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Finances & Fitness

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Hubs has become quite the fitness aficionado lately. Remember back in 2015 when he lost a ton of weight? He ended up losing 60 lbs. in total. In 2016 he was really just learning to maintain his weight through having a healthier lifestyle overall. He eats pretty clean, drinks lots of water, exercises regularly, etc. This year (2017) he decided he wanted to try to build some muscle mass. Well, mission = accomplished! I think his whole year was made last month when, while on our mom-&-dad getaway, a kid at the hotel’s pool area asked him if he was a professional bodybuilder! LOL! He ate up the compliment and was floating on Cloud 9 the rest of the day!

IMG_5292

As a disclaimer, I gotta say his “before” picture is in a shirt that was stained, not dirty. Hubs was a flooring contractor so all his work clothes eventually had stains all over them from glue, paint, etc. Just kinda gross to see all the “gunk” – it’s not just filth! Ha!

The truth is, hubs works hard for the gains he has made. Our summer has been a little more relaxed, but during the academic year he had been waking up faithfully at 4:45am so he could be at the gym at 5am when they opened, get in 1.5-2 hours of gym time, and be home in time to help get the girls dressed and ready for school. Even on vacation he went to the hotel gym daily. On our long driving days to and from Texas, he figured out creative ways to still get in his workouts by doing youtube videos using one’s own bodyweight for resistance, etc. When the rest of us want a bowl of ice cream after dinner, he prepares a bowl of fruit for himself. He’s dedicated like that.

I’ve wanted to get back on the whole fitness wagon lately. I used to be really into fitness, and while I would describe my current body-type as “average”, I’d love to get back to a place where I could consider myself “fit.” Unfortunately, I’ve found myself lacking motivation. The other day I was talking to hubs and asked him about how he stays so motivated – how he can push himself day after day to make healthy choices, sacrifice sleep for his gym time, choose the healthier food option when a sweet treat is right in his face, etc. I wish he had some secret trick I could share (or sell for $$$), but we all know that’s not the way it works. His response, “You just have to make the decision and stick with it.”

Me:  But it’s too hot to work out!

Him:  The gym has air conditioning. And you should be sweating while you’re working out anyway.

Me: But I’m tired!

Him: You won’t be after you get your heart rate up and going.

Me: UGH!!!!! BUT I DON’T WANT TO!!!

Him: Well….that’s your problem then. : )

As we talked about it, I couldn’t help but draw the parallels between FITNESS and FINANCES.

I recently admitted to letting our finances slip a bit over the summer. I’ve slacked off on a lot of the money-saving habits I used to have. It’s been months since I’ve designed our meal plans around sales and ads, for instance. I used to do that weekly – our meals were specifically planned based on the kinds of food on sale at our local grocers. It’s been years since I’ve done the envelope system. Or since I kept a “30 Day Wish List” prior to buying household stuff.

I think I’ve just been lacking motivation. To be honest, it’s probably been going on for awhile. I’ve been able to get away with it because our income has been high enough to compensate for some poor planning and spending habits. But when our income dropped, I really never buckled down. I never started the process of really trying to cut back significantly and, instead, I continued to spend like all was normal.

I’ve wanted to change, but I didn’t really want to put in the work to make it happen. Kind of like my fitness journey. Heh.

I don’t have any grandiose conclusion right now where I can say “That’s It! I’m back on the financially-fit bandwagon!” The truth is, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it, but not a lot of actions just yet. I really feel somewhat immobilized by our lower summer income (hub recently stopped working to go back to school and I had to leave my part-time job due to a noncompete at my full-time job). It feels like no matter what I do, I’m not sure that I can make our outflow match our inflow right now. It feels helpless. I’ve intentionally never given exact income figures (though it’s not a total surprise, as I’ve been pretty open about our budget and expenses, etc.). But just to give ballpark numbers, we went from earning a take-home salary of roughly $10,000/month….to right at $3,000/month. Practically overnight. Granted, these are take-home numbers (insurance is paid pre-tax, some of childcare and medical is paid pre-tax, mandatory 7% investment is pre-tax), so the low $3,000 number doesn’t mean we’re only making $36,000/year. We’re still making significantly more than that. But just in terms of dealing with take-home pay, we’ve experienced a huge drop over the last couple months.

