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Ask Dave

Make Him Marketable

Mallory is a nurse, and her husband makes minimum wage. He wanted to go back to school, but they're now expecting a baby. Mallory wants to stay home with the baby, but she isn't sure they can afford it.

QUESTION: Mallory in Indiana and her husband are both working full time. She is a nurse, and he makes minimum wage. They have no debt, and he wanted to go back to school, but they’re now expecting a baby. Mallory wants to stay home with the baby, but she isn’t sure they can afford it. Dave suggests her husband go to school at night and find another job.

ANSWER: He could go to school at night and get a better job than he has now. The job he has now doesn’t pay much. It’s time to look for a job.

It’s a stupid idea to go to school for English and philosophy with no idea what he’s going to do for a living. Let’s go to school for four years while I have a wife who’s pregnant and wants to be at home with her kid to be a philosophy major and don’t have an idea how I’m going to get a job doing that. Bad philosophy. I’m being real mean here, but let’s think this through a little bit.

You need to get a degree or get a skillset in something that causes you to be more marketable in the marketplace. Are all philosophy majors unmarketable? No. They’re marketable. English majors are. I have several of them working here on our team who do writing for us. Some of them do very well, thank you very much, financially. You need to have a target that you’re aiming at if that’s the degree set he wants to go after. “I just always wanted to be good at philosophy” is not good enough. He needs to be able to feed his kid. We’ve got to get real practical about this, real utilitarian about what education brings us as value in the marketplace. This is no longer self-actualization, knowledge for the sake of “it feels good to be smarter.” He’s really got to get honed in, glued in, focused on this.

If he has an outlet—a marketplace use for that degree field—that’s fine. I’ve got no gripe with that. I’m not sure I know of one off the top of my head, but that doesn’t mean there’s not one. Find what you love and a way to monetize it in the marketplace to feed your family. Then you go get trained in that at a level you haven’t before. But he’s making minimum wage and he’s in the graphic arts world. That doesn’t make any sense. Graphic artists can make a lot more than minimum wage. And he’s got an associate degree. So education is not really holding this guy back. It sounds like he needs some things he’s aiming at—some goals, some targets.