october tuition update


to quote myself: “we still need to save at least $506.74 this semester. i’m not super confident that october will be a good month…

we saved $520.23 in october! i’m not really sure how that happened…but it totally did!
God is awesome.

total tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
total tuition paid so far: $2,090.00
savings at the end of october: $2,104.49 $2,090.00*
difference: $5,474.00 (which is the exact amount that our loan is covering)
percentage saved: 43.3%
percentage left to save: 56.7%

here’s how october went down:

right at the beginning of october we got our dryer fixed. this made me want to puke. it cost $140 dollars just for the guy to walk in the door. one new heat lamp later, and we just paid $220 to fix our dryer. gross.

three days later, i got in a car accident. long story short, i was on the highway and the other driver crossed into my lane without seeing me. i braked but had to swerve into the ditch and ended up popping back out of the ditch, hitting her, and spinning back into the ditch. both the other driver and i were perfectly fine, but our cars both gained sizable dents. unfortunately, that was five weeks ago now and i still haven’t heard what the consensus is regarding the fault.

but the month started getting better after those two events.

my amazing dad decided he wanted to pay for our dryer, so he left us money on our fridge after they stayed with us for the weekend of my brothers wedding. it made me cry-what a huge blessing!

bryan was finally approved to give plasma again. he wasn’t able to give most of august and september.

our car insurance went down. since we have a sinking fund for our car insurance, we got to put the extra that we had already saved up into our tuition fund.

my eyesight didn’t change enough to warrant a change in prescription! not only is this the first time i’ve ever gone to eye doctor without feeling like my eyes are dying, it also means i only had to pay for my eye appointment and not new glasses! we also had a sinking fund for my eyes, so we got to put the extra towards our tuition fund as well.

i was honestly getting nervous about not having enough to pay our u-bill for next semester (i’m assuming we’ll receive the bill sometime in november). but i’m so glad that we intentionally didn’t take out more loans than we thought we needed-God has provided the rest with plenty of time to spare!

*i’ll post soon on why we’re only keeping exactly what we need ($2,090.00) in our tuition fund account

september tuition update


did i tell you all that bryan’s debit card information got stolen? oh yeah, that happened. catching the four $70 dollar transactions that went through from florida might just be the only plus about obsessively checking my bank account-even on a saturday. we cancelled our debit cards, got the fraudulent transactions credited back to us [over $400 dollars!] and started discussing if it was time to switch to a local bank.

we’ve been using our bank back in ames for the past year. it’s been working out well, the only real inconvenience being that we have to mail in our deposits. but the debit card fraud pushed us over the edge and we decided it was time to turn over the last piece of ames we were holding on to. but, really, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as that last sentence made it sound.

the good news is that the bank we switched to actually offers us the same perks checking account, which is why we stayed with our ames bank so long.

anyway, though i’ve been trying to switch everything over, our budget sheets are in mild disarray, but the following update is as accurate as always. and that was a long of saying that i really have nothing revolutionary to say this month. here’s the update!

total tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
total tuition paid so far: $2,090.00
savings at the end of september: $1,583.26
difference: $5,980.74
percentage saved: 38.05%
percentage left to save: 61.95%

we still need to save at least $506.74 this semester. i’m not super confident that october will be a good month, because we’re getting our dryer fixed and the estimated cost of that is $140. but you can’t exactly line-dry your clothes when it’s snowing. so it’s a good thing. happy saving!

august tuition update


we’re $157.76 further away from our goal than we were at the end of july. and i’m okay with that. [shout out to the Big Man upstairs for that!] here’s the update, read on for a more detailed account of the crazy month of august.

total tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
total tuition paid so far: $2,090.00
savings at the end of august: $1,476.60
difference: $6,087.40
percentage saved: 37.96%
percentage left to save: 63.06%

at the beginning of august, we had a broken back door, a broken dryer, and a broken moped. my first paycheck was quite a bit less than i was expecting it to be (i assumed it was taxes). and i told bryan that i wanted to be prepared to empty our entire savings account if God asked us to. [He didn’t, by the way]

throughout august, it became apparent that this was another month to carry our checkbook around with us and trust in God’s provision. we have a friend fighting cancer, a friend going to kenya [and working hard to support adoptive families!], a friend going to the dominican republic to rescue children off the street, and a friend who just moved to iowa city who needed a place to stay for a few weeks.

we didn’t want to miss those opportunities God was giving us to give.