My new raise goes into effect soon and as much as I am LOVING the academic freedom this summer, I can’t wait for August to roll around just so I’ll be able to experience my first full month with my new salary (remember that raise I got months ago but doesn’t go into effect until my new contract??? Can’t wait!!!).

ANYWAY…..

I just wanted to check in with you all and be honest and open about where I am in my debt journey right now. I have no doubts that we will make a full rebound. I know it. But right now I’m still just kind of limping my way through, trying to find that motivation that comes so naturally to my hubby.

Share a financial (or fitness-related, if you prefer) WIN you’ve made recently! I love hearing other’s successes!

How do you keep your motivation high when you’re not really feeling it? Fake it till you make it? Any other tips or strategies?


Ashley’s March 2017 Debt Update

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March was a whirl-wind of a month! I was gone for a couple days in Texas, the girls had an entire week off school, and it felt like we were being pulled in a million different directions by all of our disparate responsibilities. I’m glad to be back in more of a routine this month and am already looking forward to May. For us in academia, it signifies the end of another academic year and the beginning of a MUCH NEEDED “break” in terms of course-load, etc. (working at a university, I’ll probably always talk about “years” in terms of academic rather than fiscal or calendar years, lol). But May is important for another reason, too. For the past 3 months (including April), I’ve been paying these HUGE payments toward our medical debt. I did so in exchange for a debt forgiveness of about 33% of our medical debt. So come May, we’ll have an extra $1200 that can go towards other debt and we’ll have one fewer debt to report in our debt spreadsheet. It always feels good to knock a debt off, and I can’t wait.

Here’s where we stood as of April 1st, after all of March’s debt payments had posted:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient - Federal 2 (unsubsidized)$11,0925.8083March82433 (all school loans, combined)
Navient - Federal 3 (subsidized)$86085.8025March
Navient - 2 (subsidized)$85136.5534March
Navient - 7 (subsidized)$72126.5529March
Navient - 8 (subsidized)$63856.5525March
Navient - 9 (subsidized)$85146.5534March
Navient - 10 (unsubsidized)$97926.5569March
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$10000% (through Sept 2017)$400March$7650
Balance Transfer Student Loan #3$44440% (through October 2018)$150March$4594
Medical Bills$31540% (must be paid by April)$1216March$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$68,714 (Feb balance = 70,444)$2065Starting Debt = $145,472

Navient Payments

With our recent IRS tax trouble, I’ve been making lower sized debt payments in an effort to try to save up for the upcoming IRS bill. I’m paying minimum payments on all of my subsidized student loans and only an extra $50 above the minimum for my two unsubsidized student loans. As a quick reminder, I’m on the IBR repayment plan so my unpaid interest is forgiven on subsidized loans, but not for unsubsidized (which is why I’m prioritizing them a little). I was concerned when my balances had increased a little this month for the subsidized loans so I called Navient and they explains that the government subsidy (which covers any unpaid interest) is only paid once per quarter. So it looks like the balances have increased a little, but that capitalized interest will be covered at the end of the next quarter. Feels kind of scamy, but nothing I can do about that.

