How a Budget Helped Me Go to Nursing School…and Other Skills I Learned in the Process.

(This is a client’s description of her experiences. Every person’s path is different so please be respectful with your comments. If you’d like to share your budgeting success story, drop me an email! I’d love to share your experiences with others!)

Paying for College

My road to nursing school started well before I decided to work with Fiscal Fitness, but it didn’t seem like an attainable goal until then. I am one of those students that has to work during school because my parents aren’t able to help and I also didn’t want to graduate college with $100,000 in student loan debt like so many of my friends and other people my age.

When I first met with Kelsa, I was going to school full-time to earn my prerequisite credits while working 40+ hours each week. My initial meeting was like having someone knock the air out of me- I couldn’t believe the position I had put myself in and it seemed like nursing school wasn’t going to be in the cards after all. Kelsa wasn’t going to accept that, she asked me what my main goal was (nursing school) and then said “OK this is how we can get there”.

Kelsa explained there were two paths we could take- neither one more or less suitable than the other. In the first option, I could cut back a little bit but extend the length of time before I could start school. My second option was to really hunker down, cut out as much as possible and start school sooner. I chose the latter but she gave me the choice and let me know that in either instance, if I stuck to the plan, nursing school would be a reality.

The first thing I had to do was cut my bills in half- I know crazy right? It was the hardest thing I had ever done but I cut everything that wasn’t a necessity out of my budget. I got rid of landscaping (I do it myself), pest control, cable, nails, extra groceries (impulse spending), gifts, clothing, vacations, grooming for my dog, going out, eating out, and I cut my cell phone bill down to the bare minimum. Talk about a shock and it still wasn’t enough! After focusing on my expenses, we turned to my income and worked to bring in more money. I held yard sales, sold stuff at pawn shops, decided to get roommates and got a second job.

While I eliminated a lot of expenses, I also added quite a few. I began saving for future expenses- things like car repairs, home repairs, gifts for family, and necessary clothing. It was unbelievable to me that I could cut back so much yet still find the money to save for these upcoming expenses, something I hadn’t done before.

Finally I decided to pick up a 3rd job because I wanted to have a bit more wiggle room and I wanted more money to use for getting ahead. I started paying off my credit cards while saving for tuition, books, and other future school expenses. I was ready to apply for the nursing program.

When I got my acceptance letter, I told my family first, but Kelsa was my next call. We came up with a plan and reviewed all my financial options while actually attending school. I do take out a little bit of student loans each year, but it’s a very calculated and minimal amount. I didn’t just take whatever they would give me. I’m taking what I need but I’m able to cover the majority of my expenses by working, having roommates to help with living costs and by keeping my expenses low. It’s not easy but it’s been gratifying and rewarding to know I’ve made this happen.

By working hard and staying committed to the strategy we devised, I’m able to afford school and all my bills, save a little bit for future expenses, and even enjoy an occasional movie with friends. Being on a budget and having a plan has made it so I can focus on my studies and not worry about money. Now I’m only a year away from graduation and I know I have the skills necessary to tackle my next financial goal!

 

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