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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.

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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?


Ashley’s June 2016 Debt Update

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I’m really excited about this month’s debt update! I’d originally hoped to put a solid $4,000 toward debt this month and, although we didn’t quite hit that number, we did put a full $3,500 toward debt!

I know I’ve said this before, but moment of silence for that huge, astronomical number!

((((((silence))))))

Thank you! I just like to acknowledge that $3,500 is a ton of money!

If the average American household income is $55,000 (source), then this represents roughly a full month worth of net income for the typical U.S. family. Craziness!

See for yourself…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$698266.55%$2955June$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20June$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$68500% (through April 2017)$500June$7650
Medical Bills$57860%$25June$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$91058 (May balance = 94,292)$3500Starting Debt = $145,472

Two things excite me about our debt update this month:

  1. We’ve dipped into the $60,000s for my Navient student loans! I know we still owe a ton, but it’s SO exciting to finally hit a new first digit! The entire time I’ve been blogging Navient has been up in the 70,000s range, so this is a huge deal to me! To be fair, it’s only within the current calendar year that I really started tackling the student loan debt-mountain! (note – I was paying toward student loans all along, but not at a very aggressive rate, as I had prioritized other debts first). I can’t wait to continue seeing this number drop!
  2. We’re super close to hitting a new first-digit of our overall debt! At $91,000 currently owed, we should definitely but down into the $80,000s range by next month! EEEK!!! Again (I must emphasize this for newer readers), I know this is still a disgusting amount of debt. But when I started blogging I had nearly $150,000 of total debt, and it feels like just yesterday when we broke the $100,000 barrier, so the last $10,000 has gone in basically the blink of an eye (ahem – it’s actually taken 5 months, but whose counting?)

I’m really feeling the momentum now and it seems like the debt is just melting away! We still have a LONG way to go, but I’m feeling refreshed and rejuvenated! We’ve had great pay in June (budget update coming soon!) and expect to have great pay in July as well. That really helps as we’re working on pounding out a lot of these student loans.

Also, I’ve grouped all my Navient loans together just for ease, but I’m actually paying them one-at-a-time (first I targeted the highest interest loans, and now that all the remaining loans have the same rate I’m targeting them by smallest first – the snowball method). I’ve actually paid a couple in full lately and it feels SO SO good every time I log into Navient and see another loan with zeros all the way across for amount owed and upcoming payments. These are just the kind of emotional “wins” I need to really feel like we’re on the right track. And it feels GREAT!!!

Next steps – build EF and buy a freaking house!!!

 


2 Years Into Debt-Payoff

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Wow, wow, wow. I was just talking about how time has gotten away from me this month. I’ve done it again because here I look up and realize I’ve missed a very important anniversary of sorts. In March, we officially hit the 2-year mark since starting the debt-reduction mission. Can you believe it? I started blogging here in March 2014 with this first introduction post, followed-up by this post where I gave the nitty gritty details of our full debt situation. So what’s happened in this time? And what’s on the horizon?

Two Years into Debt-Payoff:  A Look Back and a Look Ahead

A lot has happened in the past 24 months since I truly began this debt payoff journey (note, I’d been paying some debt prior to beginning blogging here, but it wasn’t until I began blogging that I really kicked debt payoff into high gear).

In 2014 we paid over $25,000 toward debt. At our highest, we paid over $7,000 in a single month during the summer! It was a whirlwind of a year!

In 2015 we paid another $25,000 (actually a bit more) toward debt! Hubs’ business experienced some setbacks, but I landed a new full-time job that certainly helped to boost our income.

2016 is set to be a landmark year for us in terms of income. We’ve also split our priorities a bit to include some savings goals. In my 2016 goals post, I pinpointed 3 goals we’re working on this year:  1) Save $10,000 for a down payment on a home, 2) Save up $5,000 for an emergency fund, 3) Pay $30,000 toward debt.

So how are we doing nearly half-way through the year?

Goal 1:  Save $10,000 for a down payment on a home – So far, so good on this goal. We’re planning to start house-hunting in early summer (May-June timeframe), with hopes of closing by late summer (August is our target month). We’re on track to have our down payment saved by June (but there is a little bit of leeway in case it spills over into July).

