I like to think that I do a pretty good job of monitoring what is going on in the financial planning world, and one concept that keeps coming up again and again lately is this idea that you need to get an additional job to get out of debt. I think this idea is made louder in the economy we find ourselves in right now – but even in the teachings of Financial Peace University that I’ve taught twice now, Dave Ramsey makes it clear that if you’re in debt, and you’re serious about getting out of it, you need to get a second job (in addition to your full time job).
This doesn’t go over well with me. It’s not that I think people shouldn’t get out of debt (they should). And it’s not that I’m advocating laziness (I’m not). It’s simply that by getting a second job, it most likely means they’ll be sacrificing time with their families (not to mention also sacrificing sleep, which will reduce the quality of the dwindling quantity of time with family). In most scenarios, the families who are being counseled to pick up jobs are the families who have young kids at home. And time with those young kids can’t be replaced, no matter how soon you get out of debt.
Granted: getting a second job doesn’t have to mean sacrificing time with your family. But it most likely will. And in some circumstances, maybe it is the best option. However, I think in most scenarios, the issue isn’t top budget line related – it’s within the budget. If a family is feeling squeezed and really is being counseled to take on a second job to get out of debt faster, or even to make ends meet, I’d first start with putting the budget on a diet. Do you really need to buy new clothes every month? Do you really need to be investing in your company’s 401k right now? Do you really need to eat out once a week? Do you really need that car (and it’s expensive monthly payment)?
And so I wrap up, Jack, with the encouragement to think twice before getting that second job. Think through whether the temporary premium you pay (missing family time) is worth the paycheck (to get out of debt). It’s certainly not a black and white issue, as with other matters of financial planning, but I feel the need to push back to the momentum swinging with the advice to increase your work hours. Till next time, Jack.