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Hope – Debt Update – April, 2016

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Yikes!  Ya’ll are right, I have not done a debt update in quite a while.  So I’ll make this short and sweet. The last update I found when I looked was this one from  August, 2015 Debt Update which was a couple of months before my whole world/plan blew up with the loss of my largest on-going client.

Here are my new debt numbers:

Debt NameCurrent BalanceInterest RateMin. Mo. PymtOriginal BalanceStatus
TOTALS$????$433?$97,934
Student Loan$33,3452.875%$99$31,687IBRP effective Aug, 2015
Yukon$9820% (6 months)$104$3568Ex pays $246 mo. towards this debt
Orthodontist$????0%$230?$10,800Working on plan April, 2016
Begins Sept, 2015
Checking Account$00%--$741Paid Off - Jan 2015!
CC Intro Rate - Retail #2$03.99%--$3500Paid Off - May, 2015
Personal Loan - Car$012%--$5000Paid Off - July, 2015
Credit Card - Consumer$013.90%--$4,974Paid Off - June, 2015
Credit Card - Retail$025.99%--$2,265Refinanced - Dec, 2015
Car Loan - Accord$00%--$1,900Paid Off - Dec, 2015
Car Loan - NV$06.79%--$31,138Sold - Dec, 2015
Line of Credit$015.95%--$1,248Paid Off
Credit Card - Retail #1$00%--$413Paid Off
Property Tax$00%--$700Paid Off

Just a couple of notes:

Student Loans – Needless to say, the income based repayment plan, while I am SO grateful for it, does not even cover the interest, thus the increase balance since last fall.  So this definitely needs to be on my radar as I get back on my feet.

Ex Husband’s Car Loan – You can see from the balance that both of us have been making payments on this one.  He is super motivated to get it paid off so he can get the title and do whatever.  I am super motivated to get it off my shoulders.  Hoping this one will be gone in the next month or so.  It’s still my number one goal.

Orthodontics – I have just finished negotiating with them after months of trying.  And we have reached an agreement.   So I will update the total now owed with the next update since I’m still waiting on the documentation, etc.

If you have been following the last couple of weeks, you will remember my choice to delay paying my last month’s rent in my apartment to cover the needed expenses for the month we moved.  I have not included that rent payment in my debt because it will be paid in full within the week.

So that is where I stand right now…


Latest Student Loan Update

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I hate student loans. Like, with a fiery passion. I guess they serve a purpose (I would not have been able to get my degrees without them; at least not in the timeframe I did), but there’s just so much wrong with the student loan industry I can’t even start….

*Deep breaths*

Okay. Like I was saying. I hate student loans.

Where does this come from?

Well, my own foolishness, really. I graduated in August 2013. At that time, my loans began accumulating interest. I buried my head in the sand and worked on paying down my credit cards and other consumer debts but didn’t so much as touch the student loans.

And the balances grew, and grew, and grew some more.

It’s disgusting really. When I look at my student loan balances at the end of February 2014 to today, even though I’ve recently started paying more toward the dang things, the overall balance is still up. Of course it is. How could I touch nearly $100,000 of student loan debt when I was so focused on paying down other debts?

I’m not saying I was wrong in doing this. I needed to be consumer debt-free. Needed it.

It was just the motivation necessary to really focus and recommit to get rid of the student loans to begin with.

Let’s back up.

For any new readers, I have a long history of being screwed around by Navient (formerly Sallie Mae). I’ve documented it in what has now become basically a mini-series (see here, here, here). When I last left off, Navient had bought a large student loan I had with ACS. When it transferred over, Navient switched it from a subsidized loan to an unsubsidized loan. This is a HUGE deal to me because I’m on income-based repayment (IBR) and, under this plan, unpaid interest is forgiven on subsidized loans (but NOT for unsubsidized loans). All the electronic records at ACS disappeared and Navient claimed they were unavailable due to the transfer. I had NO proof (besides this little old bloggy) to show that the loans had, indeed, been subsidized the entire time I’ve had them (thus, why the balances had never grown in spite of my measley not-large-enough-to-cover-interest payments. I never even chipped into the principal balance, but since unpaid interest was forgiven, the balances remained exactly the same month after month).

Now Navient is charging me money for interest, claiming the loan was always unsubsidized (definitely not true).

You guys. It makes me so angry that my blood just boils! It’s hard to talk about without losing composure.

I got a third party group involved, the Ombudsman Group. In the meantime I also wrote all my legislatures about my experiences. I’ve spoken with several representatives inside Navient. I’ve jumped through hoops to try to prove these loans were subsidized. Navient had me call the loan guarantor, I had to track down an original master promissory note from my old university (this was a loan from my Master’s degree back in Florida). The list of things goes on, and on, and on. But all of it was pointless, as even the original promissory note does NOT list the type of loan (i.e., subsidized versus unsubsidized).

