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    Problem Solving Techniques I Tried

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    In June I’ll be quitting my job as I enter the clinical portion of my Dental Hygiene Program with Concorde Career College. Upon acceptance into the program I was told to expect to be at school Monday-Friday from 7:00 A.M to 7:00 P.M. which is a full time of job in and of itself. With these hours as a basis it is going to be difficult to balance life needs, like bills and gas money, with no consistent income base. Having identified my problem, I’ll now use three types of problem-solving methods to help manage it. I’ll apply to my not so unique problem an algorithm, working backward, and trial and error problem solving technics.

    Applying an algorithm to this problem meant identifying the factors that would affect it. Taking my problem in hand I break it apart, finding my monthly income to be about $1800. I can work until June which means my gross income before I must quit my job is $7,200. Then I factor all my bills bringing my guaranteed expenses to $200, I then factor gas in that at about $100 a month and groceries at another $150, bringing the total to $450 a month. I’d also enjoy having a life so I tack on an addition $100 for free time expenses like going to a movie or taking my wife to dinner. This brings my actual income in the four months before I have to quit my job to $5000, which means saving as much of that as I can manage.

    After June I’ll have 13 months I have to live with no income as my estimated graduation date is July 2020. $5000/13 is $384 dollars for a month. Not quite what I need it to be but that’s also why I borrowed an extra $13,000 against my student loans which gives me another $720 roughly a month to put towards it. Putting the money that I can into savings to pay back against my student loan when I graduate if I don’t end up needing it. Identifying all of these numbers helped me to put it into a budget so I can see what I need to do for myself financially to make it to my graduation date. The budget is as follows.

    The working backward method of problem solving is much to same as the algorithm method. Except without the monthly budgeting. Seeing what I’m going to need at the end of my problem to figure out what I need to do now. Where it’s monetary it’s simple enough to figure out that I’ll need to have at least $7,000 to cover my monthly expenses for 13 months after I stop working allows me to plan for that now. Knowing I took extra against my student loans means that I’m already aware of my ability to plan for what I will need in the future.

    Trial and error problem solving is seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s the ‘wing-it’ method of problem solving. Where I could try and formulate what I need monthly without looking at the big picture. I could try to view my problem as a problem to be handled monthly rather than the overall approach of both algorithm or working backward method. Though that does nothing but intensify stress as it hits monthly. This makes it a particularly ineffective method to problem solving. I could try and just try to put it off, not create problems for myself until they are really there in June. This is a good delaying tactic for my stress until June but doesn’t solve my problem long term either. The problem with trial and error is that it assumes that you’ll fail over and over again which is why you have to keep trying to achieve your overall goal. If at first you don’t succeed try again method. While it’s a good quality to never give up it’s more conducive for skills like trying to master a lay-up in basketball.

    I enjoy breaking my problem into manageable pieces to solve it, so the budget I created using my algorithm problem solving approach was the one I found easiest to use for this particular problem. Being able to identify all of the number factors and lay it out into a spreadsheet computes well to my own understanding what I need to do to succeed in my program and not become overwhelmed financially. My trial and error would have eventually reached the same conclusion as working backward, and algorithm, though it would have been a lot work in the long run to get there. The working backward method was a lot faster than my algorithm method, but was a lot less in depth about the number realities I’ll be facing. The more in-depth information helps me feel a lot less stress. I’d say that 2 out of the 3 problem solving technics I tried were very effective for my particular issue, algorithm method above all.

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