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Nooooo!!!!!!!!

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That was my immediate thought when I opened my email inbox to discover THIS message waiting for me inside.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 7.17.53 AM

So there’s that. ACS (with whom I’ve never ever had a single issue) has sold my loans to Navient (with whom I’ve had multiple and ongoing issues). So that’s good.

I’ve got a couple months until the transition is complete, but I’m really contemplating what to do regarding my loans.

I’m still set on my current plan: focusing predominantly on my car loan, while also paying aggressively on my balance-transfer student loan. But, ugh! My passionate hatred for my student loan company makes me wish I could just write a check, pay them all off, and never deal with them again.

My Income Based Repayment (IBR) renewal is on the horizon as well, and once I submit our 2014 tax information I’m anticipating that my monthly payments will be going up a bit. I’m really not sure by how much (side note: one good thing is that they take into consideration income AND expenses…although our income went up in 2014 compared to 2013, so did our childcare expenses. We were paying $600/month when I initially applied for IBR, but we currently pay nearly double that, so hopefully that will help offset the increased income a bit in determining our monthly payment obligations).

Random question (I’m sure I could call and ask but thought I’d throw it out here)… for anyone else who has done IBR payments, when you renew does your payment immediately change or does it not change until the end of the year? I ask because I don’t have to renew until August, but I’m getting emails to renew now. Just wondered if I went ahead and renewed now if my payment would immediately change or if the change wouldn’t go into effect until August.


April ’15- Month in Review

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I hope everyone is having a fantastic week thus far!

I want to start doing a “month in review” here on BAD to clue everyone in on what’s occurred during the previous month. I think this will help summarize what’s going on in my life as we move forward on my debt reduction journey and allow people to quickly get up to speed that didn’t catch my weekly updates.

To summarize, A LOT occurred in April:

  • I began the month (technically it was March 31st, but let’s call it April) by telling you what’s been bothering me even since I started my hardcore paydown (read it here). This was the hardest to write but most heart felt post to date. Update: I’m starting to realize time is more important than money and or gifts, and spending time with people and giving them a minute or two every couple of days is priceless.
  • I vowed to help my sister by contributing to a 529 in my nephew’s name (read it here). Update: I officially opened up an ESA (not 529) account in my nephew’s name over the weekend. The first contribution will be this Wednesday.
  • In the same post, I decided to re-contribute into my company’s 401K plan (read it here). Update: All the paperwork has been filed and I’m set to start contributing 4% (giving me the max. 2% company match, as well) of my paycheck this Wednesday.
  • I also decided to start budgeting for $50 of “fun” money per month to use to go out with friends (read it here). Update: I’m going to set the $50 aside on the 2nd Wednesday of every month for the following 4 weeks. I don’t have any other bills, except my electric due at this time.
  • I came across a roof leak in our house and freaked out! (read it here) Update: I haven’t opened any ceilings yet (mostly out of fear) but it’s been dry now since the day I ventured upon it. We’ve had some pretty good rainstorms already this year, so if it was from rainwater, I feel it would still be wet. My hunch is still ice dams.
  • I got a work bonus and a raise! (read it here) Update: The bonus was quickly put into my savings account. The raise has amounted to $17 a paycheck, but every additional penny helps.
  • We (GF and I) finally got around to celebrating Valentine’s Day, while also doing a fun little getaway up in Buffalo, NY (read it here).
  • Lastly, I got around to putting  our summer plans down on paper (read it here). It may not seem like much but I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy one this year!

For those interested in where my budget shook out:

April '15

I had some major expenses this month: 1) a tax bill close to $200. Since my I didn’t pay enough taxes last year to match my income (which was greatly increased due to pulling out my retirement fund), I owe the state of PA estimated quarterly taxes this year. 2) Our get-away cost nearly $400 in total 3) I spent more for groceries and dinner than I normally do. After my post to kick-off the month, I’m not too upset about this.

In debt reduction notes:

I reduced it by OVER $2,500!!

Pretty exciting stuff.

However, all good news aside, I had thoughts last week of stopping my debt reduction pay down altogether (obviously I’d still pay the minimums), which would have also meant writing for BAD, too. As I was sitting my car thinking about everything, I couldn’t help but wonder if instead of throwing every extra cent at debt, if I threw every extra cent into my savings. It would build quickly, giving me a large enough windfall to get through any obstacle, and when the balance was big enough, I could use it to pay off all the debt at once, alleviating my stress while giving me comfort that I won’t be in debt forever. After talking it over with GF, the feeling came to pass. With savings interest rates so low, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense mathematically, but, as I’ve always said, being in debt is a psychological, as well as, financial burden.

