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The Hard Wins


Happy Tuesday Everyone!

I won’t have a weekly debt update this week, since I didn’t pay much off. Instead I want to focus on the challenge my last 3 loans will be to pay off.

On last week’s post, I was asked a number of questions in the comments section by Judi; these got to doing some thinking. The questions pretty much pertained to the following:

  1. Do you think your last 3, but largest debts, will be mentally easier or harder to payoff than all the ones before? And…
  2. How am breaking down these larger loans into smaller wins? And…
  3. How are you planning on keeping your focus during this time?

The first two are relatively easy to answer. I just KNOW that these last few are going to be BY FAR the hardest to payoff. From a financial standpoint, they represent nearly 1/2 of my student loan balance. From a mental standpoint, they are mountains compared to the mole hills I’ve climbing thus far. The only comparable balance would be my car, which had an August ’13 balance of $11,700 BUT I wiped out most of this in one swoop with an old 401K account withdrawal- I don’t have any more large accounts I can withdraw from if I’m feeling that “itch” to just pay another one off.

As far as the 2nd question, ever since I aggressively started paying off my debt, I’ve kept a line of “Next Steps”. For each balance, large or small, my “next step” or target was the next nearest $1,00 increment. So if my balance was $7,575, my target was $7,000 and so on and so forth. This idea was definitely not mine; I got the idea from Joan over at “Man vs. Debt” (Side Note: I really like what Baker accomplished, but they have since seemed to have packed up and moved on over there…). I thought it was one of her best moves, and replicated it in the same fashion into my own debt payoff.

As for the 3rd question, I don’t really know. Since all my loans to this point have been relatively low balances, I’ve only had to go a few months in between the wins of having paid them off- which kept my focus the most. But now it’s going to be months and quite possibly years between wins and the ultimate goal of $0 debt, and I’m not sure what to expect other than difficulty. I’ve maintained my frugal lifestyle since graduating college 6 years ago, but at some point I know I’m going to want to see some tangible rewards for all my hard work up to this point. So it’s like, can I keep this going for another year to 2 years? Just having a savings account worth more than a couple grand would be enough.

Have any of you paid off a large $20k+ debt? If so, how long did it take and how did you maintain focus?

(On a side note: I would like to save more in my 401k, ASAP, while I pay off these last large chucks. I’ve filled out the paperwork to increase my contribution from 4 to 10%, but haven’t handed it in, yet. What do you think?)

I will be posting my May in review, but I’m not sure I can get to it today, but certainly by the end of the week.

Ashley’s May 2015 Debt Update


It’s that time again. Time for another debt update. Here you go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
Navient - Federal Student Loan$39838.25%$116May$4687
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%$77April$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$665436.55%$240May$63254
PenFed Car Loan$147012.49%$750May$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$54370% (through April 2016)$500May$5937
Medical Bills$61110%$25May$9000
Totals$117,815 (Last month = 119,170)$1708Starting Debt = $145,472

I’ve rearranged my debts (compare to last month) to be in order of APR (highest-to-lowest). From this re-ordering, it’s interesting to see that the highest APR debt is also currently my lowest balance. Certainly provides a bit of a “hmmmmmmm” experience. Though at the moment I remain steadfast with my current repayment plan:  paying aggressively toward the balance transfer student loan, only an extra $100/month toward the Navient Federal student loan, and all extra monies thrown at the car loan.

Of course, I’m notorious for changing up my order of debt-repayment. So who knows what the future holds? I know this drives people crazy (the opinion being that when a person keeps splitting priorities that nothing ends up getting done). But I’m more of the opinion that any progress is good progress. So for now its progress on the car loan. In the future….more of a student loan focus? Again – who knows?

But, I gotta say, I really can’t wait to be holding my car title in my hands!

What debt are you currently working on?



That was my immediate thought when I opened my email inbox to discover THIS message waiting for me inside.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 7.17.53 AM

So there’s that. ACS (with whom I’ve never ever had a single issue) has sold my loans to Navient (with whom I’ve had multiple and ongoing issues). So that’s good.

I’ve got a couple months until the transition is complete, but I’m really contemplating what to do regarding my loans.

I’m still set on my current plan: focusing predominantly on my car loan, while also paying aggressively on my balance-transfer student loan. But, ugh! My passionate hatred for my student loan company makes me wish I could just write a check, pay them all off, and never deal with them again.

My Income Based Repayment (IBR) renewal is on the horizon as well, and once I submit our 2014 tax information I’m anticipating that my monthly payments will be going up a bit. I’m really not sure by how much (side note: one good thing is that they take into consideration income AND expenses…although our income went up in 2014 compared to 2013, so did our childcare expenses. We were paying $600/month when I initially applied for IBR, but we currently pay nearly double that, so hopefully that will help offset the increased income a bit in determining our monthly payment obligations).

