My career has never been linear, which I’m okay with. It may take me longer to get somewhere in it, but I’ve picked up pockets of knowledge that others within my industry don’t necessarily have. I finished university with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, worked in the oil fields and on construction sites, and now I’m in an office doing Civil design. I’m quite happy with where I’ve ended up, I really enjoy my work, but I have a couple gaps in my knowledge which are preventing me from moving forward. So, I sat down with a senior Engineer, figured out what I was missing, and signed up for the first couple classes. Rather than getting a full Civil degree (so much overlap, not worth it), I’m going back as a “Special Student”.
The company will reimburse me for the cost of the schooling, which after fees, taxes and books comes to approximately $2,000. My manager convinced the business guys to reimburse me as I pay out of pocket, rather than making me wait until after I’m done the courses to pay me back. Thank god! That’s a big chunk of change to be waiting 4 or 5 months for reimbursement. So I’ve been snowballing my tuition payments. Every time I get reimbursed I tack on a little bit more money from the current pay check to make the next payment a little bigger: Pay $X, get reimbursed for X, pay $X+$Y, get reimbursed for X+Y, pay $X+$Y+$Z… you get the idea.
It’s been a reasonably painless way to pay tuition now that we got the details worked out (before I was paying for it out of pocket, not knowing when I would get paid back). It also means that when my last chunk of tuition gets reimbursed I’ll have a decent sized lump sum payment for my credit card. I’m looking forward to that!
The courses won't necessarily pay off financially for me right now, but it will make getting my professional designation easier, and will eventually make me more promotable. I could take another job that pays more in an effort to pay off my debts more quickly; going back to the oil sands would have everything but the mortgage paid off before the end of they year! However, those jobs come at a considerable cost in terms of health, mental well being, social and personal life. That added stress tends to lead to added spending, and I'm trying to find a healthier, more manageable lifestyle. It's a slow change.
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