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Ashley’s March 2016 Debt Update

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It’s that time again!

I know I said I was going to be focusing on savings pretty heavily the first half of the year. And, don’t get me wrong, I am. But we still had a reasonable sized debt payment this month because I really wanted to get my balance transfer loan paid in full by the end of the month. That meant a large $1400 payment to a single entity (plus all the other minimum payments for student loans and medical bills and such). So, overall, not too shabby of a debt payment! Check it out (also, notice that I re-organized the spreadsheet a bit to have current debts up top instead of at the bottom).

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$81,7186.55%-8.25%$677March$80761
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20March$8215
Medical Bills$58610%$25March$9000
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$00% (through April 2016)$1412March$5937
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
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
Totals$96,175 (Feb balance = 97,839)$2134Starting Debt = $145,472

So we’re chugging right along. Next up, I’ll be working on eradicating the Navient student loan with the 8.25% APR (there’s only one, at about a $2,000 balance. All the rest of the loans are 6.55% APR). I hope to have the high interest rate loan knocked out by May. I’ll also be initiating a new balance transfer to try to get some more of my student debt moved onto an interest-free card. I just checked and have an offer through Capital One for a 2% initiation fee and 0% APR for 18 months. I have a $7500 limit and am thinking I’ll max it out (meaning, I’ll move a full $7500 from one of my unsubsidized student loans to Capital One). I want to give it a couple weeks before doing the balance transfer just to make sure my balance is fully zero’ed out before the next billing cycle begins.

How have you all been doing on your debt payments? Have a good March? Applying any tax return money toward debt? We still haven’t done our taxes yet (eek!)


22 Comments

  • Reply Alexandra |

    Congrats on knocking out that balance transfer! And you’ve almost paid off $50k from your original debt total!!

  • Reply DD @ DoubleDebtSingleWoman |

    Impressive!! You’re closing in on Navient. And you’re now under $100K! I can’t wait until I get to that milestone. Keep it up!

    My student loan servicer does not allow payment / transfer of any kind via credit card. I was curious about employing a similar strategy and looked into it a long while ago. Bummer for me. I was not aware that some servicers permitted this. Glad it’s working out so well for you!

    Can I mention again how evil student loans and student loan servicers are?
    Congrats.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Weird, the loan servicer doesn’t allow it??? I know many credit card companies won’t allow it. I deal with Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Capital One and out of those 3, only capital one allows it. But I didn’t realize the student loan servicing company might not allow it? You’d think they’d just be happy to get money, no matter where it comes from!

      • Reply Karin |

        I transferred $10k of student loans to my Bank of America CC with their ‘Access Checks’ they send to me every now and then. Just mailed the check in to the loan servicer like a regular payment and now it’s on the card with 0% for 18 months.

    • Reply Maureen |

      Some credit card companies allow you to write yourself a balance transfer check and “use the money” for whatever (e.g., Chase often has offers for 2% and up to your credit balance limit). Write yourself the check, deposit it, and then pay off the loan and “repay” the balance transfer.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Nice job, Ashley! As you pay off individual loans does your minimum payment drop also?

    • Reply Ashley |

      Kind of…
      My student loans are broken down into 10 different loans (i’ve just grouped them together here for ease). Each loan has it’s own minimum payment. I target loans one at a time, so as I knock off a loan the minimum payment would go away for that loan (which has the effect of lowering my overall minimum payment). BUT, remember these loans are on income-based repayment, so my minimum payment is determined by our annual salary. In a couple months I have to re-apply (it’s an annual thing) and since our salary has gone up considerably I’m fully expecting the minimum payment to go up considerably as well. We have to reapply in May, so I’ll know at that time what the NEW minimum payment will be.

  • Reply Stephanie |

    Wow, this is great.

    I agree that you need to do something about the interest rates on Navient loans. Is there any chance you could refinance them? I have heard great things about sofi.com, but I haven’t used them.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yeah I’ve heard of them. I am planning to do some type of refinance in the future (probably late 2016 or early 2017). Right now we’re holding off because we’re hoping to buy a house this summer and don’t want to open any new lines of credit. I was ok with the balance transfer because it’s an existing line of credit so it’s not going to show up as new on my credit report.

      • Reply Angie |

        Along those lines, you may want to reconsider doing a second balance transfer if you can’t pay it off prior to buying a home. I’m sure that 7500 balance on a credit card wouldn’t be too favorable. And I’m not sure the minimal savings would be worth a potential hit on your mortgage rate.

  • Reply Sarah |

    You have come so far! I can’t wait for you to start knocking out those student loans!

