources than I do), I enquired about what was included in “child care.” Apparently, the only thing I can include is child care payments that I have to make according to a court order.

In other words, the Federal government is willing to give me enough financial aid to cover my child care payments but will not give me any assistance in providing for my children in the home.

So I can run around and have children out of wedlock, be irresponsible and an absentee father and the government will give me aid. But, if I am a responsible father who lives with and supports my children and is married to their mother, then the government says, “The best of luck to you!”

What has happened in this nation?!

When did we decide that irresponsibility is to be rewarded and responsibility is to be met with no more than a slap across the face?

Further, I don’t understand the bias against individuals with families coming back to school. Without financial aid, it’s very difficult for many to return to or go in the first place to school to obtain a better education. Without it, there are only a few options:

  • Save for years: Paying for school out of savings is obviously great because you avoid debt. Though, it can take so long to save that it just never happens.
  • Spouse works and kids go to day care: The challenge with day care is that my wife will pay to take three kids to day care so that she can go to work so that she can pay to take kids to day care. It just doesn’t make financial sense.
  • Loans from family: This may be a possibility for those who have families with such financial means. But it can create some stress within the family.

Or you can take our approach – I’m working as a freelancer on the side to cover the extra financial needs.

I’ve vented about this problem before (read My resignation from financial responsibility). So many organizations, from the government to schools, reward those that misbehave and punish those that follow the rules.

Example: My wife and I prepared to buy a home and made sure that we could afford it. Yet, our neighbors got in over there heads and now we are in a housing crisis that has driven our home value underwater.

We’ve decided to just get a divorce so I can pay child care

Seems like the most logical thing to do. We’ll just get a divorce, live together for two years, make sure that I have really high child care payments and then get married again after I graduate.

That sounds like a good idea, right? Apparently the government thinks so.

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Realize that sacrificing is often choosing a better decision over a good decision

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Realize that sacrificing is often choosing a better decision over a good decision

Cartoon Family

I wasn’t really sure what to call this post. I usually have a pretty clear idea from the get-go. But not this time.

My head is a jumble of thoughts and I hope to succinctly explain myself in this post.

One of the greatest challenges that we face as adults, and especially as parents, is learning to sacrifice our wants and desires for the sake of our family. I believe that the very act of having a child is one of the most selfless things that anyone can do.

However, it’s easy to make decisions subsequent to a child’s birth that are selfish in nature. Though, sometimes we don’t realize it because we tell ourselves that we are acting in our family’s best interest.

“If this works, we’ll make a ton of money and be able to get the kids anything.”

“But I enjoy it so much.”

The hardest decision I’ve ever made

As some of you know, I am going to MBA school this fall. I was very fortunate that two of the three schools I applied to accepted me. Both of them are excellent schools. Both of them offer a unique and valuable experience. But one of them would have satiated my pride. The other offered financial security.

I struggled day and night up until the deadline to make the decision. Ultimately, I had to realize that although both options were good options, the one offering security for my family was the better option.

And the amazing thing is that I haven’t really sacrificed. I’m going to an amazing school and will have my family by my side. Is there really anything else that matters?

So when is risk-taking the right decision?

I wish I knew the answer to this question. What I can tell you is when it’s not worth it.

  • If someone’s life is put in jeopardy
    I had the awesome opportunity to go skydiving before I was married. I loved it! As newlyweds, my wife and I discussed our position on skydiving and other such high adventure sports. For us, we felt that the risk of death was too high. Once the kids are out of the house, then we can take more risks. So no skydiving for 20 years. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t skydive or do extreme sports. You just need to find a line or balance.
  • If someone’s health is put in jeopardy
    I don’t think you can understand the value of health insurance until you have children. Dumb, unexpected things happen. Sometimes, a not so enjoyable job with good health insurance is worth the price.
  • If your family’s finances are in jeopardy
    I’m a risk taker. My wife and I have started several companies (and spent a lot of money doing it). But we always maintained a source of income. We never became a burden for someone else to carry because we wanted to try an idea out. Let me be very clear. I’m not saying to never step out on a ledge and start something great. You just need to find that line between risk taking and stupid.

