How can a nontraditional college student gain more income to provide for a brighter future?

I come from a very poor background. I am currently in college to get my BA and plan to get my Masters, as a nontraditional student (I am 32 years old). In the mean time, I am not able to make more than $15,000/year for the employer I am currently with. I love my job, but my monthly cost of living outweighs my monthly income. I am working as much as possible without allowing my grades to suffer. How do I go about creating a portfolio of some kind with these sort of odds against me? I don't want to live like this the rest of my life. The one thing I have going for me is a 401(k), which I contribute 3% to, but the employer does not match anything. What can I do? I am open to any and all suggestions that come my way.

Career / Compensation, Financial Planning, Asset Allocation
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April 2017
76% of people found this answer helpful

First, always believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to if you believe in yourself, and keep a positive mental attitude. I tell my clients they need to do 3 things in order to reach their financial goals. 1) Decide. Often, people take way too long to make critical and important decisions when it comes to their lives. So, decide quickly as to what it is you want. 2) Plan. It’s great that you have a plan to get a Masters after completing your Bachelors, but be sure to make plans to address more immediate needs as well. 3) Implement. The greatest plans and/or ideas mean absolutely nothing without taking action to implement them.

So, with that being the ground work, let’s dig into some decisions, plans, and implementations. My first question is why are you only able to make $15,000 per year? If your expenses are outweighing your income, changes must be made. It’s great that you love your job, but this job sounds as though it will be temporary since you probably won’t be doing it when you complete your Master’s Degree. I’d look to see if you qualify for a job paying more income, even if it is something you’re not in love with right now. Second, I wouldn’t be worried about the portfolio right now, you should be focused on establishing an emergency fund; 3-6 months of your monthly expenses. If something goes wrong in your life, and you have no emergency fund, you’re going to pull that money from your 401(k) and take a 10% penalty hit. Third, make a balance sheet. List out all of your assets: human (friends/family/teachers,etc), internal (your faith, talents, etc.), and material assets, and build short-term goals around them. Far too often, we will allow our minds to limit what progress we can make due to where we are in the present. Sometimes, the people and things we need to be successful are closer than we think. I know you were probably looking for financial answers like, keep a tighter budget or maybe contribute an extra 2% into your 401(k); but I’ve read too many autobiographies on people who had tremendous obstacles to overcome, to include being impoverished, and the most significant changes started from within. After you’ve identified your assets, identify your liabilities: bad debt, bad people, bad surroundings, bad habit, and do what you can to eliminate them. And last but not least, and I know it sounds cheesy, but find a consistent source of inspiration. In my struggles, both personally and professionally, I always turn to Anthony Robbins. Whether I pick up a book and read through a chapter, or visit a youtube video, he helps me put things back into perspective. Coming from a poor background isn’t a life sentence to be served by being impoverished. Find your source of motivation and inspiration and keep fighting every day. I wish you all the best.

April 2017
April 2017
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April 2017