Happy Friday

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Hi, friends!

It’s been a busy week (first week of classes and all)! It’s been crazy juggling everything but I really LOVE my job! I have so missed being in the classroom and am enjoying every second of it (though…..not so much with enjoying our faculty “retreat” which is being held at the STUDENT UNION on a SATURDAY AFTERNOON!!!! What the heck? In comparison, my last department always had the retreat at a fancy-pants resort with catered lunch on a weekday so it took the place of a workday. What kind of cheap stuff is this? I guess they’re just balancing the budget but I say bah, humbug about it!)

ANYWHO, I have a couple half-written posts but they’ll have to wait until Monday. Instead, a commenter (shout out, Brooke!) just left me a link to this Huffington Post article and I had to pass it along to anyone else whose suffered at the hands of Navient! We’re all very familiar with my ongoing struggles with the company! I’m very curious what might happen if they’re sued and what the potential outcome could be for us “little guys” (the student loan debtors).  Interesting stuff. Check it out if you have a moment.

In the meantime, I hope you have a happy Friday and a great weekend! Chat with you on Monday!

 

Update:  You guys won’t believe this! I decided to check up on my Navient loans just for fun (I check them at least a couple times a month). Remember when I lamented that my ACS loans were being transferred to Navient’s care? Well, the migration has finally happened! Only….now my old ACS loans are being listed as unsubsidized even though they were subsidized loans when I took them out! This makes a big difference because I’m on income based repayment (IBR) and, with this plan, any unpaid interest on subsidized loans is forgiven!!! So – intentionally or not – Navient is trying to screw me out of a few bucks of interest every month, that is then capitalized and increases all the time!!! Are you freaking kidding me, Navient?!? ARGH, I don’t have time right now to call their customer service but if they’re open on weekends they’ll be getting a call from me and, if not, first thing Monday they’ll be hearing from me!

Friends – always be on top of your loans! I’m hoping this was some type of glitch/mistake, but this is not right! It’s why the company has been investigated for years and cited with all kinds of instances of overcharging interest, etc. Debt free is the way to be!!!


Floundering a Bit on a Plan – Too Much Going On

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I am typically pretty decisive on my plan, but I’m really floundering this time around.  We just have alot going on at the same time.  And I’m struggling with my priority list.  So here I am asking for some feedback from you.  In a nutshell, here are the  things going on in my head that I’m trying to balance along with my debt payoff (these are listed in no particular order other than how they came to mind:)

  • Kids Co Op Costs – As I mentioned last spring I am going to be teaching two classes this fall as our homeschool co op to off set the cost of the kids’ classes.  I had hoped that those two classes would fill and I wouldn’t have to worry about any tuition costs; however, it does look like there is going to be a difference.  Typically, the little’s dad would be helping with this and this would not be an issue.
  • Moving/Housing Costs – When our lease is up next April we are LEAVING.  So I will definitely have some moving expenses or at least storage costs.  Since I HOPE to be buying, I need to seriously consider upping the ante on my savings beyond the EF fund that I add to a little at a time.
  • Travel – One of the places I am definitely going to loosen my financial belt a bit this coming year is on travel. We have two trips planned this fall, both to see family, so not much expense except gas and a bit of food…and we’ve just been presented with the opportunity to spend a weekend in DC and work a marathon which would be fun, but it is volunteer and I would have to cover our costs.  (I’m not thinking beyond April with this, just short weekend trips to see family.)
  • Educational Camps – One thing we really cut back this year was some of the educational camps/experiences we have done in the past.  And with the twins beginning their junior year, I’d really like to get a few more in before they are in the “real” world.  Not to mention, some of them count as a semester worth of credit for classes so they truly are “school” related.
  • Music – We cut music out of our curriculum in the Spring of 2014.  It was one of the first “big” cuts I made.  At the time I knew it would be a temporary move, but I didn’t realize it would be so long.  Princess has been asking when those lessons can resume.  So I would like to consider adding them back in for at least her and any of the boys are would be inclined to really commit to it, ie practice.

