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Lackluster June 2015 Debt Update

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So remember how we had a no-income month of May with hubs’ business?

That really hurt us in terms of our ability to make big debt payments. I even said at the beginning of the month that we were going to cut out some of the debt payments all together (like the car payment and balance transfer loan, which don’t have minimum payments currently due), and pay minimums on everything else.

Well, its one thing to say something and another to actually do it.

And although we really didn’t have the funds to do so (I had to tap into EF funds), I made some payments toward all of our debts for my own psychological satisfaction. That being said, it’s not like I was able to do an awesome job on debt payments this month. In fact, I believe this is our lowest debt payment since I started blogging here (back in March 2014).

And there’s one thing thats certain in regard to debt eradication. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. There is no “stationary” option available.

So, unfortunately, I also have to tell you that our debt actually increased this month (not due to new debts, but due to accruing interest on the existing debt).

However, the additional debt has been totally puzzling to me. It’s all from my student loans and, although I have a lot of student loan debt, every single month my debt has been going down. This month I actually made a larger student loan debt payment than normal and my debt somehow went up.

I called Navient to ask about what happened.

How is it that every single month I pay (X) and my debt decreases. This month I paid (X+$67) and my debt somehow increased? It doesn’t make sense that I paid more and somehow my overall balance has gone up?

The person I spoke with had no idea. She took down some information, said she’d file a report, and someone would get back to me. That was two weeks ago and still no news.

I called back another time to try to figure it out.

This time, I was told that even though I’m on income based repayment where unpaid interest is forgiven on my subsidized loans, apparently the unpaid interest is only forgiven on a quarterly basis? Meaning, the interest continues to accrue and is only forgiven once every three months.

This makes no sense to me. Navient is a little bit trickier, but it’s clear as day from looking at all my debt updates (you can go through the archives for yourself), that my ACS loans (which are all subsidized) have had the same balance – to the penny – ever since I applied for income-based-repayment (last August). But my minimum payment doesn’t even cover the interest, so it’s clear that the unpaid interest has been forgiven every month, not just once a quarter. Otherwise, my balance would have continued to rise every month as I make my minimum payments.

My IBR status hasn’t lapsed, supposedly this policy isn’t new (in regard to only forgiving interest once per quarter), and there’s absolutely no logical reason I can think of that explains it.

But with BOTH of my student loan carriers this month (Navient and ACS), my balances have gone up.

Can anyone explain this to me? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

It’s absolutely maddening! It’s such a helpless feeling to know I owe this money, but to feel like somehow I’m getting screwed over – only no one believes me and no one seems to think anything is amiss.

To sum up…

  • I’ve made the same payment every.single.month. My balance has always decreased.
  • This month I made the same payment PLUS an extra $67 payment.  And somehow my balance increased.

Part of me still thinks maybe this is a new policy (only forgiving interest quarterly) and the representative I spoke with simply didn’t know or realize it. Otherwise, how do you explain that BOTH of my loan service providers had the same issue in the same month?

It really makes me want to knock out my car loan debt ASAP so I can start to kill these student loans. They absolutely need to die.

Now that I’ve gone on my rampage, let me show you the actual debt numbers.

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$39088.25%$116June$4687
ACS Student Loans$214117.24%$77May$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$666676.55%$307June$63254
PenFed Car Loan$146422.49%$100June$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$53370% (through April 2016)$100June$5937
Medical Bills$60860%$25June$9000
Totals$118,051 (Last month = 117,815)$725Starting Debt = $145,472

I can’t beat myself up about it too much. Next month will be better. Onward.

Seriously though – anyone else on IBR have this issue where unpaid interest was not forgiven this month? Is it a new policy to only forgive interest once per quarter? Why have I never experienced this before?


Weekly Debt Update #19- Father’s Day Weekend and Disney Prep

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Hope everyone is having a wonderful day.

