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Over the Hump!

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In spite of some setbacks personally  and professionally, things are still progressing nicely in terms of our debt payments. And I’m happy to announce that as of this month, we are officially over the half-way mark with paying off our car loan debt! Wahoo!!!!

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We still have a way to go (over twelve thousand dollars!!!), but remember when things were tight and we stayed in a holding pattern for what felt like forever (literally 5 months where we were in the fifteen thousand dollar range)? We’re finally making good progress and it feels GREAT to get to see the car debt thermometer every time I walk into the kitchen! Yay!!!

And in other financial news, I spoke with the business office in my department and had my paycheck corrected to be paid over 9 months instead of 12.  There were a lot of comments from teachers who said they much preferred a 12-month cycle of pay if it was possible. So, initially I was thinking maybe I’d keep it as-is.

But then others pointed out that (1) we’re very used to dealing with irregular income; we’ve been living this way for years! And (2) my car loan is accruing interest NOW! It’d be better for me to get this money up front and try to pay off our debt ASAP (the goal is still to be consumer debt-free before 2016), rather than to get a lesser paycheck every month in exchange for having summer pay. Also, don’t forget that hubs still draws an income and he’s been the main income-earner in our home for years, so if I don’t get paid over summer and we have to rely on his income for those months, we’ll still survive just fine. It would certainly mean lower savings and/or debt payments during that time, but it wouldn’t cause us to go into debt or not have enough money to survive. Additionally, I have one more piece of good news to report….

I (finally) spoke with the department head and officially received permission to continue working my part-time job (adjunct teaching online)!!! YAY!!!!! So I’ll still get paid, at least from my part-time job, and possibly from my full-time job if there are teaching needs next summer. (Side note for those who’ve asked: now that I’ve received official permission, I plan to continue teaching my part-time job as long as possible. I know I won’t be able to continue forever, especially as my job duties and responsibilities increase with my full-time job. But for now I’m planning to continue at least a year – meaning Fall 2015, Spring 2016, and Summer 2016. From that point I’ll reassess to determine if I feel I can continue teaching part-time. I routinely teach 2 classes, but one is much more grading-intensive than the other. So it may be that I ask to drop 1 class but keep the other one for as long as I’m allowed.)

Taking all these factors into consideration, I think we’ll be just fine with the 9-month pay cycle, even if it means I’m double-dinged for insurance payments in the Spring and we have to be a little more careful/cautious with budgeting for summer months.

With some of the bummer things I’ve shared lately, I’m really happy to be able to report some good news!

Have you hit any big milestones with debt repayment lately? Share a piece of good news from your life!


Financial Priority List

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One of my new favorite things to do since signing my first full-time employment contract is to run numbers over and over again to determine our new debt-free date. 🙂

As a side-note, I ran across an old notebook from last summer (August 2014) where I’d written projected debt-free dates and was slightly heartbroken to see I’d originally hoped to have my car loan paid in full by January 2015. Crusher! Still about 15 grand to go on that one (latest debt update here). But I’ll be hitting it hard once the paychecks start rolling in.

Regarding pay, however, things are still a bit up in the air.

A reader who works in HR commented a couple weeks ago to say that I probably need to receive official permission from my new job to continue working at my online teaching job. I really hadn’t thought anything of it because I know lots of professors who adjunct teach at a community college on the side of their full-time professor gig. But as this is my first full time position and I absolutely do not want ANYTHING to jeopardize it in any way, I called HR to be safe. At first I got a casual response, “I don’t see why that would be an issue but I’ve never had the question before. I’ll check with someone else and call you back.”

So I go the rest of the day thinking I’m A-Okay until I get the call. Even though my part-time job can be completed at nights and on weekends, will not interfere in any way with my new position, and is only adjunct teaching (no additional responsibilities, etc.), the employee handbook has a little section stating that any employment for any other university or college MUST be approved by the department head AND college dean. Ouch.

