As an 18-year old going off to college for the first time are you really prepared to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life?”
For many college students, making new friends, cheering on the school’s sports teams, and staying out late on a school night, top the bucket list.
Flash forward ten years and you may find new priorities atop that same list: marriage, children, buying a home, saving money.
What if the career path you chose as an eager college freshman no longer aligns with your new priorities?
This question is one that my husband and I have been working toward answering over the past couple of years.
My background in business and his in sports medicine could not be any more different. I work nine to five; he heads out around two and is home around eight. My schedule is routine, while his can change at the drop of a dime. I work in an industry with unlimited growth potential while his head has already hit the ceiling of growth.
Does this routine work for our new family? Will it continue to work as our family grows?
Will we be able to manage financially?
When he approached me with the idea of a “career change”, I was immediately overcome with fear – Would he need to go back to school? How can we afford to live on one income? How will we pay for schooling? Will he be able to find another job?
After some time, I realized the important job I had in supporting my husband as he accepted enrollment into a 1-year advanced medical program.
For our family to be successful on this new journey, we knew we must develop a plan for the upcoming year.
- Financial Aid – applying for FAFSA is first on the list. Will we qualify for financial aid?
- Student Loans – It is important that we set up a meeting with the school to find out about their loan program.
- Supplementing Income – The transition from a two person income to a one income household will be a challenge. Are their opportunities for freelance work on the weekend? Will he be able to juggle a part-time job while attending school? Could I find a second job to supplement our income?
- Re-evaluating the Budget – It’s time to take a critical look at our current budget, calculate our monthly expenses, and look for areas in which we can cut back for additional money. Spend on what we need as opposed to what we want. Do we really need to tile the kitchen this year? Can we cut back on our cable or cell phone bills? Can I become a better “coupon-er”?
- Scholarships – What scholarships can my husband apply for? It is important to pay attention to what is available, the requirements of application and deadlines.
- Personal Loans – What will we owe in excess of Federal Aid or Federal Loans? Can we take out a loan to ensure our bills continue to be paid on time and in full? We made the decision to pay off one of our car loans, through our local credit union, with a portion of our savings. Speaking to a credit union representative in person was the perfect opportunity for us to inquire about personal/student loans available. To our surprise, the interest rates on the loans in question were much lower than those at my husband’s bank. This could actually work for us!
- Support – One of the most important elements of this change will be our support system. Not only will we need to be there for one another, we will need to look to family, friends, co-workers, etc. for those “Help! – I don’t know if I can do this” moments.
- Carve out Time for One Another – Our life is changing; however, we must think back to the core reasons behind “Why” we are making this big change. A better future for our family is our top priority; however, making time for one another, even if it’s taking a 30-minute walk with the dog, or seeing a matinee, will be vital to our relationship.
- Go on a Honeymoon! This may seem to contradict the previous items on our list; however, after celebrating our one year anniversary, we realized that we never took the time to go on a real honeymoon. If we don’t go before school starts, will we ever really find the time to celebrate us? No matter where we end up going, we knew that this had to be added to our plan. Remember, spend on what you need and not just what you want? This is a need.
As our new life begins in just a few short months, we have realized the importance of being prepared and coping with the unexpected that will arise. Change is scary, change is challenging but change can be thrilling!
Written By: Amanda Finn