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Posts tagged with: debt snowball

Ashley’s December Debt Update



That is all I can say. Check this out…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date (original debt, March 2014)
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March ($413)
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May ($1381)
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May ($7697)
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June ($2220)
License Fees$27232.5%250*December ($5808)
PenFed Car Loan$169412.49%1400December ($24040)
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44228.25%16December ($4687)
Navient - Dept of Ed$720568.25-6.55%260December ($69191)
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77November ($21035)
Medical Bills$64850%75December ($9000)
Totals$123, 667
(Last month = 126,285)
Starting Debt = $145,472

I’m glad you all urged me to include beginning balances, because otherwise I never would have noticed that this month (December) marks a big milestone! We’ve officially paid off over $20,000 in debt since I started blogging (back in March 2014).

I remember that when I hit the $10,000 mark it felt monumental. If that was monumental, then this is Herculean! I still have so far to go, but at the same time I’m so proud of how far we’ve already come! At the beginning of 2013 my goal was to be credit card debt-free by the end of the year. Little did I know we would nearly double that goal. We paid off the full $10,330 credit card balance within mere months after starting to blog. And now here I stand, only 9 months after starting to blog, a full $20K paid off. It feels so, so good.

And because I can’t afford to let up steam anytime soon, let’s talk about some of the things that jump out at me from looking at this table.

First, how depressing is it that my student loan balance has grown?! For months, my payments were not even large enough to cover the interest, so the loan balances just grew and grew. My payments still aren’t any larger (I’m focusing first on paying down other debts), but I’m now on Income-Based Repayment, so my unpaid interest is forgiven for all subsidized loans. Just for transparency’s sake, I do have a couple unsubsidized loans that will continue to grow in balance (due to accumulating interest), but I’m still resolved to focus on other debts first.

Second, look at those payoff dates. My first few months blogging I was paying things off left and right! Now I’m working on larger balanced items, and it’s been a full 6-months since my last payoff. I go around and around on the order of my debt payoff, always coming back around to determining that the car needs to be my main focus (for personal satisfaction reasons). But a quick, easy win would really be nice.

And so I’ve placed an asterisk next to the license fees payment.

I don’t want to say I’ve made my mind up 100% (I keep waffling on these payment order issues), but I think I might shake things up a bit in January and make a larger license fee payment instead of putting extra money toward the car.

I can practically hear the groans. I know, I know. If I keep splitting priorities and waffling back and forth then NOTHING gets done. I really need to just pick something and focus. But clearly I’m struggling with this.

I’ll think about it more in the coming month (the next license payment won’t be due for nearly a full month), and make some decision about where to go with this.

If you were to ask me:  “Which is more motivating? Paying off the car or the license fees?”

I would answer:  “The car. 100% for sure, the car.”

But…..that satisfaction is still a long way off. The license fees, although perhaps less satisfying, could be tackled in just a couple short months. And that’s the type of pay-it-off satisfaction I’m really craving after 6 months with no pay-offs.

So, yeah. Decisions, decisions.

What would you do??? I know I ask this nearly every month, but humor me and give me your opinion on the matter! ; )

Ashley’s November Debt Update


I’ve got a sick kiddo here with me today, so let’s keep this short and sweet (and please send happy/healing vibes to my little chick-a-dee. It’s so sad to see your child feel so crumby!)

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June
License Fees$29662.5%250November
PenFed Car Loan$190082.49%1000October
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44138.25%16October
Navient - Dept of Ed$721088.25-6.55%260October
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77October
Medical Bills$67500%150October

Quick side-note:  My Sallie Mae student loans were just sold to Navient (or maybe it was a merger of some type?? My login information is all still identical so its a little weird – anyone else in the same boat??), so that’s why Sallie Mae is now gone.

Still SO MUCH debt! But I’ve been making a lot of good progress, too! My very first debt update (back in March 2014) listed just over $145,000 of debt! So I’ve paid off nearly $20,000 in the past 8 months (probably more, once interest is factored into the payments). Exciting stuff!

Have a good Monday, y’all!

Ashley’s June Budget


Hi all! Happy Independence Day to the U.S. readers! I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy long holiday weekend! I’ve scheduled this post ahead of time because I’ll be spending time with family all day today. For those of you who would like an update on our Utah trip, we decided to split the drive into 2 days on the way there and drive straight through in 1 day on the way back. We’re coming back Sunday (meaning, we won’t be home until late Sunday night). I’ll try to write a post with this trip’s expenses as soon as we return.

I promised an update on our budget for the month of June. This was my second (and last) month of trying to do the envelope system. This month I’ll be using the YNAB free 30 day trial (and it sounds like some readers will be doing it with me!). I’ll certainly update about my experiences with that along the way, but for now let’s cut to the chase of how I did with our June spending.

Overall, we didn’t do terrible. I feel like I’ve given you a ton of budgets lately (“old” and “updated” – see this post), so instead of boring you with yet another budget, let me just give you the bottom line.

