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November 22, 2010


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Personally -- I would try and find an employer that would pay for my graduate school (I actually have done this myself)... That would allow you to accomplish both of these goals - and that is a very realistic option.

I would also look at a few other online schools that are a little cheaper -- but are still nationally accredited universities.

Otherwise - I would definitely pay for grad school and wait on the house. You guys have free rent and there is a house on every corner (you can get one whenever). Also you seem very responsible and have analyzed this situation from many angles - good job! DON'T WORRY ABOUT INTEREST RATES on the loan for a house. Just save and with the amount you want to spend you can buy a house outright several years from now. Stay away from debt - it is much more peaceful without it.

Do you really really really hate the studio apartment and want a house so bad because you just can't stand living in that apartment anymore? If yes, you seem to have the money to make it work if you want to do that.

If however you are doing it cause you are worried that housing and interest will be higher in the future (as you seem to indicate) then you are giving up tons of free money for the next 2-3 years just to maybe get a slightly better deal on a house now?

Let me be precise: NO WAY IN HELL!

You will save far more taking the free housing. It looks like your plan is to pay the house off is in a very short number of years so the interest rate will have almost no affect either.

Unless the house is a living hell, your current deal is heaven.

The obvious concern with buying a house now is, what happens once hubby finishes school? Will he be looking for another job? Will you be looking for a job at some point, since you are not employed? And let's face it: Fresno, in the Central Valley, is awful from a job market perspective. Counting on unemployment benefits to pay your mortage has worked out for exactly how many people in the Golden State lately?

Bottom line, I wouldn't want to be tied to a new home and new mortage payment in such a depressed area as my life was just getting on track.

MrAtoZ poses a good question. There are a lot of costs associated with moving/home ownership that go beyond the mortgage. If you have a heathy emergency fund and plan to stay in the home for five years, then it may be a good option.

On the other hand, if you want to keep your options open staying put might be a better option.

What I don't understand, is why you don't work.

You say your husband is doing Online university AND a full time job, yet you don't work.

Are you doing schooling as well? have you considered a part-time/full-time job? Is there some other reason you can't work?

As long as you two can comfortably live in the studio apartment, I would recommend doing so. the more you save, the bigger of a downpayment you can put down on a house.

I agree with many above. Pay for grad school and then after graduation, figure out if a house is plausible. My reasoning behind this:
1. If you pay for schooling instead of housing, you are leaving schooling debt-free, meaning when you choose to buy, the mortgage will be your only debt.
2. In the event your husband would lose his job, there is financial aid available to pay for schooling, but programs to help with a mortgage are less readily available.
3. Why burden yourself with both schooling and housing debt and set yourself up for a huge cluster should something not go to plan?

Unless your living situation is changing in the next few years or the apartment is unbearable, stay put, get through his schooling, and then figure out housing.

I would also consider buying the house last... The reason is once you are stuck with the house, you are stuck with it for many years to come, unless you know you are coming into a lot of money that can pay off the house in one shot. Otherwise, definitely try to sharpen your skills with grad school and hopefully you can get a higher paying job coming out with a higher degree.

I have to ask why there is just one income in the house. Do you have children at home? Half the equation is very unclear. From how it looks to me, he works and goes to school, but I am not sure what your day is filled with. Not judging, just trying to understand.

Also, I am curious how long grandpa intended for you guys to use the studio.

If it is not taking advantage of the situation, I would consider postponing graduate studies and moving and just sock away as much as possible. It is hard to know what you want to do right away, maybe waiting a few years for grad school makes more sense, and he will get more benefit out of the schooling. Maybe he will also find a company to pay for it.

You guys are young. If you buy a house now, you will be tying yourself down. If he is graduating soon he can be more open to expanding locations for a job search if you stay flexible with the studio. Plus, he really isn't putting much into his 401k either, and since you only have one 401k plan, I would make maxing it out a priority if possible. But that is just me.

In synopsis, I would not be worried about moving or grad school right now.

Take home $3,300 and save $2,200 each month?! Either you 2 are really frugal or that number cannot be correct unless you are only paying for food and have no other expenses. Either way, buying a house has a ton of extra expenses more than just the mortgage, especially up front.

I would probably feel bad mooching off of a relative for an extended period of time and being almost 30 but thats just me.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone.

This is the first job that really starts to build my husband's working experience,and the company pays and encourages employees to continue earning more certifications. So he is taking advantage of that. He's been working there for a couple of years. After he earns his graguate diploma(majored in project management), we'll see how things go, and have our eyes open to other job oppertunities. With the diploma, working experiences, and those certifications he will be earned, it will surely help his career in the long run.