Balance Transfer #2

I’ve reduced the amount I’m paying on Balance Transfer #2 down to $400/month. Continuing at that rate, it will be gone by June. At that point, I may try to initiate another balance transfer to move some more debt away from Navient. That being said, I’ve noticed that my recent balance transfer offers have had a bit higher transfer rate than in the past year, so I’d only do so if it’s still a good savings overall. I’ll wait and see when we get to that point. I also wanted to clarify something I’d had wrong before. Originally when I created my debt table I had listed that this bill was due earlier (based off a 12-month timeframe), but I had conflicting notes in YNAB because there I had it listed as being an 18-month timeframe. When we were hit by the IRS taxes, I called for clarification (otherwise, we were on track to pay it off within 12 months, but I wanted to know if we had the extra 6 months wiggle room). Turns out the special offer IS good for 18-months, which is why I’ve been able to decrease my payment amounts. I’ll still have it paid off well before the special 0% APR promo period expires. Sorry for any confusion to anyone who may have noticed!

Balance Transfer #3

This is my newest balance transfer. I paid $150 last month, but only have $75 scheduled for this month. Again, I’m paying less so that I can try to scrounge up cash for the IRS.

IRS

Everything financial is now tainted by the whole IRS tax issue I’ve talked about previously (see here or here). I’m embarrassed and feel a bit ashamed to be in this position, but I have to say that the tax debt has officially INCREASED our debt and will be setting us back in our progression. At this point, I’m honestly too embarrassed to even give the total amount (though we have finally finished everything with our CPA, so we now have official numbers). I was thinking it would be right around 10k and, if so, I was really trying to scrimp, save, and hustle up any funds and try to pay them in full by the April 18th deadline. When confronted with the true, final amount that we owe, I know there’s no way we’ll have the money together by April 18th. Instead, I’m going to have to set up a payment plan with the IRS and will officially be adding a debt to our list of debts. I’ve been dreading discussing it here because it’s just SO stupid and was 100% our fault. There’s no excuses. We just messed up and now we owe Uncle Sam the big bucks.

Budgeting

Related to everything going on, we’ve really been trying to plan ahead and think about what our family budget will look like in the coming (academic) year. Hubs’ is still currently drawing a (very) small income from his business, but it will likely be gone in the next few months. By mid-summer my big raise will go into effect at my full-time job. Though at the same time, I’ll be losing my side-income from my part-time job. Our kids are starting kindergarten in the fall so our childcare bill will decrease in a couple months (note, in our state kindergarten is only “free” for half-day and we still need full-day childcare so our bill will not be eliminated, but it will be reduced a bit from our current spending). Basically – there are a lot of financial pieces to the puzzle and a lot of things to consider. It’s hard when we don’t have exact numbers, either (e.g., I’m trying to estimate what my net take-home pay will be once my raise goes into effect, but there are many factors involved since a mandatory 7% goes to retirement, and then I also contribute to an HSA and FSA, etc). I think we may have some financial growing pains on the horizon as we figure things out and try to make a path moving forward. I think our path will likely include tightening up our purse strings quite a bit from what we have in the past year. Not that I think we were frivolous in the past year by any means, but I think things are about to really be getting TIGHT. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s definitely disheartening given all our progress in the past year (which, now with the tax thing, feels like a lot less progress has been made since we owe all this money – ugh! So mad at myself!)

Anyway, that’s what’s up in my world.

Oh yeah, and the car situation. That’s still going on. Turns out my car had 2 different problems. One was a Ford issue (covered by Ford) and the other is a warranty issue (covered by my extended warranty). But it’s been a HUGE fiasco because I HAVE to have a car to get to-and-from work and it’s now been over a week with my car in the shop and it still isn’t fixed. But my warranty only covers 7 days max in a rental, so I’ve switched to a Ford rental vehicle and am trying to get Ford to cover the remainder of my days in a rental due to their issue (the Ford issue is actually what rendered my vehicle un-drivable). It’s been a whole mess and is taking up way too many hours in my day. And it will likely end up costing me some money after-all, not only for the warranty deductible, but if I end up having to pay for the rental (if Ford won’t cover it, etc.). Big pain-in-the-butt. But there are worse things in life and, again, I’m thankful no one got hurt and that we had the warranty, etc.