Here are our budgeting “fails” for the month:

  • First: We went way over with groceries. I had budgeted $380, and spent $453. Some of this was due to expenses from hosting the toddlers’ second birthday party. But some of it was just due to unnecessary spending on ‘gourmet’ grocery expenses (like cheeeeeese), and a big Costco trip. I have raised my grocery budget back up to $400 (where it was set prior to starting blogging), and I am excited to stick to the $400-limit. I will NOT go over this month. I will NOT go over this month. I will NOT go over this month. If I say it, it must be true. Yes? (psssst: but using the YNAB system, its okay if I go over a little because I can take that money from another category).
  • Second: We failed on our “eating out” budget. I had budgeted $75 and spent $149 (nearly double!!!) The funny thing is that I really don’t even remember eating out much this month. Then I look at my spreadsheet and see a string of drink stops (Starbucks, Sonic, Wendys – who has the best strawberry lemonade in the world!) All of these stops, individually, is only in about the $4 range. But they sure did add up! There are only 2 actual dinners out….ALL the rest of the expenses are little trips here and there that added up. This was total lack of constraint on my part. I WILL do better this month!

And here are our budget “successes” for the month:

  • First: Our childcare expenses were much lower than normal this month, so we saved a couple hundred dollars there.
  • Second: I was proud of myself in that I was “under” budget in all of my “miscellaneous” categories besides eating out (to jog your memory, the other categories include:  entertainment, personal maintenance, and “other”). I’m thinking I might be able to lower the “other” budget a little but I want to wait a month and see how things go. I was barely below budget this month ($120 out of $125 budgeted), but since I’m saving for so many different things now, I’m hoping I can reduce this category of spending.

All of my other expenses were pretty much in-line with what they should be (either at- or under-budget). The only other categories with higher spending were in debt payments (where we paid nearly $2000), and my gym membership (since the first month I had to pay $240 – to account for first and last month’s payments + an initiation fee). This should decrease back down to $70. (Side note = I realized in my updated budget I had my gym line-item as $50, but that’s the base fee…I’m paying an extra $10/child for gym childcare, so the monthly cost should be $70).

Whew! Lots of words! Now onto some numbers:

June Income: $9406

June Expenses: $5706

Income – Expenses = $3700 surplus (woohoo!!!)


How will we spend the surplus?

$500 = snowflake payment toward Chris’ license fees

$3200 = put money in savings (to build up one month’s living expenses)

I made our license payment earlier this week and it amounted to $1569 ($1055 regular snowball payment + $500 June snowflake payment + 14 extra for the processing fee). This brought the total amount due to just under the $2500 mark (at one point this was over $10,000….though when I started blogging here in March it was just under $6,000). I’m excited to think/hope that the license will be paid in full by August AND that we will hopefully have enough set aside to start living off of last month’s income in the month of September! Fingers crossed!!!

How have you done on your budget lately? Left with “more month than money”? (< a Dave Ramsey saying) What are you doing to try to cut expenses and/or make more money?

Advice Wanted!


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)
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


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?



Jim’s Monthly Debt Ski Trip


Well here we are in March, and like many people pointed out, I am a little clueless about lots of things, and that I could have prevented many things. I did make the choice to not go back to work. Do I regret it, to be honest most days I do not. I see my boy growing, and once he goes to school maybe I would go back to the rat race. Probably not, I have a entrepreneur spirit, I like to work for myself. Yes even if it makes me far less money. But I could scale it up, if I devoted more time to it.

What many of you don’t realize is that… At this time last year I had three store credit cards, one jewelry card, three credit cards, two personal loans, one furniture loan, and one car payment. I paid roughly 12,000 in debt since the beginning of my journey. I do call that quite the accomplishment, considering how much income we bring home.

Rent Electric Oil Verizon Auto/Renter Ins.
January 2014 $600 $105.44 $1019.79 $76.35 $369.28
February 2014 $600 $84.46 $388.90 $76.59 $134.52
March 2014 $600 $89.10 $358.90 $76.54 $118.48
April 2014 $600 $109.67 $ $76.54 $126.50

Now these aren’t paid yet, but I do have all information, so I might as well put up the information. Considering the weather, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is another oil payment that will be made this month as well.

Now unto the credit!


APR Current Amount Last Month Percentage of Change
Store Card #1 24.99% $80.40 $203.18 60.48%
Store Card #2 22.9% $442.44 $532.55 19.97%
Credit Card #1 13.99% $3234.59 $3279.37 13.99%
Personal Loan 15.5% $1626.38 $1725.63 5.75%
Car Loan #1 10.19% $1725.63
Car Loan #2 12.99% $17914.69

So there you have it.  So what should my next move be?  People suggested that I immediately start my emergency fund.  Is that what the consensus thinks?

When Nothing Goes Right, Go Left – Jim’s Introduction


Note: This is the introduction the Jim put together to introduce himself to all of you in hopes of becoming the next blogger for BAD. If you have any questions or observations for him, please leave a comment. You can find more information about this blogging position here

Hey everybody, my name is Jim, a 32 year self-employed husband and father of two. I have been on the road to get out of debt since last year. And to be honest I thought I was doing pretty well, paid off three credit cards, all my student loans, and a personal loan. This all done on about $30,000 combined income for my wife and I.

