Ashley’s November 2015 Debt Update


As I mentioned in my morning post, we were unable to meet our super high lofty debt-figure goal for the month of November (which was $4500). Even so, I do still feel like we had a respectable debt payment. A couple of roadblocks this month that stood in our way were all related to hubs’ work situation. First, he had to take off what turned out to be a full week at the beginning of the month when (1) both kids got sick (one, then the other), (2) hubs’ mom came to visit, and (3) the kids’ preschool closed for 3 days for teacher training. So that’s a full week of missed work. Then hubs missed another partial week of work (Wednesday-Sunday) when we went out of town for Thanksgiving. Given the two weeks of missed work, I think we’ve done as well as can be expected. We really tried to pare down our budget as much as possible (November budget update post coming…probably next Monday) and stuck to just the bare essentials so we could try to put as much toward debt as possible.

I don’t know what the month of December may hold. Although I find it highly unlikely that we’ll meet our big 2015 goals (paying off $30,000 in debt & being consumer debt-free), we will come so, so close. I don’t want to jinx myself, but if we are unable to hit those goals in December (unlikely), I feel fairly confident that we’ll be able to wrap them up in January. Not too shabby to be one month behind, especially since these were reaching goals to begin with (meaning, they seemed like a reach even when I set the goals).

So without further ado, here’s how November’s debt payments shaped up:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
ACS Student Loans$86166.55%$20November$8215
PenFed Car Loan$49552.49%$2000November$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$30120% (through April 2016)$500November$5937
Medical Bills$59610%$25November$9000
Totals$104,704 (Oct balance = 107,053)$2751Starting Debt = $145,472

One big thing to note is that my Navient debts are now combined. When I logged into my account this month the loans (which used to be separated and listed as “federal loans” and “department of education loans”) are now all combined. I have no idea why this transition took place and I received no prior warning or explanation about it. To be totally honest, I haven’t had a chance yet to break apart all the debts and make sure the figure is correct (because, as we all know, Navient is king at screwing things up). It does seem to be in the right ballpark and I’ve got that on my list for things to do at the beginning of December.

I’m proud of that $2700+ debt payment! This was a tough month and we still managed to make a good dent in our debt. But whats even more exciting to me is seeing our total debt. It’s now sitting right at $104,704.  We may not hit the two main goals of 2015 (becoming consumer debt free and putting $30,000 toward debt), but I sure am going to try my absolute hardest to get that figure to dip below $100k before the New Year rolls around. We may be looking for some things to sell, donating plasma, or picking up odd work. I don’t know what it will take, but I’m willing to make the sacrifices to see that figure drop down into the 5-digit range and stay forevermore out of six-digit figure land. Wish me luck!

How are your debt payments coming along?

Move = Complete


Hi friends!

I hope you had a great weekend! We arrived back in Tucson yesterday after a whirlwind of a trip and I have never been more thankful to sleep in my own bed!

Initially, my brother was going to go assist my Dad with loading a moving truck a month or so ago but, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, that didn’t happen. My sister and I were both unable to go for the originally scheduled move date but I decided to go over my Thanksgiving break since I had a few days off from work (though one is never really “off” in academia – I monitored my email daily).  At first I had booked a flight to go alone:  fly out on Monday, load on Tuesday, then fly back on Wednesday so I could spend Thanksgiving with my own family. But after some thought and discussion, we decided to make a family trip of it. I’m so grateful it worked out that way because I really needed the emotional support of having someone else there with me. Moves are stressful enough (one of the top 5 life stressors according to here), but I think things were exacerbated a bit being that this move was not exactly a happy, exciting, or even desired thing. It was more a chore of necessity to get my Dad somewhere closer to family where he can be helped and watched over better.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave town until Wednesday because hubs’ work had him busy all the way through Tuesday evening (he worked late to finish up on time). So we made a 14-hour drive on Wednesday (some of it in snow driving only 20 mph). It was nice that we got to spend all day Thursday hanging out, enjoying good food, and visiting with extended family that I don’t get to see too often. On Friday we had movers, so we fortunately didn’t have to do any heavy lifting, but we still had to direct things which was rife with stress given that not everything could go (my Dad is downsizing), and this was quite troubling for him to see things get left behind.