Gotta run for-reals now. I’m drowning in work so bad it’s not even funny. So to bring this post full-circle (as I mentioned in my opening paragraph) – I cannot wait for May!!! Is it the summer yet?? 😉

Hugs,

Ashley


And we have moved!

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Day 1 of the rest of our lives is upon us.  We have finally made the move from our very high priced hometown to a very small town three states away.  The last two days during the move, I have woken up feeling so much hope just overflowing at what the future holds.  We will be living with my grandmother as we get the lay of the land before seeking housing of our own.

And I got a sign that we were going in the right direction during our 8 hour drive loaded down with the last our of our belongings. I got a call regarding a job, one small town away that I applied for 2 months ago!  Woot, woot!  Don’t know what will come of it, but it’s right up my alley and super close to our new town.

All of our stuff is in storage for $125 a month.  It’s in a container that we can have delivered to us for a few hundred dollars or go pick it up at no cost.  We are spending the weekend with friends in Atlanta as Gymnast will compete here for his last regular season meet with his old gym.

We will return to Virginia for one week in March for Gymnast to compete at states near DC.  We have free housing for the week and will knock out orthodontist appointments and so on that same week. He will train here locally for the next three weeks and then return to his team gym for the week before states.  We are so blessed with their flexibility and willingness to work with us.

So for the next three weeks we will be getting the lay of the land, seeking work (Sea Cadet and I at least) and trying to get the kids settled in.

Oh, and one more thing…I now have a “guaranteed” 25 hour a week job at the one I’ve been working for the past year.  So it’s not full time income, but it is steady and more than I’ve had consistently.  (Both my part time jobs have committed to keeping me on despite the move, so I continue to have regular income.)  Will do a budget and goals post in the next month or so as the dust settles from the move.

Things are looking up.  I am filled with HOPE for what this move could mean for us…lower cost of living, more work and who knows what else.


A Blessing in Disguise

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One of my biggest dreads this past fall was living in the camper for the winter.  Going outside and up and down slippery stairs to go to the bathroom, inadequate heat and just being cooped up in the tiny space, literally on top of each other.  If I let my mind go there, the darkness would overwhelm me.

We were all so excited to escape for the holidays to my grandmothers home and our short jaunt to Texas, as Christmas got closer and our return date got closer, I could feel my stomach tightening with dread.  Then I go the text. And we were homeless.

And as grateful as I was for the housing and the experiences we had…it was kind of a relief to know that we wouldn’t be spending the winter in the camper.

The housing we have been provided for these next weeks is beautiful! It’s newly remodeled and barely lived in (empty nesters.)  It’s like living in a dream.  I even got to soak in a bathtub for the first time in I don’t know how many years.  After the last two years so scrimping by, tiny living and shared space, this has been such a blessing.  And we’ve only been here a week.

We are not being charged any rent or utilities, but I am buying all the food and cooking and cleaning.  I imagine this is what most people live like every day…but for us, this is totally new.  Each of us has our own bedroom, our own bathroom (Princess and I have a jack and jill set up,) there is a pool table, washer and dryer, and we even have a dedicated school room.  I admit it, we feel a bit spoiled.

But I am so grateful, overwhelmed, by thankfulness in fact.  All I can say is that God heard my cries and he answered me, in a big, giant way.

It’s just temporary, but the respite from the daily struggle and stress has already worked wonders on my soul.  And I know, that whatever comes next will be okay.

Continuing the job hunt, preparing to pack and move everything to GA and make it our homebase until work allows us to settle somewhere, and completely open to whatever comes next.  And this weekend, we go to the Naval Academy in Annapolis where Gymnast will compete in the Navy Challenge.  Wish us luck as we will be fighting the inauguration traffic both ways…ugh!


Ashley’s 2016 Goals Wrap-Up (With December Debt Update)

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2016 has been a rough one for many. Have any of you seen this meme floating around the interwebs?

