Thursday, June 5, 2008

In my Not Robbing Peter to Pay Paul post I talked a little bit about my stimulus check and how I am going to make that work for me. The easiest thing to do would have been to just chuck the $600 in my account and say "Hey! I only have $300 of my $900 goal left this month!" But you know, that just didn't seem very effective to me - throwing that windfall away on one measly mortgage payment. So, here is what I did - I used it to pay myself first.

As I mentioned in the post, I took $250 of it and put it in my savings account - that will be my short term emergency fund. I thought I had been putting $100 into my emergency savings each month but in fact, I realized I changed it at the beginning of the year and was only putting in $50. Still - that should have meant my emergency account would be about $300 in June - not closer to $18!! My new vow (much stronger than a goal here) is to only use emergency money for gen-u-ine emergencies. The $50 each month that was going into savings will stay in checking where I can monitor it better and it won't get frittered away. I am adjusting my goal on the right accordingly.

Then I had to decide what to do with the other $350.

This really wasn't a hard decision. One of my life goals is go back to school and get my Masters degree. It is something I have always wanted to do. As I talked about at the end of last month I know I can't do it right now, there is just too much going on with this divorce and figuring out how I can afford this house without going bankrupt. So, I have a plan. My plan is to hold onto the house for about three years. I think by then we will begin to see the housing market turn around - especially in my neighborhood, which is one of the few areas that is flourishing. Then, I will sell the house and use the proceeds to purchase a smaller house - a house that I love. The additional profit (and there will be additional profit - I have declared it and it will be so) will go towards my schooling. This plan to get me back to school is what makes this whole crazy venture worthwhile. Sure, it is good to avoid foreclosure and dropping credit scores and all that stuff... but fear as a "stick" only takes you so far. This is the "carrot" that will take me through the long haul.

So, what does this have to do with my $350? Well, while I am getting my life in order, I want to still be able to go back to school. My plan, before all this happened and I found out I was getting stuck with the house, was to go to our local community college and take a class at a time in my field of interest. It serves two purposes: 1) I get to put my big toe back in the academic waters again and 2) I can start building a resume of knowledge. You see, my Bachelors degree is in a far different field than the one I want for my Masters. I currently have a BA with a major in Marketing and a minor in Humanities. All my experience is in these two fields, but I am getting my Masters in Library Science with a concentration in Archival Studies. Quite a difference.

Currently if I were to apply to college I don't have much I can apply towards this new field other than my personal declaration of a love of libraries, books and information. So I did some research, paying close attention to professional organizations, government websites and job qualifications, and looked to see what sorts of classes and job experience I should get to make me a good candidate. Some of the classes I saw listed were archeology, anthropology and art history. (Fun!!) So, I decided to take these kinds of classes, and others that fit with my career goal, while I am waiting to get back to school full time. Currently I am signed up for Archeology 101 in the fall. The cost of tuition?


I thought about this a lot. One of the ways on The List to save money is to not go to school. But I feel like this is a long term investment - an investment in myself. On top of that, I am cutting out so many things in my life, I really wanted to hold onto this one. So, here is the plan -

I put the $350 in my "high" interest savings account. Tuition isn't due until August, so the money can work for me until then. By then, I should also have a good idea of where I am each month and know if I can do this for sure. I will also research what my textbook will be for this class and budget for it (always hoping I can buy it cheaper online, of course.)

Since this money isn't coming out of my monthly budget I feel pretty good about it. The hard part, of course, is going to be figuring how to swing it for winter semester!

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