This past weekend was Father’s Day, of course, so for all you fathers out there- here’s to you. Since my dad was down in Orlando visiting my nephew all weekend, we did not do any celebrating. After talking with my mom and brother, we’re holding off celebrating with my dad until the weekend of the 4th, since we all have the weekend off. However, just like for mother’s day where I celebrated GF being the “mother” of our dogs, she did some amazingly wonderful things for me. First, she made me breakfast, and then I got to spend most of the day doing what I wanted (spent playing guitar) while she worried about taking care of the chores. She made the dinner of my choice (her awesome homemade chili and a Greek salad) and then took us for a drive to a little, but fairly famous, road side stand for root beer floats. On the way back, we stopped at a beach and relaxed in the park. Here’s me on a child’s swing, lol:

IMG_3779.JPG (1)

As for Disney prep- I appreciate all the amazing comments on last week’s post. We now have some ideas for what we are going to do for food on our way back. Chances are at this point, we’ll find a grocery store outside of Disney and grab some items to pack in our cooler on the way back. Like I said before, GF has begun picking up non-perishables for the ride down. The way she coupons and shops, I don’t see a problem having enough non-perishable foods for both the way down and the way back up. We also started doing a “hardcore” cleaning of our house. The house never gets really dirty, but we don’t clean into the nooks and crannies too often. GF and I agree that there’s no better feeling after vacation than coming home to a super clean house. This way we won’t have to worry about doing much in the ways of chores when we get back. If there’s one thing about Disney, with the amount of walking and the lack of sleep, you could use a vacation after, so to speak, lol.  We started doing the cleaning last night and we’ll move room to room until we leave in a couple of weeks.

For the last week of debt payoff, here’s the numbers:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,838.59$3,998.65$57.94
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,702.35$3,494.67$48.15
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$5,925.89$4,424.29$345.74
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$48,466.83$62.120.83$451.83

Weekly Debt Update #18- A Birthday Party and Disney Planning

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Hey everybody! I hope you all had a great weekend.

With not much to discuss this week- I want to touch on a couple of items. Firstly, a very good friend of mine and his wife had a birthday party for his son who just turned 1, on Saturday. The party was in Ohio, a couple hours away from where we live. I drove down and spent a majority of day celebrating with them and their family. Instead of getting them a new toy, since I figured everybody else would be doing that, I gave them $25 in cash to start an ESA account for their son. Once the present opening began, I realized my suspicions were right- they had more toys and clothes than I think they knew what to do with. I told my buddy how to quickly set up an account (much like I did for my nephew) that will allow the money to grow for the next 17 years.

Secondly- the money saving planning for Disney has begun. So far, we know of 2 ways that are going to save us a ton. 1) We’ve been talking to GF’s mother, who lives only a couple miles away, to watch the dogs for us while we’re gone. She agreed to come over, let them outside, and play with them a couple of times each day and we’re going to give her $200. When I was looking into having the dogs boarded for the week, the prices ranged form $350-$450 depending on how much activity we wanted the dogs to get. Besides the financial aspects, I don’t really feel comfortable keeping our dogs in a kennel where they have limited space. I feel that keeping them in our house, where they can roam anywhere and play with all their toys, is a much more inviting scenario. 2) Since we’re driving to and from Disney (16+ hours away) we’re going to pack as much as we can for the drive. GF has already started couponing and buying foods that we can eat on the way that won’t go bad. The day before we leave, we plan on making pasta salads, normal salads and fruit salads- food that we can eat straight from the cooler, are healthy, filling and will give us plenty of energy for the drive. This will certainly keep us from hitting the gas station food when we stop for gas, at least on the way down. We haven’t yet figured out what we are going to do for the trip back up.

For anyone interested in my current debt totals, here they are:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,896.61$3,940.63$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,750.50$3,449.52$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$6,271.63$4,078.55$305.85
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$48,918.66$61.669.00$305.85

I hope everyone has a great week!


Weekly Debt Update #17- Time Off

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday!

For those of you who haven’t read my previous post, or the comment section of the post before that, I’ve decided to take some time off in July from paying down my debt. As you know, I will be taking a physical vacation to Walt Disney World to spend some quality time with my whole family, new nephew included. I will also be using the money I would normally put towards debt to not only fund our vacation (GF and I anticipate spending between $600-$700) but use the money for things I’ve been putting off, as well. I know I want to buy some new clothes and get my car fixed (I’ve had some minor sensor issues for the past couple months) and July seems like the perfect time to get this all done. I want to go into August with renewed energy to finish off the remaining $50,000 in debt in 18 months. What ever money I don’t spend, I’m going to use to refund my EF. I don’t plan on missing any blogs posts during this time off, except for the week I will be in Florida.