I’m still hopeful about the situation. I really don’t think it will be a big deal given the parameters of my online teaching job (specifically that it can be completed any time so it won’t cause any impairment to my new day job, and it’s a simple adjunct position). BUT the bottom line is I have to ask for official permission to continue working for the online job and, if I’m told no, there goes my hopes of making serious progress on debt repayment.

Let’s step back a sec and talk numbers without actually talking numbers. Just follow me.

My new full-time job pays about 50% more than my current part-time online teaching job.

BUT

After running the numbers of all the deductions to be taken out from each paycheck, which are substantial (including: health, dental, vision, retirement, money for a flexible spending account for childcare expenses, taxes, etc. etc. etc.) I’m only going to actually be netting an extra couple hundred bucks a month. Soooo, practically the same monthly pay for my full-time job as what I make at my part-time job.

Of course, my money will stretch a lot further at my new full-time job because, unlike the part-time job, I won’t have to deduct funds monthly to pay my own taxes and health insurance. I’ll be paying for (part of) childcare with pre-tax dollars to save some money there. I’ll be paying for health care with pre-tax dollars to save some money there. I’ll be saving money toward retirement where previously I’ve saved nearly nothing. And so on.

But when you just look at the bottom line…. being able to keep my part-time job effectively doubles my take-home salary. So obviously I’m hoping I’ll be able to do that.

Cross your fingers for me. I meet with the department head the week of the 20th (exact date TBD) so I’m hoping to bring it up in our meeting and have it be no big deal.

In the meantime I have a just-for-fun list of financial priorities along with some projected dates.

Financial Priority List

  • September 2015 – Add $4,000 to Emergency Fund. With hubs’ no-income month of May and the fact that much of my paycheck was sucked up into an overdue tax bill, we basically lived on our EF for the month of June. We do have a little left (just under a thousand), but I’d like to beef it up to the $5,000 mark. If we put some aside in August and some in September, we’ll hit that goal. It’s tough to put so much toward savings instead of debt but I feel really strongly that we need to have a solid EF, if for nothing more than my own psychological well-being.
  • December 2015 – Pay off remaining car loan (approx. $15,000). This is still a bit of an aggressive goal, but as long as I’m able to keep both my jobs I think there’s a really good chance we can still pay off our car before the calendar year is over. I CAN NOT WAIT until this loan is paid because it will signify reaching the consumer debt-free mark – a huge milestone in my mind.

And here’s where things get controversial….

After the car is paid off, I definitely want to start paying more toward my student loans. But instead of diving full-force into paying off these loans with the gazelle intensity that I’ve tried to have for all of our other consumer-related debts, I want to split my priorities a bit. I still feel very strongly about paying off these loans as quickly as possible (especially the unsubsidized loans; and I plan to continue doing balance transfers to save some interest where possible, too). That being said, however, there’s something else I feel really strongly about too.

Home ownership.

No, we aren’t looking at places today. No, we don’t even know what the next year may bring (examples: (1) my dad’s scary health issues, and (2) I’ve still been in talks with the out-of-state university where I did my not-an-interview earlier this year). But all that being said, once the consumer debts are paid in full I think it will be important to start saving more aggressively for an eventual down payment. At this point I don’t know specifics (no idea the amount per month we’ll save versus the amount put toward student loans every month), and I really do want to stress that I want my student loans gone ASAP! I hate dealing with them every month. I hate the amount of interest they cost me. I hate their drama. I hate that they’re this huge, scary, black hole of debt on my credit report. So in no way am I suggesting that I’ll only pay minimums or drastically reduce debt payments. No way!

Look. It’s never been a secret that I really want to put down roots somewhere. I said it in my very first “Meet Ashley” post that I wrote when I interviewed to be one of the bloggers here. It’s important to me. The American dream and all that jazz. And the older my kids get, the more I want it.

I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this as time moves on. But for now, we’ll just say that I’ve got these two concrete goals (restock EF by September, and consumer debt-free by December), and then we’ll have to do some reassessing at that point. Either way, 2015 is shaping up to be a pretty kick-butt year in terms of debt repayment. Full throttle ahead!

 


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