Cash For Grad School: Final Goal Update

Two years ago this month I was applying for grad school at the same time it was becoming evident I would have to leave my full-time job. We went into super frugal mode and managed to pay off the remainder of my student loans and our van in the 8 weeks before I dropped to part-time.

I did not ever want to take out another student loan, yet in dropping to part-time I was also losing my tuition reimbursement benefit.

My husband was dubious that we could pay my tuition when I was only working 4-8 days a month. After watching me stockpile 8 years worth of razors for him and spending only $9 out of pocket, he was willing to give it a go. I love a challenge.

In the past two years we have:

  • eaten a lot of lentils
  • had many at-home dates
  • put off expensive vacations
  • packed many lunches
  • borrowed books and movies from the library
  • applied for (and won!) scholarships using free resources
  • picked up shifts early in the morning (think 4 am to 8 am) or on the weekend to avoid childcare costs
  • held a garage sale
  • sold things on craigslist
  • gone without a YMCA membership
  • switched to a cheaper phone plan through Google Fi

Two weeks ago, we made the LAST tuition payment.

BOOM! DONE!

And now we do the Dance of Joy.

 

Can I get a Whoo Hoo?

Cash For School: February 2017 Update

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

Here is where we stood last month. Where do we stand now?

  1. My tuition–  My very last payment is due by March 28th and is $2476.45 before books. That includes my graduation fee. We already have it, so we are set! Cash flowing tuition goal for 2017 = met. Boom!
  2. Other school expenses– I am about halfway through my teaching practicum now. The first 6 weeks are the most intense, since my in classroom teaching, online teaching, and in hospital teaching experiences all overlap within a short period of time. The good news is that my last in classroom night is next Thursday and my last week of online teaching is next week as well. My last day teaching OB to nursing students is March 10th. After that, I will only have to finish my part in rewriting a Leadership and Management course. As the graduate assistant, I am responsible for parts of it but not the entire thing. It is a fair amount of work however, and will keep me busy until the end of the month, when my practicum time formally ends. I did have one extra expense this week, though- I had to buy an additional book for a course. I ended up choosing the ebook for $51.

Only four months to go!

Where are you at with your goals this year?

 

Cash For School: January 2017 Update

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

Here is where we stood last month. Where do we stand now?

  1. My tuition–  My very last payment is coming in late March and is $2240 before books. We already have it, so we are set! Cash flowing tuition goal for 2017 = met.
  2. Other school expenses– I just started my teaching practicum this week. I had to buy a few of the books for my four clinical placements, but I was able to borrow the books for some others. I bought a watch, a set of scrubs, and the lab coat that clinical instructors wear. My gas costs are increasing because one of my placements is an hour away. Instead of filling up once per month, I will be filling up once per week. I will be putting in full time hours between my teaching placements and trying to squeeze in 16 hours of paid work per week. It will be a tough 7 weeks,but the bulk of my work will be done by March 10th. I will still have three weeks of work, but it will be cruising at that point. We aren’t being too tight with the eating out money until then.

Only five months to go!

Where are you at with your goals this year?

Cash For School: December 2016 Update

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

Last month, I shared my estimated tuition costs. Where do we stand now?

  1. My tuition– I paid my tuition yesterday. It was $1765 with additional fees. Yep, we paid cash as we have been doing all along! Since I will be teaching two classes and helping rewrite a third course, I am responsible for buying the textbooks associated with those classes. I am in the process of finding out what those are and ordering them, so I’m not sure what they will cost. The good news is that the class I will help rewrite and the class I will teach online is the same, so I only have to buy books for two of the courses. My very last payment will be in late March and is $2240 before books. We already have it, so we are set! Cash flowing tuition goal for 2016 = met.
  2. My Roth– I have the $4008 that I expected to have but we had an increase in medical expenses this past month, I had to cancel a few shifts due to illness, apply for my Indiana nursing license, about $100 when all was said and done, and  renew my CPR certification for $50, so I can complete my planned clinical practicum.. The good news is that we received a gift, and that gift will completely fund it. 2016 Roth goal= met.
  3. His Roth– fully funded already. 2016 goal = met.

