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The Car is Sold! – $30K in Debt – Gone!


The van has sold! The money part won’t be done til early next week with the holiday and all, but the buyer and I have come to an agreement. The bank and I have come to an agreement. And instructions for getting everything done has been sent to the buyer.

I know I’m not supposed to count my chickens before they hatch, but guys, this is HUGE! Almost $30K of my debt will be GONE!

I will definitely be posting a numbers update next week when all the dust settles, but I wanted to share this AMAZING news with you.

I will be driving a DEBT free car, with minimal insurance and gas costs for the forseeable future. I know you only know me via posts here, but I have to tell you, that this is a HUGE step for me. I will be adding AAA this week to help with my security issues as far as driving an older used car, and if you hear of major traffic jams due to inexperienced stick shift driver…well, that’s me.

But I can already feel the HUGE weight coming off my shoulders, and I simply can’t wait to redo my budget WITHOUT the costs of this car.

Ok, enough rambling. I’m going to go spend the rest of my Christmas Eve with my kiddos…we’ve been saving for a special meal out and I’ve got a family gift that we will open tonight that I think will be a blast.

We’ll talk soon, okay?

Merry Christmas!

Ashley’s December Debt Update



That is all I can say. Check this out…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date (original debt, March 2014)
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March ($413)
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May ($1381)
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May ($7697)
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June ($2220)
License Fees$27232.5%250*December ($5808)
PenFed Car Loan$169412.49%1400December ($24040)
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44228.25%16December ($4687)
Navient - Dept of Ed$720568.25-6.55%260December ($69191)
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77November ($21035)
Medical Bills$64850%75December ($9000)
Totals$123, 667
(Last month = 126,285)
Starting Debt = $145,472

I’m glad you all urged me to include beginning balances, because otherwise I never would have noticed that this month (December) marks a big milestone! We’ve officially paid off over $20,000 in debt since I started blogging (back in March 2014).

I remember that when I hit the $10,000 mark it felt monumental. If that was monumental, then this is Herculean! I still have so far to go, but at the same time I’m so proud of how far we’ve already come! At the beginning of 2013 my goal was to be credit card debt-free by the end of the year. Little did I know we would nearly double that goal. We paid off the full $10,330 credit card balance within mere months after starting to blog. And now here I stand, only 9 months after starting to blog, a full $20K paid off. It feels so, so good.

And because I can’t afford to let up steam anytime soon, let’s talk about some of the things that jump out at me from looking at this table.

First, how depressing is it that my student loan balance has grown?! For months, my payments were not even large enough to cover the interest, so the loan balances just grew and grew. My payments still aren’t any larger (I’m focusing first on paying down other debts), but I’m now on Income-Based Repayment, so my unpaid interest is forgiven for all subsidized loans. Just for transparency’s sake, I do have a couple unsubsidized loans that will continue to grow in balance (due to accumulating interest), but I’m still resolved to focus on other debts first.

Second, look at those payoff dates. My first few months blogging I was paying things off left and right! Now I’m working on larger balanced items, and it’s been a full 6-months since my last payoff. I go around and around on the order of my debt payoff, always coming back around to determining that the car needs to be my main focus (for personal satisfaction reasons). But a quick, easy win would really be nice.

And so I’ve placed an asterisk next to the license fees payment.

I don’t want to say I’ve made my mind up 100% (I keep waffling on these payment order issues), but I think I might shake things up a bit in January and make a larger license fee payment instead of putting extra money toward the car.

I can practically hear the groans. I know, I know. If I keep splitting priorities and waffling back and forth then NOTHING gets done. I really need to just pick something and focus. But clearly I’m struggling with this.

I’ll think about it more in the coming month (the next license payment won’t be due for nearly a full month), and make some decision about where to go with this.

If you were to ask me:  “Which is more motivating? Paying off the car or the license fees?”

I would answer:  “The car. 100% for sure, the car.”

But…..that satisfaction is still a long way off. The license fees, although perhaps less satisfying, could be tackled in just a couple short months. And that’s the type of pay-it-off satisfaction I’m really craving after 6 months with no pay-offs.

So, yeah. Decisions, decisions.

What would you do??? I know I ask this nearly every month, but humor me and give me your opinion on the matter! ; )

The Car


So I’m here for your advice today. We’ve had our van listed for sale for almost 4 months now, I believe, minus that month it was in the shop was being rear-ended. And while I’ve gotten a few inquiries, but nothing really solid. Then this week, I had a super low ball offer…like 33% less then what I’m asking…no thank you!

