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Student Loan Debt Update

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After months of refusing to look too closely at our student loan debt, I finally scrutinized the numbers again this week. We are still in forbearance with Earnest, so we don’t technically owe a payment until July 22. But I was worried about all that beefy interest accruing. Since we finally had some money available again, I made a payment to slow down the insane interest train.

New Charts

I put $2,500 towards the loan—which I feel like is a lot—and then I updated my nerdy charts I made back in February.

Student Loan Debt Repayment Chart

 

Talk about a BUMMER. That $2,500 only went towards interest!

Student Loan Debt Payoff Graphs

No matter how I graph it, our debt progress these past few months is so sad. I hate seeing a plateau on a chart and 0% change, because it shows that our freakishly big debt principal isn’t changing. The pandemic has really taken our momentum for paying off our student loan debt and thrown it out the window. That’s frustrating.

The Interest is the Killer

So this week’s payment went towards interest—no principal at all—and there’s still interest left over from these past months to pay. Aaand it’s growing by the day. I decided to add two columns to the chart. I added Principal Paid and Interest Paid so I could break down each monthly payment and see better how it’s applied.

While doing this I noticed a few things:

  1. My chart was wrong! I had to correct it. While going through our papers with Great Lakes, our last lender,  I realized that in the fall of 2018 and January 2019 we were not in fact paying $1,821.39… I forgot that our payments were $824.19! Guys, we were NEVER going to pay this off! What were we thinking??
  2. Even when we had our payments increased in February 2019, though, we were still only paying interest and never principal. Our principal was perpetually stuck at $334,810.39 for I don’t know how long. (Like literally, I do not know.) Which I can’t even handle. Thankfully we got a large tax return March of 2019, because we were finally able to lower our principal.
  3. Returning to paying off only interest has reminded me that I NEVER want to be in this position again. I want to carve away at principal every single month, even if it’s just a little bit. I am so sick and tired of this debt weighing us down.

There is Progress

Since last spring, we’ve been able to pay off $47,075.88 of our principal. Even with the pandemic and so many mistakes, that’s still progress. Sitting at $287,734.51 is nothing to brag about, but at least I can see we have made a difference.

I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself to face our student loan debt so much sooner. If you have debt hanging over your head, I hope you’ll stop wishing it away and start taking action. You’ll feel so much better. You may have a marathon to run like our family, but don’t give up! Cut away a little at a time, and one day you’ll be set free.

Medical Bills…

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My daughter struggles with a reoccurring health issue. It’s genetic. My mother has the same issue so I’ve been around it my whole life. My mother has only needed formal medical attention a handful of times in more than 60 years. The rest of the time, it just goes away. Painful? Yes. Miserable? Yes. But the body is an amazing machine that does great repair work.

My daughter has had bouts with it but never serious enough to need medical attention. I’ve taken her to her pediatrician multiple times in the past and they always send me home to let it run its course. The issue never lasted more than a few days. She had a bout recently. I was avoiding hospitals for obvious reasons. Her health concern is an annoyance but it’s far less serious than COVID-19. I was also avoiding taking her in because I knew lab testing was going to be costly and thanks to our decision to switch to an HSA this year, all costs are out of pocket until the deductible is met.

This time, she was still suffering a week later. Then she started throwing up, a sure sign things were getting worse, not better. Ugh.

We decided the ER was too dangerous and took her to Urgent Care (a decision that saved us $2,000). I was seeing dollar signs with each test they proposed. We moved forward with every test they suggested only to discover the issue would correct itself. She didn’t need medications, she just needed time for her body to heal itself.

We were fortunate that no medical intervention was necessary but it’s always a delicate dance between ‘paranoid mommy’ and ‘head in the clouds mommy’. It’s so hard to gauge pain or sickness in young children. Does her tummy really hurt? Or is she just trying to get out of eating broccoli?

We were notified by our insurance company that we should expect several hundred dollars in medical bills. We received a bill for less than $50 today with a note that if we were impacted by COVID-19, they would negotiate further. I can’t thank our hospital enough for understanding that everyone is hurting a bit right now. We are expecting one more bill for $120 but we can cover that.

Not so bad! We’re going to pay it from our budget this month and leave the HSA intact. Since the HSA is invested, we’ve decided to only touch it when we can’t pay a bill without touching the emergency fund. That and the market is killing it right now so we’d rather keep it there! HSA is a FANTASTIC investment vehicle. If you haven’t looked into it, please, please, please do!