Different Priorities

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Hello BAD community, thank you for your inquiries.  I thought I would pop in and share a quick update.

Debt

My sole debt at this point are my $32K-ish student loans which are in Income Based Repayment requiring $0 per month.

Income

I am still on the hunt for work, chasing any and all leads.  It’s been very frustrating and I can’t explain why this has been such a challenge.  It’s been a year since I had full time income.  It’s been challenging but a very enlightening experience.  Most recently, I was turned down by Amazon Customer Service which is work from home for $10.  I just can’t explain it.  Someone asked me why I wasn’t getting work…I could only answer that it’s my age, my weight or I’m just not in God’s will.  So I keep plugging along.  I do still have two part time jobs equaling about 15 hours a week.

The twins turned 18, so the adoption subsidy ended.  That was a hit because I was assured it would carry them through high school.  But despite it all, we are doing well.  We are fed, have shelter and even a few extras.

Housing

We continue to live in our free housing situation.  We have painted the front and back decks and continued to assist on the farm.  It makes me feel a bit better, but my pride has definitely taken a hit.  There is limited heat, and it can’t seem to keep up very well.  The nights are cold.  I am grateful for down comforters, wool socks and sweatsuits.

Challenges and Upcoming Changes

Remember when we moved out of our apartment we put stuff in storage.  It was costing me $78 month.  We went in October to get some winter clothes out and some more school materials.  And it had been leaking!  We lost a ton of stuff…violin, most all the winter clothes and more. I am in the process of getting rid of my car, downsizing to just the twins car (’96 Honda Accord) in order to save the insurance and property tax money.  I hope to save enough over a few months to buy another older used car which won’t cost as much in insurance or taxes.  Hoping to do this mid-January.

Holidays

We will be leaving next week to stay with family for a month over the holidays.  We are looking forward to sleeping in real beds, not having to go outside to go to the bathroom and having heat regularly.  We will be spending 10 days with my parents, which will be hard based on our history, but I am really working on forgiveness.  It will be the first time since I had kids that I won’t be in my own space for Christmas. I am really struggling with that, but the kids are looking forward to an airplane ride to Texas and time with family.  (I was able to get round trip tickets for all 5 of us for $391 by being flexible with my dates, buying early and my dad’s generosity with his points.)

Gymnast

I have really tried hard to stay where we are at in large part due to Gymnast training and my bartered arrangement for his training.  It seems to be paying off.  He is competing as a Level 6 gymnast this year, and his first meet was a week ago.  He placed 1st on vault, 2nd on floor, 2nd on high bar and 4th overall.  He competes again this weekend, and then we will leave for the holidays.  He is training 5 days a week, 4 hours a day.

Princess

She finished up volleyball season and has decided to take up TKD again.  (She got her black belt when she was 10 years old.)  A local studio is offering $25 per month per child for two classes a week.  I can afford that.  She and Sea Cadet will begin in January.  She continues to excel at school, working on most of the same classes as her twin brothers (seniors) with the exception of math.  She has learned how to knit and it making massive amounts of Christmas presents with her skills.

History Buff

He is applying early admission to the college of his choice.  Please send a prayer up that he will be accepted.  That would be a huge relief for me and joy for him.  He continues to work at the movie theatre and is also now a attendant for a special needs young man a couple nights a week.  He plans to study criminology and recently began participating in the Police Explorers program.  He is on track to graduate from high school in June, but has serious senioritis!

Sea Cadet

He has another year of high school, which we have known for some time.  We are calling it his super senior year.  Math is a BIG challenge for him.  He wavers a bit now between military, college or just working at a camp year round for his future.  He continues to work at the move theatre and has also picked up a part time job in the kitchen of the camp where he worked as a camp counselor this summer.  He is applying to be a senior counselor this next summer.  He and History Buff share a car and pay their own insurance and phone bills.  I can tell that watching History Buff get ready to leave the nest bothers him a bit, but I think it will be healthy for both of them.  I continue to think that the military route is the best one for him, but will support whatever he decides.  We are going to try out community college for his super senior year to give college a test run.

