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!

Relocation Expense vs Signing Bonus


In my defense I haven’t sought a new “job” in almost 14 years.  I’ve written before about how off my resume was at the beginning of this one and Faye from LeapofFaye.com jumped in and saved the day.  And really, truly it was saving the day…I think to date I’ve had 8 first interviews for what I thought were ideal jobs.  I count myself blessed with every single call I get from an application or recruiter.

But now I think, rather hope, I am coming to the end of several application processes…multiple interviews done, references checked and reviewed,  interviews with CTOs done…etc. etc.  What I haven’t been prepared for were questions regarding “What do you expect?”

I mean I’m good with my salary requirements question…and throwing in the request for a full benefits package, that’s coming pretty naturally.  The thought of a paid day off, a paid vacation, well, that’s what dreams are made of!

But what other requirements do I have…and thus we come to Relocation Expenses vs Signing Bonus.  I’ve pretty much been clear with companies that if I need to relocate…well, they have to pay for it.  And then I was told this…

  1. Relocation Express – A budget is set at the beginning of the process, but I have to cover the costs upfront and then be reimbursed.
  2. Signing Bonus – Paid up front but taxed upfront, possibly at a high tax bracket?

So my question…what are your thoughts, have any words of wisdom for me on this front?

Relocation Expenses vs Signing Bonus – which would you choose? Pros and cons of each?  Any words of wisdom greatly appreciated!

Weekly Debt Update #28- Debt Reduction Postponed


Hey everybody and happy Tuesday!

There’s been a lot of talk on this blog lately with respect to the the proper amount of cash savings to have on hand in case of an emergency. If you haven’t yet ready my post and the subsequent comments, I suggest you do here. Ashley also wrote some great posts about this topic yesterday, here, and here. Based on the comments on my post, as well as Ashley’s, a case can be made for both:

1) keeping your EF low and paying off the debt as quickly as possible and

2) saving up 3-6 months worth of expenses before tackling at debt.

After doing some thinking and sleeping on it for a couple of nights, I’m going to pursue item #2. Based on my current expenses, 3 months worth would put me at $3,803.31. This is assuming I would cut out my internet service, my YMCA membership, cut back on gas, and cut out anything I could that could be considered “extra”. I think I would feel more comfortable in the $4,000-$5,000 range. However, this means I won’t be paying anything except monthly minimums on my student loans for the time being.

As for a timeline: I feel like I could have this saved up by February. At the point at which I have my target savings in hand, I will do what I need to do to keep this savings untouched for the duration of my debt payoff. As many of you have already observed, for the last few years, I have kept all my emergency funding, short-term savings and long-term savings in one account which has continually gone up and down as I saw fit. I’d like to get better at making future projections, in terms of costs, so I that I can weather them without dipping into my newly formed EF.

What this all means is that after today I will no longer be providing any “Weekly Debt Updates”. Instead, I’ll post weekly updates respective to me achieving my savings goal. Once my goal is reached, I’ll continue my “Weekly Debt Updates” where it left off today.

I’d love to hear more feedback in the comments.

As for my last debt update for a little while, here you go:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Update
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,063.69$4,773.55$598.92
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,506.00$3,691.02$50.32
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$0.00$10,350.18$0.00
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

Have a great week!

Savings versus Debt


Just to piggyback on my earlier post….

What do you guys think about this?

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 4.35.52 PM

Image from this article.

Apparently the image was originally from a poster on Reddit, who advocated a minimum 3-6 months of savings in an EF as well as a steady 401(k) contribution (up to employer match) prior to tackling debt.

It seems to me based on some recent conversations (occurring inside the comments sections of a few posts), that this is the approach advocated by some of our readers.

Of course, for any Ramsey followers (who, admittedly, is one of the first people to get me into personal finance, although I don’t blindly follow all his teachings; I pick and choose what works for me), this is drastically different than what is recommended. Ramsey’s Baby Steps  advocate (#1) starting with a $1,000 beginner emergency fund. His argument is that most unexpected emergencies are about $1,000 or less, so that should be an adequate fund for most people. In my own debt-reduction experience, we’ve had a handful of emergencies (e.g., emergency root canal, emergency car repairs). All of our emergencies except one have been under $1,000. And the one time we had to raid our EF for over $1,000 was this past August. It was not actually due to any large emergency expense, but due to a lack of income! I don’t get paid in August (just due to normal schedule of payment) and hubs ended up having a no-income month that month (he has a variable income). So, really, I would consider this more of a factor related to variable income rather than due to an emergency, per se.

Ramsey’s next baby step (#2) is to pay off all debt but a mortgage, followed by (#3) going back and re-stocking the EF up to 3-6 months expense.

Obviously a very different approach, right?

What other factors do you think are important?

I think for single people, people without kids, people with low monthly expenses, renters, and people with steady/predictable income a lower EF might be sufficient. I also think it depends on the size of the debt (e.g., will it take 3 months to pay off or 3 years to pay off? I’m more likely to be “ok” with a smaller EF for a short period of time rather than a long one).

I’ve also seen some arguments over what debt should be considered high versus low priority. Some people are okay with student loans and car loans hanging around for awhile, though almost everyone is in agreement that credit card debt should be tackled quickly!  I’m of the mind that I want ALL my debt gone. That being said, I’ve still prioritized my debt such that I have paid/plan to pay: (1) credit cards, (2) car, (3) student loans (4) medical bills. To me, our medical debt that has no interest is way less burdensome than my student loans (mostly at 6.5% interest), even though the overall amount of the student loan debt is significantly larger than the medical debt.

Those are just my thoughts.

How have you prioritized debt repayment savings? And, among your various forms of debt, how have you ordered or prioritized which debt to pay first? Do you do the snowball method (smallest debt first), avalanche method (highest interest first), or some other arrangement (such as the most personally satisfying)?

Personal finance is just that – personal. So I don’t think there’s one “right” or “wrong” answer and I think there are multiple different routes to the same end-goal (being DEBT FREE with a good financial security net). Just curious about your thoughts on the matter!