Guest Post: What is The 40-40-40 Scam?

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By: Cherise Floyd

Blogger of Life Rii-Imagined

This is where you work for someone else for 40 hours a week for 40 years and try to retire off of 40% of what you could barely live on when you were working. This is sadly, the reality for a large majority of people.

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I want to be a writer. It took me six years, two degrees, and $88,000 of student loan debt to discover I want to be a writer.

Undergraduate Graduation:

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Masters Degree:

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I wasn’t encouraged to be a writer, to write poetry, to write stories, or songs. I was encouraged to write essays. Essays to institutions of higher education describing how they should let me in, how successful I could become if only given the opportunity. I was never encouraged to chase my own passion. Going to college was drilled in my head so much I was convinced it was the only way to achieve “success”. It was the only way to get a high paying job, to buy a home, and raise a family in that said home.

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While college was an amazing experience that I believed shaped me into who I am today, it wasn’t necessary. Oftentimes I worked two to three jobs to make ends meet in addition to taking classes. I was largely miserable during that time and only kept going because in my mind the prize, ie, success, happiness, a career, etc. Was all on the other side of a degree.

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I remember being at graduation surrounded by my peers who were either smiling ear to ear or crying tears of happiness. I sat there waiting for that flood of emotions to hit me. For me to feel like “I had made it” because after all, this degree was the key to me getting the house, the white picket fence, etc, etc.

Everybody Else:

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Me:

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Sadly, I left wondering why I bothered to attend the ceremony at all. I had luckily not fallen into that “cant find a job in your field after your graduate” statistic and had secured an entry-level position at a Medicaid HMO company Downtown Detroit. I loved working there, and I loved my job until I didn’t that is. After working there for a couple of months I started to feel my happiness slipping away.  I started to see the nepotism and blatant favoritism for white coworkers over workers of color and I knew I wouldn’t be able to grow there. The gotcha is one, you didnt even need a degree to work there. Two, they offered this program that after you finished having it is the equivalent to a bachelors degree, and three, they offered tuition reimbursement. So here I am $88,000 in debt just to work with and make the exact same amount of money as people with high school diplomas.

Me:

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I honestly cant believe that I based my happiness off of working for someone else. Off of being with someone else. I think back to that and I laugh because the things I want for my life has changed so drastically over these past couple of years. The only thing I could possibly see myself doing right now is writing and traveling. I am trying to save to be able to backpack for about a month or two overseas next summer. My dream is to be able to quit my 9-5 and write full-time. No alarm clock, no stress, no morning traffic or afternoon rush hour. Just me, paper, and a pen writing my little heart out. Some of the most successful people have no degree or higher education at all, do you think a college education is needed to achieve your dreams? America has convinced us that “living” is slaving away for someone else for about 40 to 50 years and THEN can you retire and “have fun” and “enjoy your life”.

But what about right now?

Discussion:

Do you have a degree? if yes:

Has having it drastically changed your life?

If no, have you been able to find happiness and success (whatever you deem as being successful) without having a degree?


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12 Comments

  1. Being completely honest I’m not to sure how I got an email with your post because I can’t remember coming across your blog but I must say I am glad I did like everything you wrote spoke to me as it is the exact same way I feel minus the graduating college.I’m working hard on quitting my “9-5” and becoming a full-time blogger/makeup artist and traveling the world sorry for the long comment it was just refreshing to read your post. Would love to chat some more though……where are you planning on traveling to for your first trip?

    1. Thanks so much for reading. I have been to a couple of different places (Jamaica, Barcelona, Paris). I would love to start my trip in Jamaica. I LOVED it there and want to go back so bad. Italy, Thailand, and Asia are all the places Id like to go to backpacking. Fingers crossed we both quit these 9 to 5’s soon!

  2. Great post!

    I do have a BFA in fashion design + marketing. I’d like to think it’s helped me get more interviews, sure. But actual jobs in this field are hard to get. I’ve been blessed to know some people who I worked alongside and learned things from, but otherwise, I don’t feel my life has changed drastically in the professional realm due to this degree. I am happy and fulfilled in life with my creative outlets and small baking business, but again, it’s got not a thing to do with my degree. I do think you need schooling for certain jobs and fields-like law, for instance, but not for the one(s) I chose.

    1. Degree’s for sure help you get your foot into the door. Ive learned that above all else “who you know” really will get you further than “what you know”. As I watched my old manager promote all of her friends lol. Writing makes me so happy to the point idk why I considered ever doing anything else. Im happy we both found our passions. Thanks for reading.

  3. OMG – this was me over the last 20+ years. I’m making a go at my dream of making a living with my writing, all be it a little later in life than I expected, but hey – better late than never. Sending you waves of support and motivation, and wishes for much success 🙂

    1. Yes! I definitely believe in the better late than never mantra. as long as you are breathing you have the opportunity to change your life as you see fit. No more big CEO, working for someone else, being super rich dreams for me. Give me a paper, pen, backpack and a flight and thats all I need. Thanks for reading

    1. Lol it has some benefits. I do attribute a lot of who I am now to those 5 years I spent on campus. School for sure isnt for everyone. But there are creative ways to go that does not involve taking out as many loans as I did (if paying for it is your concern). I also switched my major a couple of times so I paid for classes that werent even relevant to what I graduated with and that added up quick (switched majors three times) Idk why ppl glamorize switching majors so much lol I wouldnt advise it after a sophomore. Thanks for reading, if not college I hope the alternative you go for provides you with just as much opportunity and success as a degree supposedly does! (hopefully way more)

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