Goal 2: Save $5,000 for our emergency fund. This is chugging along slowly. I’ve been saving less toward our EF as we’ve focused more on the down payment for now. But our budget forecasts currently have us meeting this goal by July. It will be nice to have a little buffer built back up before moving into a new house. You know….just-in-case.

Goal 3: Pay $30,000 toward debt. So far, so good with this, too. Every month we’ve exceeded our goal for the month. See here:

Month 2016 GOALS 2016
January Goal: $3500 $4013
February Goal: $1000 $1261
March Goal:  $1000 $2134
April Goal:  $2000 ((estimated: $2,000))
May Goal: $2000
June Goal:  $4000
July Goal: $4000
August Goal: $2500
September Goal: $2500
October Goal: $2500
November Goal: $2500
December Goal: $2500
Total Goal: $30,000  

 

Now that I’ve managed to extend my work contract through the summer, especially, I’m thinking this goal should be in-the-bag.

Oh, how good it will feel to dump a full $30,000 in debt this year! That will amount to knocking down my student loans by nearly 33%!

I cannot wait to have Navient out of my life forever. I want to scream it from the rooftops! I CAN NOT WAIT!!! What the world will feel like when we don’t owe a single person a thing. When our only bills are for our immediate living expenses (food, house, utilities). When we can save and grow wealth and be more generous people to the causes that matter dearly to us. To consider possible early retirements. To travel more. The list goes on and on and the possibilities are limitless.

Only a life free of debt can afford us all of these options. I want it so badly I can taste it. I can’t wait until our dream has become a reality.

We’re in it for the long-haul. Ramsey spouts the statistic that the average person going through Financial Peace pays off their debts in 18 months. Well, we’re at 2 years deep with probably another 2 years to go. Sometimes I feel like I’m flying high (like when we finally became consumer debt-free!!!!!), other times I feel absolutely defeated (like when Navient (metaphorically) stomps on my face again). But I just try to keep my eye on the prize:  eventual debt-freedom. How sweet that success will be!

Where are you in your debt-reduction mission? How much further do you have to go? How far have you come?


Car Inspection and Winter Hobbies

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

From my last post, I discussed needing to save up for my car’s state inspection and emission’s test, which I had scheduled for November 9th. Well, that day came and passed and it hit me to the tune of $887.00, which was within the range I was expecting. I needed some work done, which I was told about over the summer, plus I decided to get 4 new tires. Although they passed inspection, the mechanic told me they would have failed given another month of driving. To be honest, I was surprised they even passed at all. Instead of delaying the cost to next year, I decided to get a new set and just take the hit today. But now that this is out of the way, I could either 1) Replenish my EF (or savings, or slush fund, I’m not sure what to call it at this point), again or 2) Start tackling my loans. Personally, I want to see how long I can do #2, before I have to do #1- which should take me into the New Year, at least. I want to get back to paying off my loans as soon as possible (I’m getting very antsy to do so), which could be as early as today, even with only $1,000 in my EF. My goal would be to get below $40,000 before the end of the year, before contributing to my EF again. What are your thoughts on this?

Also, I have some exciting news on the hobby front. After taking a month off from playing guitar in September and half of October, I got back into it, like REALLY into it. I’ve probably put in 2-3 hours a night during the week and 5+ hours per day during the weekend, even spending some time at our city library to try and wrap my head around music theory. A little background: being in a band has been a dream of mine for the better part of ten years. While I have had some jam sessions with other friends who play guitar, they’re mostly just starting out and weren’t as interested in starting a band. Anyway, I put an ad out last week looking for other people who may want to jam/start a band, and I received a reply! We hung out this past week, and I think it looks really promising! The whole experience of putting myself out there and taking action with it was such a rush, as I’ve only played for my girlfriend and those few friends before.

The problem with this whole scenario is that equipment is EXPENSIVE. I have a guitar that is performance quality, but I don’t have anything else that’s up to par. I would need a new amp and speaker cabinets, pedals, and all the other miscellaneous hardware that comes with putting on a live show. But…we aren’t even close to this point, and I’ll likely be out of debt before I worry about gigging. For right now, I guess, it’s just something in the back of my mind.

What are some hobbies you guys have? Has money ever become a factor for them?