After the truck was all packed, my family went and checked into a hotel (there was still a guest bedroom set that was left behind in my Dad’s house so he still had someplace to sleep but his other bedroom set was packed). We all took a long family nap, and then met back up with my Dad that evening to go see the Christmas lights at Temple Square. Besides it being the coldest weather the girls had ever experienced (bundled up in 4+ layers and still complaining of the cold in 23 degrees), they really enjoyed seeing all the lights! I can’t wait for Christmas this year – it’s going to be such a fun holiday with them!

We left town on Saturday morning, but split the return drive into two days so it wasn’t quite as grueling. Still not what I would consider pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but far preferable to our 14-hour one-day drive. Plus – the girls got to see and play in snow!!! They’re obsessed with Frozen (they were late to the Frozen game because we didn’t let them watch movies until just relatively recently), and they kept pointing at the snowy mountains saying, “Look!!! Elsa’s ice castle!!!” Pretty adorable!

Financially speaking, the trip didn’t cost us anything since my Dad covered our costs for gasoline, lodging, and food (all of which was pretty minimal. It actually saved my Dad money for us to all drive compared to what my plane ticket had cost). The only other cost incurred was that of missed work for hubs. Yes, no one really works on Thanksgiving Day, but he could have worked over the weekend and was unable to since we were out of town.

Speaking of….I’ll be posting a debt update later today. I have to maintain a positive attitude and realize and acknowledge that November is always a relatively down month for hubs’ business. But, of course, it’s a bit disappointing to not have earned as much as we would have liked/needed in order to make our astronomically large planned debt payment (we’d planned for a $4500 debt payment and didn’t come anywhere near that). Those numbers will be up later.

But to end on a happy note, I’m so thankful that the first phase of this move is complete. My sister will be meeting the movers in Texas and overseeing as things are unloaded. She will also be the person to help actually set things up once they come off the truck. And, just like that, the burden has shifted off my shoulders and onto hers. I’ll still be primarily responsible for paying my Dad’s bills, but all the day-to-day things will surely fall to my sister now that he’s close to her.

Right now my Dad does NOT want to sell his old Utah house. We’re trying to take things in baby steps so, rather than pushing him too far, we decided it could just sit for now. I’ll be hiring a lawn-care company, his brother (my uncle) will check up on it regularly, and we will revisit the issue in the Spring or Summer. It’s likely we’ll make another family trip up there at that time so hubs can do some general handyman work around the house and we can finish clearing it out of its leftover contents.

I have to say – my Mom has been caring for her aging mother (my grandmother) for a half decade. My grandmother did not do a great job at planning for retirement so the financial burden of her care has fallen directly to my Mom as the only child. It pains me to see the stress it has caused my mother and the financial toll is not trivial (over $4,000/month). I hate that my siblings and I are in the caregiver role for our father, especially at such a young age. That being said, I am beyond grateful that my father took better precautions than my grandmother had, and that he actually has assets (both liquid and real estate) to help pay for his care. As stressful as the situation has been for us, I cannot begin to fathom how much worse it could be if all of these costs were falling directly onto our shoulders. My heart goes out to anyone who has had to financially take over caring for their parents. This has definitely been a lesson to me to get our financial house in order so we never leave our children with the burden that’s been placed on my mother in financially caring for my grandmother. It’s hard enough to take over as caregiver. The least we can do is make sure that we have ample money available to pay for whatever care we may need as aging adults.

Food for thought on this Monday morning. Have a good one!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!


Im blogging from my phone so this will be quick.

Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to all American readers and an equally happy holidays sentiment to those of you elsewhere in the world.

ill give more details Monday but we ended up all driving up to Utah for my dads last holiday here. It was a beautiful and family-filled day. Girls played with cousins, loved seeing snow(!), and eating good food. Here they are with their great grandmother!

imageI would love to show you another blast from the past – I found my dads undergraduate student ID!! It’s crazy he still has it! Only,I guess back in the day they didn’t care because his social security number is right on the front!! lol!! On my phone I can’t crop or edit as easily so no photo ID picture for you guys. Sorry!

Today we will spend the morning loading the moving truck (or really just supervising, as we’ve hired movers). It’s going to be a tough and emotionally charged day for all of us. Any good vibes, warm thoughts, or prayers for strength would be appreciated. This evening we will take the girls to see Christmas lights and tomorrow we hit the road back to Tucson. Expect a longer update on Monday.