But what do you think? Do you ever get feelings like this? If so, did you suddenly change course, or did you let it pass? Let me know in the comments!

Have a fantastic week!


Hallelujah!!!!

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I know you guys are probably getting tired of hearing about all my Navient issues (trust me – I’m totally sick of it, so I know you all are too).

So when I had my most recent Navient processing mistake, I made a single call to try to correct the error and had pretty much resolved myself to give up on it. If it wasn’t fixed I was just going to leave it alone and kiss the money goodbye

(Side note: I wrote about the error in the comments to this post. If you didn’t see there, the error was pretty minor. I was having so many issues with the balance transfer and it took so long to process that I had to make a full payment on the loan before the transfer went through. When the transfer finally went through, they removed the payment I’d made to the now-paid-off loan and applied it equally across all of my loans. BUT right now my minimum payments do not even cover the interest, and unpaid interest in forgiven on subsidized loans, so equally distributing my extra payment essentially means the money is just gone – it went straight toward interest that I otherwise wouldn’t have even had to pay. The total amount was only $30, so I was set to just get over it and move on with my life instead of fighting over it).

WELLLLLLL – drum roll, please – after only a SINGLE call (versus the 7 or 8 calls I had to make regarding my balance transfer), the funds have been ACCURATELY reapplied toward the loan I specified (my lowest balance unsubsidized loan).

I seriously could not believe my eyes when I logged into my account and saw that (1) the change had been made, and (2) it had been made correctly! Cue the angels singing “Hallelujah!” I mean, I know it was only 30 bucks, but it felt like a major “win” against Navient in the face of all my recent Navient struggles. Wahoo!!!!

What’s your most recent minor “win” in the debt payoff struggle?


Loan Refinancing

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Has anyone had any luck with refinancing student loans?

To my knowledge, you can consolidate one time through federally-backed programs, but they use an average of your current APRs, so there’s not a real possibility of any huge reduction in interest rates. This is the main reason why I haven’t done any type of consolidation – I just don’t see the point!

Then I was scrolling through Facebook and a sponsored ad popped up (scary how well they know us!) for a company called Common Bond that was boasting student loan refinancing programs with rates as low as 1.93% APR.

Of course, there are reasons why its safer to stay with a federally-backed loan company (e.g., options for forbearance or deferral in certain circumstances). But, of course, these companies aren’t known for their customer service, so there are some downfalls to doing business with them, too.

To be completely honest, I literally JUST came across this Common Bond ad so I haven’t done any due diligence yet with checking them (or other companies) out. I wanted to pose the question to you guys. Has anyone gone this route before? Any success or horror stories? With my interest rate on my student loans so high (from 6.55% through 8.25%), I would LOVE to be able to refinance and score a great, lower APR. Hey – it worked wonders for my auto loan (when I refinanced I went from 7.75% down to 2.49%!) Just curious what others’ experiences have been.

Thanks for sharing!!


Ashley’s April 2015 Debt Update

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Happy Monday! Hope you all had a good weekend!

This weekend was our little camping trip I mentioned in a previous post (couldn’t find the link). Basically, the town where we live hosted an overnight camping thing. It cost $5  for a family of 4 to camp, and they provided star gazing (with giant telescopes), a big outdoor movie screen playing Wall-E, a bonfire with storyteller, and tons of other perks (e.g., playscapes for kids were on-site). Husband and I used to be avid campers but this was our first time to go since the girls were born. This was a perfect “get your toes wet” kind of experience because it was so short (just one night), and had lots of fun amenities for kids. We had a blast (minus my allergies and all), and I expect stuff like this will only become MORE fun as the girls get older! Who doesn’t love some good old fashioned cheap fun!?

Anyway…. let’s get to the heart of this post. It’s time for another debt update. But before we dive into the table let me explain what I’ve done here….

I’ve now added a new loan to the list titled Balance Transfer student loan. This loan amount includes the original balance from my Navient loan #1-01 of $5821 (I used the exact 10-day payoff amount) PLUS the 2% initiation fee, for a total balance of $5937 (if you’re catching up, I wrote more about the decision to do a balance transfer here).

For now, I’ve decided to leave the rest of my Department of Education loans grouped together. When I move onto focusing on a new one, I’ll probably do the same thing and separate just the one new focal loan. Otherwise, for continuity and ease, I’ve left them grouped together. The other thing to note, however, is that I’ve changed the amount in the “original debt” column for my Department of Education loans to reflect a lower amount (equal to subtracting the amount from loan 1-01, which is now separate). I’ve also changed the APR (it used to range from 6.55-8.25%, but I’ve now separated the only 8.25% loan – my balance transfer loan – so all the rest of my Department of Education loans are 6.55% APR.

