I'm going back to school in about a month. I will be going after my bachelors degree in Information Technology with an emphasis in Software Development. I am in a position right now where I could afford to pay for my entire degree in cash, but that would put me at only $35 / month ahead, and that is baring any accidents or surprise expenses. However, I could take out $2700 in subsidized loans which would put me ahead by about $335 / month. I also qualify for unsubsidized loans but I'm determined to not touch those.
Which one of the two would be smarter? With a lot of work, I could make the $35 / month work, and maybe even cut back on some existing expenses so it would be a little more, but the $335 / month would put me in a fairly comfortable spot, and allow me to carry on with my current lifestyle without really worrying about anything and I would have 6 months after I finished my degree before the interest (current rate is 3.4%) even kicked in. During that period of time, I am fairly certain that I could pay off my loans, so I shouldn't have any interest at all.
The degree will take 4 years, I am guaranteed the same tuition rates, but nothing about my other expenses. I have no emergency fund, I recently moved and so that went towards getting my apartment set up. My current life obligations are myself and my ferret.
For the sudden expenses, the only thing I would have for an emergency would be a $300 credit card. The only emergency expense that is likely is my ferret could need a trip to the vet. I don't have a car and won't get one till after I finish school, everything is within bike riding distance from my apartment.
I also have the option to work up to 10 hours / week overtime at my job, which after taxes is about $250 / week extra that I didn't include in my calculations. I didn't want to include them because I can't guarantee that I will always be able to work the extra time, especially while going to school.
I'm not very good with saving money, unless I know I need to. If I know I have enough money to pay all my bills and still have $100 + x left over that month, I will go spend $x on non-essential things, and the $100 will go towards anything extra that I actually need.
Any suggestions are welcome