Tuesday, August 2, 2011


After getting all excited about our new budget over the weekend, yesterday was filled with discouragement. I received an email from UAB stating that the first half of my tuition is due by August 5th, about two weeks earlier than usual. This spurred an investigation of my online university account balance and my realization that my usual TEACH grant ($2000 a semester of federal aid that does not have to be repaid as long as I teach for four out of eight years after my graduation) had not yet been posted. Long story short, after several tense phone calls I realized that I forgot to complete my FAFSA for this coming academic year and will not be able to receive my funds before the deadline Friday. Big whoops. Unfortunately, I will have to pay $862 out of pocket. Even though I will eventually be completely reimbursed, it sickens me to have to put such a dent in our savings, even if it is only momentarily. Hopefully, there will be no more glitches in this aspects of our finances and things will be back in order shortly. It will be an enormous relief when I no longer have to stay in constant contact with UAB's financial aid department.

After a morning of filling out online forms and phone calls to the federal aid hotline, my mother and I had a slight disagreement when she suggested that I simply take out more student loans so that we do not have to take any money out of our savings to fix this problem (a post dedicated to my opinion on student loans is coming soon). Of course, I shot down this suggestion, in retrospect a little too harshly, and we began to discuss Cody's and my decision to steer away from all types of debt.

My mother works at a bank and encourages us to take advantage of low interest rates as soon as we are able to. She has also encouraged me to use student loans to pay for my educational expenses, and still frequently does. I think that she is concerned that our goals are impractical and totally unattainable, so she constantly remains me to be open-minded about credit and more "realistic." I find it difficult to explain to her why we want to be different and struggle wit her almost complete refusal to congratulate us for attempting to be responsible, something I feel we deserve. However, my conflict with my mother over finances is representative of the general attitude towards the alternative to living the type American lifestyle, living without debt. I know that many people will not understand why we are making our circumstances slightly more difficult than necessary and will not recognize the rewards in store for us in the future. If we are going to be successful in setting up for ourselves a debt free lifestyle, we must learn to counter others' inquisitions, doubts, and pessimism with resolve, hope, and informed decisions.

By the way, this is probably the only issue my mother and I disagree on and recent circumstances have instilled in each of us a resilient opinion about the proper handling of ones' family's finances. In short, I love my mother (and my Dad)!

Thursday, I am off to Montana for ten days. I am entrusting Cody to pay three bills and make two trips to the bank all by himself while I am gone. This is definitely a first! I completely trust that he will be able to keep it together. I will be striving to spend the least amount of money possible as I journey across the country!

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