Education Debt

Reader Question: My husband makes about $35,000 a year before taxes, and we have one child. We’ve also got a mortgage and $60,000 in student loan debt. About a year ago, my husband started work on a master’s degree, because he thinks he wants to teach when he retires. He quit school after the baby was born, because he didn’t think we could afford it any longer. I think he should finish the degree. Otherwise, he’s just throwing away the $10,000 we’ve already got invested in the program. What do you think?

dave_ramsey You guys need to clean up the mess you’ve made before he goes after his master’s degree. You might be able to justify it if the degree immediately raised his income, but you two can’t afford to make investments in vague educational goals right now.

If you want to call it throwing the money away, then yeah, throw it away. But I’m not sure the money has been wasted. The classes he has already taken are complete and on record, so why can’t he finish the degree somewhere down the road? You guys have done a poor job of planning, and now you need to climb out of a big hole before you do anything else.

The point is not the $10,000, Amanda. The point is that you’re barely making ends meet. You’ve already got a house payment and $60,000 in student loan debt hanging over your heads, not to mention the added expense of a baby in the house. The last thing you need is to go even deeper into debt for something he won’t even use until retirement. That’s just silly.

I’m all for education, but you’ve got to plan things and get a better payback on your educational spending. That’s when it becomes an investment. But he doesn’t need to even think about a master’s degree until you guys have first straightened out your finances!

Dave Ramsey

Dave is the author of The New York Times best-selling book Financial Peace. He is also the host of the nationally syndicated The Dave Ramsey Show, and is a regular guest on television. All of his financial counseling is based on biblical truths. You can hear Dave from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., weekdays online at Send your questions He resides with his wife Sharon and their three children, Denise, Rachel, and Daniel, in Nashville, Tennessee.