Posts tagged with: paying off debt

Spring Break (+ Feb. Debt Update)

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Hi All!

Last year, my first year back to full-time work, my Spring Break happened to align with my kids’ Spring Break. I remember at the time colleagues mentioning how lucky that was and to appreciate it. So it was no real surprise when this year rolled around and, looking at our academic calendars, I realized our Spring Breaks did not align. Bugger!

But, I think we’re also making the best out of having separate Spring Breaks! This week is my school’s Spring Break (and hubs’ Spring Break as well). I’ll be back in Texas for a couple days to deal with some dad-related issues. But otherwise, hubs and I are looking forward to doing some serious manual labor out in our backyard. When we bought the house, it had nothing but chest-high weeds all through the back. We mowed them all down, but have done very little since then. Hubs has a friend who owns a landscape company and came over to take a look at our yard and offer some practical suggestions in terms of plants, placement, etc. So for the cost of some plants + weed killer + some hard work and elbow-grease, we’re hoping to get our backyard into a more presentable condition. We’ve allotted $200 to the project. It would be a project the girls could help us with…but will probably be easier without the interference, er, “help.” And I like that the couple days I’ll be gone are on days that they’re already in school. Makes it a bit easier for the hubs and makes me feel less guilt about being away (quick Dad update for those who have been following along and are interested – skip this part if you’re only here for the financial -my Dad, who has frontotemporal dementia, continues to decline. His speech is almost gone at this point and he lives in a constant state of agitation, presumably from the confusion and frustration associated with what’s happening to him. He’s been living in an independent living facility but we’ve been touring several assisted living and dedicated memory-care places. It’s a tough move to make but it’s coming up probably sooner rather than later so we’re trying to research and prepare accordingly. Being that the purpose of my trip is for things related to his care, my sister and I decided he would cover the cost of my airfare – something he would have done in the past if he had the mental capacity. I’ll be staying with my mom so I’ll have free lodging, and will only be paying my meals out of pocket which should be minimal. I’ll be there not quite 3 days.)

Next week is our girls’ Spring Break. In the future, I hope that we can plan family vacations (or even staycations) during Spring Break week, but with our looming tax debt ahead, that’s certainly not in the cards this year. Instead, we’re lucky to be able to hodgepodge together some childcare without having to pay extra to a babysitter. Hubs has class Mon/Wed (but is available other days) and I teach on Tues/Thurs (but am available other days), so between us, we’ll be able to always have one parent home with the kiddos.

I’m still on operation minimal-spending, too. It’s not a complete spending freeze because we still have to purchase essentials like food, fuel, etc. But I have been extra mindful about every dollar being spent. As an example, one of my daughters lost her water bottle for the second time this school year. Last time, I just jumped on Amazon and bought her a new one. This time around, I’m making her take my water bottle as a back-up. I explained that we can’t just get something new every time we lose our old item. It’s been a nice lesson in natural consequences and how its important to keep track of our things. It’s a bit of a punishment because my water bottle isn’t a nice or “cool” as the kid version, but at least it’s an adequate replacement so she’s not going without one. I’m really trying to scrimp and save and see if we can pay our full tax debt ourselves rather than relying on borrowing. I really want it PAID IN FULL by the deadline. I did talk to my sister, however, and if I need to borrow money from my dad it would be an option available to us. I really want to avoid this. It’s such “messy” terrain and I just don’t like the feeling. But I would be able to save the interest + penalties associated with an IRS payment plan. Something to think about, should it come to that (I still don’t have exact figures from our accountant).

In the meantime, I want to share my February 2017 Debt Update. As mentioned in a previous post, the debt payment was less than my originally intended $3,000 payment because I decided to just pay debt minimums toward my student loans so I can try to save up the extra money to put toward our IRS debt. Here you go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient - Federal 2 (unsubsidized)$11,1055.8034February82433 (all school loans, combined)
Navient - Federal 3 (subsidized)$86085.8025February
Navient - 2 (subsidized)$84966.5533February
Navient - 7 (subsidized)$71976.5529February
Navient - 8 (subsidized)$63726.5525February
Navient - 9 (subsidized)$84976.5534February
Navient - 10 (unsubsidized)$98056.5519February
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$14000% (through Sept 2017)$800February$7650
Balance Transfer Student Loan #3$45940% (through October 2018)$0N/A
Medical Bills$43700% (must be paid by April)$1216February$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$70,444 (Jan balance = 72,560)$2215Starting Debt = $145,472

This month (March), I’m putting less toward the balance transfer card – only $400 instead of the $800 I gave in February. I do NOT want to add “IRS” to the debt spreadsheet, so I’m just stockpiling money in hopes we can pay them their money and not move backward in our debt progression. That will mean lower debt payments for the next couple months (March & April). Even small progress is moving in the right direction.