So you will see I have a lot swirling around in my head thus making my “debt” payoff plan a bit more challenging.  I really like my new budget…but I have to consider these others things and really make some decisions again.  So let’s talk numbers, here are my estimated costs for the items listed above at least through April based on sketchy ‘ideal’ plans of which nothing has been decided or committed to.  In fact, none of this has even been discussed with anyone other than you now…the sucky thing about being a single mom is having no one to bounce these things off of!

  • Homeschool Co op Classes – Currently the kids are registered for several classes each over 2 days.  The cost per semester will be right at  $2,170, I can get a 10% discount off that if paid in full up front.  Currently, it looks like I will be able to bring in right at $1,600 for the two classes I am teaching.  I do still have openings in them both so if filled, it would cover everything, but I have to plan accordingly for now.
  • Moving/Storage – I have no idea how this will go.  I would anticipate at least $200 for a storage unit to hold everything if we were to hit the road.  And probably a solid $10,000 would be a good place to be if we were to find the right place to buy.  These numbers are just coming off the top of my head.
  • Travel – Right now I am budgeting $250 per ‘family’ visit trip.  This would cover gas, some extra food and that’s about it.  Since we’ve been doing this particular trip forever, I know this is slightly higher than needed, but want to give myself a bit of wiggle room.  Two times this fall and maybe one time in the Spring before April, so a total of $750 for family visits.  And the possibility of DC, I don’t know?  (Little Gymnast’s meets are a whole other story and I will cross that bridge when I get to it and have a meet schedule.)
  • Educational Camps – There is really one in particular that I would like to send both the twins to for a week early next year and Princess to for a day.  The total for this would be right at $1,000.  (Oh, I can predict what I’m going to hear about this one…but I’m telling you, this is a solid educational program that they will NEVER forget and it does require about a month long preparation on their part to be ready for it homework-wise that is.)  Oh, and if I register them in September, we would get a little over $100 off.
  • Music – This one I really struggle with for two reasons.  One I know how important music is both educational and emotionally.  But on the other side, music lessons are expensive and with our currently living situation…practice would be hard.

Ugh, so if you are still reading and have gotten this far, thank you.  I know this is not the most organized post.  But this is where I am at as I try to discern the best path for paying off debt which I TRULY am still laser focused on AND maybe add a bit more life back in and plan for upcoming things.


Weekly Debt Update #22- Life After Debt

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This past week, I’ve done some thinking on what life after debt will be like once all my student loans are paid for. It’s actually something I think about quite often, well not really think per se, more like daydream. So this past week I started formulating plans of what I’m hoping to accomplish. I know a couple things I want to do for sure:

  1. Take a vacation. Not entirely sure where, yet, but I would love to do a 4 or 5 night stay at Universal Studios Orlando. I’m a big theme park guy and I haven’t been here in 15 or so years. From what I’m hearing about the new Harry Potter lands and all the money Universal is investing, the park is on par with Disney, or may even be better. I’m going under the assumption that for me and GF, it’s going to cost about $5,000, which I should be able to save up within a couple months of being debt free.
  2. I want to save up a larger emergency fund is a cash account. I just don’t know how much. Rule of thumb is 3-6 months of expenses. My expenses are quite low, so I’m looking at keeping $5,000 in this emergency fund. I have $2,000 right now, so having that extra $3K will definitely give me more piece of mind.
  3. I want to increase how much I put into paying off my mortgage. But I only want to do it by a slight margin. I’m paying $150 a week currently to make a monthly payment of $600. I’d like to increase my payments to $200 a week.
  4. I’m going to decrease my 401K contribution to the minimum (4%) to get the company match. I’ll use a fairly good portion of my after tax income to fund an investment account for a, hopefully, early retirement. I’d like to do between $300-$400 a week. This is a big one, since I want to save up a pretty large nest egg, but there’s a ton I feel like I’m putting off (like home renovations) that I could do with an extra $400 a month.
  5. I’ll definitely going to increase our fun having and my week allowance.

It seems like I have more plans than paycheck right now, so I’m going to really look at this and determine what my future priorities are. I’ve felt that I’ve wanted to early retire for a few years now, and that hasn’t changed. Thinking about it, I think retirement may be the wrong word to use here- I really just want to feel that I have options and choices- where, when, how much and if I want to work. Of course saying all this, I don’t have any children at the moment either. It’s easy to sit here and think of all these nice things to do being a non-married, childless adult. All this could change in an instant!

