I am a 60 year old single woman with no children and luckily no debt. I have worked in nonprofit mental health care throughout my career. It paid enough to make a living but not enough to save a lot.
I stopped working eight years ago when my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease was so advanced that she could no longer be safely left alone. We lived on her income, which of course stopped the day she died last fall.
I am happy. She has taken out extensive life insurance. I am using this to buy and renovate a school bus that I can live in since I can no longer afford rent and to live there while I go back to community college to embark on a new career as a sonographer prepare.
Going back to my old career is not realistic. It would take years and a lot more money than I need to update my coursework and retake license exams.
Two questions: am I crazy about what I do? I get a lot of criticism from people who tell me I’m too old to go back to school, and especially those who are resentful about my decision to make me rent safe by building a skoolie. I say knowing that I will have a roof over my head that I own right away is peace of mind.
When someone tells you that you are making a terrible mistake, it often means, “I wouldn’t choose this for my life.”
So it’s not helpful to be on the receiving end of this feedback. You are facing major life decisions. You need a soundboard, not a judge.
Many perfectly healthy people are happy live from converted school buses. It doesn’t mean they’ll make a terrible mistake, even though I put that in my “Not What I Would Choose For My Life” file.
And of course you’re not crazy about investing in your education at 60. But you don’t have as many years of work to recoup your investment as you did a few decades ago.
I have a feeling that you are viewing life as a test of only two options.
As in A, you can get a job by signing up for sonography classes while living on a school bus.
Or B, don’t do both, which means never going to work again and risking a roof over your head.
But I think you have a lot more options. My big question for you, whether you want to do both sonography courses and life on school buses, is: what do you want to achieve?
If you’ve wanted to become a sonographer for a long time, I’m more inclined to tell you to give it a try. But if that’s just what you’re looking for Bring in income and building a little nest egg, I would suggest considering alternatives.
Going back to your old career in mental health care may not be profitable, but that doesn’t mean the skills you’ve acquired in the field are out of date. Perhaps you could find a job in a support role that uses your expertise without going back to school.
Also, keep in mind that even though you haven’t officially been employed or earned a paycheck in the past eight years, you have certainly worked. Could you use your experience to become a paid carer? Another option can be childcareas millions of families struggle to cope with school openings in the coronavirus era.
As for the Skoolie, include the rental cost and your desire for security with this purchase. Do you dream of making a school bus your home? Or do you just want affordable living space?
Think about what to pay to buy and renovate. School buses are also expensive to insure and have high maintenance costs. This is not a one-time expense. Zoning laws can also make it difficult to find a place to park for long term. Will you buy a roof over your head with confidence when you have no land to park?
Renting or even buying a small apartment or mobile home can be cheaper and more stable in the long run. Do not make this decision because you believe that you can set a flat rate and be “rent-safe” yourself.
Ultimately, only you can make these decisions.
You have spent the past eight years as a caregiver. You have undoubtedly pushed your own needs into the background during this time.
Now is the time to set priorities. The first step is to find out what you actually want.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com