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Teacher Gifts, Holiday Tipping

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There are TONS of guides out there for holiday tipping those important service people in your life.  I am so grateful that I don’t typically have this struggle because I don’t use any service people are on a regular basis…no babysitter, no hair dressers, no maintenance people, etc.  Oh wait, I’m living in an apartment now and the maintenance crew, two in particular have been AMAZING!  So what do do?

In addition, my kiddos attend a homeschool co op run by super talented and committed moms and professionals.  The urge to shower them with gifts to show my appreciate is strong.  My desire to spend money is about zilch!  I had planned to make soap for every one but two things…one I haven’t started it and it needs at least a week to cure and two I gave them all soap last year.  So I’m in a bind, what to do?

So this post is all about you…what do gift or do you gift those important service people in your life and/or you children’s caretakers or teachers?

I have decided on one…for the first time since Little Gymnast joined the team, I feel the urge to show my gratitude with gifts.  I asked the owner of the gym what to get for his primary coach as I really don’t know him to well.  He’s an older, pretty gruff man and for a lot of reasons I haven’t had any personal conversations with him over the last three years.  But the owner made it really easy…buy him a case of Mountain Dew.  So that’s one gift I will be giving someone who is an important part of our lives if not a personal connection.


Advice Wanted!

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our debt payoff journey and feel as though I’ve come to a bit of a crossroads. Sometimes having an objective opinion (YOURS!) is just what it takes for me to gain a little perspective or see something from another angle, so here’s the deal….

I’ve been (borderline-obsessively) checking and re-checking my budget/debt spreadsheet, trying to determine the best course of action. It appears that we will be able to pay off the Wells Fargo card much sooner than previously expected (probably by June!!!), and the plan has ALWAYS been to snowball that payment toward our last credit card – Bank of America.

But a careful examination of ALL (of our many, many) debts leaves me feeling a bit unsettled about the decision. I think the money may be better allocated toward a different debt.

To get a big picture, I’m going to break from the mold a little and lay out my debts now (mid-month) instead of waiting until the beginning of June. So here’s the big debt picture (listed by APR – highest to lowest). Note the “Deferment Ends” column. I have listed minimum payments for my student loans once deferment ends.

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRMinimum DueMin Due (When Deferment Ends)Deferment End Date
Wells Fargo CC$334513.65%8787N/A
Sallie Mae - Dept of Ed$55788.5%0692/10/15
Sallie Mae - Federal Student Loans$45648.25%6262Current (no deferment)
Carmax$229947.75%470470N/A
BoA CC$21407.24%3535N/A
ACS Student Loans$213887.24%2524010/28/14
Sallie Mae - Dept of Ed$652367%07372/10/15
License Fees$56232.7%5555N/A
Medical Bills$82530%100100*Still does not include Mayo Clinic bill
Totals$139121

 

My thoughts are totally fragmented, so I’ll lay them out bullet-style.

  • I recently discovered that one of my Sallie Mae Department of Education loans is at an 8.5% APR….ALL of the others are at 7% so I had mistakenly thought this one was 7% too, and had previously lumped them all together. I’ve now separated this debt because it will be my highest interest-rate debt after WF is paid.
  • When deferment ends my plan has been to consolidate my student loans and try to get a lower interest rate. So its possible the 8.5% could be getting a reduction in February.
  • After my Wells Fargo card is paid in full, my plan is to go try to refinance my car loan for a lower APR (currently 7.24%). So its possible I can get this interest rate lowered.
  • People may disagree with this one (particularly as my #1 goal has ALWAYS been to eradicate CC debt), but now I’m feeling less urgency about getting rid of my BoA debt. I feel the money might be better spent going toward a higher interest student loan??? Additionally – any credit gurus out there? I’ve read that if you have $0 CC debt it can actually ding your credit score a little (not as significantly as having too much debt-to-credit, but there’s still an impact). Being as I’m trying to refinance student loans and cars, I’m thinking that leaving a little debt on my lowest APR card right now might not be terrible? (Note: I’m NOT suggesting I stay in debt forever….just saying I may be better served to allocate funds toward higher APR debt currently while I’m playing the credit score game).
  • My ACS student loan deferment ends in October, at which time the payment will increase to $240/month.
  • I’m mathematically-minded so my preference in debt-repayment is highest APR first (regardless of balance).
  • That said, if I were to rank-order my debts in order of the PERSONAL satisfaction I’d receive from paying them off (that whole psychological aspect component), I’d rank: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Carmax, License, Student loans, medical debt).
  • My current inclination (a rough combination of mathematical and personal satisfaction factors) is to rank order debt repayment as such: Wells Fargo, Sallie Mae (first the 8.5% APR, then the 8.25% APR loan), Bank of America, license, Carmax, remaining student loans (ACS & Sallie Mae 7% APR), and medical debt still dead last.
  • At the same time, I’m trying to think of some strategy to leverage the extra money we have right now. While student loans are still in deferment I have a good amount of extra money to throw toward debts. Once deferment ends my funds will be greatly divided. I’d like to strategize to eradicate some of the lower-amount debts so that – once deferment ends – my funds aren’t being split into 15 different directions!
  • Ever heard of using a 0% APR credit card to pay student loans??? Remember that 0% offer I got that everyone said I should take? I never did (and won’t need it since I’m kicking WF’s butt right now!), but maybe I could use it for the 8.25-8.5% APR student loan debt??? Yay? Nay?
  • Keep in mind we’ve only budgeted $1500/month for debt repayment, though we’ve been putting extra toward debt each month if we have money available after paying our bills.
  • Another couple considerations to throw into the mix just for fun…at some point (before all of our debt is gone), we’re going to have to cash-flow some major expenses: serious dental work for my husband (discussed earlier today), and a new work truck for my husband (if we’re lucky, maybe it will last until next winter….we already had several problems this past winter). Plus all the “baby” related items as our girls grow older – buying the supplies to convert cribs into beds, newer carseats when they outgrow the old ones, etc.

I’ve liked not splitting priorities, so I can focus on eradicating one debt at a time, but I won’t have that luxury much longer, as the minimum amounts due on many of the currently-deferred student loans are going to be increasing within the next 1-8 months and forcing me to split up our finds.

Your thoughts, recommendations, incite?

And….GO!!!

 


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