AS for my debt payments made in the last week, here it is:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,719.92$4,117.32$57.03
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,604.04$3,592.98$47.52
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$4,455.68$5,894.50$854.91
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$46,779.64$63,808.02$959.46

Halloween 2015

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I know we’re still in August and just doing the back-to-school thing, but I want to skip ahead a bit and talk about Halloween!

Last year we didn’t really “do” Halloween as a family because my friend got married, so I was busy with wedding festivities. As a result,  I’m extra excited about Halloween this year. It will be the girls’ first year to actually trick-or-treat door-to-door (they’re 3 years old). But you know what I’m NOT excited about? The price tag!

Since we didn’t really celebrate the holiday last year I didn’t buy them costumes. Hubs dressed them up in the same baby-bag type ladybug costumes they’d worn the year prior (see post I wrote about it here. Side note: RIP to the beautiful rug the girls were sitting on that picture. It got destroyed only about a week later with the great flood of 2014). Last year a couple of people recommended buying Halloween costumes on clearance after October 31st and save them to use for this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that organized and it didn’t happen.

Enter:  Costco!

Y’all know how much I love Costco! Well, they’ve done it again! They got a bunch of costumes in early and they are SO CHEAP!!! I’m talking $13.99 for a princess costume with little accessories (necklace, tiara, etc.). We took our girls and let them pick out costumes – Elsa and Anna (from Disney’s Frozen). We were out the door for right at $30, including tax!

You guys, I’m floored! That’s cheaper than second-hand costumes on Amazon or even the cheapy-type costumes at Party City! And they’re brand new with accessories!

Now the hard part is going to be keeping the girls from wearing them until Halloween (because I already know they’d lose the accessories and it would be a huge ordeal to a threenager). But just in case anyone else is starting to think about Halloween costumes – get on the ball now! Costco gets them in early, but they also don’t restock so once the costumes are gone there’s no more.

Have you started thinking about Halloween yet? How do you save money on Halloween costumes?


Ashley’s August 2015 Debt Update

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Happy Monday, all! It’s officially the first day of the Fall semester for both of my jobs (the full-time in-person position & part-time online teaching position. If you didn’t hear – I recently posted the good news about keeping my online job!). I’m teaching two classes for each this semester (4 classes total), but only one is in-person, so I’ll be able to do most of my work online. I’m very grateful for the flexibility! I’ve already been a little swamped, but I’m getting by. It’s helped that I’ve had a very strict work distinction. I ONLY do my part-time job at home. And, for the most part, I’m only doing my full-time job at school (with the exception of checking/responding to emails, etc. at home).

Hopefully I’ll start making some really killer debt payments soon as I officially start receiving TWO paychecks in the month of September. Can’t wait!

In the meantime, this month’s debt payment wasn’t too shabby, either! Check it out:

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
Navient - Federal Student Loan$34158.25%$266August$4687
ACS Student Loans$209927.24%$77July$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$665526.55%$257August$63254
PenFed Car Loan$121872.49%$1500August$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$47120% (through April 2016)$125August$5937
Medical Bills$60360%$25August$9000
Totals$113,894 (July balance = 115,871)$2250Starting Debt = $145,472

Hopefully the debt payments stay steady (or increase!). I’d love to break the $3,000/month toward debt mark. This month was $2250 and it just blows my mind! We’ve worked so hard to make debt payments in the two-thousand-plus dollar range. But the more we can throw at our debt (especially the car!) the sooner it will be gone and the closer we’ll come to meeting our 2015 financial goals. Wish us luck, because we’ll certainly need it to meet our lofty goal (paying $30,000 toward debt in 2015).

 


Over the Hump!

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In spite of some setbacks personally  and professionally, things are still progressing nicely in terms of our debt payments. And I’m happy to announce that as of this month, we are officially over the half-way mark with paying off our car loan debt! Wahoo!!!!

