At 35 years old, I decided my Real Estate career was not fulfilling my desire to help others. I decided to return to school, after earning other degrees, to start a career in Nursing.
I began by taking night classes for my pre-requisite classes, such as Chemistry, Biology, and Social Sciences. I decided it would be best to take night classes, even after working all day, so that I didn't lose income from not working. It was hard to go to work at 8 am, work all day, eat dinner in my car, then go to class until 9 pm. I did this four nights a week. My wonderful husband was supportive and picked our grade school aged kids up from school, made them dinner, helped them with homework, and got them ready for bed. I started back in January of 2013 with this schedule, went to summer classes, and finally started the nursing classes in the Fall of 2014. The nursing classes are all during the day, so I had to reduce my work hours to part time. We are a pretty frugal family, we use coupons, keep our heat down low and our air up high, make our lunches for school and work, we don't have cable, and don't go out much. This was still a tough change for our family. We had a savings account, which I relied on heavily through school.
I wanted to decrease our expenses, but most of them were fixed costs, such as car payments, mortgage, insurance, husband's student loans, etc. Thankfully, we do not have credit card debt, and I will strive to keep it that way. We do use a credit card for our expenses, food, gas, and miscellaneous stuff each month, but then we pay it off in full when the bill comes. We do this to earn points or cash back. We decided to stop contributing to my husband's 401 at work and take that extra money to use towards our long term debt of two car payments and my husband's student loans. Each month, I would calculate the amount that would have come out of his check, and contribute that as extra payments to the first car loan, then the student loan, and finally, the second car loan. We decided the interest we might earn on the 401 investment, and his company's match amount would not be more than the amount of interest we would save by paying off our debts early. So far, we have paid off one car, and my husband's student loans. We plan to have the other car loan paid by July of 2016, right after I graduate.
I also was able to apply for and was granted scholarships. The total amount awarded covered about one-third of my tuition and books, but it was a big help. Fortunately, the savings that we worked hard to accumulate before I started school was enough to cover the other school costs as I went. I didn't want to take out more student loans.
It has been difficult, but worth it. This has made us cautious consumers, and I believe has made us more financially aware. I plan to graduate in the Spring of 2016. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.