Financial Planning for a Career in Meteorology19 Dec , 2011 | 2
Let me first preface by saying that I’m not a certified financial planner and by no means am I going to tell how to invest your money or give you a how-to-guide to plan for a future in meteorology. Instead, I’d like to share what I’ve learned (and what I’ve seen others do) to financially prepare for a career in meteorology. This post is generally geared towards college students in meteorology (and/or high school students thinking about it).
I believe financial planning for a career in meteorology should start the second you enter college (if not even earlier). College tuition is getting more and more expensive. Out of state tuition is out of this world. And if you’re not one of the lucky few who either have received a 4 year scholarship, parents are paying for your education, or you’re receiving some sort of grant, you most likely will be applying for a student loan or financial aid.
One thing to remember is that student loans can never be written off like a business. They are with you for life. Someone has to pay them.
In 2010, according to the Huffington Post, the average debt a college student owed was $25,250. On the higher side, it was close to $55,000. You can read the entire article, here. So when you enter school, I would highly recommend any money that you make…whether it’s through part time work, internships, or given from your parents for expenses…you save a little piece of it in a bank account.
My tactic was to put any money I received in a long term CD (approximately 3 years) so that I would get a higher interest rate than what the low interest rates banks were offering for a checking or savings account. And by putting my cash in a long term CD, it also helped keep me disciplined because there are penalties to withdraw before maturity. It also kept my principle protected so I didn’t lose what I put in. Ask your financial planner for additional options.
We know it’s tough to survive as it is given how high expenses for college are…but even a small piece of your check/allowance can go a long way to get you to a student loan debt free future. So why do I mention the importance of financial planning specifically in meteorology?
The main reason for this is because when you graduate from meteorology, an average entry level job as a meteorologist generally ranges from $18k-35k. Ouch. You can read more about what I wrote about entry level TV weather salaries too, here. And on top of that don’t forget that your salary is taxed. You also have your living expenses. Plus don’t forget to add your student loan debt too. Now if you take all this into consideration, your net take home pay after paying all these expenses becomes pretty dismal. It’s just the reality of what to expect.
There are some options to lower your tax burden. If a company offers a 401k plan and matches a portion of it…I’m all game there. If a company says they’ll match 100% up to the first 5%…I would at minimum give 5% to my 401k plan. It’s basically “free money” and it’s also “pre tax money” that is going into the 401k plan. Talk to your financial planner or HR rep about this.
Bottom line, the “real world” in meteorology could be a stark wake up call if you don’t financially prepare for a career in meteorology. Even if it’s saving that little chunk of cash you have left..it will add up and help you in the long run. And for those who want to go further up in education (and want to stay in operational meteorology), I’d definitely read my previous post about “The Opportunity Cost to getting a Masters or PHD in Meteorology.” I would highly recommend (even as a college student) to talk to a financial planner to identify savings and less risky investment options for you to help remove that “student loan debt”.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask. (Photo credit: laccd-contest.com)