I hope you all have a happy, healthy, and relaxing weekend and that you take some time to reflect on all your blessings this holiday season! Does a body good!!

Peace & Love,




Weekly EF savings Update #1- Building Up My EF


Hey everybody! I hope you’re having a great start to the week!

Today marks the first of my “Weekly EF Savings Updates”, which I will be providing on a weekly basis until I reach my ultimate savings goal. After doing some thinking, I’ve decided that having $5000.00 would leave me with enough of an emergency threshold to continue my student loan debt payoff. If all goes well, I could have this saved up by the end of February. I want to tackle this savings goal with the same determination, discipline and enthusiasm in which I’ve been tackling my student loans. Eventually, I may be even use some of this savings to knock out that last few thousand dollars of my student loans, assuming, of course, that I’m quite comfortable doing so in my professional and personal life.

Below, I will add a spreadsheet my original EF balance, my current balance, savings add since the last update and the remaining portion left to reach my goal. If there is anymore information you would like to see, let know and I will add it.

Holidays. For the last 2 Thanksgivings, I have spent the holidays at home spending the day with GF’s family. It meant sense to do it this way, since I’ve always worked the day before and the day after. This year, even though my work schedule remains the same, we decided we would do some traveling and go see my family. We’re only going to spend the one night and will be having dinner at my parents. We’ll be bring some homemade dessert as a thank you. We will the spend Thursday night with GF’s family here at our house. We have never gone out on Black Friday for any shopping and don’t plan on doing any this year- that day just seems like a nightmare.

I hope all the readers out there have an amazing Thanksgiving, and for those traveling, please be safe!

Here are my savings totals to date:

November 17th BalanceCurrent BalanceAdded Since Last UpdateNeeded to Reach Goal


Confessions of a Grey-Haired Girl


You know how I’ve been cutting and coloring my own hair for the past 18 months? It’s still going strong. With the exception of 2 professional hair cut/colors prior to interviews I’ve been exclusively doing my own hair (one professional cut/color was back in November 2014, the other was in January 2015…funny enough, neither of those are jobs I actually landed. Before the interview for my current job I hadn’t done anything special to prepare myself physically. Just wore my interview suit – third time was a charm – and styled my hair normally).

Anyway, I’ve mostly been blonde but about a month ago I decided I wanted a change and I went dark for Fall. Dying my own hair, as usual.

Only….I made a terrible discovery in doing so. You guys! I’m going grey! Eeek!

Yes, at the ripe “old” age of 32 technically 31, but only for one more month. Grey hairs galore! I guess I hadn’t noticed before because they blend in much better with blonde hair. In fact, I bet it actually increased the length of time I could go between hair dyes because the grey masked any darker-colored roots. But with dark brown hair the grey is painfully obvious.

And now I’m in a conundrum.

I like the dark brown. I want to stay dark brown for awhile. But….yeah. The grey is an issue.

I feel like I’m going to have to dye my hair more regularly (maybe every 4-6 weeks instead of closer to 8-10 weeks, which was my norm with blonde hair). And I’m using cheap grocery store dye, not something professional. I’m worried about the condition of my hair. Especially with our colder weather it feels very dry and brittle. I’ve always been a person who has HAD to wash my hair every single day (because otherwise it would get so greasy!) but I’ve moved to an every-other-day wash schedule because my hair is so dry it really doesn’t need to be washed more frequently than that.

So, I don’t know what to do. I’m torn between my preference (I’d like to stay brunette for now), my pocketbook (more frequent dying = more $), and my hair quality (more frequent dying = more damage).

I know back when Adam and Emily were blogging I’d once commented on a post by Emily about hair care. I’d found some type of at-home salon-quality hair dye that’s professionally matched to the person based on hair type, color, etc. It’s a bit more expensive than the cheap grocery store hair dye, but it’s still much cheaper than going to a salon and maybe it would save my hair from some of the damage???  What do you think?

What would you do? Try better quality at-home dye? Go back blonde? Some other alternative? Any suggestions for good hair dye brands are welcome, too!


5th Wedding Anniversary


When hubs and I got married we’d already been together for nearly a decade. We met the first week of my freshman (his sophomore) year of college. The rest is history!