Screen Shot 2016-12-22 at 3.07.22 PM

(Here’s one source, but I’ve seen it on multiple accounts. It’s everywhere.)

Makes me chuckle. Although 2016 has been tough in many regards (and I have a year-end wrap-up post in the works with more info on my 2016), it hasn’t been all bad. In fact, I’ve had a pretty good year when it comes to my financial goals.

In the beginning of 2016 I set these financial goals for myself and my family:

  • Save $10,000 for down payment for a home.
  • Save $5,000 for an emergency fund.
  • Put $30,000 toward debt.

These were pretty lofty goals at the time they were set. But then our income just exploded.

I ended up working all summer (an extra 3 months worth of income), I taught an extra class one semester, and hubs landed some big contracts in the Fall.

Without any major financial set-backs this year (*knock on wood*) we managed to hit these goals out of the park!! I’ll explain each in more detail below.

  • Save $10,000 for down payment for a home. Once this goal was set, I really put it first above  all else. Initially we were going to start looking at homes in May, but we pushed it back a bit when we felt we needed more time to save up an EF, etc. We found “the house” in August and it was a long process, but when all was said and done we finally closed in early November. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to save the money in-time when we were shooting for a May timeframe, but by the time November rolled around we had more than enough saved for our down payment. With the money we saved (+ a generous gift from my mom) we had just over 20% to put down. We also had some cash reserves still on-hand that came in quite helpful when we needed to buy nearly $4,000 worth of “stuff” to get moved into the house (e.g., refrigerator, blinds, etc. See this post for details).
  • Save $5,000 for an emergency fund. This goal was so important to me, personally. This was the real reason why we delayed our house hunt from the beginning. We had our $10,000 saved up, but had nearly no emergency fund and I felt like it was just a recipe for disaster to buy a home with no money on hand. After we pushed back our original “house hunting” date, we were able to continue to stack money (again – I picked up work over the summer and additional classes in the Fall, too, which really helped in this regard). As I type this post, we have exactly $5,085 in our dedicated Emergency Fund and I consider it fully funded for the time being. Eventually we’ll try to bump this up to a full 3-6 months ($5,000 is about one month for our household…maybe 2 if we really stretch). But while we’re still in the process of debt repayment we’ll leave it at $5,000. I did have some comments on the house post that mentioned making a separate house-related EF (especially given the age of our home, etc.). I’ll address that more in my forthcoming 2017 Goals post. Look for that post likely next week sometime.
  • Put $30,000 toward debt. This is just such an obscene amount of money to pay toward DEBT in a single year! It’s crazy to think about how many families are struggling just to get by on $30,000 total annual income. When I first started blogging here our household income was just under $50,000. Thinking of that time (and there would have been zero chance we could have put a full 30k toward debt) compared to where we are now…I’m just amazed. Life has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, but we’ve been blessed in the financial realm this year. Check out our December Debt Update table:
PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient - Federal 2 (unsubsidized)$110715.80209December82433 (all school loans, combined)
Navient - Federal 3 (subsidized)$86215.8025December
Navient - 2 (subsidized)$85376.5533December
Navient - 7 (subsidized)$72326.5528December
Navient - 8 (subsidized)$64026.5525December
Navient - 9 (subsidized)$85376.5534December
Navient - 10 (unsubsidized)$161356.552020December
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$30000% (through April 2017)$1000December$7650
Medical Bills$56360%$25December$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$75,171 (Nov balance = 78,345)$3399Starting Debt = $145,472

With our last large debt payment from December 2016, we’ve managed to cross the finish line on our final financial goal of 2016. We have officially paid over $30,000 toward debt this year!!! See below (with a previous goal check-in post found here):

Month 2016 GOALS 2016

January

Goal: $3500 $4013
February Goal: $1000 $1261
March Goal:  $1000 $2134
April Goal:  $2000 $1521
May Goal: $2000 $1325
June Goal:  $4000 $3500
July Goal: $4000 $4928
August Goal: $2500 $1374
September Goal: $2500 $2775
October Goal: $2500 $2750
November Goal: $2500 $2625
December Goal: $2500 $3399
Total Goal: $30,000 $31605

Some months were up and some were down, but the highs and lows all averaged out and still allowed us to hit this monstrous goal we had set that didn’t even seem feasible in January of 2016 and yet, here we sit at the end of 2016. Mission accomplished.