Is your spouse onboard with it?

If you haven’t guessed already, this post is really for husbands. Many of us have the good fortune of having a wonderful wife that supports us. What that unfortunately means is that, at times, women go along because they are so willing to sacrifice security for us men chasing our dreams.

If you decide to put some aspect of your family at risk, make sure that you truly have her support. Just because she says, “Go for it,” doesn’t mean that she isn’t screaming inside, “What the hell are you thinking?!”

I’ll be honest, I get pretty angry when I see people making selfish decisions that put wives and children at risk. I’m tempted to start screaming. But I’ll refrain and just blog about it. Hopefully, I’ll change some attitudes.

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Getting into a good MBA program takes at least 4 years

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Getting into a good MBA program takes at least 4 years

MBA School

I’m going to ignore everything that you can and should do before your third year of college that will help you get into a good MBA program and focus on everything after you start your third year. You can find more information on what you need to do during your ungrad to get a good job by reading Getting a job after college takes at least two years.

At the end, please let me and others know what helped you get into MBA school.

Preparing for and taking the GMAT

If you are serious about a top tier MBA program, then you cannot underestimate the value of a good GMAT prep course. I took Kaplan’s Advanced GMAT prep course. Review of the Kaplan GMAT course.

To give you an idea, I estimate that I spent around 105-110 hours studying for the GMAT. My wife felt like a single mother since I was gone every night after dinner at the library studying.

However, the time and commitment paid off. My score was not only goo enough to get me into the schools that I want to, but also earn me a scholarship.

I’m not saying this to boast, but to prove my point. Take the GMAT seriously and invest in the preparation. You will see good dividends.

Excel at your current job

Let me explain what I mean by excel. I don’t mean showing up at work every day. I don’t mean completing every task on time and on budget.

I’m talking about taking the opportunity to perform better than expected.

To go the extra mile beyond what’s required.

To leave your department, boss and company wondering how lucky they are to have you as part of the time.

Excelling results in extraordinary opportunities and experiences that will bolster your resume and enhance you during the interview. For each question, you will better be able to respond with a specific example of how you lead. And most good business schools are trying to determine what type of leader you are and will be.

You also need to excel in your current responsibilities because of the next point.

Obtain 2-3 good references

One has to be your boss.

What your manager has to say about you will go a long way in your application.

For example, if your boss gives a standard, “She’s an excellent and reliable employee who exceeds expectations,” then you aren’t getting anywhere. You don’t want to be generic or typical.

However, if your boss is able to say, “She has accomplished the following projects…that in turn grew the company in the following ways…and will be an asset to your community through…” then you have a much better chance of getting an interview.

With each of your references, please do the following.

  • Provide them with your resume and examples of your work
  • Provide your essays so they know how you are presenting yourself
  • Let them know exactly what to expect (is this an online form, a mailed letter, etc)
  • Be specific about any traits or qualities that you want them to mention

Your job is to make this as easy a process as possible for them.

Get to know the school’s staff and students

For example, one of your best friends during the application process will probably be a secretary. As you have questions, he or she will be a tremendous resource.

Also, meet the interviewers beforehand if you can. I visited the MBA school I’m going to months before I began the application. While there, I met students, office staff, teachers and the admissions officers. When I was interviewed months later, I was able to talk about my visit and they recalled me. I had instant rapport as a result of my earlier visit.

Some schools involve the students in the admissions process. If you can, reach out and connect with some of those students.

The more people that know you and know something about you before you apply, the better. You can’t have too many champions or advocates on your side.

Develop a unique story

I feel a little silly writing about developing a unique story.

The reality is that you already have a unique story. No one else has led your life or done what you have done.