On an other note- my fun fund has come in handy once again. Over this past weekend, a good friend of mine invited me and GF out them for dinner and drinks. GF couldn’t make it, as it was pretty spur of the moment, and I ended up spending nearly $50. I’m so grateful to those who convinced me to put money aside for fun every month. Only a couple months ago, I likely would have said no to the request, or worried so much about how much I was spending that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself, anyways.

And an update on an item that came up last week- I handed in my 401k contribution form to increase my contributions from 4 to 10%. Me contributing to our company’s 401k was never about affordability, it was more so about how quickly I could pay off my debt- every penny was one closer to my original goal. Well, lately I’ve had an internal struggle over putting money towards savings. I think this increase in contributions will ease my mind in this regard. If it doesn’t work out, I can always decrease the contributions back down (the paperwork take roughly 1 minute to fill out), but I know I’m not going to get optimal savings years back.

Lastly, for those interested in how much I’ve paid off lately, here are my balances as of today. I didn’t post an update last week, so the “+/-since last week” is actually from 2 weeks ago.

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,896.61$3,940.63$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,750.50$3,449.52$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$6,577.48$3,772.70$707.05
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$49,224.59$61.363.07$707.05

I hope everyone has a great week!


More Student Loan Drama

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Wow! If ever there was a cautionary tale for staying out of student loan debt, this is it!

First, former blogger Adam explained his issues with his loan service provider, Great Lakes.

Next, I talked about my ongoing issues with my service provider, Navient (formerly Sallie Mae).

Now I’ve got a new grievance to add to the list – directly with the central hub of government-backed student loans:  studentloans.gov

For new readers, my student loans are currently on Income Based Repayment (IBR). I talked a little about the decision here.

Well for any old school borrowers, you’ll know that to access any documents through studentloans.gov (such as filing for IBR, or filling out the required annual paperwork to keep IBR), you used to need a PIN that was assigned by them. Apparently as of March 1st, they have done away with the PIN system. Instead, you now get to pick your own login ID and password.

Seems easy enough, right?

No. Just no.

I created my new ID and password and verified the information by answering security questions about myself. According to FSAid.ed.gov everything is good. Now I can go back to studentloans.gov to actually fill out my IBR paperwork. Right?

WRONG!

Studentloans.gov keeps saying my account is currently locked. I go back to FSAid.ed.gov and unlock my account (by going through the same steps of verifying my account information by answering security questions, etc.) and go back to studentloans.gov. Account Locked.

I literally do this back-and-forth for about 45 minutes, thinking surely I’m making a mistake somehow.

No.

It’s past business hours at this point, so I send an email to the help department explaining the problem. The next day I get a reply saying:

“You can no longer use your PIN, you have to create a new FSA ID and password.”

Yes, geniuses. I know this. I did this. Your site won’t let me in! GRRRR!!!!

I let it go for a few days but came back to it today. Same endless loop of verifying my information on the FSA ID website, only to go to the studentloans.gov website and be told my account is locked.

I call the FSA ID number.

It rings. And rings. And rings. Then *click*

Disconnected.

I try again. And again. And again. Five times in total. Every time ends with being disconnected before even speaking with a human being.

So then I call the number listed on the studentloans.gov website. They actually answer but basically say there’s nothing they can do, that they only help with issues once you’re already logged in. For login issues, I have to call the FSA ID people. And I’m given the same number I’d already tried. I explained that no one answers. I’ve called several times and keep being disconnected.

And I kind of get a “tough shit” reply. There’s nothing they can do. The woman assumes that their system is overwhelmed by call volume and simply disconnects after a period of time. Keep trying, she says.

SOOOOOOOO, I have no option but to keep trying. THANK GOODNESS I didn’t put this off until last minute (my IBR doesn’t actually expire until August). If I’d waited until last minute and was unable to log in and get my IBR paperwork submitted, then when my current IBR expires my minimum payments would skyrocket – nearly a thousand a month (instead of the $350ish current minimum).

So for anyone else in the same boat that will need to reapply for IBR or anything else related to student loans (deferment, forbearance, etc.), BE SURE TO START EARLY!

But if you have the option….just avoid student loans all together.

