Do I have to go to college to be successful?

Dear Dave,

I am a senior in high school this year and I am really starting to wonder if I should go to college or not. I have been thinking about just getting a job after high school and working to find the career that is right for me. I hear stories all the time about great people who didn’t go to college, but I also hear that sometimes you can’t even get a job without a college degree. I just need some good, sound advice. What do you think?


St. Peters, Missouri

Dear Aaron,

First I must say that I believe very strongly in education. I am encouraging all three of my children to go to college. I believe it is very important. But why do I want them to go to college? What is the point? College is not a magic pill. If you go to college and get your degree, the world does not automatically bow down at your feet. Any of us that have been in the world walking around for a while know that is simply not the case.

The reason you want to go to school is if that degree that you are going after will open doors in your particular field. In most fields today, honestly, a degree does not open doors. A job opportunity could possibly be enhanced by a degree, and given a choice between someone with a degree and someone without a degree, if all other things are equal on a resume, an employer may choose the candidate with the degree.

But I will tell you what I, as well as many other employers look at when bringing someone aboard. I look at desire, attitude and people skills. I look at diligence and their track record at previous jobs. Those are the things that are going to determine if people are successful. And it’s not always some piece of sheepskin.

So there is this myth going around that somehow going to school is necessary to exist on the planet. It is not. But don’t get me wrong, I think education is very important, and I could say that ten times in my response to your question. I think it is vital, and I think you ought to get an education.

I think there are several reasons to go to college. You will get an education, learn how to learn and in some cases, just grow up. But I don’t think you should make the mistake of thinking that is your ticket to success. Fifteen percent of the reason people succeed is education and training, according to a recent book called EQ – Emotional Quotient, where they studied successful people; eighty five percent is attitude, perseverance and people skills. Those kinds of things are the reason people succeed.


Smart to lease as tax-deductible business expense

Dear Dave,

I am thinking about starting a business out of my home, and I need to buy a truck. The problem is that I would like to buy the truck with cash outright, but my boyfriend is telling me that I should lease the truck, and then claim the payments as a business expense. But I told him I would have to talk to you first. What do you think?


Portland, Maine

Dear Lisa,

Well, I am glad you decided to talk to me first, because you are right and he is wrong. He is doing it the way everyone else is doing it, and that is the wrong way. Now let me tell you why:

Number one, the car fleece is on a new car, and a new car will lose 60 percent of its value in the first four years. Since it is a work truck, it is an overhead item so you really don’t want to turn $20,000 into $8,000. You want to minimize your loss. If you were buying a copier, you would buy the minimum copier that would get the job done, because it is an expense.

Secondly, as far as the tax deduction portion of your question, you can tax deduct the truck whether you have payments on it or not. There are two other methods for deduction. One is a straight-line depreciation, which is what you would use if you were not putting many miles on the vehicle. If you are driving a vehicle that you are going to put a bunch of miles on, such as your work truck, then we are going to deduct for mileage.

The lease may or may not be deductible depending on which process you use and whether or not you go through the seven different tables that the IRS claims, but let’s pretend it is. You do not want to go out and create expenses just to get a deduction. If you take on $1,000 worth of deduction as an expense, it means you don’t pay taxes on that $1000. If you didn’t have the expense you would have to pay taxes on the $1,000. So if you spend $1,000 that you didn’t have to, you are spending $1,000 to keep from sending $300 to Washington. Instead, you should just keep your $1,000 and go ahead and send the $300 to Washington. You will come out $700 ahead.

That is with an unnecessary deduction, and a fleece on a new truck is certainly an unnecessary deduction. Consumer Reports and Smart Money Magazine both say that the car fleece is the most expensive way to operate a vehicle. If you have to have a new truck, just get yourself a cheap one and pay cash for it.


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