Being a commercial vehicle, it’s harder to place a value on it so I went to my bank and asked their help. They valued it at about $25K. I own right at $27K.

So here’s the question…do I continue to list it for sale and just keep on or do I explore downsizing to a used car and perhaps roll the portion I am “upside” down into a new auto loan? I’ve looked (just online) at used cars and I see two viable options:

5+ year older Honda Element
Plus: Price around $12K, great gas mileage, low maintenance
Down: Only seats 4, there are 5 of us. But we do have the ’96 Honda Accord that seats 5 and is paid off. History Buff will get his license in March. Would have to rent a vehicle for any longer distance driving, which we are certainly not doing alot of but it will happen on occassion.

4+ year older Honda Pilot
Plus: Good gas mileage (much better than current vehicle,) low maintenance based on reputation, 3 row seating so seats all of us and some extras when needed (which we actually have ALOT)
Bad: Price around $18K, and I HATE 3 row seating, it’s very inconvenient for getting in and out.

I’m certainly not rushing into any decision. And as mentioned on several occassions recently, I don’t really trust my judgment. So I’m asking for your opinions.

Just a refreshed on current vehicle situation.
Car #1: New, Financed, large commercial van that I purchased to accomodate our growing family. Currently financed $27K, insurance runs about $100 per month, taxes are about $400 per year, monthly payment is $696. Regular oil changes and tire rotations, no other maintenance expected for forseeable future.
Car #2: Older Honda Accord, in good shape, owned outright. Insurance about $20 per month and taxes will be around $50 year. Just got inspection and oil change, will need new tires and to recondition headlights in coming months but no other maintenance known. This will become the twins car as they get their licenses (starting in March.) Oh, and it is a stick shift which I have VERY limited experience with.

Ok, I think that gives you all relevant information. What do you advise?

Consolidation Station???


The title of this post has nothing to do with anything, except it reminded me of the lyrics “conjunction junction, what’s your function” (from the School House Rock theme song).

This is a quickie post, but something that may solve some of the high student loan APR issues that I’ve been talking about recently (see discussion here, see list of debts and APRs here).

Any readers consolidate their student loans?

Have good experiences? Bad experiences? What are your thoughts??

I’ve heard that you can only consolidate a single time, but that would be okay with me. My credit has vastly improved across the last year as I’ve paid down my debts so I think I’d qualify for a lower APR. I don’t know the ins-and-outs. Would this impact my income-based repayment? Can I consolidate through the same company I already have or do I have to use some outside company? How does all this work???

For the record, IF (big if) this happens, I would absolutely 100% only do this in order to lower my APRs. I would not start spending money elsewhere or think this means I can pay less toward my student loans. It’s strictly an interest rate thing.

Thoughts? Experiences? Advice?

I assume I’d need to start by calling and speaking to a representative at one of my loan companies (I have two companies:  Navient and ACS). Before I even take that next step I’d just like to poll the audience (YOU!!) and get your opinions on the matter.

Thanks in advance!!!



I mentioned that last month was the first month of my IBR payment for my ACS student loan, but this month (August) would be the first month of payment for my Sallie Mae loan. When I looked online at the beginning of the month, it said I’d been approved for IBR (income-based repayment), but still showed my loan status as in deferment. I called to get it straightened out since I wanted to go ahead and start the IBR program immediately. The representative I spoke with switched “off” my deferment so my payment would be due this month (as I’d wanted). I asked if I could go online and enroll in the auto-pay program (if you enroll, they offer .25% off the APR). The representative said I could do so, but it would be too late for this month and wouldn’t go into effect until September so I would still need to make my normal payment online and the auto-pay would begin the following month.

Sounds great!

So I did just as I was instructed. I signed up for auto-pay which did, indeed, say the processing took several days. As my due date was imminent, I also made a one-time payment for my August IBR payment.

A few days pass. And then Sallie Mae auto-deducts $250 (my IBR payment) from my checking account. In other words…I got double charged.

Fortunately, since we’re living on last month’s income we had enough funds in my checking account that this wasn’t a problem in terms of causing us to overdraft or anything. However, this means that instead of the normal $250 payment, I paid TWO $250 payments this month (= $500!!)

What would you do?

I was hoping to have about $250 leftover at the end of the month, which I would have applied as an additional debt payment anyway….but I would have applied it toward the car, NOT the student loans. Is it worth the time, effort, and hassle to call Sallie Mae, argue with them, and try to get reimbursed for the charge (which will probably take a week to straighten out and an additional 2 weeks to get a check in the mail…just in time for me to turn around and have to give it back to them for my September payment).