Me

Most days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing and feel like I am failing my children.  Then others, I am just grateful for the opportunities we have had as a result of this hardship.  We have gotten to raise chickens, live in a camper, live in the country on a farm, be completely free.  I long for a stable home, comfortable bed and a recliner to relax in.  But I am so grateful for all the extra time I have gotten to spend with the kids and my grandmother.

We are spending a great deal of time volunteering.  It gets us out of the house and feels good to give back. I have no idea what the future holds.  I’m just taking it a day at a time.

The Home School Foundation did a feature on us as part of their Single Parents who Homeschool grant program.  I thought you might like to see it, you can watch it here.

 

 


The Debt

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(*Update*  I just updated this post with a few more exact balances and interest rates)

First off, I want to thank everyone for the warm welcomes that they have given me! I really do appreciate having someone in my corner cheering me on!

It’s time for the nitty gritty details of our debt and I can honestly say that I am embarrassed about admitting how much debt we have, however, I am even more embarrassed to admit that I had NO idea how much we had until I started adding this up! In fact, I still don’t have an exact amount because I am waiting for a few statements to come in. I am going to include a rough estimate until I get final numbers, just so that we can have an idea of where I am at. I will then update the info!

CC#1 $43.30 (this will be payed off on Friday!)

CC#2 (7.24% interest) $ 2,999.84

CC#3 (27% interest ouch!) $4,833.17

Auto loan (6.99% interest) $5,695.29

Appliance loan (0% until Oct 2017) $2,072.79

Student loans-Amy (5.8% average interest) $34,392.19

Student loans-Hubby (5.7%  average Interest) $18,060.61

Student loans-Amy (3.25% Interest) $1,800.00 (estimate)

Student Loans-Hubby (4.725% average Interest) $3,111.46

$73,008.65

Wow. That is a lot of debt.  I really had no idea that we were carrying such a high debt load. This doesn’t even include the mortgage! I can’t describe the emotions that I am feeling right now as I look at that number.  Overwhelmed, shamed, sadness, frustration…they are all emotions that are fluttering about.

Here are the details on what each debt is about:

CC#1: This is a credit card that I have been working on paying off for the last couple months. I thought about leaving it off the list since it will be paid off on Friday and the balance is so small, but I decided that total honesty was required. If I start fudging numbers..it would be easier to continue doing so, which contributed to me getting here in the first place!

CC#2: This is a credit card through our credit union. I have no idea what we used it for.

CC#3: This is a credit card that we got because “the rewards are so great”…and they would have been if we had used the card responsibly! We used this card for some home improvements and fertility treatments.  We have already paid off a ton of this debt.

Auto Loan: This is for an older Prius that the hubby uses to commute.

Appliance Loan: This is the debt that I want to tackle first. Simply because it annoys me! We bought a used fridge a year ago trying to save money….but when it suddenly died we decided to finance a new one so we didn’t end up going through the same hassle.

Student loans: The first two loans with the large balance are federal loans from both hubby and I, while the second two with small balances are state level loans for the both of us. The student loans are lower on my priority list to pay off because we are on income based repayments and have been for a several years.  However, we are also paying the most interest on them because the balances are so high, so perhaps I should reconsider that.  What do you think?

When you started working on your debt did you know how bad it was, or were you surprised like me?


My Loan Request Was DENIED!!!

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First thing’s first. Welcome, Amy! I’m so excited to have another blogger up in the mix! I was a reader long before I was a contributor here so I’m super pumped to be able to follow another blogger on their debt journey! Yay!!! I can’t wait to get to “know” Amy as we share this debt-reduction journey together!

(Side Note:  I’ve also seen many people ask about Hope in recent comments. I don’t have any updates, but I’ll send her a quick email today just to pass along our warm thoughts and kind regards. I honestly don’t have any additional information at this time but I wanted to address it because I know lots of have asked about her recently).

