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Married and in College - Tips for Survival

Married and in school? Get creative with your money.

The traditional idea of getting your degree while finding a suitable life partner in college is beginning to change. These days, there is no real timeline as non-traditional students are becoming much more common on campus and online.

Today we find that there is a large percentage of married couples with at least one partner in school. They’re in school to either enhance their primary degree and skill set or to get accelerated technical training to help with a career change. There’s a unique story for every situation. But how do you keep focused on your education and keep family life tolerable? Here's advice from two couples who had to concoct a little fiscal wizardry to stay on target.

1) The situation:
• Jessie and John: Jessie is starting a home-based business and takes primary care of the house and kids. John works full-time and is completing an MBA at night.

A benefit:
• His company is paying for the MBA portion of his education. He just has to maintain a certain grade point average to keep it paid off. This employment trend is becoming more common.

An enhancement:
• Jessie and John, who had children, said they made John’s educational achievements a family project. John explains that, “We all worked together while I was in school. Sometimes you have to separate yourself from everything. But I know I'm missing out on a little quality time now to get more for the whole family later."

2) The situation:
• Kevin and Kara: Kara started a full-time, three-year Master's degree in social work. Four years later, Kevin is pursuing a Master's degree in social work at night while working full-time.

A benefit:
• Kevin and Kara took on a short-term change by becoming housekeepers for a professional couple in exchange for rent-free living in a small apartment in the couple's house. The result was that they could literally save hundreds a month in exchange for a few hours of work a week.

An enhancement:
• To overcome less contact and communication, the two began a fun project: write notes to each other. Kevin recalls, "It started as, 'Who's going to buy the milk?' But soon we were making each other laugh and grew closer as the entries became more personal."

One last tip
Students can get some unique tax breaks. The catch? If you're going to school and not working, you have no income to tax.

Married people can make this situation work for them and profit from these tax codes. By utilizing Hope Learning Credits, Lifetime Learning Credits and other tax deductions available to students, a married couple can reduce their taxable income and go further with less. Visit the IRS’s web site for more details on this.

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