IMG_0029

We still have a way to go (over twelve thousand dollars!!!), but remember when things were tight and we stayed in a holding pattern for what felt like forever (literally 5 months where we were in the fifteen thousand dollar range)? We’re finally making good progress and it feels GREAT to get to see the car debt thermometer every time I walk into the kitchen! Yay!!!

And in other financial news, I spoke with the business office in my department and had my paycheck corrected to be paid over 9 months instead of 12.  There were a lot of comments from teachers who said they much preferred a 12-month cycle of pay if it was possible. So, initially I was thinking maybe I’d keep it as-is.

But then others pointed out that (1) we’re very used to dealing with irregular income; we’ve been living this way for years! And (2) my car loan is accruing interest NOW! It’d be better for me to get this money up front and try to pay off our debt ASAP (the goal is still to be consumer debt-free before 2016), rather than to get a lesser paycheck every month in exchange for having summer pay. Also, don’t forget that hubs still draws an income and he’s been the main income-earner in our home for years, so if I don’t get paid over summer and we have to rely on his income for those months, we’ll still survive just fine. It would certainly mean lower savings and/or debt payments during that time, but it wouldn’t cause us to go into debt or not have enough money to survive. Additionally, I have one more piece of good news to report….

I (finally) spoke with the department head and officially received permission to continue working my part-time job (adjunct teaching online)!!! YAY!!!!! So I’ll still get paid, at least from my part-time job, and possibly from my full-time job if there are teaching needs next summer. (Side note for those who’ve asked: now that I’ve received official permission, I plan to continue teaching my part-time job as long as possible. I know I won’t be able to continue forever, especially as my job duties and responsibilities increase with my full-time job. But for now I’m planning to continue at least a year – meaning Fall 2015, Spring 2016, and Summer 2016. From that point I’ll reassess to determine if I feel I can continue teaching part-time. I routinely teach 2 classes, but one is much more grading-intensive than the other. So it may be that I ask to drop 1 class but keep the other one for as long as I’m allowed.)

Taking all these factors into consideration, I think we’ll be just fine with the 9-month pay cycle, even if it means I’m double-dinged for insurance payments in the Spring and we have to be a little more careful/cautious with budgeting for summer months.

With some of the bummer things I’ve shared lately, I’m really happy to be able to report some good news!

Have you hit any big milestones with debt repayment lately? Share a piece of good news from your life!


Housing Decision Made – Finally!

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We are staying put.  It was just too much to keep searching and hoping for somewhere to move too.  And with the requirement to give 60 days notice here, it would have put us moving towards the middle of the school semester.  So we are staying in our cozy 2 bedroom apartment.

I did make the commitment to the kiddos and myself that come May of next year, we are out of here!  Thus I have already given notice that we will move out on the day our lease ends which is right after the end of our school year in April.

Where we will go then…no one knows, but we will be leaving here.  The possibilities are endless and a bit exciting:

  1. Have found and purchased a home here for less than $150K (that is the top of my budget and I would rather be right around $100K so we are definitely looking for a country home, fixer upper.)  Only time will tell if we can find one.
  2. Put all our items, really not very much in storage and hit the road to travel for a while.  The littles and I did this for a couple of months right after we were forced out of our previous rental home as we waited for the home my dad purchased to be built.  It was fun and with planning, we can do it fairly economically.  I’ve been looking at the Ultimate US Roadtrip and wondering if they was a way we could do that.
  3. Have a rental ready to move right into…I’m really not so keen on this at all.  With the dogs and the space and the price, it’s just SO expensive here.
  4. Decide to move away…it will be History Buff’s senior year and he should be quite far ahead after this year so technically most of his work will be online via dual enrollment next year.  None of the kids are really excited about this possibility and frankly, I’m not either but it is a possibility especially in light of the cost of living here.

So who knows what is to come…but we now have the school year to figure it out.  And I’m very pleased with this decision in light of keeping our housing costs relatively affordable despite the lack of space.  We are definitely paying for location, location, location.

AND I will have yet another winter where I don’t have to deal with snow!  AND by the time we move BOTH twins will have their driver’s licenses.  So I am definitely looking at the blessings here.


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