Have you had any financial set-backs lately?

 

 


Financial Goals: 2017 & Beyond!!!

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For the past couple of years I’ve made our family’s financial goals public, sharing them with you all and tracking along throughout the year to see how we did (see 2015 goals here and 2016 goals here). We met our financial goals the past two years and hope this year will be no different.

2017 Financial Goals:

  • Pay $30,000 Toward Debt. This may seem like no big deal since we had this same goal last year and met it, no problem. But this year will be different because our salary is going to decrease a bit. Hubs is going back to school and mid-way through the year I’ll be leaving my part-time job. I’ve kept hinting that I have some news on the job front but I’m still not in a place where I’m able to share it. Probably within the next few weeks I’ll be able to elaborate on this. Overall, though, our salary will be down this year compared to last year.
  • Fully Fund A Roth IRA. Our first two years of debt payment were narrowly focused on debt payoff at the exclusion of all else. When I started my full-time job in August 2015, a 7% retirement contribution was required (and is matched by my employer). In the past year (we’re almost at the 3-year mark for our debt payoff journey), I’ve tried to add in a little extra balance. That means more of a focus on savings for retirement and on spending a little bit for fun (e.g., monthly date nights, kids’ activities, etc.). I’m still continuing to do my mandatory pre-tax retirement contributions (it goes into a 401(k) type thing, but the education equivalent…I think it’s a 401(c) or something??) I’ve also tried to separately put a little money into a Roth the past couple years, but we’ve only managed to do about $1,500 or $2,000ish each year. This year the goal is for us to have 1 fully funded Roth at the maximum allowance (I believe it’s still $5,500). In the future we’ll work toward having 2 fully funded Roths, but I think just having 1 will be a good goal for this year, as we still work diligently to reduce our debt.
  • Mom & Dad Getaway. This is still a very new and not fully fleshed out goal but one that has been floating around in my mind for quite awhile. For newer readers, hubs and I have twin 4.5 year old girls. One of our favorite (pre-baby) passions was to travel. We used to travel a LOT. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we have in our mind for why we want to be debt free: so we can have the freedom to travel! In February 2015 we set a goal to go on a cruise for my Mom’s 60th birthday and we did! We saved up for over a year and in April 2016, we went on a family cruise. It was a lot of fun and I’m glad we did it. But it kind of re-kindled this flame in my heart – this desire to travel with my husband! In the past nearly half-decade since we’ve had kids, we haven’t had a single overnight away from them. Not one. We love our kids, but I also think we’re now at the point that it would be healthy and good for us to have a little mini-getaway solo. It likely wouldn’t be for long (we’re thinking 4 days/3 nights) and it likely wouldn’t be extravagant (maybe drive out to San Diego since that’s only a few hours drive). So I’m sure it won’t be as costly as the cruise was. We don’t have defined or “set” plans in place, but we’ve talked to hubs’ mom about it and she’s volunteered to come out to Arizona and watch the girls for us so we wouldn’t have to be paying for childcare. I don’t know when this would be (maybe over summer; maybe not until fall), but it will happen sometime in 2017. It needs some work to make the goal more defined, but it’s a definitely goal we have for this year.

 

I know this is a get-out-of-debt blog, so some of the things I talk about (e.g., savings, spending) may be a little controversial. I am proud, overall, on how frugal we have been and how much we’ve been able to reduce our debt. I think ours is a success story. If we had less debt, we may have just been able to go gung-ho the whole time (we did for a solid 2 years!!!) and just eliminate the debt in its entirety. But with the amount of debt we’re grappling with, I didn’t think it was possible for us to be “gung ho” for a solid 5-6 years. I knew we would end up falling off the wagon. Therefore, we’ve purposely built our budget in a way where we can SUCCEED. That includes building in a little “wiggle room” for a monthly date night, weekly dance class for the kids, and having friends over for dinner every couple of months. These “life” things are important to us and we wouldn’t be able to make it through to the finish line if we didn’t allow them.

