Debt Can Limit Your Options (even when it’s ‘worth it’)

From the Praxis blog.

It’s hard to find a way to combine your career with your passion. It’s much harder if you need to make a lot of money to pay for your lifestyle, loans, etc. I know a number of people who make lots of money – enough to make that law degree a sound financial investment, for example – but hate what they do. The sound financial investment – trading debt for a ticket to a high paying job – turns out to have limited their options to only jobs that pay well enough to service the debt, and they ended up not liking those jobs.

In other words, the lower your wage requirements, the more flexibility you have early on to explore and test and find work you love. Keep that in mind with each step. Ask whether your present decisions are limiting your future options in a way you might regret.

I don’t mean to pick on law students with the above example, but that’s the one I see the most. People get a law degree because they’re smart, and they imagine a law degree as opening up a lot of career options. But after they graduate and have huge debts to pay, the number of jobs that cover it are limited. If you don’t enjoy corporate law, you might feel trapped.

It’s not just education debt that can limit you to jobs you don’t like.  I’ve also met a lot of people who feel stuck with a high paying job they hate because they bought an expensive house or car. If a nicer house and a less enjoyable job is a trade-off you’re happy with, by all means go for it! But it’s hard to undo once you jump in, so be cautious and thoughtful.

I talk a little more here about how low income can be an asset early in life.

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