The secret is to know how to present your story. Spend some time telling your story (what makes you who you are) in a way that makes it memorable. The admissions committee will have to deal with 1000s of applications. Telling your story in a unique way will make you stick out.

Be nice, prompt and grateful

The golden rule is a time tested truth – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Be genuinely nice to each person that you interact with at the school. Be gracious and courteous.

Say thank you and then send thank you emails, cards, notes, etc. And do it just because it’s the nice thing to do.

What helped you get into the MBA school of your choice? And for more advice and information on finances and careers, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter. Also, this post was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted at The Jenny Pincher.

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Is your “Go to Hell” fund fully funded?

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Is your “Go to Hell” fund fully funded?

One of my colleagues up and quit this week. He found himself in a situation where he felt that he could not advance within the company. So he decided to go to law school.

I Hate This JobFortunately for him, he has enough money in the bank to just quit his job and live off of savings until law school next Fall or until he finds a temporary job. Either way, he was able to walk away from work because he had a “Go to Hell” (GTH) fund.

Basically, a GTH fund is sufficient money in the bank to tell your boss where to go and how to get there and not leave your family destitute. I’m certainly not advocating that you readily quit your job, but having the security that you can walk away if your sanity is being challenged makes life and work a little less stressful.

Is a Go to Hell fund the same as an Emergency Fund?

There are two ways you can create a GTH fund.

  1. Use your Emergency Fund – If you are smart, then you already have or are in the process of getting an Emergency Fund that is the equivalent of six months worth of expenses. A fully funded Emergency Fund can act as a GTH fund if need be.
  2. Setup a dedicated GTH Fund – Alternatively, you can setup a savings or money market account that is specifically for quitting your job. If you take this route, then you don’t have to touch your Emergency Fund. Although this approach will take longer, it offers additional financial security. Similar to the Emergency Fund, you should have six months worth of expenses saved up.

Quitting your job in style

In the past several months, the media has covered several individuals who sporadically decided to quit. Two of my favorites are: Girl quits job on dry erase board and JetBlue flight attendant goes AWOL. Hopefully, both of these now unemployed individuals had a GTH fund ready to go. If not, these admittedly funny events may turn tragic.

A few tips on quitting your job

Please understand that I use the phrase “Go to Hell” fund a bit tongue in cheek. Meaning, I actually do not recommend that you ever tell your boss that (unless it’s a case of sexual harassment or something similarly egregious). Rather, leave on good terms. When you have had enough, simply hand over a cordial letter of resignation giving the company two weeks notice that you’ll be quitting. Then, work hard and leave with a clear conscious and an unburned bridge.

Leaving on poor terms or with much fanfare, can come back to haunt you. For example, when you apply for your next job, a new potential employer is likely to call your old company/boss and ask about you. The last thing you want is for former boss to give you a negative review.

Also, keep your resume and a cover letter up-to-date. If you decide to leave your employment with short notice, then you’ll want to have your resume in tip-top shape in order to begin job hunting.

Last, take every opportunity to network within your industry. Many times, you will not be switching industries rather just companies. Having a rolodex of friends and colleagues that you can call will help you find a new job or even strike out on your own.

My own situation

I hesitate to disclose too much information, though I think it fair to give some personal background. While I’m not looking to tell my boss to “shove it,” I am interested in pursuing some of my interests on my own. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough in the bank to walk away and dedicate all of my time to my true passions. So we are forced to compromise. I will be spending my evenings for the next several months preparing for and taking the GMAT, writing personal statements, and applying to MBA schools. Once applications are, my evenings will be dedicated to pursuing some side business that will hopefully fund, in part, MBA school.

It’s moments like these that I wish I could dedicate all of my time to my goals and ambitions rather than a minority of my time. Had we created a GTH fund and fully funded it, then like my friend, I could walk away.

What has your boss or company done that made you wish you had a Go to Hell fund?

(Photo credit: Y)

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