I hope all our American readers had a lovely Thanksgiving this past week! It was JUST what I needed! Quiet, low-key, relaxing, etc. We spent a solid 3 days in a row at home (we had friends over for play dates on Friday & Saturday so we weren’t all alone), and it was GLORIOUS to just hang out and relax. This was our first Thanksgiving in a very long time where we were just at home – we didn’t go anywhere and we didn’t have any guests here, either. I used it as an excuse to go super easy for Thanksgiving. We just had meat, 2 sides, and a single dessert. That’s it. I have to admit that I kind of missed not having a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers (my favorite is a thanksgiving sandwich with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and turkey – but we didn’t even do ANY of those foods this year! Our main was ham and our sides were green beans & sweet potato casserole). We did buy a mini (2 lb) butterball turkey that I’ll probably cook sometime this week, but hubs had specifically requested ham for our main meat for Thanksgiving so that’s what we had.

And then I applied for a student loan consolidation….and I was DENIED!!!!!

I couldn’t even believe it.

According to Credit Karma, my credit is in the “excellent” range. They have my credit at a 760 or 785, depending on the site (Equifax & Transunion, respectively).

What possible reason would they have for denying me a line of credit?

An outstanding collection.

That’s what they said. The thing is, I’ve literally only had one “derogatory” mark on my credit in my life. It was from when I was 18 or 19 (nearly 15 years ago now) for not paying for those 10 DVD’s for 1 penny thing (mine was via Columbia House, but surely you’re familiar with those programs – there were several in that time-frame). It was a legitimate debt that I owed and, funny thing is, I even tried to pay for it a few years after-the-fact, but I couldn’t get the creditor to send me a letter stating that the debt would be settled in full after payment, so I never sent the payment. It aged until it fell off my credit and I haven’t even thought about it in years.

According to Credit Karma, I have no derogatory marks/late payments/etc (like I said, due to its age, this one negative mark long-ago fell off my credit report). I’m telling you, I’m kind of a stellar client from a lender’s perspective. I’m conscientious, pay on time, more than the minimum, etc. etc. Plus the lender who denied me also had me link my different bank accounts so they could see that I had lots of assets available (not only from my EF, but also my retirement, and I’m listed as a joint account holder on my Dad’s account, too, so although  I don’t consider his money “mine”, its a lot of additional liquid assets that are mine from a legal perspective since it’s a joint account). Soooo…what the heck? I don’t get it. But that’s that.

So this lender is out. I still have other options, but I was just shocked about this denial. Truly, genuinely shocked.

Have you ever been caught off-guard about an unexpected credit denial?

How did you spend your Thanksgiving holiday? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?


Hello there!

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Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

My name is Amy and I am joining the bloggers here in the BAD community! I am so looking forward to the support that this community offers, and hope that we can encourage and inspire each other!

My relationship with money really began in my childhood. I grew up in a family where money was always an issue. I remember being in elementary school and being afraid to ask for poster board for a school project because of the cost and always being aware that there was more month than money. This type of childhood had both advantages and disadvantages. I certainly learned how to work and how to stretch a dollar, but I also never developed saving habits (because there was never money to save!). I also have a tendency to feel like we are doing well as long as bills are paid on time, regardless of how much is left in the bank. The concepts of going without and delayed gratification are also very difficult for me, My teen years were tumultuous, and filled with my first job and what felt like endless amounts of money, coupled with no guidance on what to do with that money. To say that I developed some bad spending habits is a bit of an understatement! While I feel like I have mostly turned those habits around, I am sure that you all will help be find even more room for improvement!

I married my sweetheart M at the ripe old age of 20, and we are still happily married thirteen years later, but have no children. We certainly want children, and a chunk of our existing debt is a result of paying for fertility treatments. Another large chunk is student loans. We were both students when the economy crashed, and ended up living off of students loans for a time after M was layed off from his job. We also have a car payment, appliance loan and a mortgage. I will be outlining the details of our financial situation in a post a few days from now.