Work for free as an intern somewhere in exchange for paid college tuition. Work nights and weekends as a waiter to cover your tuition. Go to community college so its more affordable for the first couple years. Stay in-state so you don’t have to pay out-of-state tuition. Get a job on campus in exchange for reduced tuition. WHATEVER IT TAKES – STAY AWAY FROM STUDENT LOANS!!!!!!!!!!!!

There’s your little public service announcement and another student loan cautionary tale.

Have a great day! ; )

Any student loan cautionary tales of your own? Leave me a comment!


The Hard Wins

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Happy Tuesday Everyone!

I won’t have a weekly debt update this week, since I didn’t pay much off. Instead I want to focus on the challenge my last 3 loans will be to pay off.

On last week’s post, I was asked a number of questions in the comments section by Judi; these got to doing some thinking. The questions pretty much pertained to the following:

  1. Do you think your last 3, but largest debts, will be mentally easier or harder to payoff than all the ones before? And…
  2. How am breaking down these larger loans into smaller wins? And…
  3. How are you planning on keeping your focus during this time?

The first two are relatively easy to answer. I just KNOW that these last few are going to be BY FAR the hardest to payoff. From a financial standpoint, they represent nearly 1/2 of my student loan balance. From a mental standpoint, they are mountains compared to the mole hills I’ve climbing thus far. The only comparable balance would be my car, which had an August ’13 balance of $11,700 BUT I wiped out most of this in one swoop with an old 401K account withdrawal- I don’t have any more large accounts I can withdraw from if I’m feeling that “itch” to just pay another one off.

As far as the 2nd question, ever since I aggressively started paying off my debt, I’ve kept a line of “Next Steps”. For each balance, large or small, my “next step” or target was the next nearest $1,00 increment. So if my balance was $7,575, my target was $7,000 and so on and so forth. This idea was definitely not mine; I got the idea from Joan over at “Man vs. Debt” (Side Note: I really like what Baker accomplished, but they have since seemed to have packed up and moved on over there…). I thought it was one of her best moves, and replicated it in the same fashion into my own debt payoff.

As for the 3rd question, I don’t really know. Since all my loans to this point have been relatively low balances, I’ve only had to go a few months in between the wins of having paid them off- which kept my focus the most. But now it’s going to be months and quite possibly years between wins and the ultimate goal of $0 debt, and I’m not sure what to expect other than difficulty. I’ve maintained my frugal lifestyle since graduating college 6 years ago, but at some point I know I’m going to want to see some tangible rewards for all my hard work up to this point. So it’s like, can I keep this going for another year to 2 years? Just having a savings account worth more than a couple grand would be enough.

Have any of you paid off a large $20k+ debt? If so, how long did it take and how did you maintain focus?

(On a side note: I would like to save more in my 401k, ASAP, while I pay off these last large chucks. I’ve filled out the paperwork to increase my contribution from 4 to 10%, but haven’t handed it in, yet. What do you think?)

I will be posting my May in review, but I’m not sure I can get to it today, but certainly by the end of the week.


Ashley’s May 2015 Debt Update

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It’s that time again. Time for another debt update. Here you go:

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$39838.25%$116May$4687
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%$77April$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$665436.55%$240May$63254
PenFed Car Loan$147012.49%$750May$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$54370% (through April 2016)$500May$5937
Medical Bills$61110%$25May$9000
Totals$117,815 (Last month = 119,170)$1708Starting Debt = $145,472

I’ve rearranged my debts (compare to last month) to be in order of APR (highest-to-lowest). From this re-ordering, it’s interesting to see that the highest APR debt is also currently my lowest balance. Certainly provides a bit of a “hmmmmmmm” experience. Though at the moment I remain steadfast with my current repayment plan:  paying aggressively toward the balance transfer student loan, only an extra $100/month toward the Navient Federal student loan, and all extra monies thrown at the car loan.

Of course, I’m notorious for changing up my order of debt-repayment. So who knows what the future holds? I know this drives people crazy (the opinion being that when a person keeps splitting priorities that nothing ends up getting done). But I’m more of the opinion that any progress is good progress. So for now its progress on the car loan. In the future….more of a student loan focus? Again – who knows?

But, I gotta say, I really can’t wait to be holding my car title in my hands!

What debt are you currently working on?