Random question (I’m sure I could call and ask but thought I’d throw it out here)… for anyone else who has done IBR payments, when you renew does your payment immediately change or does it not change until the end of the year? I ask because I don’t have to renew until August, but I’m getting emails to renew now. Just wondered if I went ahead and renewed now if my payment would immediately change or if the change wouldn’t go into effect until August.

April ’15- Month in Review


I hope everyone is having a fantastic week thus far!

I want to start doing a “month in review” here on BAD to clue everyone in on what’s occurred during the previous month. I think this will help summarize what’s going on in my life as we move forward on my debt reduction journey and allow people to quickly get up to speed that didn’t catch my weekly updates.

To summarize, A LOT occurred in April:

  • I began the month (technically it was March 31st, but let’s call it April) by telling you what’s been bothering me even since I started my hardcore paydown (read it here). This was the hardest to write but most heart felt post to date. Update: I’m starting to realize time is more important than money and or gifts, and spending time with people and giving them a minute or two every couple of days is priceless.
  • I vowed to help my sister by contributing to a 529 in my nephew’s name (read it here). Update: I officially opened up an ESA (not 529) account in my nephew’s name over the weekend. The first contribution will be this Wednesday.
  • In the same post, I decided to re-contribute into my company’s 401K plan (read it here). Update: All the paperwork has been filed and I’m set to start contributing 4% (giving me the max. 2% company match, as well) of my paycheck this Wednesday.
  • I also decided to start budgeting for $50 of “fun” money per month to use to go out with friends (read it here). Update: I’m going to set the $50 aside on the 2nd Wednesday of every month for the following 4 weeks. I don’t have any other bills, except my electric due at this time.
  • I came across a roof leak in our house and freaked out! (read it here) Update: I haven’t opened any ceilings yet (mostly out of fear) but it’s been dry now since the day I ventured upon it. We’ve had some pretty good rainstorms already this year, so if it was from rainwater, I feel it would still be wet. My hunch is still ice dams.
  • I got a work bonus and a raise! (read it here) Update: The bonus was quickly put into my savings account. The raise has amounted to $17 a paycheck, but every additional penny helps.
  • We (GF and I) finally got around to celebrating Valentine’s Day, while also doing a fun little getaway up in Buffalo, NY (read it here).
  • Lastly, I got around to putting  our summer plans down on paper (read it here). It may not seem like much but I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy one this year!

For those interested in where my budget shook out:

April '15

I had some major expenses this month: 1) a tax bill close to $200. Since my I didn’t pay enough taxes last year to match my income (which was greatly increased due to pulling out my retirement fund), I owe the state of PA estimated quarterly taxes this year. 2) Our get-away cost nearly $400 in total 3) I spent more for groceries and dinner than I normally do. After my post to kick-off the month, I’m not too upset about this.

In debt reduction notes:

I reduced it by OVER $2,500!!

Pretty exciting stuff.

However, all good news aside, I had thoughts last week of stopping my debt reduction pay down altogether (obviously I’d still pay the minimums), which would have also meant writing for BAD, too. As I was sitting my car thinking about everything, I couldn’t help but wonder if instead of throwing every extra cent at debt, if I threw every extra cent into my savings. It would build quickly, giving me a large enough windfall to get through any obstacle, and when the balance was big enough, I could use it to pay off all the debt at once, alleviating my stress while giving me comfort that I won’t be in debt forever. After talking it over with GF, the feeling came to pass. With savings interest rates so low, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense mathematically, but, as I’ve always said, being in debt is a psychological, as well as, financial burden.

But what do you think? Do you ever get feelings like this? If so, did you suddenly change course, or did you let it pass? Let me know in the comments!

Have a fantastic week!



I know you guys are probably getting tired of hearing about all my Navient issues (trust me – I’m totally sick of it, so I know you all are too).

So when I had my most recent Navient processing mistake, I made a single call to try to correct the error and had pretty much resolved myself to give up on it. If it wasn’t fixed I was just going to leave it alone and kiss the money goodbye

(Side note: I wrote about the error in the comments to this post. If you didn’t see there, the error was pretty minor. I was having so many issues with the balance transfer and it took so long to process that I had to make a full payment on the loan before the transfer went through. When the transfer finally went through, they removed the payment I’d made to the now-paid-off loan and applied it equally across all of my loans. BUT right now my minimum payments do not even cover the interest, and unpaid interest in forgiven on subsidized loans, so equally distributing my extra payment essentially means the money is just gone – it went straight toward interest that I otherwise wouldn’t have even had to pay. The total amount was only $30, so I was set to just get over it and move on with my life instead of fighting over it).