For anyone casually stumbling across this blog (as well as long-time readers – thanks for sticking around!!), I just want to stand on the top of a mountain and shout: I’M A REAL PERSON. A NORMAL HUMAN BEING JUST LIKE YOU. THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL OR OUTRAGEOUS ABOUT ME AND MY SITUATION. IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!!!!

Three years ago, I never would have believed I’d be sitting here today having annihilated nearly half of our debt!!! It’s a pretty incredible things and more great things are on the horizon.

How have you done on any 2016 goals? Are you taking stock and making plans for 2017 goals??


Ashley’s October 2016 Debt Update

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I hope you’re all having a good week! Our kids are out of school Wed – Fri this week so my mom flew out to help with childcare (since hubs and I both have to work still), so it’s been a lot of fun to visit together and it’s always great when Mom visits! For instance, my freezer is now full of homemade freezer meals that we can quickly and easily heat up on our busy weeknights!

I’m not even going to lie – this semester has been kicking my butt a little. I’m sure you can tell based off the more sporadic posting schedule as of late. Mid-semester there was a faculty member who, due to persona reasons, had to stop teaching a class. In week 8 of 16. Guess who got to pick up the class? This girl! I’m happy to help out and it will work out in the end (my department head is giving me a course release in exchange) but I’m definitely feeling the burden of the extra work at an already extremely busy time!

BUT –

we’re already on the downhill slope toward the end of the semester. Just a few weeks to go and I’ll be home-free! And it’s going to be such a fun winter break! We’ve made reservations for our family to travel up to the Flagstaff area and do the North Pole Experience. I’ve wanted to do it the past couple years and have kept ourselves form doing it due to budgetary constraints. This year I knew I wanted to make it a priority so I’ve been putting little bits of money aside each month to help offset some of the costs (much like I did when I saved a couple hundred bucks each month for an entire year in order to pay for cruise 2016 entirely with cash). This experience obviously wasn’t as expensive as the cruise, so I’ve just been setting aside $50 for the past couple months. I was able to pay for our tickets out of my pocket of cash and we still have a little leftover (that I’ll continue to add to this month and next) to cover the cost of a hotel and food or souvenirs on the trip. CAN NOT WAIT!!!

But that’s neither here nor there. Feast your eyes on the main reason for this post:  my October debt update!!!

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$70,4266.55%$1975October$82433
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$46000% (through April 2017)$750October$7650
Medical Bills$56860%$25October$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$80,712 (Sept balance = 83,173)$2750Starting Debt = $145,472

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty bummed that we ended up SO.CLOSE to the 70’000s for our total debt owed. Just another $700 and we would’ve tipped over! But we’ll definitely be there by the end of this month.

The other important thing to note is that ACS is now off the debt spreadsheet table. ACS sold my last remaining loan with them (I used to have 2) to Navient. That means Navient now services 100% of my student loans. Blah! Speaking of, I still haven’t resolved my most recent Navient issue. They DID straighten out the auto-drafting issue and have updated to the correct payment (they had been grossly over-charging me). BUT, they still haven’t re-allocated the extra payments toward the loans I would have selected. So another phone call is warranted, but has not yet happened. It’s on my “TO DO” list for Friday (fingers crossed that resolves it).

