Put Your Education First

By Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions, host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and a best-selling author, including “The Total Money Makeover.” Follow Dave at DaveRamsey.com and on Twitter @DaveRamsey.
June 29, 2021 Updated: June 29, 2021

Dear Dave,

I’m 19, and I’m about to finish up my first year of community college. I have enough money through scholarships and help from my family to get a bachelor’s degree. After that, I plan on going to law school and cash flowing that part of my education. I’ve already started a Roth IRA with money I’ve made working, but I’m wondering if I should continue contributing to retirement when I will have to pay for law school out-of-pocket.

Jonathan

Dear Jonathan,

No, I wouldn’t recommend that. You should stop saving for retirement for now and put all that money aside to pay for your education.

An education that’s usable in the marketplace to increase your income is more valuable to you right now than a mutual fund. A degree in left-handed puppetry or underwater bubble blowing definitely is not. Believe it or not, people spend years, and tens of thousands of dollars—sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars—getting degrees in silly things that have no real value whatsoever. But, if you’re going to get a law degree, and use that degree to create value to society and an incredible income for yourself, that is going to give you a better mathematical return on your investment at this point in your life.

You have plenty of time ahead to invest for retirement. I don’t want you to put it off forever, but a debt-free education is the right investment for you right now. Just keep piling up cash, and let’s pay for this law degree out of pocket. And hey, if you end up with a bunch of money left over when you’ve graduated and are ready to become a lawyer, that’s not the worst thing in the world, is it?

Good luck, Jonathan. Keep up the hard work!

—Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions, host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and a best-selling author, including “The Total Money Makeover.” Follow Dave at DaveRamsey.com and on Twitter @DaveRamsey

Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions, host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and a best-selling author, including “The Total Money Makeover.” Follow Dave at DaveRamsey.com and on Twitter @DaveRamsey.