  • Reply Meg |

    Great progress. Not sure if you have addressed it before, but have you asked the medical provider to reduce their bill if you pay it in full? I was shocked that a doc office offered to reduce their bill substantially after I made a partial payment. I was going to pay the balance the following month anyway after more more was moved into my HSA so I graciously accepted their offer. This was after their bill had already been reduced by my health insurance and they had received the insurance payment. I always thought it was hospitals that were more likely to accept less than full payment, not doctors’ offices.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I should try this! We did this with all of our smaller medical debts, but the average was only a 5-10% decrease so it wasn’t a whole lot. This bill is all due to a single entity and we don’t have the cash to settle right now (at least, not if the discount is only 10%). But this is really worth thinking about in the future. Maybe we can save up a little pot of money and call and offer it to them….just see what they say. It’s worth a try.

  • Reply shelly |

    The credit card company might not allow a full credit limit transfer. We’ve done them before but have to allow for the fee they charge.

  • Reply Shauna |

    Great work! A few things to consider-have you talked to a conservative (financially) mortgage broker? Your credit also can be affected by the amount of credit being used in relation to the amount you have. So doing a full limit credit transfer may negatively affect you, despite the fact you are not taking on “new” debt. Are you able to take out a personal loan secured by your retirement funds to pay off all the Navient debt? The interest rate may not be much better but it gets you out from under Navient and you have proven how quickly you can pay things off. And that also allows for your student loans to go down every month, not up. As an aside, one thing your blog has done has really made me incredibly grateful for my parents paying for my entire college experience. I always appreciated it, but seeing the nitty gritty of student loans has really driven it home. We are currently paying for our first to go to college and have several more in the next few years. I have been showing them this so they see how incredibly lucky they are that we are able to get them out of college debt free and hope they realize how huge that is!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Absolutely! So many people take it for granted, but it’s an absolute blessing!
      In regard to the personal loan, I don’t think I could do that. I just started working full-time in August so I have very few retirement funds to serve as a “backing” of the loan. I could try though. We haven’t talked to any mortgage brokers yet. We’re hoping to move late summer and thought we’d start interviewing brokers, realtors, etc. after our cruise (so, early May). Should we really be doing it before that? We’re new to this – no idea!

      • Reply Walnut |

        The best thing to do now regarding the house buying is to start going to open houses and scanning house sales in your desired neighborhood. You can get set up with rate watches at a few banks if you want to get a feel for the lending side of it. The following is my favorite calculator for mortgage comparison. I would strongly encourage you to consider looking a 15 year mortgage when you purchase. You’ll start building equity SO much faster than on a 30 year.

        http://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/mortgage-payment-calculator.html

      • Reply first step |

        Definitely talk to a mortgage broker now to see how your student loans and your previous & your husband’s on-going self-employment affect your eligibility for a mortgage. Since you’ve been in your current job for less than a year, you may need more time on the job to qualify for the best rates. If you’re already a member of or eligible to join a credit union, also check out their mortgage options–they can have more flexible approval criteria, especially if they will keep your loan in-house instead of selling it to another servicer. Additionally, check out first-time buyer programs; you may eligible for 100% financing and that may be a better plan for you since mortgage rates are much lower than your student loan rates.

        It’s best to get your financing mapped out before falling in love with a house and finding out you can’t get the loan you want. Good luck with your search!

  • Reply debthaven |

    It’s just sickening to see some of those SL balances go up rather than down, despite you paying them down all this time. It’s just plain WRONG! But you will be victorious over them Ashley!

    I’m happy that you decided to put the current debts on top rather than at the bottom. 🙂

    You’re doing incredibly well! And, you have staying power, which has not always been the case on this blog. You and your DH should be very proud of yourselves!

    Two more questions:
    – I understand that you don’t want to say what field you work in, but would you feel comfortable giving us even a vague idea? ie STEM, humanities, social sciences, etc?
    – Given that you are planning to look at houses soon, how will your projected mortgage payment compare to your current rent? You may have addressed this already, sorry if I’ve forgotten.

    Keep on keeping on!

  • Reply Sarah |

    I don’t know if I agree with the 15 year mortgage. Your fixed payment is higher than a 30 year mortgage and you don’t have flexibility to pay less.

    What I like to do is have a 30 year mortgage and then pay more so you can pay it like a 15 year mortgage. You have flexibility if times get tough. My husband was laid off in 2002 for six months and I was so glad that we could make a lower mortgage payment.

    Just something to think about.

So, what do you think ?