A testimony from Elizabeth
My husband, Christian, was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and wanted to further his career by becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). We had paid off his student loans completely from his LPN program and had no credit cards or debt of any kind. We had worked hard to be debt-free and we wanted to stay that way!
I have been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom (our boys were 2 and 4 at the time). Staying at home meant that with only one income, we’d have to be extra creative with how we would save and afford nursing school on top of everyday expenses. It took a lot of dedication (especially on his part!) to stay afloat.
Christian studied through Excelsior College of Nursing, a school designed specifically for working professionals. He would study the information required, and take each exam at a testing center. Once he completed all of the necessary exams, he had to fly to New York (a long way from Oregon!) and take a 3-day clinical exam (CPNE) that cost several thousand dollars.
There were many tuition fees, textbooks, exam fees, uniform costs, and travel expenses. There was a great deal of stress involved as well — especially since the CPNE only had a pass rate of 68%!
Normally the program would take several years or more to complete, as the student is working at the same time. With his amazing dedication, Christian accomplished it in only twelve months!
Here’s how we did it:
Working full-time, including a lot of overtime.
A lot of honest, hard work was involved for Christian! This meant evenings and weekends for study time (and not much time for anything else.) Almost every moment not spent at work was study time — dedication and focus was key!
Preschooling at home.
This meant no childcare or schooling expenses for the boys! Lots of frugal adventures to nearby parks or play dates at friends’ homes kept us busy!
Coupons, coupons, coupons!
I made use of couponing blogs (such as MoneySavingMom.com) to aid me in matching store sales with coupons in order to get the best deals on groceries and household items!
We moved into a two-bedroom apartment, and doubled up our bedroom as a study space for Christian as well. We chose a “middle”, downstairs apartment to save a bit on heating/cooling bills, as well as the monthly rent amount.
Moving close to work.
We chose an apartment that was only one mile from his job, saving gas money and travel time (meaning more time to study)!
Owning only one vehicle.
We sold one of our two vehicles, cutting down on gas, insurance, and maintenance costs. Since we lived so close to his job, he was able to walk or ride his bike to work on the days that the boys and I had to go somewhere during his work hours. For the most part, his “study days” were the days that I would take the kids to go run errands/activities so that it’d be quiet for him to concentrate!
Garage sales, Craigslist and Amazon.com!
Throughout the summer months, the boys and I scoured garage sales for clothing in sizes that would fit them for the entire upcoming year. When they outgrew clothing, we sold it on Craigslist to make back our money! Once Christian was done with his textbooks, we were able to sell some of them to Amazon.com.
Getting work involved.
Once Christian’s boss learned that he was bettering himself for his profession, he offered to help a bit with the education costs. Every little bit counts!
During Christian’s 3-day clinical exam in New York, as well as several days reserved for studying, we used all of his vacation days saved up to carry us through.
Dedication, determination, focus!
I have never met a more dedicated person than my husband! He sacrificed personal time, sleep, family time, and so much more to be as efficient as possible at achieving our goals. God has blessed me with a husband who inspires me every single day!
As Christian wrapped up his RN schooling, we were able to purchase our first home. Being debt-free and not owing a dime for his Registered Nurse associates degree, it was quite simple to obtain our home loan! We’ve been in our new home for 10 months now and guess who’s back in school!
Christian has just begun school once again to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Registered Nursing (the associates’ degree was required first in order to work towards the bachelor’s degree.) We are now using all of our money-saving tips to make it through another round of school…. once again debt free!
Formerly a member of the Air Force National Guard, Elizabeth went from working on fighter jets to staying home to raise their two little boys. She and Christian, along with their boys Josiah (5) and Judah (4) live in Oregon and are working hard towards their dreams and goals — one debt-free day at a time!
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