M has a steady job that he loves, that puts us firmly in the middle class for our area, but he works long, demanding hours, I am currently a homemaker (I can hear the calls of “get a job” already!) I do have some medical issues that have led me to not having a job, but I am not opposed to going back to work. In the mean time, I make a little bit on the side by babysitting and renting out a spare bedroom in our home.

Our reasons for needing to scale Mount Paymore are relatively simple… freedom! We want to be able to make decisions without monetary concerns taking as large of a role as they do now. I want to live a life where a car repair doesn’t have the potential to be catastrophic. M would like to go back to school someday, and we would like to possibly pursue adoption, both things that we don’t feel comfortable doing because of where our finances are right now.

I will have all the nitty gritty details of our financial situation up sometime Monday. In the mean time, Do you have any questions you would like me to cover?


Student Loan Refinance

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I’m sure I sound like a total flake after just saying (in my most recent post) that I likely would NOT be refinancing all of my student loans at this time….but now I’m leaning the other way again.

Here’s the deal – Navient just won’t get their act together and stop pissing me off! It’s just such a terrible company to do business with. I hate them so much I’m really considering giving up my interest-forgiveness just so I can get rid of working with them as a lender!!!

Remember my most recent Navient snafu? As a quick catch-up, they overcharged me for 2 months over the summer (to the tune of about $500 each month). I called to have the money re-allocated toward the correct loans (I want the money to all go toward my unsubsidized loans – as currently dispersed the over-payment was spread equally across all loans). I was told this problem was being resolved (second time I called about it). On call #3 I’m basically told it’s just not going to happen. They claim that my initial Income-Based-Repayment plan application was denied.

This, in spite of the fact that I have NEVER received any documentation from the company saying anything about a denial. In fact, quite the opposite, I have documentation showing my IBR renewal was approved.

I’m told that it was initially denied due to over-payment on my loans (go figure). Then when I called in early October about the discrepancy, somehow they went ahead and approved the IBR, which went into effect in October. Essentially meaning that during the previous two months (August & September) I was not on IBR and, therefore, was not overcharged on my monthly payment. There would be no payment re-allocation, I am told.

That’s it.

I have no fight left in me. I’ve been down this road before – I’ve written my legislatures, I’ve involved a third party conflict-resolution group, I’ve jumped through all the hoops and taken all the necessary steps, spending hours of time, attention, and never-ending phone calls and ultimately I lost. I’m not even going to fight it this time. I haven’t the time.

So I kind of feel defeated. But at the same time, I feel like I absolutely cannot stand to do business with Navient any longer.

And so, perhaps a little sooner than I’d thought just one week ago, I’m going to start researching student loan consolidation programs.

I’ve already received lots of great comments on what many readers have done, but this time around I want more specifics. If any of you have refer-a-friend codes, please leave them in the comments. I’m going to look into at least a few different loan consolidation programs/places to check for interest rates. I’ll probably do a consolidation in December. I’m still not sure if it will be a full or partial consolidation (I still may opt to only consolidate unsubsidized loans initially – I want to look into different options). Just any tips or suggestions would be appreciated. I’ll certainly report back on what I’ve found when I am done with all my research, too!


We Bought A House!!!!!

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We did it!

After endless back-and-forth negotiations, a variety of snags and snafus, and having to change our closing date not once but TWICE, we are officially home owners! YAY!!!!!

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Image source. Note – this is an image that came up in a search of “Arizona houses.” This is NOT our house. As I said before, I won’t be showing a picture of our actual house.

 

We actually closed about a week ago. It was nice because it was a couple days before our 6th wedding anniversary, so we joked that this year for our anniversary we bought ourselves a house! Lol! Go big or go home, right? : )

Shout out to our families who have been so helpful! My Mom helped us with a portion of our down payment and both of our moms have been here recently (first hubs’ mom came out, then my mom) so they have helped with packing, entertaining the girls, and getting everything ready for the move. Hubs has also done a ton. Funny story – this isn’t the first time that the bulk of moving duties have fallen to him. At least twice before I’ve been gone/out of town during moves. I have left with things in disarray and returned with everything moved into a new space! Ha! This time I wasn’t entirely absent (I haven’t gone out of town), but I’ve been pretty busy with work so hubs has definitely taken the lion’s share of packing and boxing and moving. He started with cleaning and moving pretty much immediately after closing but it didn’t become official (aka: we didn’t sleep in the new house) until this weekend. Now I can’t wait to get out the holiday decorations and go to town! : )

This is random but….does anyone remember this ancient blog post? The post (almost 2 years old at this point) was about the thought of having hubs get a vasectomy. GUESS WHAT’S HAPPENING TOMORROW, Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!! ((insert giant grin here))

Sorry, let me try to contain my excitement (hehehe!)