We know Fresno doesn't sound like a desirable job market, but that's where he grows up. All his families are here,he really wants to stay close to his family, and I respect that. If we move to a bigger city with more job oppertunites, we will face higher living costs, and have to sacrifice the relationship of the family.

We just got married last year. I moved here from a foreign country. The reason I am not working is because we only have one car, and we are trying to have a baby. It just doesn't seem right for me to buy another car to work part time and pay for the day care later. Also, I fly back to visit my family for a month every year.

We were actully trying to buy a house last year due to his grandpa's encouragement. His grandpa owns over twenty houses and they are all for rent now. It was almost impossible for us to buy with 3.5% down FHA loan since we were aiming at lower price ranged houses. Luckily, we ended up accepting grandpa's offer to stay at his apartment,paying off our car . And are able to build up our savings.

We don't know how long grandpa is willing to let us stay in his studio apartment(it's in the garage in his backyard), since his intention was to let us pay off our debt(car loan, student loan), and buy a house. Going to graduate school was not part of the plan. We will have to talk to him about that.

My husband really wants to continue on school, he thinks it would be hard for him to go back after a couple of years.And I think we should buy the house now and wait on the grad school. That's why we are trying to see if we can do both at the same time.

Maxing out 401K wouldn't be our priority now. He is contributing 9% and gets full company match.We still need to save for a house, and open a Roth IRA.

The number is not wrong, all the bills we have are phone bill, car insurance, and my health insurance. We only budget 200 for food, no eating out, and 100 for shopping/stuff. Saving as much as we can by living extra frugal.

Bad idea all around. I used to live in Visalia, just south of you. And while house prices have tanked there (they have declined two-thirds since the crash began in 2005), that doesn't necessarily mean it is a great time to buy, as most Realtors would say. Interest rates have nowhere to go but up; what do you think that will mean to house prices? There will certainly be more downward pressure on prices as rates go up. You are not missing the boat by waiting for real estate. There are plenty of desperate people who stupidly paid too much for their houses and will be in foreclosure soon enough. Wait!

Now for the second part. Why would you spend so much for an online degree? I have a bachelor's from a brick-and-mortar state school and a MBA from an AACSB-accredited school, which I completed online. Let me tell you, most employers are still very suspicious of online degrees, despite the school behind it. With so many unemployed people, employers can be very choosy about who they hire, and an online degree undoubtedly will not make you as marketable as a big name school on location. Take it from me; I've been there and done that.

I'd stay with your current situation for now; perhaps enroll at Fresno State in a marketable degree program. Continue with the current job while seeking out better opportunities.

I'd do school first and buy the house later. TRying to do both at once seems like too much.

Maybe you should pay grampa some rent or find a place to rent. You may be taking advantage of grampas kindness at this point. Sounds like he's giving free rent to help you get on your feet, not free rent so you can stash $2200 /month in savings forever. You can afford your own place or rent. But at least talk to grampa, maybe I'm wrong and maybe he's more than happy to have you live in the studio forever.

The big question, which I don't think anybody has asked, is whether or not the online degree will truly help your husband's job prospects and/or boost his salary. I am all for education for education sake, but unfortunately, if education costs money, then you have to consider the financial aspects as well. I am not familiar with the West Coast but you say that job prospects in Fresno are not very good. Therefore, unless your husband's current employer is going to give your husband a raise or promotion based upon the degree, then I would not even consider it.

Also, you mention that you are looking at having a child. Once the baby arrives that is going to add to your financial burden and should be factored into the equation as well. Now you are talking about paying for school, paying for a house, AND paying to support a baby. With that in mind, it makes a degree even less of a priority to me. With a baby in the house, you are going to outgrow that studio apt really quickly!

Bottom line: skip the degree.

I'd say the time for his grad school was over when he married you and is now trying to have a child. It is up to him now to work to pay for his new family, getting out of the $17K debt, and making enough for you to stay home to raise your children. With a child on the way, you won't want to be living in a studio apartment for too long, so that will force you into a bigger rental, or house if the numbers work out equal or better. You will have to do two major things: 1) Live on a budget and 2) become an expert at the Fresno housing market to see what would best work out for you. Give it a long time and analysis before you buy, so watch that market. In short, baby changes everything and grad school should wait. Many jobs pay for grad school so hopefully his will in the future.

Well, it sounds like if you stay at the studio, you are taking advantage of Grandpa's generosity. Considering the original deal from Grandpa was you could stay there in order to pay off debt and save up for a house, then going to school instead should not even be an option unless you plan on paying Grandpa rent, and fair market rent at that.