Ombudsman Group conducted an investigation and after literal months, I got the call. They are siding with Navient. Because apparently the loan on the government’s website is called Loan 07 Unsubsidized.

Let me repeat.

THE NAME OF THE FREAKING LOAN IS ‘UNSUBSIDIZED.’

To me, this is proof of nothing. Any dummy could have labeled or misnamed the loan. Where is any paperwork proving that the loan was unsubsidized? Why can Navient not furnish any of the past paperwork and history of this loan (that was originally through ACS)? Why does ACS simply delete every trace of the loan as if it never existed so I cannot retrieve old records from them either? I’ll mention, also, that I do have some old ACS statements, but they ONLY provide the payment due. They say nothing about subsidized versus unsubsidized, nor do they even provide the loan balance. It literally only gives the payment due amount.

Because of the name that someone typed up for this loan I’m now out hundreds of dollars in interest. The name, which I don’t trust, nor do I believe, lest the government has screwed itself out of interest from me for the entire time the loan was housed through ACS and I’m SURE they’re not just giving me free interest for over half a decade – the loan is from 2009 – unless the loan REALLY IS A SUBSIDIZED LOAN. Only I can’t prove it.

So there you have it. Chapter closed.

The loan is too high of a balance for me to do a full balance transfer on (my limit for the transfer is $7500 and the loan is nearly $18,000). But I’m seriously considering halving the loan by doing a balance transfer on half. This one specific loan (out of my long, long list of student loans) is EATING ME ALIVE. I want to slam my head into a wall over the injustice that is occurring to me and, undoubtedly, countless others in the student loan world. The scary thing is that this could be happening all the time. Before I really started getting out of debt I didn’t monitor my student loans AT ALL. I had a budget for day-to-day/routine spending, but student loans were not a part of that discussion. They were buried away until the day I wrote my first debt update here (that was literally the first time I’d added it all up, as naive as that sounds).

Suffice it to say, I’m awake now. My head is out from under the sand. But I’m still partially buried beneath the mountain of student loan debt. Luckily, I’ve just received a battery re-charge (from becoming consumer debt-free) and I’m furiously clawing and pulling my way up from the depths of the debt-hole.

I know better now. And I’ll pass it on to all who will hear me.

Don’t go into student loan debt. If at all humanly possible, just don’t do it. I wrote about ways to avoid student debt here.

I’ve had a couple people ask about what’s happened with the student loans, so this is the answer. Nothing good, that’s for sure. Time to go into attack mode. I’m still trying to build our savings a little more, but very soon I will be WAGING WAR against my student loans. That’s really how it feels, too. Like I’m about to walk into battle. I hate these things that much. So let me build up my reserves. There’s never been a better time for a relaxing vacation (see: Cruise 2016). Upon my return….I just hope Navient is ready to take the figurative beating I’m about to impart. I want them out of my life and gone. It’s about to go down. Join me on my quest to kill my student loans? While we’re at it, lets kill yours too!

Anyone else have student loans that have been hanging around for a half decade or longer? Anyone else with nearly triple-digit student loan debt? I know I’m not the only one. Let’s join forces (figuratively speaking) and beat down on our loans together! Strength in numbers!!! : )


2016 Tentative Financial Goals

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Hubs and I are both natural savers (though, admittedly, he would like to save more than me). So it’s been tough to have such a low EF and throw all of our extra money toward debt lately without having much saved for a rainy day.

That’s all about to change, friends.

Hubs and I have been discussing our financial goals for 2016. We’re still hashing them out so this isn’t a definitive 100% set list just yet. And I welcome your input, too. But here’s what we’re thinking.