Poor hubs – he’s not so excited. What a way to be rewarded for all of his hard work in the past week! But I, on the other hand, could not be more thrilled!!! We’ve known that we are done having kids for awhile, but having the little snip-snip is the last thing to make it really super-duper official and I can’t wait! I’m taking off early tomorrow so I can drive him to the appointment, as he’s got a prescription sedative to help him relax and he’s not supposed to drive on it (for a man whose usually cool as a cucumber, he’s pretty anxious over the whole thing). Then back to business as usual.

I’m really looking forward to the end of the semester! I feel like such good things are on the horizon – new house, hubs starting back to school, a new year, etc. It just feels like a fresh start or a re-set of some sort. Not that this year has been bad (in fact, there’s been a lot of good), but I did call summer 2016 the summer of death and I’m excited to see what new adventures lie ahead for us as a family.

On the financial front – I may have lied. I said I was going to refinance my student loans THE SECOND that the house deal went through. But now that I’ve been thinking about it, I’m not so sure. I still have 9 months left of interest-forgiveness for my subsidized student loans (through IBR), so now I’m thinking I might only consolidate the unsubsidized loans and leave the subsidized ones for the time being so I can get all 9-months worth of interest-forgiveness before I throw them into the consolidation? However, I have issues with Navient every time I turn around, so I’d love to rid them from my life. In the end, I think I’ll do nothing this month. Over the winter break I’ll start my investigation into student loan consolidations/interest rates/etc. and probably make a more concrete decision before the end of the year (because that will greatly impact our financial goals for 2017).

Anywho, I gotta jump back into work! I hope your Mondays are off to a good start (look at me actually blogging on a Monday – pat on my back) ; )

Talk soon!

~A


Talking about debt

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This past weekend I took the girls to one of their friends’ birthday parties. I was hanging out chatting with the other moms when I mentioned my husband heading back to school and the crazy discount we receive ($25 per class!!!). It’s practically free!!

One of the mom’s lamented, “Must be nice, I still have 20 years left on my student loans!”

Another mom chimed in, “I just applied for public service student loan forgiveness so mine will eventually be forgiven.”

Another mom also nodded, mentioning how the interest payment, alone, is the same as her car payment.

And I said….nothing. It felt too odd to chime in that we’re actively working on aggressive student loan pay-down. Like it would be smug or elitist or something to suggest an alternative option. No one pays off their student loans early. Would I come across as conceited or like I’m talking down to them? What do I even say? “Well…just so you know, there ARE other options. I started with nearly $100,000 in student loan debt but I’m now down to about $70,000. If all goes well it should be gone in just a couple of years!!!” (Insert big smile here)

It just didn’t feel like it would go over that well. And I didn’t want to be “that person” making others feel bad or to come off like I was bragging or something.

What would you do? These are not close friends (my close friends & family are all very aware of our debt journey). These were random acquaintances. Parents of our kids’ friends. I would love to give them some hope that it IS possible to pay off even outrageous debt in less than the mandated loan length. I honestly think many people don’t even consider it an option. It’s never occurred to them that it’s possible to pay it off early.

If you were in a similar situation would you have spoken up?

I’m genuinely interested because I want to be a source of hope for others that it IS possible…but when I’m still in the trenches myself I can’t say “I’ve done it, you can too!” (because we still have a LONG way to go before we’re done!!!) Plus I really fear coming across as pretentious or condescending if I were to say something. Thoughts?