Here’s an interesting future twist: the mister is considering getting his master’s. His work offers tuition reimbursement, so it would not be as pricey, and he wouldn’t even think of applying until I am 100% done, so maybe in 2018 or so.

Where are you at with your goals this year?

Cash For School Update: November 2016 Update

Cash for school

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

Last month, I shared that I will be splitting up my last grad school session to ensure I don’t go crazy with stress trying to complete my practicum and my master’s portfolio at the same time. Where do we stand now?

  1. My tuition– I got an email this month telling me my account had been charged for this session’s books, a total of $333.83. We weren’t happy that the new process doesn’t let us know how much books are until after the fact,but of course we paid it. We have enough for the remainder of my program’s tuition and will pay about $1680 in tuition at the end of December. I also learned that wherever I end up teaching for my classroom and online practicums may require I buy the textbooks the students will be using, so I can prepare for my teaching. This was new to us, and I have no idea how much that could be. I am still trying to narrow down even one of my four placements and am rather stressed about it.  (If you know a nursing educator in SW Ohio, send them my way!) On the upside, I could opt for new or rental textbooks if I needed to, since I am not forced to purchase through the school bookstore.
  2. My Roth– I have about $3658 in my 2016 Roth fund. I plan on putting my usual $250 towards it this month, plus I will have about $100 in rebates, referral and affiliate income to put towards it as well. That would bring me to $4008. My stretch goal is to put another $300-500 towards it and get near $4500.
  3. His Roth– It’s ready to be funded now. Woot!
  4. Next year’s tuition– Our last payment should be at the end of March, and I anticipate $2240. I don’t know if we will have any new books for that session. If we do, maybe another $300 tops?

The end is almost in sight!

Where are you at with your goals this year?

Cash For School Update: October 2016

Cash for school

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

Last month, we were worried about needing a new roof, funding our Roths, and paying my tuition. Where do we stand now?

  1. We officially have a new roof! Our insurance agreed the damage warranted replacement, and we haven’t gotten the final bill from the roofer yet, but it will be around $1000 out of pocket. It looks fantastic and we are no longer fearful of the havoc that could be caused by a sketchy roof during the winter.
  2. My Roth– I have about $2750 in my Roth fund, and I scheduled 10 shifts for November. I’ll put at least $500 more in November and December, and I anticipate I will have $4000 by March, the last chance to fund 2016’s fully. I think we will get there though (see #4).
  3. His Roth– It’s ready to be funded now that we won’t need to cover an entire roof.
  4. My tuition– We have enough for the full amount of $4300 however we no longer will have to pay it all in January.  Why?

My class received an email this week about our last session. It is a three-class session: a teaching practicum, one class with the usual sometimes heavy assignment, and the bulk of our master’s portfolio. AKA, a lot of work, basically full time work. They offered us the chance to split it, doing the practicum first, which requires 140 clinical hours over 10 weeks, and then the class and portfolio course in the next session. I have to find my own clinical preceptors – three of them- plus do half of my clinicals on site in a classroom and hospital setting. That is easily 2 full days a week for those 10 weeks.

Between our kids, working part-time, my websites, and doing some heavy writing work in other classes, I  was stressed just thinking about it. I decided to split the session and will now finish up on July 3rd instead of March 28th, and my degree will confer in August.

My stress level dropped about 100 feet once I made my decision.

We will now pay about $1680 at the end of December and $2240 at the end of March and beginning of April. This will help give a little leeway in funding my Roth and give us time to file our tax return and use it for tuition so we can focus on the retirement goal.

Where are you at with your goals this year?

Cash For School Update: September 2016

Cash for school

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

I paid tuition this week, a total of $3735.93.

We only have one tuition payment left.

We only have one tuition payment left.

It will be 7 credit hours and I will have to pay my graduation fee at the same time, so I estimate it will be $3400-4500 for that last payment.

We are still in limbo over our roof, however, though we successfully reopened our case with the insurer. I think they are trying to get us to give up. Haha, not going to happen. Today the agent comes to get a shingle from our roof to “match” it with the same database they used to patch our now mismatched roof.

Right now, we need four things: 1) New roof, 2) Last tuition payment, 3) The mister’s Roth, and 4) my Roth. We can do three of those things by the end of December and still have a wee bit left over for savings. But not four. Now, the tuition is going to happen, and so is the roof. The other two? Time will have to tell.