WELLLLLLL – drum roll, please – after only a SINGLE call (versus the 7 or 8 calls I had to make regarding my balance transfer), the funds have been ACCURATELY reapplied toward the loan I specified (my lowest balance unsubsidized loan).

I seriously could not believe my eyes when I logged into my account and saw that (1) the change had been made, and (2) it had been made correctly! Cue the angels singing “Hallelujah!” I mean, I know it was only 30 bucks, but it felt like a major “win” against Navient in the face of all my recent Navient struggles. Wahoo!!!!

What’s your most recent minor “win” in the debt payoff struggle?

Loan Refinancing


Has anyone had any luck with refinancing student loans?

To my knowledge, you can consolidate one time through federally-backed programs, but they use an average of your current APRs, so there’s not a real possibility of any huge reduction in interest rates. This is the main reason why I haven’t done any type of consolidation – I just don’t see the point!

Then I was scrolling through Facebook and a sponsored ad popped up (scary how well they know us!) for a company called Common Bond that was boasting student loan refinancing programs with rates as low as 1.93% APR.

Of course, there are reasons why its safer to stay with a federally-backed loan company (e.g., options for forbearance or deferral in certain circumstances). But, of course, these companies aren’t known for their customer service, so there are some downfalls to doing business with them, too.

To be completely honest, I literally JUST came across this Common Bond ad so I haven’t done any due diligence yet with checking them (or other companies) out. I wanted to pose the question to you guys. Has anyone gone this route before? Any success or horror stories? With my interest rate on my student loans so high (from 6.55% through 8.25%), I would LOVE to be able to refinance and score a great, lower APR. Hey – it worked wonders for my auto loan (when I refinanced I went from 7.75% down to 2.49%!) Just curious what others’ experiences have been.

Thanks for sharing!!

Ashley’s April 2015 Debt Update


Happy Monday! Hope you all had a good weekend!

This weekend was our little camping trip I mentioned in a previous post (couldn’t find the link). Basically, the town where we live hosted an overnight camping thing. It cost $5  for a family of 4 to camp, and they provided star gazing (with giant telescopes), a big outdoor movie screen playing Wall-E, a bonfire with storyteller, and tons of other perks (e.g., playscapes for kids were on-site). Husband and I used to be avid campers but this was our first time to go since the girls were born. This was a perfect “get your toes wet” kind of experience because it was so short (just one night), and had lots of fun amenities for kids. We had a blast (minus my allergies and all), and I expect stuff like this will only become MORE fun as the girls get older! Who doesn’t love some good old fashioned cheap fun!?

Anyway…. let’s get to the heart of this post. It’s time for another debt update. But before we dive into the table let me explain what I’ve done here….

I’ve now added a new loan to the list titled Balance Transfer student loan. This loan amount includes the original balance from my Navient loan #1-01 of $5821 (I used the exact 10-day payoff amount) PLUS the 2% initiation fee, for a total balance of $5937 (if you’re catching up, I wrote more about the decision to do a balance transfer here).

For now, I’ve decided to leave the rest of my Department of Education loans grouped together. When I move onto focusing on a new one, I’ll probably do the same thing and separate just the one new focal loan. Otherwise, for continuity and ease, I’ve left them grouped together. The other thing to note, however, is that I’ve changed the amount in the “original debt” column for my Department of Education loans to reflect a lower amount (equal to subtracting the amount from loan 1-01, which is now separate). I’ve also changed the APR (it used to range from 6.55-8.25%, but I’ve now separated the only 8.25% loan – my balance transfer loan – so all the rest of my Department of Education loans are 6.55% APR.

So hopefully that should explain the changes. Everything else is pretty straight forward.

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%$1119Paid off in April 2015$5808
PenFed Car Loan$154232.49%$100April$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$59370% (through April 2016)$0(balance transfer initiated on 4/2/15)$5937
Navient - Federal Student Loan$40788.25%$116April$4687
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$665566.55%$260April$63254
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%$77March$21035
Medical Bills$61360%$124April$9000
Totals$119,170 (Last month = 120,610)$1796Starting Debt = $145,472

I guess I do have a couple more notes I want to make about my debts this month…

First, you’ll notice another really low car payment this month (last month I only paid $50, and this month only $100). That’s because I really wanted to knock out those two debts I’ve been battling (a medical bill and the license fees). Also, since I initiated my student loan balance transfer this month I didn’t actually make any payments on it yet.

Starting in May, I’ll be making payments of $500/month toward my balance transfer student loan, and will be increasing my car loan payment as well. I’ll continue making minimum payments on everything else, so the size of my car loan payment will fluctuate depending on how much money we have to put toward debt during the month, but my hope is to be able to put at least $1,000 (or more) toward it fairly regularly from here on out until its gone!

Exciting stuff!!!

What’s the most recent debt you paid off?