It’s been so encouraging to watch our debt shrink. We now owe $75,000 according to our most recent debt update. Here are our long-term goals:

2017: $30,000 toward debt payments

2018: $30,000 toward debt payments

2019: DEBT-FREE by the middle of the year!!!!

2019 still seems so far off! But then, we started this journey in 2014 and that feels like it was just yesterday! So I know 2019 will be here before we know it. We’re over half-way there!!! I hope you’ll continue to stick around while we’re on our journey. And I wish you luck on your journey as well.

 

What are your 2017 financial goals? Do you set annual goals for yourself and/or your family?


Ashley’s October 2016 Debt Update

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I hope you’re all having a good week! Our kids are out of school Wed – Fri this week so my mom flew out to help with childcare (since hubs and I both have to work still), so it’s been a lot of fun to visit together and it’s always great when Mom visits! For instance, my freezer is now full of homemade freezer meals that we can quickly and easily heat up on our busy weeknights!

I’m not even going to lie – this semester has been kicking my butt a little. I’m sure you can tell based off the more sporadic posting schedule as of late. Mid-semester there was a faculty member who, due to persona reasons, had to stop teaching a class. In week 8 of 16. Guess who got to pick up the class? This girl! I’m happy to help out and it will work out in the end (my department head is giving me a course release in exchange) but I’m definitely feeling the burden of the extra work at an already extremely busy time!

BUT –

we’re already on the downhill slope toward the end of the semester. Just a few weeks to go and I’ll be home-free! And it’s going to be such a fun winter break! We’ve made reservations for our family to travel up to the Flagstaff area and do the North Pole Experience. I’ve wanted to do it the past couple years and have kept ourselves form doing it due to budgetary constraints. This year I knew I wanted to make it a priority so I’ve been putting little bits of money aside each month to help offset some of the costs (much like I did when I saved a couple hundred bucks each month for an entire year in order to pay for cruise 2016 entirely with cash). This experience obviously wasn’t as expensive as the cruise, so I’ve just been setting aside $50 for the past couple months. I was able to pay for our tickets out of my pocket of cash and we still have a little leftover (that I’ll continue to add to this month and next) to cover the cost of a hotel and food or souvenirs on the trip. CAN NOT WAIT!!!

But that’s neither here nor there. Feast your eyes on the main reason for this post:  my October debt update!!!

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$70,4266.55%$1975October$82433
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$46000% (through April 2017)$750October$7650
Medical Bills$56860%$25October$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$80,712 (Sept balance = 83,173)$2750Starting Debt = $145,472

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty bummed that we ended up SO.CLOSE to the 70’000s for our total debt owed. Just another $700 and we would’ve tipped over! But we’ll definitely be there by the end of this month.

The other important thing to note is that ACS is now off the debt spreadsheet table. ACS sold my last remaining loan with them (I used to have 2) to Navient. That means Navient now services 100% of my student loans. Blah! Speaking of, I still haven’t resolved my most recent Navient issue. They DID straighten out the auto-drafting issue and have updated to the correct payment (they had been grossly over-charging me). BUT, they still haven’t re-allocated the extra payments toward the loans I would have selected. So another phone call is warranted, but has not yet happened. It’s on my “TO DO” list for Friday (fingers crossed that resolves it).

Otherwise, things are moving right along. Still on schedule to close on our house very soon. I’m still holding my breath and crossing my fingers that it all goes through (after already being delayed twice). This weekend is also my husband’s and my 6th wedding anniversary! It’s going to be a bit of an anticlimactic one. My Mom leaves town on Friday so we had a VERY low-key date night on Wednesday night. We wore jeans and went to happy hour sushi. Nothing fancy or special, but it’s always nice just to have time out alone together (since typically we’ve got the girls anytime we go anywhere). Last year I mentioned how – when we first got married – I had hoped we would be able to spend our 5-year anniversary in Hawaii. Instead we made a major debt payment and just went out to dinner. Nothing crazy. I don’t regret our choice in prioritizing debt payoff in the least. I think it’s the best thing for our family. And it’s easier to maintain determination and stamina now that we’re adding in a bit more balance to our lives (e.g., like planning this Christmas trip to Flagstaff and going on more regular date nights, etc.). It’s all about trade-offs between debt payment and “life” happenings and I’m happy with our balance right now. At the same time, I look forward to the day when we can travel more freely without worrying about cost or the trade-off between paying off debt and making memories together. I’ve never been to Hawaii before and have always wanted to go. A second-honeymoon seems like the perfect reason. It’s not in the cards this year (though we’re still doing fun, albeit cheaper, family activities). But a second honeymoon WILL happen someday. It’s just one more of our “rewards” we’ll be able to indulge in after cleaning up this debt mess!  Every month – just a little bit closer to our debt-free goal!

