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Spring Break (+ Feb. Debt Update)


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 DateOriginal 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?




  • Reply C@thesingledollar |

    First, I’m so sorry things are going downhill with your dad 🙁 What a stressful situation.

    I’m also sorry about the IRS! I hope you can save enough to pay them on time in cash.

    That said, if you can’t, I’d urge you not to get involved with borrowing from your dad. I’m not actually opposed to borrowing money from family in general, but given that you and your siblings now have charge of your dad’s finances, it seems like *way* too complicated of a situation to get into, emotionally and legally. I doubt the IRS penalties/interest will be that big of a deal given that you presumably would be able to pay *most* of what you owe immediately. Losing a little to interest/penalties seems like not that big a deal compared to the potential downsides of borrowing from your dad.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a really good point. I was just thinking of the general emotional “messiness” of it all. Didn’t even consider the possible long-term legal implications should he outlive his money. God help us all – I pray that doesn’t happen!!!

  • Reply Maureen |

    So sorry about your dad! I can’t imagine how hard it is now be the “parent” in the situation while he is relatively still young.

    I agree with C’s comments about borrowing from your dad. If your dad outlives his resources his finance will be scrutinized by the state (to see if he gifted people money-most states have a 60-month look back period before they go on state care). In any regard even though you could explain it, it’s better to not even go there.

    Also curious–how SL balance transfer #2 go from due in April to now September?

    • Reply Ashley |

      Hi Maureen – I’m glad you asked this because I was initially going to address it in this post but it had gotten so lengthy and tangential that I didn’t.

      The balance transfer was actually an 18-month transfer. I had that written in my notes in YNAB, but for some reason in the blog table I’d always had it stated that it was due in April (which would be the 12th month after the balance transfer was initiated). I was originally on track to have it paid by April, but given the tax bill issue I decided to call and just verify/clarify when exactly the final payment is actually due (12 month or 18 month). Turns out the last payment is due the 11th of October. In the table I’ve changed it to say “due by September” so I can make sure I get the final payment in on-time (I don’t want to wait until October and then risk the possibility of a check taking too long to post or whatever and getting hit with back interest & fees). So that’s the story with that. Sorry for the confusion!!!

      • Reply Maureen |

        I’m glad for you that it really does expire in September. You will easily make that deadline. 🙂

    • Reply anon |

      Ha ha. I thought the same thing! Clearly we’re too invested in your debt, Ashley!

  • Reply Sarah |

    Also, sorry about your dad. I’m sure this is an emotional trip as you haven’t seen him in a little while.

    I just wanted to comment on minimum payments due on student loans. This is why student loans are such a racket. How can anyone expect to pay them off when they only have to pay $30 a month. I can’t even believe that pays the interest owed. I’m not criticizing you…just the whole student loan process. Just ridiculous and infuriates me. The student loan crisis will be the next bubble to burst!

    • Reply Ashley |

      ME TOO!! Also, as a side-note, the minimum payments do NOT even cover the amount of the interest owed. For the subsidized loans, the unpaid interest is forgiven. For the unsubsidized loans, the balances have actually grown by a few dollars due to the unpaid interest. For this month (March) I’m paying the minimums on all the subsidized and the minimum + $50 for each of the two unsubsidized loans. It’s really not making a dent, but at least the extra $50 will keep the balances from growing.
      But, yes. Student loans are the worst!

      • Reply Sarah |

        I have a friend who just graduated with $64k in student loans. I’m trying to light a fire under him to work, work, work to get them paid off but I’m not quite sure he realizes the urgency to the situation. He did just tell me he paid $700 but in reality, it was only $600 as $100 in interest had accrued since he last checked. I’m hoping that helps light a fire under him.

        • Reply Maureen |

          Sarah–Tell him to calculate the math on interest even over the next 5 years. I graduated with almost $200K (law school) in student loans and I am aggressively paying them off (and have been for about the last 3 years). I am down to just about $70,000. However, in the 8 years I have been in repayment I have paid over $50,000 in interest. YES, that number is correct. Now, my starting amount owed was much higher than his, but knowing I have paid literally enough to buy a new semi-luxury SUV in cash makes me cringe. I didn’t always have the means to overpay, but I could have probably been more diligent in the beginning to scrape together even a few extra hundred dollars some months. I also paid at least the minimum on the actual payment (due to my spouse’s income I never qualified for IBR) each month. Now I overpay a lot each month and I literally do a dance when I know I have reduced the interest I am paying!

          • Ashley |

            OUCH!!! $50K is so painful! It makes me cringe!! I haven’t calculated how much I’ve paid strictly toward interest, but I know it’s got to be a LOT. I’ll have to look at it someday because it’d be interesting to know….but also pretty painful. Ugh!

  • Reply Kiki |

    I agree with the above comments about not borrowing from your dad, especially because you are the executor. (Am I right about that?) It’s best to keep your finances separate from family business. I know this from experience in my own family and how it created problems and resentment.

    • Reply Ashley |

      We were actually named sequentially: my sister first, me second, my brother third. However, my sister has asked me to help share responsibilities with her. I handle all the financial aspects of my dad’s life (paying bills, managing/maintaining and eventually selling his homes, managing investments, etc.). My sister, who is an RN. lives ten minutes from him, manages all my dad’s day-to-day care, doctor’s appointments, visits, etc.

      • Reply Nicole |

        It’s great that you’re able to split the care responsibilities with your sister so well. My mom was almost solely responsible for all my grandparents’ needs (health and financial) as their health declined. Luckily their health declines were mostly sequential rather than concurrent, but it was still almost like a full-time job for my mom for several years.

        Random thought for the future: the IRS treats income tax withheld from paychecks as if it was paid in evenly over the year. So if you would realize later in the year that you’re in a similar tax situation, owing a large chunk, you could change your withholding to have a lot more taken out of your remaining paychecks for the year. You can cover the amount owed with no penalties, no big bill when you file. I realize it was a surprise this year, but this fall/early winter it might be worth taking a look.

  • Reply AT |

    I thought the IRS penalties kicked in after 60 days, that you had 60 days to transfer”IRA funds from one place to another. Maybe you could “move” your IRA to another financial institution on 4/15, pay the taxes, and complete the move by 6/15. That might be something the accountant could advise you on.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Interesting – I had no idea about this. I’ll definitely ask the CPA about this!

  • Reply Rosalind |

    It’s strangely satisfying to see you get rid of everything but the student debt. Not as satisfying as it is for you though, I’m sure.

So, what do you think ?