we haven’t fixed our door yet [because the duct tape seems to be holding up] and we haven’t fixed our dryer yet [because the clothesline is perfect for summer]. we did get the moped fixed, so bryan can easily get to class. we still need to put at least $613.40 in our tuition savings sometime this semester. the exact amount of loans we’re taking out this year is $5,474.00.

the month ended with a little gift from my parents, bryan’s grandparents [yet again] paying for all of his textbooks, and my paycheck being more than last months. we once again experienced joy in giving, and joy in being astounded by God’s provision.

july tuition update


this past month has been, to say the least, wonderful. i only have one job, praise the Lord! and while i’ve cut back on work, so has bryan. he’s taking a sabbatical if you will.

just in case you think we’re awesome at money stuff with all these posts, i’ll have you know that bryan hasn’t worked all of july for no particular reason and we’re totally okay with that. after all, bryan just has one more year of school and then he’ll begin working fulltime for the rest of his life. i think it’s totally okay for him to have one more summer in which he doesn’t have to work his butt off.

sometimes, it’s good for me to reduce my “gazelle intensity” for the sake of being human. i’m not going to be perfect all the time, no matter how much i’d like to be. we are definitely still striving to remain debt-free through college and i’m often intense about that goal. but bryan is going to get some good turnover hours this weekend and has a potentially awesome opportunity to work this fall, so we’re trusting God and His provision.

we’ve also had to do some budget slashing due to the fact that i’m not working like crazy anymore. i’m soooo thankful for one fulltime job that i love, but it does mean that i’m not making as much money.  i’m also okay with that. i’m actually kind-of excited to start couponing more and making every effort to save as much money as possible.

all that being said, we were able to put a good chunk in savings this month, thanks to paychecks for june work that didn’t come until july. here’s the update:

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of july: $3,724.36
difference: $5,927.64
percentage saved: 38.58%
percentage left to save: 61.42%

we only need $427.64 more and we’ll have everything except for the $5,500 in loans we’re taking out (the good kind-of loans-where we’ll have 6 months to pay it off with no interest). even if we can’t avoid loans entirely, i’m pretty confident we’ll be able to avoid paying any interest. we’re getting there!

june tuition update


well, bryan quit his summer job. haha. so much for him working as much as possible to boost our savings.

normally, i’d be stressing about how we’re actually going to pay cash for the rest of his college tuition. but God is good and He is with us. fareway wasn’t giving bryan more than 20 or so hours, so it was a little worthless anyway. for the record, he is looking for a new one. : )

bryan was also able to be very involved in the adoleo (formally anthem) recordings that have been taking place in des moines over the last three weeks. he absolutely loved being there everyday and to fully enjoy the recording experience. he was working fulltime during the last two albums he’s recorded so he literally just recorded his bass parts and left. on this album he laid down all of the bass tracks obviously, but also used his skills on the tenor sax and banjo. he even recording some gang vocals, which i personally think is hilarious. i love my husband and he has tons of musical talent, but he can’t sing to save his life.

so there was a little adoleo update for you. i’m so excited for you all to hear this upcoming album, it’s really really good!

meanwhile, i worked a lot of hours in june. between the coffee shop and my work at home job, i traveled to ames once a week to train my replacement. a lot of hours means a lot of money. but it mostly went to the cost of convenience. you couldn’t force me to eat any more pizza if you tried.

in the end we still banked some money towards that ever-present tuition fund. here’s our update!

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of june: $3,161.66
difference: $6,492.34
percentage saved: 32.75%
percentage left to save: 67.25%

may tuition update


may was a long month. a very long month for this girl. i think may always seems long, every year. between spring busyness [let me hear you shout weddings!], general anticipation for summer, and the whole 31 day thing, it’s just long. add working more than ever, teaching 37 kids for three days, and waiting for some very important news all month to those and you’ll get a very. tired. lisagrace.

i could go on about how stressful life has been this past month, but i don’t want to bore you. oh, and the important news? look for that in the next post. and no, for the last time, i’m not pregnant! : )

but hey! it’s june. and all of the above has been resolved, so life is on the up and up.

because of lots of extra work for me [and triple paycheck month-love those!] and bryan starting his job at fareway, we set a hefty savings goal of $1,200.00. i’m happy to say we did that and $17.95 more! less than 75% to go!

