Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tactics for reaching my goal

I'm trying to get my MBA without incurring any debt. I got in to the program of my choice, set a goal, and have some savings.  Unfortunately there is a seemingly enormous distance between what I have saved and what this degree is going to cost.  So I have a few strategies up my sleeve to help narrow the gap.

Apply for financial aid
This one's a no-brainer.  I've applied for financial aid and am hoping for some very generous results (fingers crossed!).  I also tried to tilt the answer in my favor as much as I could.  I had the opportunity to pre-pay our rent for the next six months and did so.  This lowered the cash balances that I reported and will reduce my living expenses over the next several months.  The application asked for tax returns and mine indicated I was due for a big refund this year so I made sure to note that I'd already received it and it was included in my checking account balance.

Live on a tight budget
I've heard stories about MBA students treating their two years as an idyllic vacation time, jetting off to foreign countries for weekend trips.  Suffice to say this has not been and will not be me.  While I don't have an explicit budget (yet) I do have mental ballparks for spending categories, track every penny I spend, and am ruthless about cutting back where needed.  My school's room and board budget is about 50% more than what I currently spend.

Earn some money
I will be working through to the beginning of the MBA program if possible and plan to work as much of next summer as possible.  Travel again comes up here a lot as a worthwhile option but if my significant other can't come it isn't nearly as much fun.  So I'm working as much as possible during the summers.  I'm also getting some feelers out on maybe doing flexible part-time work during the school year.  I'm not sure yet if I'll be going forward with this though, it will depend on what opportunities are available.

Those are my three big tactics right now - earn more, spend less, and hope the school foots a good chunk of the bill.  I'll be digging into each of these more over the coming months.  We'll see if I come up with additional strategies as I go.

What would you be doing in my shoes?

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