How is your debt repayment going? Have you paid off any debts recently?


Ashley’s August 2016 Debt Update

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Hi friends!

I hope everyone is having a relaxing, laid back Labor Day holiday! We’re still in Texas (we drive back to Tucson tomorrow), so I’m just peeking in with a real quick Debt Update from the month of August.

Here it is:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$653716.55%$829August$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20August$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$58500% (through April 2017)$500August$7650
Medical Bills$57360%$25August$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$85,553 (July balance = 86,518)$1374Starting Debt = $145,472

This was a relatively small debt payment (particularly in comparison to last month’s monstrous debt payment), but I’d expected that given that August is a little bit lower-income month for us (I do not get paid from my part-time job at all in August). Even so, we made some good progress over and above minimum debt payment obligations. We just keep chip-chip-chipping away at our debt totals.

As another exciting piece of information – we think we found “the one” (house). We saw it just before leaving town for the Labor Day weekend and called our realtor to put in an offer while we were on the road (we signed via docusign using my phone’s hotspot to get internet on our computer). Fingers crossed!!!

After house stuff is behind us we plan to make some really concrete mini-goals for the student loan debt. I’ve been hesitant to make any mini-goals (aside from our general 2016 goals) because it feels like so much has been up in the air with the house hunt and trying to just stockpile as much cash as possible for a down payment and emergency fund, etc.

I’ll keep everyone updates as house progress continues. : )

Have a great long weekend!


May 2016 Debt Update

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Late is better than never! Plus, my debt payments are all scheduled for middle-to-end of the month so these are all still true numbers, no additional payments have been made in June yet. Here ya go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$725356.55%$980May$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20May$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$73500% (through April 2017)$300May$7650
Medical Bills$58110%$25May$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$94292 (April balance = 95,250)$1325Starting Debt = $145,472

The past couple months (April & May) had smaller debt payments than what I’d originally planed. One of our 2016 goals is to pay $30,000 toward debt in total. Here’s a table showing planned and actual debt payments:

Month 2015 2016 GOALS 2016
January $1678 Goal: $3500 $4013
February $1822 Goal: $1000 $1261
March $653 Goal:  $1000 $2134
April $1796 Goal:  $2000 $1521
May $1708 Goal: $2000 $1325
June $725 Goal:  $4000  
July $2125 Goal: $4000  
August $2250 Goal: $2500  
September $2575 Goal: $2500  
October $5513 Goal: $2500  
November $2751 Goal: $2500  
December $2522 Goal: $2500  
Total $26118 Goal: $30,000  

At this point (Jan-May), our goal was to have paid $9,500 in debt so far. Our actual payments put us at $10,254. So even though our recent payments have been below our goal, overall we’re still on track to hit our annual goals. Just as a note, the reason why the goal is set so high for June and July is because I get big checks from my part-time job these two months (instead of spreading out the payment across 4 months, which would be normal sized, I don’t get paid in May or August at all, but instead I get double-sized payments in June & July). Right now it feels scary/intimidating/impossible to be making a $4,000 debt payment (though, to be fair, I haven’t been paid yet this month so that’s probably why). I still want to be cautious and re-allocate some funds back to our emergency fund after having to raid it for life’s recent emergencies.  But I still think (fingers crossed) we should manage to make some pretty hefty sized debt payments, too. Time will tell and I’ll keep you updated! : )

Hope you all have a great weekend!

 


50/50

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Back in December 2015 we hit a big milestone. We had officially paid $50,000 toward debt!!!

What a huge thing! Just thinking about paying $50,000 toward debt in two years (a rate of $25,000/year – nearly half our annual income when we first started blogging!) is mind-blowing.

And just last month we hit another big milestone. One that I have mixed feelings about.

We have now decreased our debt by $50,000.

Say what?

When we hit the first $50,000 milestone, that was money that we’d paid toward debt. But, obviously, most of our debts have interest attached to them. So just because we paid $50,000 toward debt didn’t mean we’d actually decreased our debt by that amount because a good chunk of our money was going toward interest on the debt.

