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Ashley’s May 2015 Debt Update


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?


  • Reply Jackie |

    I have quite a few things to work on. I just got a job–it starts today! So now I can get some things paid off. By the end of summer I plan on having tax bill paid off and an old heating oil bill paid off. Also plan on going on a budget plan for our heating which will start in July. We will also get an emergency fund started and in place.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Congrats on the new job! I hope you’ll find some motivation from this blog : )

  • Reply Walnut |

    Have you ever gone through the process of setting up amortization schedules for your different loans? It would probably be painfully tedious as you’ll want to do each individual loan on its own schedule, but it might make to really easy to see where slight changes in focus would yield the biggest impact.

    The other side of the coin is to spend that time hustling as the fastest way to pay off this debt isn’t to scheme about where to allocate money, but to actually earn more to allocate!

    Do you have any big, lofty goals for the moment on when you think you’ll break the 100k mark?

    • Reply Ashley |

      I haven’t done an amortization schedule for a long time, so I definitely should check this out again. You’re right that it really helps change perspective as you can see the long-term impact of slight variations in payment allocation. No big goals right now for the 100-k mark, but I was actually just thinking about that when I did this debt update. I should look at an amortization schedule and see when (about) that will be. I really, really cannot wait to be under the 100k mark!

  • Reply Brooke |

    What great progress. It must feel so good to see those numbers shrink each month.

    We are paying off my car loan this month!!! Whoo hoo! Even though it has the lowest APR it is the last balance we can easily knock out of the way for a while. It will so great to actually own the car. Next we are tackling our ginormous 40K student loan at 7.65% — ouch!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Ouch, indeed! I feel ya on that, as my student loans have pretty high APRs, too! But – CONGRATS on paying of your car this month! That’s so exciting!!!!!!!

      • Reply Brooke |

        Hey – thought on the lowish Navient balance ~3900. What if you all happen to have a high income month, you commit to knocking the entire loan off? It might be a way to keep with the car loan until it you can make quick progress and eliminate a payment with one fell swoop.

  • Reply Gayla |

    I think I remember you saying that most of your student loan debt came from graduate school. Do you have any advice to parents/students regarding students loans? Or what you would have done differently?
    It looks like our kids will have sufficient scholarships/savings for undergraduate school, but my youngest is leaning towards a career that will require additional years. ugh. She’s still in high school, but I think we should start these conversations now.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I enjoy your story.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Encourage your kids to work a part time job through college – ideally something that can be tangentially related to their degree. If not, at least encourage them to work on campus. It won’t earn tons of money, but it’ll pay for their fun and add a little more structure to their days.

      While this is hugely dependent on the field of work being pursued, encourage your kids to seek post-undergraduate employment with a company that offers a tuition reimbursement program. I know of other students who have sought full time employment with the university where they pursued their graduate degrees which offered similar reduced tuition for employee programs.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Gayla, believe it or not 100% of my student loans (all $95,000 of them) came from grad school. My parents helped me pay for undergrad (and I worked full time, too), so I had graduated with my Bachelors debt-free.
      I’m not sure that I’m an authority figure on it, but I do have some thoughts/opinions on the matter.
      First, make sure the person picks a profession where the salary will be worth it. I have SO MANY friends who went onto grad school because they were otherwise aimless and didn’t know what else to do. When I was growing up I was told that investing in education is always a good thing. I no longer believe that. It doesn’t mean all education is a bad thing…but education just for the sake of education is a LUXURY and not a right. Soooo, pick a career path that will actually make money. Otherwise, avoid education-related debt.
      Second, try to find a way to have someone pay for the debt. Lots of fields will pay for their employees to go back to grad school to further their education. One example is that the charter schools near me are paying 75% of education for their teachers to go back and get masters degrees. If a student can find a profession and work (even fore less money than they want) in exchange for free or reduced education – it’s probably a good trade-off.
      And my last tip for now (but I’ll mull this over and maybe dedicate a post to this topic at some future date???) – is to really work with your child to comprehend these figures. I signed up for all my loans independently starting at age 22 (when I went to grad school). I really did not/could not comprehend the amount of debt I was taking on. I just thought its what had to happen to get a degree – everyone did it. But this doesn’t have to be the case! I could have lived a more meager lifestyle and had fewer loans. And I could have waited to enroll in grad school until I had an on-campus job that would help cover tuition and make me an in-state resident. This is actually a big tip because my Master’s cost a fortune (I was considered out-of-state the entire time I lived there). If I’d moved there a semester before starting school I could have gotten an on-campus job, be considered in-state resident, and then started the program with THEM paying a good chunk of it (in exchange for my on-campus work). I got screwed because even though we lived there full-time, worked and paid taxes in the state, etc., I was considered out-of-state resident because I moved to the state specifically to go to school (that was how they worded it in their designation of in- versus out-of-state). If I’d moved there even one semester ahead of time, I would have bypassed that rule (and saved literally THOUSANDS of dollars on out-of-state tuition).

  • Reply Jan |

    I’m fortunate in that the interest rates on two credit cards is the same and the third is 0% interest with a balance transfer. So I’m paying lowest balance first and leaving the 0% interest till last. We may have our car sold today so if they go through with it I’ll be putting a massive dent in the debt very shortly! I think go with whatever payment method keeps you most motivated 🙂

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s awesome! Fingers crossed for you that the sale goes through!!

  • Reply adam |

    just a note to say keep going – i remember this period in our payback and it felt so painfully slow, and the total balance felt so, so big. Dave Ramsey talks about the debt snowball, and the snowball just seemed to take a long time to start rolling down the hill for us, but it really did happen after a while and it feels good when it does! so stay strong.

  • Reply Judi |

    I don’t know what type of research you do but if it’s at all medically related the NIH and several other funding agencies have grants to help with the burden of student loans. I know some people feel like it’s a hand out, but it’s meant to ease the burden that doctors and researchers face with the long expensive schooling. It could help set your priorities if you didn’t have to split your income stream between student loans and other goals.

  • Reply Angie |

    I just noticed we have just about the same amount of debt to pay off. It’s a race! Just kidding. Keep up the good work. Do you have a “goal” payoff date? I’m shooting for October 2018 – when I turn 40. 🙂

    • Reply Ashley |

      How fun! I’m all about a little friendly competition! : )
      I don’t have a really concrete goal for all the debt yet. It’s hard since my employment situation is still so up-in-the-air. If I land a full-time position it would drastically change the clock on debt repayment.
      But in the meantime, I’m setting a goal of continuing as-usual with student loan payments (meaning, paying aggressively toward my balance transfer loans, a little extra on my high APR loan, and minimums on all else – about a $900/month commitment) while paying enough on my car loan to have it paid in full by early 2016 (that’s $15,000 to be paid in about 10 months).

So, what do you think ?