  1. Save $10,000 for a down payment. One of our big goals for this year is to buy a house. This gets pretty personal (in terms of personal finance), and I’m sure there are strong opinions all around regarding buying a house while still in debt, but this point is pretty firm in both of our minds. Our price point is the mid-100’s. We want to put 20% down to avoid PMI. To do so, we will use $10,000 (which needs to be earned and saved in 2016), and add to it $10,000 I have currently in a money market account. Yes. I rarely talk about it, but it still exists. Our thoughts are that we’re simply moving the $10,000 from one type of investment (money market) to another type of investment (real estate). In addition to that, my mom has generously offered to gift us an amount (I will not disclose) that should tip us over the 20% threshold and still leave us with funds for closing costs, etc. I don’t want to dwell too much on the gift as, again, this gets pretty personal. We are very grateful for her generous offer and feel comfortable with accepting it because this is something she has always told us about. She made a similar gift to both of my siblings to buy their first homes so this is something she has planned and prepared for for many years. One important note is that our current lease ends in August (though our landlord is very flexible and aware of our plans. He has already told us we could go month-to-month if need be when the time comes). Because we’d like to find a home over the summer, we need to save up that money during the first part of 2016. The sooner, the better. So this goal will heavily impact budgeting during the first half of the year.
  2. Save $5,000 for Emergency Fund. Really all of our savings funds need to be beefed up. As a reminder, I use Capital One 360(<refer a friend link) and have separate accounts for all of our different savings goals. These accounts range from the typical Emergency Fund to a health/dental/vision fund, car repairs fund, Christmas/travel fund, and more. Realistically, I’d like to save more than this (again – we’re savers by nature). But I wanted to start with $5,000 and go from there. We need to save room in the budget for debt!!!! Which brings me to our final goal of 2016…
  3. Put $30,000 toward debt. One of our goals for 2015 was to pay $30,000 toward debt. We did SO GOOD and have come SO CLOSE to meeting that goal. I’d love to have upped this figure to something closer to $40,000ish, but with so much of our money being diverted toward savings in 2016, I think $30,000 is still a good number to stick with. Once the house stuff is all situated, I bet debt reduction progress in 2017 will be gangster-status!

That’s it! It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that $10,000 + $5,000 + $30,000 = $45,000 toward debt and savings in 2016! That is such an insane amount of money! We are eternally thankful for our well paying jobs and relatively low cost of living in the state of Arizona. If you were to tell me three years ago that these would be my goals for 2016 I would have laughed in your face! Thinking back to the two struggling people just trying to get by while caring for twin infants makes my heart hurt. We were drowning in debt, maxed out on credit, and just trying to grasp at that next paycheck. It is no exaggeration to say that blogging here has been absolutely transformative for our family! We have accomplished more than we ever thought was possible!

Yes, we still have a long way to go (nearly $95,000 in student loans remaining). But just looking back and seeing all the progress we’ve made in such a short amount of time (less than 2 years) is so heartening. It just fills me with hope and promise for a future in which we can eventually be fully debt-free. I cannot wait!


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!


Oh Happy Day!

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It’s such a happy day for me today, friends!

After many months of slowly chipping away at larger debts (last one paid off was in April 2015, but whose counting?) am able to finally announce that I’ve paid one (albeit small one) off in full!

TODAY, I am cleared of Navient loan 1-06.

The first time I ever broke apart my Navient loans for you was back in March 2015. At that time, loan 1-06 was sitting at $860.80.  For months now (really the whole time I’ve been blogging), I’ve only been paying minimums to this account which has only paid the interest (no reduction in principal). I paid a little extra on my unsubsidized federal student loan (which is not even listed in my Pandora’s Box spreadsheet – that spreadsheet only accounts for my Department of Education loans).

But then I’ve been having some SERIOUS drama with Navient. (mini-update:  there is no update. I was contacted by the mediation specialist who gathered some information and said it would likely be a full month before I hear back again. My loan that was transferred from ACS is still incorrectly classified as an unsubsidized loan and continues to accumulate interest when, due to my IBR status, the interest should be forgiven).

ANYWHO…..all the drama and frustration with Navient just makes me want them out of my life that much sooner! So I decided to also start chipping away at loan 1-06, as its my smallest loan (even though it is also a subsidized loan; I felt the small balance made it a good candidate to knock out quickly). So over the past few months I’ve put an extra $100 here and there toward it. Nothing huge. But then this month I logged into my account and saw the balance due was less than $500. And I just decided – I need this. Let’s go for it!

I talked to hubs (this required re-allocating some of our money a little bit differently than what we’d originally planned), and he was on board so I made the call and paid off the loan in full.

Logging in today I am THRILLED to see that big “No Payment Due” next to loan 1-06.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 7.07.25 AM

I cannot wait until they all read that way!

Just as a reminder, I’m seriously on a mission now to pay off our car. It’s our last remaining consumer debt and my goal had been to have it paid in full by December. In this previous post I admitted defeat on that goal and settled for having it paid as early in 2016 as possible. Well, friends, I take that back again. It’s going to be tough. TOUGH! And we’re planning to travel in December, which makes it twice as tough (since hubs isn’t salaried he only gets paid when he works, plus we’ll be incurring travel costs, etc.). But I’m on a mission. It’s like back when I first started blogging and I was hell-bent on paying off my credit cards. I managed to pay off over $10,000 in credit card debt in three months! I still can’t believe that was me! It’s not like we were rolling in dough and had nothing better to do with it. That came about from a lot of hard work, careful budgeting, sacrifice, extra hours, etc. etc. etc. I’m on the same mission now. We have about $10,000 left on the car. 3 months worth of debt payments between now and the end of the year. Is it likely? Probably not. Is it possible? Maybe. Just maybe. I plan to give it a hell of a shot. I’ll let you know. ; )


Weekly Debt Update #27- One More Down, Two to Go!