So hopefully that should explain the changes. Everything else is pretty straight forward.

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%$1119Paid off in April 2015$5808
PenFed Car Loan$154232.49%$100April$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$59370% (through April 2016)$0(balance transfer initiated on 4/2/15)$5937
Navient - Federal Student Loan$40788.25%$116April$4687
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$665566.55%$260April$63254
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%$77March$21035
Medical Bills$61360%$124April$9000
Totals$119,170 (Last month = 120,610)$1796Starting Debt = $145,472

I guess I do have a couple more notes I want to make about my debts this month…

First, you’ll notice another really low car payment this month (last month I only paid $50, and this month only $100). That’s because I really wanted to knock out those two debts I’ve been battling (a medical bill and the license fees). Also, since I initiated my student loan balance transfer this month I didn’t actually make any payments on it yet.

Starting in May, I’ll be making payments of $500/month toward my balance transfer student loan, and will be increasing my car loan payment as well. I’ll continue making minimum payments on everything else, so the size of my car loan payment will fluctuate depending on how much money we have to put toward debt during the month, but my hope is to be able to put at least $1,000 (or more) toward it fairly regularly from here on out until its gone!

Exciting stuff!!!

What’s the most recent debt you paid off?

 


Navient Issues

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Thank you so much for your encouragement and support on my posts this past Monday (first post about paying off 2 additional debts and the second post about doing a balance transfer to pay off a high interest student loan). I was expecting a bit of backlash but overwhelmingly received lots of virtual high fives and words of support. Thank you!!!

So I just have to tell you what I’ve been dealing with this month with my student loan company, Navient. It just further solidifies my feelings that this balance transfer was the RIGHT move for us.

To back up a bit…remember this post? I wrote about how I wanted to pay extra on certain loans (and not on others) and how it would require me to make an additional payment (after the minimum payment was already applied) which would be applied equally to all loans, and then I’d have to call and have the payment re-applied only to the loans I requested. This process would have to happen every single month.

WELLLL…..let me just tell you about the extreme headache I’ve had dealing with Navient just for this balance transfer…

I’m currently 6 calls deep and over 2 hours of time invested in the process. This is because (surprise, surprise) the balance transfer was incorrectly applied toward the WRONG loan. My initial call was simply to have the funds moved to the correct loan.

“It will take 5 business days.”

A week later, no changes. I call again.

“It will be done by the end of business tomorrow.”

I check back. No changes.

“It will be done by the end of business today.”

I check back. This time the payment has been REMOVED from the wrong loan….but nothing has been applied toward the correct loan. It’s like that payment is just gone.

I call again.

“It should be done by the end of business tomorrow.” (seeing a pattern here?)

No changes. I call again.

“So weird. It shows like it was done on our end. There was some type of glitch in the system. I’m going to get my supervisor involved.”

38 minutes later (that’s the actual time from my cell phone record)….no change. According to the person, “it should be done by end of business today.”

LoL. Yeah. I won’t hold my breath, buddy.

Eventually it WILL get sorted out. Now it’s been well over 10 days, but I’ve been assured that since the error is on THEIR end that I won’t be charged for any interest that has continued to accrue (my payment was for the full 10-day payoff amount as of 4/2…but with interest the loan balance has continued to creep up).

So the moral of the story is that I am over the moon thrilled that I came to realize that balance transfers are the way to go for us. This issue is a one-time thing (sure, it’s taking a long time to resolve, but once its resolved it will be over and done!) I cannot even imagine trying to fight this battle every single month. It’d be enough to put me in the loony bin (or just give up on paying extra only toward certain loans!)

I did have a question that I wanted to address about my loans….

I do currently pay extra on my Navient Federal Loan. The way the system is set up, it groups all my Department of Education loans together (which is why its incredibly difficult to pay extra on just a single loan). But my Navient Federal loan (I only have one, not multiple) is separate. So it’s totally easy-peasy to pay extra on it. My Federal Loan is my other highest interest loan (at 8.25%…I think I’d accidentally said it was 8.5% somewhere else, but that was incorrect). The minimum payment is $16/month and I’ve been paying $116/month for the past several months (see debt payments here). My plan is to continue to pay extra on that loan both because of the higher interest rate and also because its easy for me to do so in the online system. My balance transfer loan, however, will be paid a little more aggressively (since it HAS to be paid within 12 months to avoid a huge interest penalty). So the plan is to continue paying $116/month on the federal loan, and to pay $500/month on the balance transfer loan (which was originally 1-01 on my Department of Education Loans listed in this post).