Otherwise, things are moving right along. Still on schedule to close on our house very soon. I’m still holding my breath and crossing my fingers that it all goes through (after already being delayed twice). This weekend is also my husband’s and my 6th wedding anniversary! It’s going to be a bit of an anticlimactic one. My Mom leaves town on Friday so we had a VERY low-key date night on Wednesday night. We wore jeans and went to happy hour sushi. Nothing fancy or special, but it’s always nice just to have time out alone together (since typically we’ve got the girls anytime we go anywhere). Last year I mentioned how – when we first got married – I had hoped we would be able to spend our 5-year anniversary in Hawaii. Instead we made a major debt payment and just went out to dinner. Nothing crazy. I don’t regret our choice in prioritizing debt payoff in the least. I think it’s the best thing for our family. And it’s easier to maintain determination and stamina now that we’re adding in a bit more balance to our lives (e.g., like planning this Christmas trip to Flagstaff and going on more regular date nights, etc.). It’s all about trade-offs between debt payment and “life” happenings and I’m happy with our balance right now. At the same time, I look forward to the day when we can travel more freely without worrying about cost or the trade-off between paying off debt and making memories together. I’ve never been to Hawaii before and have always wanted to go. A second-honeymoon seems like the perfect reason. It’s not in the cards this year (though we’re still doing fun, albeit cheaper, family activities). But a second honeymoon WILL happen someday. It’s just one more of our “rewards” we’ll be able to indulge in after cleaning up this debt mess!  Every month – just a little bit closer to our debt-free goal!

How is your debt repayment going? Have you paid off any debts recently?


Ashley’s July Debt Update + General Life Updates

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It’s that time of month where our checks have all come in, bills have all been paid, and we’re getting to see how much progress we were able to make on debt. And – spoiler alert – it was a good month for debt payments!!!!

First, let’s get right to the debt table…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$658116.55%$4383July$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20July$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$63500% (through April 2017)$500July$7650
Medical Bills$57610%$25July$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$86,518 (June balance = 91,058)$4928Starting Debt = $145,472

It’s still exciting to see so many empty rows, the debts having been paid off.

And can I get a virtual high-five for entering into a new first digit for debt payments? Just last month we were still in the 90k owed range and here we sit this month in the mid-80s!!! How exciting is that?! Still a heap-load of debt, no doubt, but it feels like it’s really moving at this point!

Also:  you ask for it, you get it! In response to reader comments requesting an updated break-down of my Navient Loans, I’ve made this special new table just for you!

NumberTypeAmount Owed
3/2015
Amount Owed
7/2016
APR
1-01Unsubsidized5612$08.25%
1-02Subsidized8762$86976.55%
1-03Unsubsidized6967$06.55%
1-04Unsubsidized6794$45336.55%
1-05Unsubsidized2215$06.55%
1-06Subsidized860$06.55%
1-07Subsidized7433$73676.55%
1-08Subsidized6572$65226.55%
1-09Subsidized8762$86976.55%
1-10Unsubsidized17557$183086.55%
SUBTOTAL:$71,534$54139
1-01 Federal LoanUnsubsidized08.25%
1-02 Federal LoanUnsubsidized116875.80%
TOTAL:$65,811

FYI, I broke apart my Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) Department of Education loans way back in March 2015. Please note that the original table did not include any Federal student loans, but I’ve gone ahead and included those in the updated Navient table.

Recently I’ve really started making good progress on paying down some of my student loans. They are, by far, the largest combined debt that we owe. But I’m still tackling them individually because I find it gratifying to pay them off loan-by-loan. After we buy a house, I’ve thought about refinancing to get a better interest rate, which would cause them to all be lumped into one new loan. But I’m not going to do anything related to credit until after the house deal goes down, so while the loans are all separate I continue to knock them down one-at-a-time. The next loan in my sights is loan 1-04. I’ve been doing a modified snowball method, paying the smallest loan first but focusing solely on my unsubsidized loans first.

