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When it comes to education and investing in yourself, money should never be an issue. I struggled deciding whether or not to stop working and go back to nursing school. I was earning 40,000 as a counselor, nursing school was 30,000, but a year later when I graduated my annual salary was 80,000, there are tons of jobs available and I have the means to pay my loans back with no problem. So I said all of that to say its okay to invest in career/professional and self-advancement.

Nat,

This is money well spent! I have the same thing that I struggle with. I have several conferences and workshops to attend this summer. It's hard trying to come up with the money, but I know it is important!!!! Also, remember that all that money you spend is a tax write-off as a business or educational expense too!
As for budgeting for it. Do you typically know in advance which ones you need to attend each year? For example, I already know that in Spring 2009 I have conferences in Denver, Chicago, and New Orleans....so I can start planning now! Maybe what you can do is set aside a small amount each month as miscellaneous education/work expenses...maybe $50-100 a month!

The money is well spent and you should look into whether it is deductible on your taxes. Also check for free sites that offer courses. I do free courses at pendaflexlearningcenter.com. When a job interviewer "wondered" what I was during my 2 year hiatus from the work world I listed taking their Word, Excel and Quickbooks courses (among others) to brush up on skills. They also offer networking and web courses. Being free does not keep them from being jam-packed with info. Virtual University also offers a frugal way to learn. I used it years ago — before it was even called VU — to learn how to navigate around the net.

Smart of you to upgrade your skills. I learn a lot on my job, but I definitely could be doing more. It's a great investment.

Congrats on the mention!

Hi Frugalista,
Congratulations on the NYT nod that is great stuff.
Professional development is key especially in a competitive industry. You want an edge and taking more courses will certainly do that for you. You may not have attended grad school but there are plenty of courses and online programs that you can take to learn what you need to know. Get yourself a nice little flip video camera from Target, roughly $120, and practice vlogging (video blogging) or do something that will enhance what you already have going on. Your money is well spent so far, I would just suggest that you also look for ways to educate yourself. Some people need to be in a classroom to learn something while others are comfortable working it out for themselves. I think you need to seriously consider the type of learner that you are to see which situation would be best for you. Let me not take up all of the space on your blog..lol but keep doing what you are doing but also look to see if a program would be more cost effective in the end instead of taking a course here and another course there.
Have a great weekend.

Ditto. It's worth it to invest in yourself and your profession, but be choosy too. Be a smart shopper. Decide on what works with your budget. I have a good friend who has an MBA and a JD. He's educated up the whazoo but has so much debt. He got caught up in the "I'm so educated" game. Your investments have been small. I also had a mentor who said "spend a minimum of $1000 a year on your professional development." In a bad enconomy and in a changing industry like journalism, it's critical. Don't wait on your company to spot you.

Fruga..first of all, congrats on being mentioned in the New York Times!! That is so cool. Its worth it to go to the convention and you can take it as a tax write off. good luck.

Hi Gang,
Thanks so much for the pat on the back about the classes. I won't second guess the decision to get more education. However, I think I will be more strategic in the future. Great advice from the crew.

CONGRATS in the mention in the times -- so awesome.
I think education is worth it. I was a broadcast and print dual major -- and it totally helped me land the job I have now. I really can't afford classes now but thanks to our high taxes here in California, the community colleges offer free continuing ed courses. I've taken a few. I plan to go get my law degree in three years, and I think that will be an expensive investment in my future -- but it will likely make me a better writer and make me more money in the long run.

Spending on your own career is often tax deductible -- and some comapnie still even pay for employee education.

I was a mortician and only recently left the craft. The best continuing education is personal developement tnat is interchangable with other intrests.

I am currently working as a construction Laborer and making much more money and much less stress than I had as a mortician making just a little less than a elementery school teacher. The leadership classes that I took as a mortician have helped to make me a much better foreman than I would have been otherwise.

I invested 80k in graduate school to get into the field I was most interested in. 3 years after graduation, I can count the number of interviews/offers I've had on less than one hand.

Never one to just give up, my partner and I started a business, to try and recoup some of the money we spent getting that degree. We can count the number of clients we have on...one hand. We've spent alot of money putting up a website, incorporating, travelling and the like. I keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end, but sometimes I wonder.

Was it worth it? No. If I had a way to not pay back my loans and keep my credit score I would. I think you went about it the right way.

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