I owe you a debt update (coming on Monday), but if you want to see balances and APRs of my other debts, my last debt update post (from March) can be found right here….and my Pandora’s Box post, where I finally separate all of my department of education loans, can be found here.

So there you go. I just wanted to add a little bit of detail and clarification here and to reinforce my opinion that this balance transfer was absolutely the right move for us!

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement along the way!

Have you ever struggled to pay extra toward certain loans? How’d you solve the problem?


Weekly Debt Update #11- Unexpected Expenses and Overreactions

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Hey Everybody!

So this past Sunday, as I was getting ready to go to the gym, I was searching for a water bottle in our attic (which is finished) I noticed something I’ve never noticed before- water damage. Ugh! Just on the eve of GF’s and my get-away, I had to find this.

What I noticed was bubbling and stained paint on the ceiling and sure enough, when I touched it the drywall was moist (not soaked, thankfully). Check out what it looks like:

Roof Leak

Now, it looks like the previous owners had some issues with this too as it’s fairly evident its been patched in before, but we were told it was fixed. Like I said- I’ve never noticed it before. The attic isn’t a place I venture too often (maybe once or twice a month) but I know I would have noticed it before had it been there. I’m thinking (and hoping) the reason is from ice damming on the roof from over the winter (which was notoriously bad this year). Hustad Companies says “These ice dams not only pose a threat of significant damage to the roof, decking, interior walls, ceilings and floors, but they are also an indication that there is a problem with the roof. The ice on the roofs only just melted 3 or so weeks ago, so this is my feeling. I’ll start removing the drywall and insulation to make sure there isn’t any mold growth in the meantime. I’m hoping if it’s from ice dams, then I should be able to mitigate future issues (by shoveling the roof) until I’m out of debt and have significant savings to have it all fixed (think 2 more winters). If it’s worse, well, I don’t know. I have $1,200 in my slush fund to see if I can have patching done to the roof to buy me some time. If worse comes to worse, I can stop my debt payoff and build my savings. Thankfully, since my expenses are so low, I can bring my savings up fairly rapidly- about $5,000 in 2 months. Here’s hoping for the best!

I also want to share a problem that I have.

For some reason or another, and it doesn’t happen too often: I overreact. Like badly overreact. I can only count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone overboard in my whole life, but for some reason, this roof leak deal sent me over the edge. Let me walk you through what happened and my thought process of the whole ordeal:

  1. I wake up at 7:30AM as GF is leaving for work. I make coffee, peruse the internet and putz around the house for a little while until I feel like going to the gym, at about 9:30.
  2. I get my gym bag ready but realize I don’t have a water bottle. I can’t find one any where else in the house, so I decide to check the attic.
  3. I open the door to the attic, and look up to notice a water stain on the ceiling. I touch it and feel that it’s damp. I also peel away some of the paint.
  4. So do I analyze the situation in a thoughtful and engineer-like manner? No, of course not.
  5. My mind instantly dives into the worst case scenario- I have to replace the whole roof.
  6. How much is it going to cost is the next thing I think of. My mind settles on $5,000.
  7. How am I going to get this money? Cut every and all expenses in my life, therefore I can have it saved up in roughly 6 weeks. My past couple weeks of easing the debt payoff pace is for naught. I decide I have to cancel anything and everything I’ve (and we’ve) planned, including our B&B stay this weekend.
  8. I next think of how to increase my income- back to the part-time gig deal. I can bring in an extra couple hundred dollars a month.
  9. What if the damage is so significant that the houses structure is permanently damaged beyond repair? Throw in an extra $5,000

OK, so mind you this all takes place within a matter of, at the most, 2 minutes. I spent the next hour pacing the house and cleaning and getting my heart rate up (better than a workout!). GF gets home not long after and I tell her the whole story, including steps 1 thru 9. Her response: you’re overreacting.

Even in the face of confrontation, I was certain I was right: the roof needed replaced, the structure of our house was unstable, and I resented ever buying the place. It took a long discussion, a few examples, and some fresh air to finally bring it home: I overreact, and when it happens, I overreact bad. And now a couple days later, it doesn’t seem so bad. I’ll check it out more in the next couple of days and analyze the situation from there.

When an unexpected expense comes up, how do you react?

Here’s where I stand with my debt payoff:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,119.47$3,717.77
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,924.45$3,272.57
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,498.52$2,851.66
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$3,009.63
$3,086.40
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$53,552.07$57,035.59

Hope everybody has a great week!