If I didn’t have the money I would certainly call and argue over it. But we are fortunate to have the extra money at this point and would have used it toward debt anyway. Soooo, do you just live with the double-charge knowing that at least you’re making progress on your debt? Or do you fight it out?

Either way, at least the money is going toward some form of debt payment but its frustrating when things like this happen. I’m already pressed for time in my life, I hate when things like this pop up that require more time and attention.

Staying Motivated


It’s happening…

I decided to focus on the car in our current debt repayment strategy. That means it is going to be the recipient of our monthly snowball (fyi, the snowball was $1055, but that’s added on top of the existing car payment of $411, making the minimum monthly car payment = $1466, which I’ve just rounded up to $1500). We will also pay additional monies toward the car if we end up having money leftover at the end of each month. Since we’re now living on last month’s income and pre-budgeting our entire month, I don’t anticipate that we’ll have large surpluses at the end of the month. However, I do try to err on the side of caution when planning the budget (particularly in reference to utilities or other variable expenses) so I do hope to have at least a couple hundred leftover at the month’s end.


I decided to make another one of THESE bad boys to help with the motivation.


I apologize for the unsightly food splatter. The thermometer lives in our kitchen and it appears it has been splattered once or twice with food or water. Ick!

I had made this thermometer back when I made the one for my Wells Fargo credit card, but its been growing so, so slowly. Now that we’ll be making larger payments I can’t wait to watch the red grow! We do have a good amount of debt to cover, but if we really buckle down I’m sure we’ll get there in no time. After all, when I started my Wells Fargo thermometer we still owed $7,000 on it and we managed to pay it off in just two months!

Can’t wait to pay off the car ASAP!!!

Is there one debt you CAN’T WAIT (or couldn’t wait) to pay off? My first big one was the Wells Fargo card. The car is definitely the next in my line of fire! 

Ashley’s Financial Goals


With all my making and changing goals, I wanted to give a quick re-cap of my current financial plan of action (see last full plan of action post here, and an update with details about my race to 20K here).

So here are my current goals, in order of priority:

  1. License fees. We still owe approximately $4,000. The original goal was to try to have it paid off by August 2014. I’m still holding onto hope that this could happen, particularly if we reduce our checking account buffer. (Goal date = August 2014)
  2. Car loan. This is my officially named “Race to 20K” since we owe a little over $20,000 on the car still. My goal is to pay approximately $3,000/month toward the car after the license is paid in full, which would take about 7 months after it becomes the focus (Goal date = March 2015)
  3. Sallie Mae 8.5% and 8.25% student loans. About $5,000 is owed toward each of these loans. Since I’m starting to make payments toward my student loans now (the ACS student loans started this month and Sallie Mae repayments start in August), I’m hoping I can actually have these loan paid off while I’m working on my race to 20K. I don’t know what the “rules” are with income-based-repayment, in terms of if I can choose where the money goes (e.g., focus it on one loan, or if its equally dispersed across all loans). My guess is the latter (equal dispersement), but I’m still hoping to add a little extra money here and there and chip away at these higher interest rate loans concurrently with my race to 20K goal. (Goal date = ???)
  4. ACS and remaining Sallie Mae student loans. These loans have a lower APR than the above loans, and they also have much higher balances (ACS was a single loan for over $20,000 for example). So they get prioritized slightly below the higher interest/lower balance loans above. (Goal date = ???)
  5. Remaining medical bills. I have diligently been making our monthly payments (remember, I have monthly payments to 3 different entities), and have realized that 2 out of the 3 will be paid off in just a matter of months. Once paid in full, I plan to snowball those funds toward whatever debt I’m focusing on at the time (likely the Race to 20K). My guess is that by the time we get down to paying off the remaining medical bills, only a single bill will remain and it will hopefully have shrunk down to only a few thousand by that point. (Goal date = ???)

So that’s my thinking.

One question – what would you do about the higher-interest student loans (item #3)? Would you put any extra toward those loans while still working on the Race to 20K or do you think I should focus exclusively on the car loan race? I know Ramsey suggests one thing at a time (focused attention), but those interest rates are pretty high for student loans and the balances are low enough that I’d like to still chip away at them here and there….still putting the majority of our funds toward the car, but maybe an extra $50 or $100/month toward the student loans, if we have extra funds available???

Thoughts? Opinions?

Also – a quick update…. I got notice that my Skype interview is going to be TOMORROW! Eeek!!! I’ll probably peek in tomorrow afternoon to let you know how it went. In the mean time, fingers crossed!!!