Are you a single mom who has decided it’s time to make your career goal a priority? Are you ready to invest in your future and set a great example for the kids about what it takes to follow a dream? Have you decided that your dream is to earn your bachelor of science in nursing, but your finances have held you back until this point? Not to worry as we’ve got a list of practical tips that can help you earn your BSN on a tight budget.
There is no need to keep putting your career goals on the back burner, as there are plenty of money-saving tips you can use.
Create a Budget and Get Serious About Sticking to It
Earning your degree on a budget is going to require several steps, some creative planning and a lot of motivation on your part. But the first step that you’ll need to follow through on is creating a budget that is both realistic and that you can stick to. If you put together a budget that you constantly ignore, or doesn’t cover all your important expenses, it’s not going to be successful.
For those who have never put together a budget before, or who have but never found it to be successful, it’s a good idea to use some tools that make the process smoother. There are plenty of apps – many of which are free – that will take you through the steps, making it easy to set up a monthly budget.
When searching for the right app to use, look for one that allows for customization of your budget rather than just pre-made templates you have to stick to. Also, look for one that allows for real-time tracking of expenses. This means that, every time you spend money, you can key it into the app and you’ll see how that affects your budget for the month in real-time. For example, you’ll quickly be able to see how much surplus cash you’re left with.
A budgeting app can also be used to help remind you of upcoming bill payments so they aren’t paid late and thereby incur a late fee.
Start Saving as Early as Possible
This is a tip that can be used on all different things in life. The more you can save, the less of a hit your budget will take when it comes time to pay for school. Ideally, you want to give yourself a couple of years to save so it’s not as stressful, but that’s not going to be possible for everyone. Even if you can only amass small or modest savings, it will still help.
Another tip for those who wish to start saving: be sure to find a savings account that pays a decent amount of interest. Once you start putting money into the account, you may also find it helpful to make withdrawals difficult. You don’t want to be tempted to take money out for small things here and there. Keep your eye on the prize – which is your schooling.
Consider an Online Degree Program
One of the best ways to earn your BSN if you’re on a tight budget is to look for a way to make the program itself more affordable. Online degree programs have now made that possible, as they tend to cost much less than a traditional in-person degree. Not only that, but if you’re doing your course from home, there may not be the need to move closer to the campus and certainly not to the residence – which saves you money again.
The accelerated BSN online programs available through Baylor University feature the main portion of the work done online, and then an on-campus visit that lasts two weeks, and the clinicals you’ll need to do in the field. Online courses such as these provide you with the training and education you need at a more reasonable price, yet you aren’t sacrificing the quality. It can mean the difference between having to put off schooling while you continue to save enough money, or pursuing your dream now.
Make It a Habit to Cook at Home as Often as Possible
If you’re looking for a money-saving tip around the home, one that can have a huge impact is to cut out the number of times you order takeout or eat at restaurants. What may not seem like a huge expense at that moment adds up over the month. Suddenly you can end up spending hundreds each month just on dining. Think about how many meals you could make for that same amount of money.
Getting into the habit of cooking at home as often as possible will end up being a huge money saver, plus it’s much healthier. You’ll be in control of all the ingredients that go into your food, making sure to adhere to any sort of diet restrictions or health goals you have. You can also find some really tasty inexpensive recipes to experiment with.
One-pot meals are some of the easiest dishes to make, yet they taste incredible. You can tweak the recipe to ensure that everyone in the family loves the meal and even choose ingredients in season and affordable. Typically, they make a lot of food at once, which means leftovers for days. This also means the cost breakdown per meal is extremely low. If you don’t yet own a slow cooker, it may be worth investing in one as these are the only “tool” you’ll need for a one-pot meal.
Find Ways to Have Family Fun on the Cheap
Entertainment is another expense that can eat away at your budget. Although you want to have fun with the kids and you don’t want them to feel as though they’re missing out, there are ways to have fun on the cheap. Keep in mind you’ll also be teaching the kids the value of saving and being mindful of how you spend your money. This is a lesson that can help them to be wise about their own money when they grow up.
So, what are some great ways to have family fun on the cheap and not feel like you’re missing out? Some activities and ideas can include:
- A family picnic at the park
- Family games night (board games, cards or video games)
- Arts and crafts at home (collect items from nature, stock up on craft items from an inexpensive store like a dollar store and just use old items in the house that people no longer use)
- Family movie or television night (streaming services have thousands of hours’ worth of content you can work through)
- Make a themed dinner together (choose a particular country’s cuisine, a favorite food, a particular ingredient and so forth)
- Put together a backyard scavenger hunt
- Go camping in your backyard
- Go hiking together
- Go on a family bike ride
- Go on a self-guided tour of your town/city
The fact is that choosing to earn your BSN is a huge step and it’s a fabulous choice for your future. Finding ways to do it on the cheap and keeping your expenses at a manageable level is possible with some creative planning and thinking.