 

Cash For School Update: August 2016

Cash for school

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

This week marks the halfway point in my current class session. I have 25 weeks left in my degree program.

I have found a few more scholarship resources, but many of them are for students who will be full-time during 2017. I will be 100% done by the end of March, so they didn’t apply to me. I applied to a few more places, but we are only four months away from our last payment, so I think the end is nigh. I’m not going to go gung-go with my scholarship search any more.

We still have the money for October, and we are also still fighting with insurance over our storm damage. Our roofer patched our roof, but the shingles blatantly did not match our roof (seriously, it looked like a patchwork quilt), so we kicked the ball back to their court and are waiting to hear back.  Our roofer thinks they will send a shingle out to see if they can match it again, but we got the new shingles by using their database already, so I’m not sure how that would change things. We were reimbursed by insurance for our tree removal, so that was a plus.

It’s hard to say where we are with January until we know if we will be paying for a new roof. I do have $2500 in my Roth fund, and push come to shove, can use that for tuition. I hate to do that though! I am picking up more hours at work, however, and will be working every other weekend starting in mid-September. I also trained to cover our medical teams, so there are more opportunities to pick up days. Before, I was at the mercy of my own small team and whether or not people requested off. This should help me set aside more towards January and get closer to a maxed out Roth IRA.

Now, let’s hope one of those scholarships surprises us and comes through!

What are you doing to meet your goals this month?

Cash For School Update: July 2016

Cash for school

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

In July we paid $4317.67 in cash for my next grad school session. This week I am on a break and classes start on August 2nd. I have TWO payments left, and my next one is due the first week of October. My credit hours drop from 7 to 6 in the next session, so I estimate my costs will be between $3800-4000. I won’t know until the bill goes live in my account near the end of September, because book costs vary and I don;t have much control over how to get my books. My school recently started offering options such as textbook rental, used, or new books, but I have noticed many are only offered new. Grr! Rentals are sticky too, because I may be required to use my textbooks in future classes.

I haven’t heard anything on the scholarship front. I applied for 6 more scholarships in the month of July.

We have the money for October, but we are also fighting with insurance over our storm damage. A new roof costs $7000. We are trying to patch it first, and then if it does not meet HOA standards, we have to go back and ask them to replace it. We anticipate we would have to cover part of those costs, even if they agree to replace the entire roof. The tree that fell on our house was removed and we paid the tree people, but we have not been reimbursed $2500 by insurance yet. This makes it hard to estimate where we are at for the early January payment.

The good news is that once January rolls around, we are 100% done. I have no interest in pursuing a PhD and extending my purgatory another 3-5 years. Really. I am so done. I never want to pay another tuition bill unless it’s for one of my kids.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope one of those scholarships comes through!

What are you doing to meet your goals this month?

 


Cash For School Update: June 2016

Cash for school

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in! How are we doing with our goal to remain debt-free while I earn a graduate degree?

Last month, we were excited to learn that I won a $2500 scholarship. I have applied for a couple more scholarships since then, but no bites thus far. That’s OK, though, because I will keep trying until I complete my degree. I have nine months left!

Whether or not I win another scholarship, I think we will be just fine. My next tuition payment is due July 12th, and it will be a doozy. My credit hours go up to 7 hours this session, and that means tuition will be $4300 instead of the $3800 we have been used to paying. I am in the homestretch though. This next session is 4 out of 7, so we have gotten over the hump, and it’s all downhill from here!

I received my scholarship check already, and that means we will be covering $1800 out of our own pockets. We have had a few unexpected expenses thanks to a dead reverse osmosis filter, dead cell phone, and the tree that decided to fall on our house, so our emergency fund dipped a little bit, but we are still covered for the next tuition payment in October and part of December.

There are changes going on at my work that have the potential for more hours and regular hours that will not increase my child care bills, but nothing is set in stone yet. If that comes to fruition, we may increase our earnings in the coming months. Cross your fingers for me!

In the meantime, I am on a break from school this week, but am working most days. My secondary goal is to work, work, work on those scholarship applications. My goal is to churn out five applications.

What are you doing to meet your goals this month?