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Two years ago I moved to Pittsburgh to get a master's degree. My family (wife and four kids) moved the following January once we had sold our house. I should be complete at the end of next month. There are two problems with this scenario.

1. I may find myself with a degree in German polka history, to quote Dave.
2. I funded the whole thing with student loans.

I am now in debt just over $103k including what remains from my bachelor's degree student loans. My undergrad degree is in culinary arts/ food service management. Initially when I came to grad school I thought I'd go on for a PhD immediately following the Masters but that is not going to happen. So here I am in the deep kimchi.

My first step right now is to find a full time job. My wife and i have both been working part time and bring home just shy of 1600 a month. Our EveryDollar budget is short $608. Even if we started walking everywhere we'd still be $300+ short. So a job upgrade is definitely happening.

My wife has said that she doesn't think she can commit to the Total Money Makeover program and so at this point

1. I'm doing this alone for now.
2. I've got to earn enough to do the baby steps, pay bills, and outrun her spending. (Don't get me wrong she is mostly very frugal and responsible but she is right now trying to plan three trips to three states and we've got less than $300 in the bank without taking out of the kids' savings accounts.)

But the problems that keep me up at night is this:

1. I'm not done with the degree just have to finish the thesis which requires me to interview six people during business hours. So if I get a full-time day job I will be unable to complete the interviews and be unable to finish the degree.

2. Most of the jobs that I can get 2nd shift or later, in my field, pay about $10/hr. (my current PT job pays $11.50) Jobs that pay more than that in my field do not generally have set hours which makes it hard to go get a second or third job since I can't commit to being available.

3. I could apply for jobs in different cities but
a. we just signed a new 12-month lease last month and there would be sizeable penalties to get out of it which we do not have.
b. we can't afford to move
c. I could move alone and live out of the back of my truck but my wife has said she won't stay in Pittsburgh without me so we're back to we can't afford to all move. Also my moving increases the chance that I will not complete my thesis/degree and won't have anything to show for it other than my $103K pile of stupid.

So what would you do? I hope some folks respond. I'm grateful if you do. I realize this was a long post my apologies.
 

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Well, wife needs to understand that you can't afford to make plans for trips when you are coming up $600 short.

What happened to the money from selling the house? Why are you leasing now?

I think if you try real hard you can get those interviews while working. You aren't the first student a restaurant has hired. :)

On the other hand, what does the degree get you that you don't have now?

I would look for a job with steady hours and then try a 2nd part time job on top of that.
 

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It's important to stay out of all or nothing panic mentality. You can work full time and get those interveiws done. The more time your there the more likely you will get a sick day or day off.

Your wife has to learn to ADD. If you dont have the money you cant spend it. Stop trying to stand upside down to please her. I want what I want when I want it is for kids. Sit down w/ her w/ all the numbers and calmly discuss the true situation. Sounds like you 2 need to live a more planned life and right now your being more reactive.
 

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when I came to grad school I thought I'd go on for a PhD immediately following the Masters but that is not going to happen. interview six people during business hours. So if I get a full-time day job I will be unable to complete the interviews and be unable to finish the degree.
Wow, I don't think a TMM or Baby Steps are going to be your answer. You need to work on goal-setting. Eg, PhD in WHAT? If you get degrees just for the sake of having degrees (rather than getting a education that fits your life plan) you'll have useless degrees and no marketable skills (and lots of debt).

But you already know that. When I was a young engineer I worked on missiles and space flight- for the Manned Flight, we did Strategic Decision Making, it was a class that gave us insight into selecting 'if/then' for manned flight. And we did Monte Carlo Simulations on every design parameter to make sure that no decisions/choices were overlooked - that doesn't mean that we didn't make some bad choices, but we made the best with info available. You can still get that Decision Making Class at Comm Colleges.

In your case, you probably know that a PhD in Burger Flipping still pays min wage (same as a HS burger flipper). Conversely, if that 4 yrs was spent on a BS in accounting, nursing, physics, math, etc, the result is a $100,000 salary.

Re your reason to 'not interview 6 people' - that's mostly an attitude issue - when you make a list of why you CAN'T do something you will probably be correct, ie you can't. Conversely, nearly any one of us can figure out how to schedule 6 interviews while holding down a job, most of us have run into lots of 'work arounds' in our lives, mommies constantly manage kid's school, doctors, dance lessons, play dates, sprained ankle, broken arms, yada. Try making a list of how you CAN manage 6 interviews, not why you CAN'T. You've managed to get to work when your car was in the shop, etc.
 

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You're going to have to sit down with your wife and tell her that traveling just isn't happening right now. Too bad if she isn't happy about it. Life isn't about being happy all the time. You can do it gently but it must be done.
 

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Do the damn interviews. You don't even have a job and you are using that as an excuse to not complete your thesis.

You should be applying for jobs like a mad man.
 

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I'm sorry if I sound... rude... BUT why would you go into debt $103,000 AND still want a Ph.D for a job that pays $11.50 an hour. Or $15 and hour and so on? Honestly I'm just curious.
My oldest daughter has a culinary arts/hotel/restaurant management and she went to work straight out of BS. Or before. And they put her up at the hotel with free living AND paid well. She's now be in HR for years and almost done with a Masters. But they're paying for it. Once you have a job most places will reimburse you instead of you paying for the whole pie. You just do the pie a piece at a time and let them pay the bill. CNA's at hospitals and nursing homes do it all the time. They work there and the hospital/nursing home pays for them to go to school in exchange for them working for them for a year or two and I know for fact that other careers do that too.

Never could understand why anyone would go into debt mega thousands for college for a job that pays a few dollars above minimum.

Yeah.. agree with other posters. Wife needs to get a reality check. Tell her to get a second part time job to pay for the 3 trips to 3 states while you worry your a$$ off

As far as the interviews do like everyone else with minimum wage jobs do. Call in sick.
 

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Well, you really need to make finishing your Masters a priority. You went to all this trouble. Writing a thesis isn't really that hard and interviewing 6 people isn't that time consuming. I get that you are working, married and have 4 kids. But y'all made the decision together for you to get your Masters, do what you have to do to finish it.

Once you have your Masters you can likely get a higher paying job and start digging out of this hole. 2nd shift jobs are hard on people and families. Moving is expensive. Finish your degree and get a higher paying job in Pittsburgh. Those things will set you on the right track to getting out of debt.
 

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You can get those interviews and work full time. It isn't that difficult. You can't allow yourself to not finish. Otherwise you threw away that $103,000. Doesn't matter what your degreee is in, many companies want that masters and you should be able to find something.
 

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ITA with Old Guy (except I'd like to have been an RN making 100k, lol), it's not clear how your Master's is going to improve your life. But you're so close to done, so keep going. Interviewing 6 people is nothing, your this close to the finish line, no excuses.

About coming up $600 short every month. You have to close that gap. Make a budget with your wife. Show her how trips to 3 states just can't happen. Since she works less, see if she has time to look around this forum to see how people practice frugality, especially with grocery shopping and meal prep. Just by shopping wisely and not eating out, you may find you save a good chunk of change every month.

When you are out of crisis mode mentality, consider goal-setting for a better financial picture and a path for how to get there. Good luck
 
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