***

I feel very fortunate to be in a position where we are making a nearly $5,000 debt payment within a single month. This will probably be our highest debt payment all year, given the way our salaries work (our highest income months are June and July). Our pay was higher than usual this month, so we had a higher than usual debt payment. We also did some savings for our house down payment and a little bit of spending on back-to-school shopping, conference-travel expenses (the trip isn’t until August, but I pre-paid a hotel, flight, etc.), and a surprise birthday present for hubs (his birthday is in early August).

It’s just crazy to think how big a hole we’re dealing with due (primarily, among other things) to the enormous amount of student loan debt we had. I’m so glad that my degree is finally coming in handy and helping to give us a larger-sized “shovel” (aka: income) to get out of the mess we’re in. (credit: Ramsey for the hole & shovel analogy). I certainly do not take it for granted.

In August I don’t get paid at all from my part-time job, so our income will be a little lower but we still have a buffer since hubs still has his income and I have my full-time job income. I’ve been working hard at balance this year. We’ve spent more money on having occasional date-nights (the goal is to have one per month, though we’ve been averaging closer to every-other-month). I’m also determined to start entertaining more, especially after we are in a new house! And, to give another personal (but related to finances) update, I’ve finally scheduled an appointment for therapy. Remember when I talked about wanting to go to therapy nearly a full year ago? I made it as far as to do some internet research, find someone I liked, and then I called and she wasn’t accepting new clients. That was nearly a year ago and I’ve done nothing about it since then. But even though I feel much better now than I did at that time (things are on the ups – my dad is in an assisted living, we’re selling his Utah house, preschool starts again in 2 weeks, hubs and I have had more date nights and fun stuff  out of the house), I still feel the desire to talk to someone. I’ve experienced a lot of major life changes in the past year between starting back to work full-time, starting the girls in preschool full-time, dealing with my dad’s health crisis, recent deaths in the family, etc. etc. etc. I think it’s good and healthy to take the time (and money, if one’s budget allows. thank you generous university insurance plan!) to have little “check ins” every once in awhile. Plus, we’ve got more major life changes ahead as we begin the process of house-hunting and officially putting down roots here in Arizona (something that’s strangely difficult to come to terms with. We’ve been living here a solid 6 years now, but I always thought we’d move back to Texas to be by family so it’s odd to realize we’ll likely remain in Arizona for some time to come).

Anyway, all of this is just to say that I’m still working to add more balance back into my life. I’m now into my 3rd year of debt payoff. The first solid 2 years I was 100% gung-ho on the debt reduction train. I’m still on the train (as evidenced by this month’s killer debt payment, thankyouverymuch!), but I’m trying to add more room to our budget for normal “life” stuff. Dates, kids’ activities, entertaining friends, going to therapy. I’m even thinking about maybe re-joining a gym once the kids are officially back in preschool (for long-term readers, you may remember I bought a gym membership a couple years ago and cancelled it after only a couple months to try to save every penny and put it all toward debt).

I just want to keep it real with you all as I’m on this journey. We’ve had 2 years of solid, hard, grueling work. We still have a very, very long way to go. But this is a marathon for us, not a sprint. We couldn’t have maintained that pace forever (and it would have been unhealthy and damaging to try). I’m still trying to be reasonable – we’re not going all-out crazy spending money. But I think it’s important to start letting the girls participate in different activities (I’m still limiting to one activity at a time. Right now it’s swim, but we’ve put in a cancellation notice effective at the end of August and plan to start a new activity in the Fall). I think it’s important to put more time and effort (and, yes, money) into strengthening our friendships by having people over and hosting more get-togethers. And just generally doing more paid activities that we’ve been foregoing the past 2 years. All while trying to still make hefty debt payments that we can be proud of.

We’re well on our way to hit that $30,000 debt-reduction goal for 2016. I think our future is bright.

Where are you on your debt reduction mission? Did you go all-out the whole time, or did you add in some “breaks” and periods with more balance? How long did it take you to get out of debt? What was the #1 thing that helped you to stay the course and eventually get out of debt?


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