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Hey everybody!

I’m feeling pretty awesome today! The reason? I paid off Sallie Mae 04 this weekend! I paid off the last $1,221 in one swoop. When I graduated college in 2009, the original balance of this loan was $10,350.18. The balance as of mid-May ’15 (when I started hitting this loan hard) was $7,407.64. It feels fantastic to have paid this loan off in essentially 4 months (I took off in July). Now, I only have the 2 big ones left. After I replenish my EF and get my car’s annual inspection (end of October/early November) I’ll be ready to hit Sallie Mae 01. Here’s my updated balances:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,662.64$4,174.60$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,556.32$3,640.70$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$0.00$10,350.18$1,221.75
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$42,218.96$68,368.70$1,221.75

I’m shooting for having a paid off Sallie Mae in August of ’16, which would only give me 10 months to do it. It’s aggressive, but I definitely feel it’s doable.

Funny story concerning my student loan payments: I had a meeting with my bank to go over my checking/savings accounts and to see if they could offer me anything else. The lady that I met with must have gone through my account activity because she asked me a couple of specific questions: 1) Why do you pay estimated taxes? (Easy explanation concerning the withdrawal of my gov’t retirement account in 2014) and 2) Who is Navient? I told her this was my student loan provider, so she asked how much I owe since I pay them roughly $2,400 a month. I told her about $300,000. Lol- her face went white, like she couldn’t believe it. I then told her I was joking and I only owe about $40,000. I then explained to her than I’m working really, really hard to get them fully paid off and that, between my loans and my car, I’ve paid off $62,000 in 2 years. She was stunned and couldn’t believe I’ve accomplished that much in such a short time, especially on a single salary. That felt pretty awesome too, to be honest.

As for any type of celebration, we didn’t really have one. GF wanted to celebrate it, so she offered to make a celebration meal. As a kind of off the wall response, I asked for raspberry crepes. For never having made them before, GF did amazing! They were so good and the perfect celebration as we had most of the ingredients already at home and didn’t have to go out anywhere. Here’s a pictures:

image1

Like I said above, I’m going to take the next couple of weeks to replenish my EF before hitting Sallie Mae 01. I hope everyone has a great week!

 


Free Wipe Out Student Loan Debt Webinar

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student loan webinar

When it comes to debt elimination, college loans are often a huge portion of the total debt many from which families are trying to dig their way out. According to the Institute for College Access & Success in 2012, 45 percent of American households are struggling to repay $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. This is an increase of 500 percent over the past decade. More than one million, or 71 percent, of all students graduating from four-year colleges are left with some type of student loan debt.

Even worse, the amount of debt isn’t insignificant. Former students across the country hold an average debt loan of nearly $30,000. That makes college loans one of the biggest sources of debt-related stress, and they owe more to student loans than they do to credit card debt. Americans only owe more on home mortgages.

The problem when getting financial advice on student loan debt is finding a source that has no special interest in the advice being given. That is, they don’t have a financial interest in you doing one thing or another. To help those who have student debt who would like to know more about their options, Liberty Bank for Savings is sponsoring a free webinar to help people reduce or eliminate student loan debt. The webinar will be on Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00 pm.

What makes the webinar different is that Liberty Bank doesn’t offer college or commercial loans, so they don’t have a vested interest in trying to get you to take a loan out with them. They are impartial on this topic and the bank merely provides their free money management seminars as a community service to better educate people on personal financial matters.

This 60-minute webinar titled Wipe Out Student Loan Debt will be conducted by Laura La Belle. She’s a certified financial planner and money coach who is an expert in the field. The webinar will be available free of charge via laptop or smartphone at libertybank.com. The latest student loan programs, options, and specific steps to eliminate student loan debt will be covered. For those interested in the webinar, registration is required.

Topics if the webinar include how to apply for new debt repayment programs, how to prevent student loan defaults, how to avoid garnishments, liens, and tax levies, how evaluate new payment reduction programs, how to use debt forgiveness programs which may save thousands of dollars, and how to avoid scam artists that prey on debt-ridden borrowers. it’s also set up so there will time for questions and answers for student loan questions participants may have.

For anyone who currently has student loan debt and would like more information about the options available to pay it down as quickly as possible, this is a great opportunity to get unbiased information that doesn’t cost a dime. It can be a good first-step to put together a plan for paying down your student loan debt knowing the options available. There is never harm in better educating yourself in financial matters, especially when that education is free. For those interested, they can register online at Liberty Bank.