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Ashley’s September 2016 Debt Update


Better late than never, right?

After I realized I’d missed our extra student loan payment, I initiated it on October 1st (a Saturday). It showed “pending” in Navient’s system for several days and didn’t actually show up as being applied until Wednesday. I don’t like posting on Wednesday (I like to leave it for Hope), so here we are with our SEPTEMBER debt update nearly a full week into the month of October. So sorry about the late update!

Check it out:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
ACS Student Loans$85856.55%$25September$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$53500% (through April 2017)$500September$7650
Medical Bills$57110%$25September$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$83,173 (Aug balance = 85,553)$2775Starting Debt = $145,472

Several exciting milestones are coming up:

First, we’re just over $3,000 away from our next $10,000 milestone.

Second, the next digit we’ll be seeing is in the $70,000’s. That’s significant because our half-way mark is just above $72,000. So we’re just a little over $10,000 away from the half-way mark! Everyone keeps saying after we cross that threshold that the debt will just start melting away! It’s felt like a long, hard slog so far the past nearly 3 years of debt-repayment. I’m VERY excited to get over that hump.

Third, do you recall how one of our big 2016 debt goals was to pay $30,000 toward debt this year?? Check out where we now stand in terms of that financial goal:

Month 2016 GOALS 2016
January Goal: $3500 $4013
February Goal: $1000 $1261
March Goal:  $1000 $2134
April Goal:  $2000 $1521
May Goal: $2000 $1325
June Goal:  $4000 $3500
July Goal: $4000 $4928
August Goal: $2500 $1374
September Goal: $2500 $2775
October Goal: $2500  
November Goal: $2500  
December Goal: $2500  
Total Goal: $30,000 $22,8310

It’s going to be tight, but we’re right on track to hit that goal. It’s so crazy to think that many families in America are struggling to survive on a total household income of $30,000. Meanwhile, we’ve been blessed with an increased income that has allowed us to put that much toward debt! I mean – whoa! Moment of silence or respect or something. That’s a massive figure!

So much to be thankful for and still so many exciting milestones on the horizon.

Full steam ahead!!!

Do you make annual financial goals? What were yours and how are you doing on them?



Back in December 2015 we hit a big milestone. We had officially paid $50,000 toward debt!!!

What a huge thing! Just thinking about paying $50,000 toward debt in two years (a rate of $25,000/year – nearly half our annual income when we first started blogging!) is mind-blowing.

And just last month we hit another big milestone. One that I have mixed feelings about.

We have now decreased our debt by $50,000.

Say what?

When we hit the first $50,000 milestone, that was money that we’d paid toward debt. But, obviously, most of our debts have interest attached to them. So just because we paid $50,000 toward debt didn’t mean we’d actually decreased our debt by that amount because a good chunk of our money was going toward interest on the debt.

It took another FOUR MONTHS to finally decrease our debt by the same $50,000 that we’d celebrated back in December.


It makes me sick to look at the size of our student loan debt and realize how much we’ve paid that has only gone toward interest. Nothing toward any principal reduction at all. And to see the calculations that say “if you pay the minimum payment, by X time you’ll have paid X amount.” You all know what I’m talking about. Credit card statements have the same statement on them. So you’re looking at your current debt number, but then you see that if you only pay the minimum that in the end you’ll end up paying MUCH more than the original debt amount. After all the interest is included, it can be close to paying 2X! Two times as much as the initial debt!


I had a couple people comment on nearing the $50,000 debt reduction mark and ask whether I was excited.

Yes, of course I am! That’s a huge reduction in debt!

But I have mixed feelings. It’s also a little kick to the gut. Knowing we’d paid $50,000 back in December, but our debt numbers didn’t actually reflect a $50,000 decrease until 4 months later. Four long, grueling months of making major debt payments. All of which was consumed by interest. Boo!

It’s a valuable lesson, though. The debtor is a slave to the lender. Another reason to never, ever go into debt again (*ahem* except for a mortgage).

When you think about debt payoff, do you tend to think in terms of dollars toward it (including paying interest), or in actual amount of debt reduction? I report both in my monthly debt updates, but I tend to think more in terms of dollars spent toward debt (including interest). It sucks that there’s such a lag behind dollars spent & dollars in debt reduction.