We all have a lot of wants in life. Living off one income to have a baby and traveling for a month is more than many get to do. You need to do it on your own instead of relying on an elderly man in my opinion. I have read a lot about what you guys want to do, but not sure what you are willing to do to actually get it. For example, are you willing to go work in the evening while you husband watches the baby for a few hours? Maybe that is what it will take if you want to get a degree, buy a house, and save a bunch of money. I also think that once you guys are more established, you need to give some money to grandpa as a thank you.

You also need to decide tax-wise which is better for you to do, add more to 401k or open a Roth IRA.

Plus, there are a million certifications your husband could attain, probably corporate sponsored, as opposed to getting an online graduate degree. Is he PMP certified?

You guys have a lot of goals. You need to prioritize them as a couple and then guide your life that way. Which takes priority, baby or education? Sometimes priorities are mutually exclusive, as are wants and needs.

Good luck.

You mention that your husband is currently enrolled in online college. Is he working toward a bachelor's there? If so, I am impressed that he landed a full-time systems engineering role paying 50K without a B.S. He must have demonstrated some compelling talent or real-world experience.

If he wants to continue studying engineering in graduate school, he might want to consider a Ph.D. program instead of an online master's. As a doctoral student, he'd typically pay no tuition and receive a stipend. Teaching, research, and classes add up to a full-time job, so it would cut his pay by 20-30K. However, benefits and family housing will be generous. To top it off, at most schools, he'd have the option to leave after completing the M.S. and return to industry if he preferred. As others have mentioned, the degree from a brick-and-mortar university would likely have more heft.

Also, the consensus view in this thread seems to be: postpone grad school. On the flip side: why not postpone the baby? It's a personal decision, of course, but I'm surprised that taking on the expense (time and money) of a baby while unsettled at 28 passes without question in this crowd.

Hey, I am the husband in the story. Thanks a lot for your comments, everyone, it is giving me a lot to think about.

First, I am surprised buying a house is so unpopular. Fresno has about the best cost/rent ratio in the country. Some of the points here are very valid, though, so I have to think about it.

My grandpa is actually very happy to have us here. He just recently remarried and is spending a lot of time travelling and likes to have someone to watch after the house and take in the rent checks. Not that we provide service equal to the value of our fair market value rent, but if I talked to him about it I do not feel he would feel taken advantage of. I would of course move out if there were any friction between us. This studio is not in a situation where he would ever rent it out on the market.

The graduate school thing has me loosing the most sleep. I feel strongly that if I do not get a graduate degree I might miss out on many opportunities, even if those oppurtunities are not realized immediately. I know an alumnus of Boston University who says his degree has opened a lot of doors for him; you get a Boston University diploma that does not indicate you were an "online" student. The price IS huge though. Because my 4-year degree is from a cruddy online school, though, it seems important to cap it off with a degree from a reputible institution. Also, I fear that if I wait to start, I will lose the drive to follow through.

At any rate, my job is very secure at this point, I am a senior member of our team. Though a masters degree would make me over qualified for my job, perhaps, I could probably get a good raise just to keep me. Even if I can't find better work immediately, though, I am fine where I am and am not worried about being stuck unemployed.

Thanks for all of the feedback you guys have given us. Our hope is that through some dedicated sacrifice and good decision making in our early years we will be setup for a greater degree of security in our middle years (high level of school complete, house paid off, saving for retirement and chillin')

Unless you are really uncomfortable in the studio, stay put until your husband finishes grad school and finds his next job. A previous poster mentioned that houses will always be available, and he/she is right.

Stay with the school plan, its an investment that can't be taken away from you and always can lead to new opportunities. Buying a home is a good idea, but no sense to rush. There really is no issue with renting when it is in your best interest. They seem like they are building up a good savings account that is liquid, so if the right opportunity for a home comes up, they can put a down payment down.

The diploma may not say "online" on it, but hiring managers do realize that you cannot live/work in Fresno and attend a school in Boston in-person. They know that it is an online program that you are attending.

And as a hiring manager in this economy (and even before the downturn), I can tell you that we still prefer brick and mortar degrees. There's a lot to be said about the interactions with students and networking that a in-person program offers that online programs rarely do. Or at least that's our perception.

DO NOT POSTPONE SCHOOL!! Way too often, you can't find a good time/the money/the will to go back. My (now ex) said we could afford kids or for me to go back and get my graduate degree. Being in my early 30s,I picked kids over going back to school and I regret it to this day.

Let me clarify - I love my kids, don't regret having them, but should have done school first. I regret not having gone to school when I had the chance.

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