It took another FOUR MONTHS to finally decrease our debt by the same $50,000 that we’d celebrated back in December.

Nutso.

It makes me sick to look at the size of our student loan debt and realize how much we’ve paid that has only gone toward interest. Nothing toward any principal reduction at all. And to see the calculations that say “if you pay the minimum payment, by X time you’ll have paid X amount.” You all know what I’m talking about. Credit card statements have the same statement on them. So you’re looking at your current debt number, but then you see that if you only pay the minimum that in the end you’ll end up paying MUCH more than the original debt amount. After all the interest is included, it can be close to paying 2X! Two times as much as the initial debt!

Ick!

I had a couple people comment on nearing the $50,000 debt reduction mark and ask whether I was excited.

Yes, of course I am! That’s a huge reduction in debt!

But I have mixed feelings. It’s also a little kick to the gut. Knowing we’d paid $50,000 back in December, but our debt numbers didn’t actually reflect a $50,000 decrease until 4 months later. Four long, grueling months of making major debt payments. All of which was consumed by interest. Boo!

It’s a valuable lesson, though. The debtor is a slave to the lender. Another reason to never, ever go into debt again (*ahem* except for a mortgage).

When you think about debt payoff, do you tend to think in terms of dollars toward it (including paying interest), or in actual amount of debt reduction? I report both in my monthly debt updates, but I tend to think more in terms of dollars spent toward debt (including interest). It sucks that there’s such a lag behind dollars spent & dollars in debt reduction.


This, too, shall pass

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I know I keep talking about how “busy-busy-busy” or “go-go-go” I am all the time now.

I love my job(s) and I’m very thankful for it them, but the schedule can also be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

The end-of-semester craziness has been kicking my butt and I’ve been looking forward to summer. Just hold on a couple more weeks…a couple more weeks and everything will calm down. That’s been my mantra.

And then I realized…it won’t.

At my part-time job, summer is pretty crazy. It’s great pay (because it’s the same amount of pay, but I’m paid in 2 separate chunks – one check in June and one in July – as opposed to having it spread across 4 months. So it essentially “feels” like double the pay). But it’s also a TON of work to do the same amount of teaching/grading/etc in a shortened schedule.

I’ve also reported how I managed to get my full-time job to extend my contract so I’ll now get paid all summer from the full-time job, too. That’s fantastic news on the financial front (the equivalent of a 33% raise compared to my current salary)…but I don’t get paid to just sit around watching TV. I get paid to WORK! So that means all summer long I’ll be doing just that…working my tail off. At two different jobs. And then fall will be here, and spring, and summer. Wash, rinse, repeat (side note:  I haven’t turned in notice or anything, but I’ve basically decided in my own mind that next summer – summer 2017 – will be my last semester working for the part-time job. The logic was that I want to work there the full calendar year of 2016, but then I won’t want to quit mid academic-year, so I’d wait until the 2016-2017 year is over, which ends summer 2017).

On a surface level, its a bit overwhelming. The cruise was fantastic for a short-lived stint of relaxation. But I’m also longing for summer time and the long days and carefree nature it usually has associated with it for many of us in academia.

But when I find myself stressing out over the lack of time and amount of work to get done, I just stop and take deep breaths. I focus on the moment, write up a To Do list (this is strangely therapeutic for me), and start knocking out line item by line item.

This semester has tested me. It’s pushed me to my limits and I joke that it’s caused me chronic pain (I now regularly suffer from tension headaches. It sucks.). But I’ve consciously made all of these decisions with my debt in mind. I’ve taken on extra work, have two jobs, etc. because I WANT TO GET OUT OF DEBT!!!! This isn’t just for fun. It’s serving a greater purpose.

One of my 2016 goals is to pay $30,000 toward debt this year. But what if I do more? What if I actually kick off $35,000 in debt?

Then next year, when we aren’t saving for a down payment toward a house, what if we get up to $40,000 or $45,000 on debt payments?

We may only be a couple years from being fully debt-free!!! I know once the debt number gets smaller it’s just going to fly by.

We’ll get there. Probably sooner than I even think. It will happen.

So, in the meantime, please excuse my occasional whining about how busy/chaotic/crazy my life is. This, too, shall pass. And when it does, we’ll be that much closer to financial freedom!

For those who are currently debt-free, how long was your journey? How long did it take? For those still on the path, what’s your projected timeline like?


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