Ashley’s April 2016 Debt Update + NEW Balance Transfer Loan


Hi all!

Thanks for your patience with me as I was out of town and kind of absent (especially in the comments) for awhile. I only logged in a single time on our week-long vacation and then had to spend a few days playing catch-up with work-related obligations once I returned before really rejoining you here. LOTS of posts to come very soon, but for now let me get up this overdue April debt update!

Perhaps the first thing to note is that I initiated another balance transfer loan! I’ve labeled it in my debt spreadsheet as “Balance Transfer #2” (to distinguish it from the first balance transfer, which I paid off in full prior to initiating this new transfer). See my reasons for why I’m okay with using balance transfer loans to help pay down student loan debt in this throwback post.

I transferred $7,500 from my Navient student loans onto my Capital One credit card. I will have 0% APR for 12 months and paid a one-time $150 transfer fee. In my debt spreadsheet I list the new balance transfer debt as $7650 (which includes the $150 transfer fee). I also altered the “original debt” column of my Navient loan, reducing it by $7500 (since that debt has been moved to the balance transfer loan).

Here you go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20April$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$76500% (through April 2017)$0transfer initiated April 2016$7650
Medical Bills$58360%$25April$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$95,250 (March balance = 96,175)$1521Starting Debt = $145,472

One thing you’ll notice is that nothing was paid toward the new balance transfer loan in April. I initiated the loan toward the end of the month, so I’ll begin making payments this month (May).

Also, I edited the APR for my Navient loans. It used to read 6.55%-8.25%. But the balance transfer loan covered the 8.25% APR loan in full, so now all that remains are student loans with 6.55% APR. Wahoo! Excited to be chipping away at those loans and to get rid of my last remaining >8% APR debt!

Also, you’ll see in an upcoming budget update post that we continue to save toward our Emergency Fund and the down payment for a new home. This impacts our debt payments, as we are prioritizing savings above debt for right now. We plan to begin house hunting soon-ish, and once that’s all locked away we’ll again return our focus to paying down debt with a vengeance. In the meantime, I’m still happy with our current level of debt payments. Not too shabby, especially considering all our savings! Look for the budget update post soon!

I hope everyone’s weeks are going well! I’ll be back soon! : )

Ashley’s March 2016 Debt Update


It’s that time again!

I know I said I was going to be focusing on savings pretty heavily the first half of the year. And, don’t get me wrong, I am. But we still had a reasonable sized debt payment this month because I really wanted to get my balance transfer loan paid in full by the end of the month. That meant a large $1400 payment to a single entity (plus all the other minimum payments for student loans and medical bills and such). So, overall, not too shabby of a debt payment! Check it out (also, notice that I re-organized the spreadsheet a bit to have current debts up top instead of at the bottom).

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20March$8215
Medical Bills$58610%$25March$9000
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$00% (through April 2016)$1412March$5937
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
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
Totals$96,175 (Feb balance = 97,839)$2134Starting Debt = $145,472

So we’re chugging right along. Next up, I’ll be working on eradicating the Navient student loan with the 8.25% APR (there’s only one, at about a $2,000 balance. All the rest of the loans are 6.55% APR). I hope to have the high interest rate loan knocked out by May. I’ll also be initiating a new balance transfer to try to get some more of my student debt moved onto an interest-free card. I just checked and have an offer through Capital One for a 2% initiation fee and 0% APR for 18 months. I have a $7500 limit and am thinking I’ll max it out (meaning, I’ll move a full $7500 from one of my unsubsidized student loans to Capital One). I want to give it a couple weeks before doing the balance transfer just to make sure my balance is fully zero’ed out before the next billing cycle begins.

How have you all been doing on your debt payments? Have a good March? Applying any tax return money toward debt? We still haven’t done our taxes yet (eek!)