I hope everyone has a great week!


Ashley’s October 2015 Debt Update

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I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to share a debt update with you guys! Check this 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$156926.55%-8.25%$332October$17507
ACS Student Loans$86336.55%$20October$8215
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$662796.55%$636October$63254
PenFed Car Loan$69512.49%$3800October$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$35120% (through April 2016)$700October$5937
Medical Bills$59860%$25October$9000
Totals$107,053 (Sept balance = 112,171)$5513Starting Debt = $145,472

First, let’s have a moment of silence to appreciate and fully take in the mammoth-sized debt payment this month! $5513 was put toward debt this month!

This is one of the largest debt payment months we’ve ever had, only rivaled by a few months around summer 2014 where our income really skyrocketed for a minute (before crashing down for awhile in 2015. The joys of a variable income).

You’ll see 2 higher payments, specifically:

  • $3,800 went toward the car loan this month! This is insane!! We’ve had months this year where we’ve made less than this, total! We’re very thankful to have had a good month and be able to really knock the car loan debt in the mouth!
  • Over $1,500 went toward student loans this month! This is WAY higher than my monthly minimums. But because my minimum payments don’t even cover my interest I’ve been trying to pay extra so I can continue reducing the principal. Also, I made a large payment toward Navient loan 1-06 this month to pay it off in full (Note, this figure also includes my payment to the balance transfer loan, which was originally a student loan).

Perhaps equally as exciting as this month’s stellar payments, I had a realization as I made October’s debt table.

If we’re able to continue making our expected debt payments (which is really contingent upon hubs’ income the next couple months), we will officially dip below the $100,000-mark in December!

That means in December we will simultaneously be reaching 3 insane milestones:

  1. We will officially pay off our car loan. This will make us consumer debt-freeeeeee!!!!!!
  2. We will have reached out 2015 financial goal of paying $30,000 toward debt this year.
  3. After nearly 2 hard years of chipping away at our debts, we will have finally rounded the corner and officially owe less than $100,000!!!! 

I want to pinch myself! Only 2 months ago I was admitting defeat on my 2015 goals and now (eeek – fingers crossed!!!) we could be reporting some huge accomplishments in the next 2 months! How quickly the tide can change. I only hope and pray things remain on the ups!!


I’ve Been So Blessed

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The mornings are chilly now, and now I wake to the quiet darkness rather than the sun peaking through the blinds.  In the last week, I’ve spent those early waking moments in the complete stillness between night and dawn going over the many things I have to be grateful for.  It gets me ready for another long day of my last days at work, chauffeuring the kids and job hunting.

But I have been SO blessed this week with the out pouring of support and encouragement both on this blog and in my local community.  For a girl who often feels SO alone in this world, this week has shown me different.  I’m continuing to attend the local Job Transition group, getting advice, encouragement and job leads.  This morning I’ve sent out my resume to the leaders for review and correct.  It’s been a LONG time since I had to use a resume.

I’m applying like crazy to any job that even peaks my interest.  This has scared me a lot since a corporate job would mean a complete change in my life style, but I’ve decided that maybe this job loss was the “frying pan to the head” as I often need with my hardheadedness to make me change direction.

I think my goal right now is to keep the kids lives steady through the school year (April, 2016) if at all physically possible before making any big moves, but as I had previously decided, whatever comes then…we will go.  But perhaps this change means we are to make a big change earlier…I don’t know.

So I’m sorry I haven’t replied to all of your comments from last week.  I do plan to get to it, but THANK YOU for your kind words and support.

If you happen to be a technical recruiter or are in HR and would have time to review my resume and give me some feedback, I would love to hear from you. 


Made Some Changes – Phone Service

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Consistently since I have blogged here, commenters have pointed out my large monthly expenditure on phone service.  And I am proud to say I have finally taken action and made some cuts.

Thusfar, I have cut $75 monthly service fee.  In addition, History Buff is now paying $30 per month for this phone (that is included in that bill.)

So I’m not sure of the new monthly fee total (all the fees and taxes make it challenging to get a good estimate.) But I’m going to LOVE seeing that bill be below $200.

Woot, woot!  Another bill strikes the dust…good thing too, since it’s just in time for our new BRACES!


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