An MBA graduate shares the 5 most valuable money lessons from his $60,000 business degree

Are MBAs worth it? It depends on many factors, like whether you have the money, time and willingness to commit.

In 2015, I enrolled in The University of Florida’s online MBA program, all while working a full-time job in finance. The degree cost me $60,000 and took two years to complete, but it gave me the confidence to take business risks, improved my decision-making skills, expanded my network, and even boosted my salary.

It also taught me several valuable lessons about business and money:

1. Contracts don’t have to be complicated

Having a contract for any business deal you make can save you from emotional distress and financial losses. It doesn’t matter if it’s with close friend or family member — anything that involves a chunk of your time and money should come with a contract.

Also, the mere act of proposing a contract is a good stress test: If the other party gives long-winded reasons not to sign, you should probably move on.

Even a short and simple handwritten one can go a long way. Here are the most essential elements to include:

  1. The “offer”: Something needs to be offered.
  2. The “consideration”: Something needs to be exchanged for it (usually money, otherwise it is a gift or a promise, rather than a contract).
  3. An “acceptance”: Both sides need to accept the terms of the contract.
  4. The “mutuality”: Both sides need to agree to the conditions and understand that they’ve entered into a contract.

2. The trick to persuasion

Aristotle’s three key components of persuasion, which I learned in my Business Writing and Negotiations class, gave me the tools and methods I needed to succeed at selling myself and winning people over:

  1. Ethos (ethics): Cite your moral standing and credibility.
    Example: “I am a wife, a mother, and a taxpayer. I’ve served faithfully for 20 years on the school board. I deserve your vote for [X].”
  2. Pathos (emotion): Tap into the emotional impact of your argument.
    Example: “My opponent wants to hurt [X] by doing [X]. Imagine how frustrated you would be if [X] were to happen.”
  3. Logos (logic): Craft your message with facts, such as evidence, analogies, statistics or even hypothetical scenarios.
    Example: “We do not have enough money to pay for improvements to [X]. And without improvements, the [X] system will falter and thus hinder our economy. Therefore, we should do [X] to pay for better [X].”

3. Too many options can be a bad thing

4. Time in the market beats timing the market

5. How to be a better negotiator

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