Ashley’s November 2015 Debt Update


As I mentioned in my morning post, we were unable to meet our super high lofty debt-figure goal for the month of November (which was $4500). Even so, I do still feel like we had a respectable debt payment. A couple of roadblocks this month that stood in our way were all related to hubs’ work situation. First, he had to take off what turned out to be a full week at the beginning of the month when (1) both kids got sick (one, then the other), (2) hubs’ mom came to visit, and (3) the kids’ preschool closed for 3 days for teacher training. So that’s a full week of missed work. Then hubs missed another partial week of work (Wednesday-Sunday) when we went out of town for Thanksgiving. Given the two weeks of missed work, I think we’ve done as well as can be expected. We really tried to pare down our budget as much as possible (November budget update post coming…probably next Monday) and stuck to just the bare essentials so we could try to put as much toward debt as possible.

I don’t know what the month of December may hold. Although I find it highly unlikely that we’ll meet our big 2015 goals (paying off $30,000 in debt & being consumer debt-free), we will come so, so close. I don’t want to jinx myself, but if we are unable to hit those goals in December (unlikely), I feel fairly confident that we’ll be able to wrap them up in January. Not too shabby to be one month behind, especially since these were reaching goals to begin with (meaning, they seemed like a reach even when I set the goals).

So without further ado, here’s how November’s debt payments shaped up:

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
ACS Student Loans$86166.55%$20November$8215
PenFed Car Loan$49552.49%$2000November$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$30120% (through April 2016)$500November$5937
Medical Bills$59610%$25November$9000
Totals$104,704 (Oct balance = 107,053)$2751Starting Debt = $145,472

One big thing to note is that my Navient debts are now combined. When I logged into my account this month the loans (which used to be separated and listed as “federal loans” and “department of education loans”) are now all combined. I have no idea why this transition took place and I received no prior warning or explanation about it. To be totally honest, I haven’t had a chance yet to break apart all the debts and make sure the figure is correct (because, as we all know, Navient is king at screwing things up). It does seem to be in the right ballpark and I’ve got that on my list for things to do at the beginning of December.

I’m proud of that $2700+ debt payment! This was a tough month and we still managed to make a good dent in our debt. But whats even more exciting to me is seeing our total debt. It’s now sitting right at $104,704.  We may not hit the two main goals of 2015 (becoming consumer debt free and putting $30,000 toward debt), but I sure am going to try my absolute hardest to get that figure to dip below $100k before the New Year rolls around. We may be looking for some things to sell, donating plasma, or picking up odd work. I don’t know what it will take, but I’m willing to make the sacrifices to see that figure drop down into the 5-digit range and stay forevermore out of six-digit figure land. Wish me luck!

How are your debt payments coming along?

2015 Goal Check-In


On December 30th of last year I sat down and took stock of my progress with debt repayment and made some 2015 financial goals. Some of the goals were more about general bookkeeping (like splitting up my “miscellaneous” category, which I did when I joined YNAB). But my one concrete numbers-based goal was simple.

In 2014 I paid more than $25,000 toward debt. I made the goal that in 2015 I’d pay $30,000 toward debt.

So how have we done?

Wellllllll, not so great. We were struck with a series of months with lower-than-our-average pay, even during the months when we usually make the most (like during summer). There was one month where hubs literally didn’t draw an income at all and almost all of my pay was sucked up into an overdue tax bill. So we had some pretty lackluster debt payments.

We’re 7 months into the year, and here’s where things stand with debt payment.

2015 Debt Payments

January $1678
February $1822
March $653
April $1796
May $1708
June $725
July $2125
Total $10,507

By this point in time, we should really have paid closer to $18,000 to be on target to hit our $30,000 goal. So we may be behind, but I’m not ready to admit defeat on this goal just yet.

With my new income stream starting to come in (my first paycheck was this past Friday! Wahoo!), and another goal being to pay off the car by the end of the year (now with just under a $14,000 balance), I think if we focus and are conservative with our spending that we’ll be able to reach BOTH goals (paying off the car by end of 2015 AND putting $30,000 toward debt this year).

