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Ashley’s July Debt Update + General Life Updates


It’s that time of month where our checks have all come in, bills have all been paid, and we’re getting to see how much progress we were able to make on debt. And – spoiler alert – it was a good month for debt payments!!!!

First, let’s get right to the debt table…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment DateOriginal debt, March 2014
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20July$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$63500% (through April 2017)$500July$7650
Medical Bills$57610%$25July$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$86,518 (June balance = 91,058)$4928Starting Debt = $145,472

It’s still exciting to see so many empty rows, the debts having been paid off.

And can I get a virtual high-five for entering into a new first digit for debt payments? Just last month we were still in the 90k owed range and here we sit this month in the mid-80s!!! How exciting is that?! Still a heap-load of debt, no doubt, but it feels like it’s really moving at this point!

Also:  you ask for it, you get it! In response to reader comments requesting an updated break-down of my Navient Loans, I’ve made this special new table just for you!

NumberTypeAmount Owed
Amount Owed
1-01 Federal LoanUnsubsidized08.25%
1-02 Federal LoanUnsubsidized116875.80%

FYI, I broke apart my Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) Department of Education loans way back in March 2015. Please note that the original table did not include any Federal student loans, but I’ve gone ahead and included those in the updated Navient table.

Recently I’ve really started making good progress on paying down some of my student loans. They are, by far, the largest combined debt that we owe. But I’m still tackling them individually because I find it gratifying to pay them off loan-by-loan. After we buy a house, I’ve thought about refinancing to get a better interest rate, which would cause them to all be lumped into one new loan. But I’m not going to do anything related to credit until after the house deal goes down, so while the loans are all separate I continue to knock them down one-at-a-time. The next loan in my sights is loan 1-04. I’ve been doing a modified snowball method, paying the smallest loan first but focusing solely on my unsubsidized loans first.


I feel very fortunate to be in a position where we are making a nearly $5,000 debt payment within a single month. This will probably be our highest debt payment all year, given the way our salaries work (our highest income months are June and July). Our pay was higher than usual this month, so we had a higher than usual debt payment. We also did some savings for our house down payment and a little bit of spending on back-to-school shopping, conference-travel expenses (the trip isn’t until August, but I pre-paid a hotel, flight, etc.), and a surprise birthday present for hubs (his birthday is in early August).

It’s just crazy to think how big a hole we’re dealing with due (primarily, among other things) to the enormous amount of student loan debt we had. I’m so glad that my degree is finally coming in handy and helping to give us a larger-sized “shovel” (aka: income) to get out of the mess we’re in. (credit: Ramsey for the hole & shovel analogy). I certainly do not take it for granted.

In August I don’t get paid at all from my part-time job, so our income will be a little lower but we still have a buffer since hubs still has his income and I have my full-time job income. I’ve been working hard at balance this year. We’ve spent more money on having occasional date-nights (the goal is to have one per month, though we’ve been averaging closer to every-other-month). I’m also determined to start entertaining more, especially after we are in a new house! And, to give another personal (but related to finances) update, I’ve finally scheduled an appointment for therapy. Remember when I talked about wanting to go to therapy nearly a full year ago? I made it as far as to do some internet research, find someone I liked, and then I called and she wasn’t accepting new clients. That was nearly a year ago and I’ve done nothing about it since then. But even though I feel much better now than I did at that time (things are on the ups – my dad is in an assisted living, we’re selling his Utah house, preschool starts again in 2 weeks, hubs and I have had more date nights and fun stuff  out of the house), I still feel the desire to talk to someone. I’ve experienced a lot of major life changes in the past year between starting back to work full-time, starting the girls in preschool full-time, dealing with my dad’s health crisis, recent deaths in the family, etc. etc. etc. I think it’s good and healthy to take the time (and money, if one’s budget allows. thank you generous university insurance plan!) to have little “check ins” every once in awhile. Plus, we’ve got more major life changes ahead as we begin the process of house-hunting and officially putting down roots here in Arizona (something that’s strangely difficult to come to terms with. We’ve been living here a solid 6 years now, but I always thought we’d move back to Texas to be by family so it’s odd to realize we’ll likely remain in Arizona for some time to come).