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of may: $2,517.95
difference: $7,136.05
percentage saved: 26.08%
percentage left to save: 73.92%

if you have a little extra time, here’s a funny student loan story, this is why i’m so glad God has given us so much wisdom with our finances. they make it so easy to take out more than you need in student loans!

at the end of april, we officially filed the paperwork to apply for $5,500 worth of unsubsidized stafford loans. we’re certain we won’t need any more than that for the upcoming school year and are hoping we don’t need any of it, obviously, but it’s a just-in-case precaution. we were approved for quite a bit more than that, but we were careful to cancel all the other loans. when you fill out your paperwork, they automatically assume you want the maximum amount you were approved for so you have to cancel the ones you don’t want. isn’t that silly?

anyway, a couple weeks ago, we got a check in the mail. a $6,200.00 check. just a check that said something about a refund on the memo, no note, no explanation, just a big fat check. we’ve never taken out student loans before, so i thought, maybe we’re getting our loan for next fall early, but why and why so much? if it wasn’t for the fall, then it was for this past year, and we didn’t pay even close to that much with the scholarship that bryan got. why would we need more money after everything’s done and paid for?

already long story short, i guess because we just filled out our loan paperwork, it activated a student loan we were approved for last year and they sent us a check! while buying a boat was tempting, we took that check straight to the financial offices and straightened it out. we didn’t want to owe that much money later. : )

april tuition update


this whole month i’ve been stressed about this tuition thing. things seemed so discouraging all month long. until this week. why am i ever ever anxious when i have this promise?

God is definitely reminding us that He loves us and desires to take care of us. i’ve been working more hours at the coffee shop since the new store has opened, so that’s been a temporary blessing. bryan finally got a job! he is going to be working at the fareway meat counter. we found a great deal on a moped which will make it possible for bryan to get to work. (although, extra vehicle expenses are no fun either…) a dear friend connected me to an opportunity in which i will make an extra $300 for three days of work in may. praise Him!

God also continues to teach us generosity, we wrote a few more checks this past month to summer missions trips. i want you to know that i don’t say this to impress you or feel good about myself, believe me, i wouldn’t say it all if i didn’t want to encourage you in this way. this has been something God has been teaching me a lot about lately, and i want to take this moment to share with you. also, check out this message from our old church. super convicting.

my friend, mikki, who is in our amazing connection group shared the best perspective on tithing i’ve ever heard. she and her soon-to-be husband are both dental students and thus living off of student loans for the time-being. but she said something like this: whenever we tithe, we’re technically paying 7% interest or whatever it is on that loan money. but who’s to say that God’s work isn’t worth 7% interest?

that hit me hard! what an awesome way to think about giving to the Lord’s work. so i want to say, before i update you, that if we have to take out student loans because we gave too much of our money away this past month, bring it on.

with that said, here’s our update for april:

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of april: $1,300.00
difference: $8,354.00
percentage saved: 13.46%
percentage left to save: 86.54%

i was not expecting to really put any extra in the bank, so i’m encouraged!

march update [tuition savings]


march was an interesting month. we found out that we didn’t receive any financial aid for bryan’s last year of school. so, we had a long talk, went over some things in our budget and buckled down. more importantly though, god and i had a really awesome heart to heart.

can i just say that all that stuff in the bible is actually true?! he is the god of all comfort and the great provider who loves us so much. i haven’t forgotten that his true and perfect act of love is all i need, and yet he continues to provide more!

god is also the greatest, most gentle and patient teacher. he has been teaching me a bunch about his generosity and being open-handed with our money.

the morning before we received our financial aid notification, i was sitting in church, listening to the message and god asked me to give a certain amount to the summer missions trips. i said okay and talked to bryan about it as soon as i got home. he agreed to this and then we found out that we didn’t get any financial aid. isn’t god’s timing funny? we wrote the checks, even though it was hard. that whole week, god tested our generosity. he kept reminding me of the countless times we’ve benefited from the generosity of others [you know who you are!], and we both felt overwhelmingly that we should open our hearts and bank account to those in need.

it has been such a blessing to follow god’s leadership in this area. especially because i have had a particularly tight grip on our finances, especially since we decided to move to iowa city. but when has god ever not provided for his children?

i’ve been insanely encouraged by all of you i’ve talked to, or who commented on my last blog, or sent me emails of encouragement. thank you, thank you, thank you!

sorry for the long, heart-exposing blog, but it happens every once in a while!

here’s our financial update for march:

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of march: $1,100.00
difference: $8,554.00
percentage saved: 11.39%
percentage left to save: 88.61%

we have progress! can’t wait to see what God does!