When we got married in 2010 I was about $70,000 in debt and still in grad school (racking up more debt). Our parents helped us with much of our wedding costs but our honeymoon was up to us. With little to our name (and yet, apparently still feeling that we “deserved” a honeymoon), we decided to go the cheaper route and head to Mexico. It’s close, (relatively) cheap, and easy.


My real desire was for a long Hawaiian honeymoon. I’ve heard stories about the island chain (my mom lived there for a few years in her early 20s), and of course I’ve seen photos and videos of its beauty. It’s just sooooo $$$$$!

At the time I resolved in my mind that we’d have a second honeymoon for our fifth wedding anniversary. Destination? Hawaii. Because, of course, by the time our fifth anniversary rolled around we’d have it all together financially. Right?

I can’t help but to laugh, though I’m also so proud of how far we’ve come. If it weren’t for the accountability of this blog and the journey we’ve been on the past couple years to get out of debt, it’s highly likely we would have gone on that Hawaiian vacation. We’d end up putting much of it on credit cards and still have a mountain of other consumer-related debt (not to mention the daunting student loans).

So, our fifth wedding anniversary was November 6th.  My mother-in-law was in town for a visit. She graciously offered to watch the girls (free childcare!) and even gave us a giftcard to our favorite steak house as an anniversary gift. Score!

We did exchange gifts, but we’d set a $50 limit. Much higher than our usual gift-giving budget (which is in the $15-$25 range). I got hubs a nice leather belt (which he desperately needed after his major weight loss! He’d been using an old one that he’s punched extra holes in!) Hubs got me a Fitbit, which I’ve been wanting but was NOT expecting because they’re $100+. Turns out he found me a (very) gently used one on Ebay. Still had all its original packaging and no signs of wear. Works great (except for the sleep tracker, though that has nothing to do with the thing being used)!

I wanted to post on Facebook about our anniversary but decided maybe I’d hold off until we’re fully consumer debt-free.  A few close friends and family members know about our debt-free goals but I honestly don’t think anyone realizes the extent of our digging the past 2 years to try to get out of this hole. The extent of the sacrifices we’ve made or of the actual amount of money we’ve put toward debt ($25,000/year for the past 2 years)!!!  I don’t want to be overly obnoxious about it, but I’d like to acknowledge it. If for nothing else than to give others hope that they, too, can dig deep and find the willpower to get out of debt. That it doesn’t have to be an illusion or dream. It can be REAL. I’d post something along the lines of….

In November we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, I’d wanted a Hawaiian vacation. Instead, we buckled down and got to the business of paying off debt! After the past 2 years of hard work and over $50,000 of debt paid down, I can officially say we are now DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!!!!!!*

*Note: This really only applies to consumer debt, as we’re still working on student loans, but it just feels like a HUGE milestone to have made it this far. Also, we’re taking a big ALL CASH vacation in April to celebrate my Mom’s 60th! We are blessed!

The note part will be a comment on the original post (because I do think it warrants the explanation that we’re not fully debt-free, though I don’t want to dampen the original post by tacking it on there. It belongs more as a footnote in the comment section).

So, mark my words….this will be a Facebook post happening very, very soon. Will it be December? January? I don’t know. But I know it will be soon. And when it happens I’ll take a screenshot to show you guys so we can all celebrate together. I’m counting down the days/weeks/months until (consumer) debt-freedom!!!

Anniversaries happen every year. Only once in my life will I become consumer debt-free. Why? Because once it happens, I’m NEVER going back into debt again. NEVER.

Hawaii, I will visit you one day. Not this year. Probably not even next year. But it will happen. And it will be the BEST vacation EVER because it will be guilt-free, paid for in cash with cash to spare. Just as it should be.

A Little Good News on the Job Front


I’ve been offered and accepted a part time job.  It’s contract work, so no benefits, but it is what I have been doing and the pay rate mediocre at best.  But it is skilled labor and on the outskirts of my field and for a company that is VERY HIGHLY respected in my field.

So beginning in January, I will get between 15-25 hours a week which I can work from home at my leisure.  I figured that it’s great to know I will have some money coming beginning in January and it’s something I can do in conjunction with another job until I get back on my feet…firmly back on my feet!

So yeah!  The job hunt is still on…looking for full time, corporate work with benefits and maybe Relocation Expenses or a Signing Bonus!