Debt Becomes Her: The Decision

As a chef I guess I’ll need to pimp my ovenYep, that’s right. We have decided to take on debt.

A large amount of debt.

I know what you’re probably thinking. Why on earth would you take on debt in this economy? Let me explain.

One of my biggest dreams has been to go to culinary school. In fact, whenever people would ask me what I’d do if I won the lottery, my first response is always that I’d finally enroll. The other day Eric asked me why I felt I needed to win the lottery to pursue a dream like that. Good question.

I guess I felt it was too expensive, especially since I already have a bachelor’s degree. The tuition for this 15-month culinary school costs more than the tuition for my 4-year degree. It’s been hard for me to justify spending that amount on an associate’s degree, even if it is a dream of mine.

Five years ago, before I met Eric, I applied to the culinary school and got all the way through financing. When I realized I wouldn’t be eligible for any grants because of my BBA and that I’d owe the entire sum in unsubsidized student loans I just couldn’t do it. I was too afraid to be saddled with that kind of debt and it’s been one of those “what ifs” in my life ever since. You know, the kind that make you sigh out loud when ever you think about it.

So what has changed that makes me think I can do it now?

We are in a much better place financially. Eric and I have learned how to budget and have reached several financial goals together (paying off our cars, buying a new home, saving for an emergency fund). We feel that as a team we can handle taking on “good debt” in order to fulfill a dream and enrich our family.

I have the emotional support now. The first time I looked into culinary school I was on my own. My parents didn’t think it was the greatest idea and I didn’t know if such a drastic career change was the right thing for me. Now, everyone is behind the idea and supportive my decision to go. Especially Eric. I think Eric is more excited about me going to culinary school than I am. It has been a long time since I’ve been in school and I’m a little scared. It’s natural to be nervous, though, and I’m sure it will pass.

With Eric’s encouragement and reassurance (not to mention the fresh dose of confidence from my recent catering gig) I took a chance and enrolled. I’m going through with it this time.

I start next week and my estimated graduation date is June 2009. Tonight is orientation and I will be making the first tuition payment. It marks the beginning of the new debt. More on the financials soon…

Why not just save up the money and go when you can pay in cash?

Sure, I guess I could have done that. If we saved $1,000 a month (lofty goal) I would be able to enroll in 3 years, assuming no increase in tuition (yeah right). The tuition has risen about $5,000 since I first applied in 2003.

Unfortunately, I think if I wait I will end up missing out. We both have a sense of “it’s now or never” and that I might not have as good of an opportunity in the future.

Right now, we don’t have kids or any other debt (besides a mortgage). That means now is the right time. In a few years we might want children and with that comes a big change in priorities. Financing additional school for us would be unlikely to be high on that list.

We also think now is the time because of the sour economy. I’ve been thinking of starting a small catering company but with a possible recession starting a small business in a “luxury” industry might not be the best idea. I might as well ride out the bear economy with schooling and start the business when there is enough discretionary spending power out there to support it.

I still can’t believe I’m actually going to culinary school. It’s been a dream for so long it doesn’t seem real. No more “what if’s”.

I have chosen the early morning schedule so most of my classes will be held before noon. After I complete my classroom credits I’ll be working in the onsite fine dining restaurant followed by a few months of a real-world “externship”.

Eric says he can’t wait for me to start the hands-on labwork so he can benefit from all the new techniques I’ll be learning. He says he fully supports me practicing a lot at home. I think I just figured out why he is so excited…

Image Source: mccheek

10 Classes To (Hopefully) Fix My Life

I got tagged by Kyle, my meme loving buddy, over at Rather Be Shopping with a new meme.  The revenge tag is the best kind of tag, I’m told.  :-)

Anyways, I’m glad he tagged me because I like this meme.  I think there is enough in my life that needs fixing to warrant a challenging courseload. 

Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It’s more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one class from the person who tagged you that you’d also like to take. Tag five.

I was often an over-achiever in school so I’ll go for the gusto and choose 10 classes that I’d like to take to fix my life:

I need to learn Photoshop1. Winning Contests 101 – This is the class I’d take with Kyle.  I, too, would love to learn how to win these contests.  I never seem to have luck on my side in contests, yet others win multiple prizes or even lotteries.  Crazy. 

2. Advanced Photoshop (for dummies) – This would be a great class for me. I have a ton of good photos that have the potential to be great with just a little advanced Photoshop tweaking. I can already do some of the basics but I want to learn how to turn a shot into art. This could take the pics in my reducipes to a whole new level!

3. Self-Confidence 101 – Sometimes I have issues feeling confident about my work/abilities/progress/decisions/whatever. I think I would be a happier and more confident person if I could acknowledge my achievements and not nit-pick and second-guess them. Isn’t it funny how we tend to be so much harder on ourselves than the people we love?

4. Home Economics - The REALLY good kind of Home Ec not the “lame-high-school-lets-boil-water” kind that I missed out on.  I think a class that could teach me how to properly clean/restore just about everything, economize all my household spending, prepare weekly meals that maximized my pantry while minimizing my costs, and how to prep and cook anything anywhere anytime would be great.  I’m sure if this class existed it would be a 10-year course taught by a team of professional grandmas. 

5. Produce Gardening for Beginners - I have no idea how to garden but I want to start one in the new house.  I don’t want to kill everything I put in the ground next year so this course would be very useful.  I think eating something that I grew all by myself would be surreal to me.  Having just said that makes me a little sad.  I need to garden, if anything just to get in touch with the reality of how we get fresh food.

6. The Secret to Absolute Productivity – I would take this class in a heartbeat.  I need to feel and be more productive with my days.  Sometimes I look at the clock and what I’ve completed and wonder where the day went.  I have a million things on my to-do list that never seem to get done.  I need a serious time management butt kicking boot camp.

7. Bread Baking 101 – I am not afraid of or a failure at baking bread I just need to learn from an expert on how to perfect my baking.  My pita bread tastes great but it doesn’t rise and create a pocket.  My white loaf tastes great but it isn’t light and airy like store-bought sandwich bread.  I need some people who have mad baking skillz to teach me the tricks of the trade.  That would make me (and my bread-loving husband) happy.

8. Personal Investing 201 – Having graduated from a top 20 business school, I’ve taken courses in finance and investing but I still don’t feel like I learned much about investing for MY future.  Those courses were more focused on business rather than for the individual.  The course I would want to take would cover strategies and risk management for the home investor.

9. Feline Medicine – If you saw our vet bills you would know why I’d take this course. ‘Nuff said.

10. The Art of Persuasion 101 – Imagine if you could convince anyone of anything.  Talk about a course to fix your life!  I would get the best deals on everything, never pay a fine, never lose an argument, and potentially rule the world with that skill set.  Ehhh, I’d probably just convince someone else to rule the world and persuade them to listen to me.  I promise I’d only use this superpower for good, not evil. 

Ahhhh, if only the act of taking a class would mean I’d learn and implement the subject matter required to “fix” my life.  I will tag just three people for this meme: Brip Blap, Punny Money, and Clever Dude.  I bet these guys would have some interesting answers for this one.

Image Source: NoiseCollusion