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February 28, 2010

On the Road to a Debt Free Education- A Step Back

We began the year with a lofty financial goal- to get through 4 years of vet school debt free.  Our goal for this year to help us reach that goal was to have enough saved by August to pay for 1 year of vet school.  It is time to see how we are doing to date.
This month we have re-evaluated our savings plan.  We have listened to several of Dave Ramsey's CDs from the Financial Peace University series.  Dave talks about putting a name on your dollar.  We feel like we do pretty well at budgeting and saving towards our goals, but we found a flaw in our savings plan.

We had money in "savings" that was going towards vet school.  This was good.  The problem was that this was also our emergency fund, our summer vacation money, etc.  So we had one pool of "savings" and 10 different places that we subconciously planned to use it.  We have worked out our new plan, and I am very excited about it.  We still use Quick Books to keep track of our spending, but we have created an excel sheet to plan our spending and put a name on each dollar in savings. 

How It Works
Every time we get a pay check, we input the amount into our excel sheet.  After our expenses are taken out, the remainder is divided into the categories that we are saving for.  We have planned the allocation so that each 'account' will reach the necessary amount by the time we need to use it. 

For example, we will need $230 to pay for gas & food expenses on our trip to visit Daniel's family this July, so every month we are putting $46 into that savings 'account'.  We are also planning on a trip to California in November that will cost $230.  Since it is further away, we are putting $25 a month into that category.  Both 'accounts' will have $230 when we need the money.  Our actual money is still in one place, but each dollar has a name & purpose.

Where We Are Now
I am very excited about our re-vamped saving plan, but there is one sad part.  Once we started dividing up our savings into other categories, our total saved towards vet school took a big step back.  Though I wish we had more saved for that, I am very glad that our new savings plan is much more accurate.  Our percentage saved towards vet school to date is now 18%.  This makes our goal to have one year of vet school saved for by August an even harder target, but we have a plan.

Our Plan
Daniel & I are both working full time. (Daniel was able to beat the economy & find a job- Hurray!)  So we will keep to our little budget & put as much of our income as we can into savings.  We also plan to take advantage of the many online opportunities to make & save money.  Here are a few of the things we are trying:

Swagbucks- we are using this to make money on Amazon to buy Daniel's books for school.
Online Surveys-  Daniel & I have both tried several sites that pay you a few dollars to take short surveys.  I will be posting about our favorites & ones we don't like this next week.
My Points- Print Coupons through My Points & earn gift cards for gifts & travel.
Online ING Savings Account- We oppened an online savings account that gets 1.25% interest.  This is not much, but it is way better than the savings accounts at our other bank!

These are all little things we are doing to reach our big goal.  The few dollars we make on surveys seams so small sometimes- but every little bit counts!  We have decided not to lower our goal for August even though we might not reach it.  If we have a larger goal to shoot for, hopefully we will be motivated to work a little harder and get a little closer.

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