Anyway, all of this is just to say that I’m still working to add more balance back into my life. I’m now into my 3rd year of debt payoff. The first solid 2 years I was 100% gung-ho on the debt reduction train. I’m still on the train (as evidenced by this month’s killer debt payment, thankyouverymuch!), but I’m trying to add more room to our budget for normal “life” stuff. Dates, kids’ activities, entertaining friends, going to therapy. I’m even thinking about maybe re-joining a gym once the kids are officially back in preschool (for long-term readers, you may remember I bought a gym membership a couple years ago and cancelled it after only a couple months to try to save every penny and put it all toward debt).

I just want to keep it real with you all as I’m on this journey. We’ve had 2 years of solid, hard, grueling work. We still have a very, very long way to go. But this is a marathon for us, not a sprint. We couldn’t have maintained that pace forever (and it would have been unhealthy and damaging to try). I’m still trying to be reasonable – we’re not going all-out crazy spending money. But I think it’s important to start letting the girls participate in different activities (I’m still limiting to one activity at a time. Right now it’s swim, but we’ve put in a cancellation notice effective at the end of August and plan to start a new activity in the Fall). I think it’s important to put more time and effort (and, yes, money) into strengthening our friendships by having people over and hosting more get-togethers. And just generally doing more paid activities that we’ve been foregoing the past 2 years. All while trying to still make hefty debt payments that we can be proud of.

We’re well on our way to hit that $30,000 debt-reduction goal for 2016. I think our future is bright.

Where are you on your debt reduction mission? Did you go all-out the whole time, or did you add in some “breaks” and periods with more balance? How long did it take you to get out of debt? What was the #1 thing that helped you to stay the course and eventually get out of debt?


  • Reply DIY$ |

    High-five for dropping below $90k!

    Just curious – is there a reason you’re trying to pay off the unsubsidized loans first? I thought that once you’re not in school any longer they all start to accrue interest and are essentially the same.

    • Reply Jill |

      If you are on an income based repayment they will forgive the unpaid interest on the subsidized loans at the end of the year. The unpaid interest on the unsubsidized is not forgiven, so depending on how much your payment is you could still have your loans increase each year. This is the boat I am in, my income based repayment does not cover the total amount of interest each month so my student loans are increasing.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Jill is correct. The reason I’m focusing on unsubsidized is because I’m on income based repayment (IBR). My minimum payments don’t even cover the amount owed in interest, but the unpaid interest is forgiven for subsidized loans. Therefore, I pay the mandated minimum for the subsidized loans (and unpaid interest is forgiven), but I’ve been paying well above the minimum for my unsubsidized loans. From what I understand, the unpaid interest-forgiveness thing only lasts for 3 years and I just started into year #3 so I’m really trying to knock out as many of the unsubsidized loans as possible and then, when the house thing is done, I can consolidate any remaining loans into one lower-interest-rate payment.

  • Reply Kili |

    Hi Ashley,
    great work!
    And i totally agree that you should make sure to stay happy & healthy with so much on your plate. I defnitely think it’s a good idea to take preventive measures & talk to a therapist.
    I stumbled across this collection of ways to get therapy a couple of days ago – which i found rather interesting:

      • Reply Angie |

        This is a great idea. Most workplaces have a EAP which will provide therapy or counseling up to a certain amount of sessions for each “issue”. The issue can be anything. Dad’s diagnosis, stress from starting a new job, etc. I bet the university you work for offers it or offers discounted sessions on campus.

  • Reply scarr |

    I’m curious about the balance transfer – will that be an issue when ya’ll start “shopping” for mortgages, since it would appear as credit card debt. Lord knows people with much higher cc debt manage to receive mortgages – it may not be anything to bother worrying about.

    And great job on the debt repayment this month!

  • Reply Emilie Burke |

    Way to crush it!!! I wish I had a big shovel like yours! I’ve been looking for ways to start boosting my income more so that I could put more towards my debt repayment.

    • Reply Ashley |

      We didn’t start with such a big shovel! When I first started blogging our household income was about $45,000/year. Keep working hard and hustling and things will happen! : )

  • Reply Mary |

    I totally understand how you feel about finding balance in life. Working a full-time and part-time job while being a mother to twins is not easy. You and your husband have done well to pay down a good chunk of your debt, and you guys definitely deserve to add more to your entertainment budget.

  • Reply Brooke |

    Thanks for breaking out the student loans! You as re making fast progress. We just hit out two year point and I do think we are going to have to start focusing less on paying down debt. In September we we get down to the last two loans (still about 60k!) I think we’re going to save for a serious emergency fun and possibly try to fund my husband starting a business.. 3,4 years is a long time to keep the same financial priority and I think we have to be responsive to what is going on in our lives!

So, what do you think ?