There are definitely still some unknowns (e.g., will I get to keep my part-time job???), but right now I’m thinking positive thoughts and I’m going to keep chugging along with the hopes of hitting that big $30,000 mark. Can we have a moment of silence in appreciation of how HUGE that figure is? Granted, that’s not all money going straight toward principal (its money paid toward debt in general, which includes a good chunk of interest, so it’s not the same as a reduction of $30,000 in debt). But still! I’m in amazement, given that just a few years ago our entire ANNUAL INCOME was around $30,000! And now we’re hoping to spend that much just on debt! It feels good! I’m ready for this debt to be gone! It’s far past time!

I’m coming for you, debt! Say your goodbyes now!!!

Lackluster June 2015 Debt Update


So remember how we had a no-income month of May with hubs’ business?

That really hurt us in terms of our ability to make big debt payments. I even said at the beginning of the month that we were going to cut out some of the debt payments all together (like the car payment and balance transfer loan, which don’t have minimum payments currently due), and pay minimums on everything else.

Well, its one thing to say something and another to actually do it.

And although we really didn’t have the funds to do so (I had to tap into EF funds), I made some payments toward all of our debts for my own psychological satisfaction. That being said, it’s not like I was able to do an awesome job on debt payments this month. In fact, I believe this is our lowest debt payment since I started blogging here (back in March 2014).

And there’s one thing thats certain in regard to debt eradication. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. There is no “stationary” option available.

So, unfortunately, I also have to tell you that our debt actually increased this month (not due to new debts, but due to accruing interest on the existing debt).

However, the additional debt has been totally puzzling to me. It’s all from my student loans and, although I have a lot of student loan debt, every single month my debt has been going down. This month I actually made a larger student loan debt payment than normal and my debt somehow went up.

I called Navient to ask about what happened.

How is it that every single month I pay (X) and my debt decreases. This month I paid (X+$67) and my debt somehow increased? It doesn’t make sense that I paid more and somehow my overall balance has gone up?

The person I spoke with had no idea. She took down some information, said she’d file a report, and someone would get back to me. That was two weeks ago and still no news.

I called back another time to try to figure it out.

This time, I was told that even though I’m on income based repayment where unpaid interest is forgiven on my subsidized loans, apparently the unpaid interest is only forgiven on a quarterly basis? Meaning, the interest continues to accrue and is only forgiven once every three months.

This makes no sense to me. Navient is a little bit trickier, but it’s clear as day from looking at all my debt updates (you can go through the archives for yourself), that my ACS loans (which are all subsidized) have had the same balance – to the penny – ever since I applied for income-based-repayment (last August). But my minimum payment doesn’t even cover the interest, so it’s clear that the unpaid interest has been forgiven every month, not just once a quarter. Otherwise, my balance would have continued to rise every month as I make my minimum payments.

My IBR status hasn’t lapsed, supposedly this policy isn’t new (in regard to only forgiving interest once per quarter), and there’s absolutely no logical reason I can think of that explains it.

But with BOTH of my student loan carriers this month (Navient and ACS), my balances have gone up.

Can anyone explain this to me? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

It’s absolutely maddening! It’s such a helpless feeling to know I owe this money, but to feel like somehow I’m getting screwed over – only no one believes me and no one seems to think anything is amiss.

To sum up…

  • I’ve made the same payment every.single.month. My balance has always decreased.
  • This month I made the same payment PLUS an extra $67 payment.  And somehow my balance increased.

Part of me still thinks maybe this is a new policy (only forgiving interest quarterly) and the representative I spoke with simply didn’t know or realize it. Otherwise, how do you explain that BOTH of my loan service providers had the same issue in the same month?

It really makes me want to knock out my car loan debt ASAP so I can start to kill these student loans. They absolutely need to die.

Now that I’ve gone on my rampage, let me show you the actual debt numbers.

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$39088.25%$116June$4687
ACS Student Loans$214117.24%$77May$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$666676.55%$307June$63254
PenFed Car Loan$146422.49%$100June$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$53370% (through April 2016)$100June$5937
Medical Bills$60860%$25June$9000
Totals$118,051 (Last month = 117,815)$725Starting Debt = $145,472

I can’t beat myself up about it too much. Next month will be better. Onward.

Seriously though – anyone else on IBR have this issue where unpaid interest was not forgiven this month? Is it a new policy to only forgive interest once per quarter? Why have I never experienced this before?