I’ve been hitting a bit of a roadblock recently when it comes to deciding where to best “invest in myself” as the popular cliché says. While there is no doubt that a master’s degree in my field (education) would be a great asset for me and open many career paths for me, it is also an incredibly frustrating process to go through. On the other hand, expanding our blog-based business and doing more freelance work has more immediate benefits, and could also pay off handsomely down the road. There are only so many hours in a day and consequently I may have to make some tough decisions as far as where to best throw my energy into. I am a strong believer in trying to build some positive momentum in your life while you are still “young” (relative term), and have exceptional amounts of freedom and energy. The only question is which path will likely create the most positive momentum for me and best set me up in the future.
In terms of a cost-benefit analysis it is tough to argue with the blogging world right now. After a few years in the game, it is pretty apparent to me that if you pay attention to readers and give them good information, they will keep coming back. The longer you are in the blogging world the more beneficial connections you can build and the better-recognized you become. This leads to some fairly rewarding fringe benefits, as well as increased income. Whether you are talking about a website getting off the ground and making money in a variety of ways, or finding a creative way to market yourself as a freelancer, the benefits are quantifiable, and the positive results are immediate. I believe that if I were to make a real push in building this side gig, the immediate monetary benefits would be pretty decent, and potentially, I could set up a source of income from our website that could (nothing is for sure with Google updates these days) continue with fairly little time commitment in perpetuity. Semi-passive income is a great tool in anyone’s financial tool belt.
But Being a “Master” is Alluring…
The benefits of a master’s degree are both easier and harder quantify at the same time. I would get at automatic pay bump of just under $4,000, and my salary ceiling would rise from $82K to $87K if I stayed in my job as a teacher and received a master's degree. The real benefits I am after however, are the career opportunities that a degree would help open up. Jumping up into administration could be very lucrative (in Manitoba, upper-level administrators make between $120K and $180K). It would also look great on my resume if I decided to make a lateral move some day. I am fairly certain at this point that I do not want to be a classroom teacher for the next 30 years, but there are many jobs all over the field of education that can be pursued with the right combination of credentials and experience. While those benefits are certainly substantial, so are the costs. The main cost would be my time and my blood pressure level. Hours spent in a classroom, reading through journal articles, and driving to and from the university add up in a hurry. My frustration level would likely rise as a result of the absolute uselessness of much of what I would be learning (the incredible disconnect between the academics in the field of education and reality is astounding, and worthy of its own post altogether). Then there is the cost to consider. I have another 30 credit hours to go to achieve my degree, at a cost of roughly $600 per 3 credit hours, that is $6,000 dollars in upfront costs. While I would be able to recoup some of that money through tax credits, it is still a substantial capital investment.
I suspect that in the end I shall end up pursuing both paths to some degree (who cares what Frost says). Given the fact that I simply enjoy blogging more I think I’ll probably end up dedicating 60-70% of my “self-investment” time and energy in that direction, while allocating the rest to grinding my way through to becoming a master of education. Stupid human brain and instincts that prefer immediate gratification so much! If only I could turn them down a little the benefits that come with the master’s degree would likely appear so much clearer.
What do you guys think? I know that our favourite contributor – Young, deals with this dilemma to some degree, as well as our blogging mentor – The Financial Blogger. I keep going back and forth on just how much focus I should place on each goal, any input is welcome (see I just act like I know it all… you probably figured it out by now that this isn’t the case).