Make a Value Measure

Jessica is trying to decide if she should go back to work full time. Dave recommends running a budget both ways to see if working full time makes sense.

QUESTION: Jessica in Buffalo is trying to decide if she should go back to work full time. She and her husband have $130,000 in student loans, and Jessica makes about $20,000 working part time. She could make about $40,000 working full time. Dave recommends running a budget both ways to see if working full time makes sense.

ANSWER: I would sit and really run your budget and say, “Gosh, one way we’re going to be out of debt here, and another way we’re going to be out of debt here.” Just see if that’s worth it to you for the part-time versus the full-time. If you can’t move the needle at all and you’re going to be in debt 20 years or something, then you’re going to have to go to work. You made that decision when you took out the student loans. But if you can move the needle at $70,000 and it just matters like one year more or something and yet you could be home with the kids most of the time, then that’s okay if that’s the decision you guys want to make.

You’ve kind of got to measure it out. Hopefully, you can figure it out where the part-time thing works or say, “I’m going to work full time for two years, and after that, I’m going part time.” Or, “I’m going to be part-time for two years, and after that I’m going full time because the youngest child will be in kindergarten,” or whatever. You kind of lay it out and develop yourself a game plan on where you’re going with this. Once you do that, I think the answers will be more readily apparent for you.