I’m not talking about free courses on iTunes U or a free seminar that is open to the public (both of which I’ve utilized and are very valuable in their own right). I am talking about a FREE, walk-across-the-stage-wearing-a-cap-and-gown degree from a highly respected Ivy League institution!
My Free Master’s Degree
I am currently a quarter of the way to getting a free master’s degree from one of the best schools in the country and I didn’t have to spend months completing scholarship applications or applying for government grants to do it.
Even better still, they are paying ME a generous salary as I complete my studies.
How is this possible? Did they find out that I am actually a Nobel Prize-winning fientist and decide to give me a full scholarship? No, I simply became an employee at the institution and am utilizing their employee tuition benefits.
I had hoped to someday go to graduate school but the high price tag of most master’s degree programs and the fact that additional qualifications aren’t necessary to achieve financial independence made it very unlikely that I would ever pursue an additional degree.
After moving to within ten miles of an Ivy League college, however, I decided to investigate what benefits the institution provided to its employees. When I realized that it’d be possible to receive a free master’s degree while working full-time, I decided to leave my corporate job so that I could pursue a post-graduate degree.
Utilize Your Final Working Years
This article is not actually about getting a free degree, however. It is about thinking about your personal goals and finding a way to use your final working years to help achieve those goals.
If you are like me, you still have a few years before you become financially independent. Rather than unhappily grinding through those last few years, think about how you could use your time working to prepare you for your post-FI years.
Are there new skills you’d like to learn that you plan on using after reaching financial independence? Why not get a new job that will help you develop those skills while also helping you towards FI by giving you a regular paycheck?
I took a pay cut when I moved to my current position so the choice to switch jobs to pursue my master’s degree actually pushed my FI date back a bit. While I obviously wasn’t happy to delay FI, the fact that I am learning and doing something I want to do, while steadily marching towards FI, is making these last few years of employment much more bearable.
How About You?
What are your plans for your final pre-FI years? Are there any changes you can make to not only make your last few years of work more enjoyable but to also set yourself up to have a more fulfilling life after financial independence?
Part-time work can help smooth the transition into early retirement while allowing you to quit your full-time job years earlier!