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Breaking Down My Student Loans

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I spent some time digging into my student loans this past week as I create a plan of action. I appreciate everyone’s feedback on my post regarding beginning to pay towards debt again. And I understand the advice to just put the payments in a separate account since technically no payments are due. But I have decided that with steady work, a very comfortable EF and my drive to get out of debt, I am going to make payments.

Unlike other bloggers before me, I’ve never really looked at my loans. Or broken them down. But this past week, I did some digging. And boy, what I found shamed me.

First off, all my student loans are my grad school. I was able to graduate with my Bachelors with no debt thanks to my parents, grandparents, lots of scholarships (thanks mom, for making me write 8,000,000 essays) and my own working and saving from the time I was 15 and able to get my first job.

When I got ready to go to grad school, I was debt free other than a very reasonable car payment and working full time. I SHOULD have just paid for school. I could have afforded it. But no, I was introduced to the world of FAFSA and make some stupid decisions! I was completely ignorant of the student loan world at the time.

But here I am…

I completed my Masters in 2004, it took 2-3 years. And cost me $30K in student loan debt and the since accrued interest. If I had to do it again, I would still get my masters but I would have paid for it out of pocket and maybe gone a bit more slowly as a result.

I got married 9 months before I graduated and got pregnant with Princess 1 month after I graduated. We moved to Virginia from Texas the day after I graduated. (Thanks to my parents and all my siblings who came to my graduation and then helped us load the moving truck.)

I digress.

Status of My Loans

Loan 1 Loan 2
Original Balance $21,750 $17,000
Subsidy Status Unsubsidized Subsidized
Interest Rate 2.875% 2.875%
Outstanding Balance (4/30/2020) $19,758 $14,129

Now I have to be honest here, which I realize is going to make me seem even more ignorant and stupid. But I have NO CLUE how my schooling for those years cost $38,000. I don’t know if I ever looked at the bills. Or what. I completed several semesters at local community colleges before applying to the grad school program. Then, I attended the grad school program full time for 2 years. I was working full time making $40ishK per year.

I can’t remember how I paid for the community colleges, I’m guessing they are part of the loans. I do remember being excited when I would get the “extra” back in the form of a check after my tuition was paid when I was in the graduate program. And I do remember blowing some of that money, especially after I go married. But an extra $30K in two-ish years? Yikes.

And that wasn’t even my greatest source of shame as I looked at these loans.

I graduated in the fall of 2003 with my Masters degree…17 years later…and I’ve only paid off $5,000 of the original $38,000. Shame overwhelms me as I look back at that. I have blown so much money, made some many terrible decisions.

And I can’t say why.

It has been so easy to just push this debt to the side. To pay minimums or take advantage of forbearance.

But no more…

To be continued (since this turned out why longer than I anticipated.)

A Birthday Budget

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I have been wracking my brain trying to come with something to make Princess’ 16th birthday special while in quarantine. There will be no party, no going out to eat…no nothing really. Although she has requested that we order from Dominoes as her birthday meal.

Gymnast and I went walking this week and he reminded me that for the twins’ 16th birthday, I did 16 presents…and I thought, what a great idea! Now I’ve got a plan, so I just have to come up with 16 presents…without breaking the bank!

I’ve set a budget of $200 for her birthday, this is pretty standard with a family meal out and a $50ish big present and a few smaller things. And seeing as our meal will be much less expensive, I can spend a little more on gifts. (I have the same budgeted for every birthday, it just varies on how much is actually spent based on where they choose to eat and if I have coupons or gift cards.)

In the Past

For the twins’ 16th birthday, I gave them each 16 presents and they got them throughout the day. I remember because it was a homeschool co op day so I planned it so they received them every hour or so from different people. It started with a Starbucks coffee drink when they woke up…

I can’t remember everything I got them, but I know gifts included watches, wallet, fast good gift card, etc. Nothing pricey, more in the $5-10 range. And some were free…coupons for chores, hug from a friend, etc. It was a neat and memorable day for them without breaking the bank.

With Princess, I’m going to have a get a bit more creative since we don’t really have any activities going on. I would love any suggestions.

Ideas I have for gifts are:

  • Makeup
  • Cake baked by one of her friends (already set in motion)
  • Coupon for dog walking – there is nothing my kids more than having me do one of their chores ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Gift card for gas
  • Acrylic paint (can get it for $0.50 each at Wal-mart)
  • Starbucks drink sometime during the day
  • Fast food gift card

There won’t be any particular “big” gifts. I think this birthday will be more about making the delivery memorable versus the gift itself.

If you have any cheap gift ideas for a laid back, crafty 16 year old girl and/or unique delivery ideas while we are in quarantine, I would love to hear them.