My greatest accomplishment was paying off the pain in the butt personal loan at the end of the year It just so happens to be also one of my biggest consumer mistakes I have ever made. My wife and I were just moving in together, when we got this loan for all of our furnishings. They were marked at great prices, and even had a 18 months same as cash plan. Well turns out that they didn’t make the monthly payments to equal a complete payoff in 18 months. And when month 18 came around, we got hit with all the incurred interest. Needless to say a $5,000 loan turned into $9,000.

Have you ever heard the Booker T. Jones quote, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all,” well story of my family’s life. We don’t dwell on it, but almost all the time, things just don’t work out for us. Don’t get me wrong, there are periods of time where everything is going pretty good, but then we are hit with something we didn’t expect, or something that was totally out of our grips to control.

We have no savings, no emergency fund, no college savings, and very little for retirement funds and live month to month. At the end of last year, I had written up a game plan and that was to really snowball our debt and start building our credit scores back up to a respectful number. But as stated in the last paragraph, our luck just wouldn’t let this happen for the last few months and we ended up taking more debt on.

Let me start from the beginning of this year… First off I was totally unprepared for the winter that we have been having. We have been in the house that we rent, since End of September 2011. Before that we rented apartments. With that said, we were going through roughly 100-150 gallons of oil per month, the last two years. Well this winter, we have been going through 250-300 gallons (I honestly don.’t even know how I came up with this money). and we ran out of oil on two occasions. On both occasions we had oil coming the next day. Last week was one of those occasions, and well… Our pipes froze overnight and the radiator in our kitchen burst. Talk about an added expense, with that and the next thing I talk about about… there went our income tax return.

In the beginning of last month, my wife and I were in a car accident where we hit some black ice and went into a guard rail. The vehicle that we were driving (’04 Chevy Malibu) was deemed a total loss. I only had $1400 left to pay on it. Now I hated this car, I put just about the same amount of money fixing this beast as I did financing it. I was hoping to get another year at least out of it, then trade it in for something better. If everything would have worked out, it would have been paid off in April if not sooner, and we could have started saving for one. Well after everything was said and done, we got $2400 for the payout.

I already knew that both the wife and I had pretty bad credit (I will tell you about it in another post, if I am chosen) and I was going to start working on this, this year. As this was our only vehicle, we had to find another one. The wife and I had each a stipulation when we were out buying a vehicle. Her’s being that if I wanted another child that we get a bigger vehicle. Mine was that I wanted one that had low mileage so I would be able to pin point many things that could be wrong with it, as I do most of the car maintenance on my own. We ended up getting a ’13 Dodge Grand Caravan.

I am pleased to say that we love the van, what I can also say is that I hate the financing that we got. I hope that I can get it refinanced, if there is such a thing. But we do have sub-prime credit… and might have to take the big hit if we have to.

Well I know all of you readers are number people and want to see the numbers so here you are. The first table you might not be interested since it has to deal with my utilities and everything, but it is something I track so I am still going to put it here.

Rent Electric Oil Verizon Auto/Renter Ins.
January 2014 $600 $105.44 $1019.79 $76.35 $369.28
February 2014 $600 $84.46 $388.90 $76.59 $134.52
March 2014 $600 $89.10 $ $76.54 $118.48

And here is my total debt numbers as of the end of last month… Please note that there are two car amounts, that is because we still have a balance until the bank gets the check from the insurance company.

Store Card #1: $203.18 (24.99% APR)
Store Card #2: $532.55 (22.9% APR)
Credit Card #1: $3279.37 (13.99% APR)
Personal Loan: $1725.63 (15.5% APR)
Car Loan #1: $1435.92 (10.19% APR)
Car Loan #2: $17914.69 (12.99% APR)
Total: $25,091.34

So there you have it… As of next month I will be starting from scratch, and am willing to take any and all suggestions into advisement if I am chosen. Not only will I talk about my journey to get out of debt, but I am also willing to talk about how I am trying to improve my credit and everything that is dealing with personal finance. Before heading out I also wanted to leave you with a picture of me and my family.


And the bill arrives…


Sorry for all the non-animal lovers out there. This will be my last full post update about Hutch – I’ll return to my regular debt blogging tomorrow (I’ll give blurbs on his status in the future).

Hutch is home! We requested to take him home since staying at the vet is $300 per day. Since I don’t make $300 a day (not even close) it’s a better decision financially to stay home with him. They agreed as long as I keep a close eye on him and I bring him back tomorrow and Friday for laser treatments.

Nice. I can’t afford Botox but my dog is getting lasered. Must be a California thing.

The admin slapped the bill on the counter and…

In big bold letters it read… $11,700.

I’m not joking.

Nearly $12,000 was staring me in the face.

I stopped breathing.

‘On the pet payment plan correct?’ she said while typing.

‘Uh. I don’t have $12,000’ I said while wondering what they do to non-paying pet owners.

She laughed (I wanted to slap her) and said, ‘That’s the full price. You’re paying THIS price while pointing to the very bottom – which read $1,700.

Turns out, the laser treatment is $10,000. And yes, I’m serious.

But because Hutch was the first pet ever treated by laser in their hospital, they only charged me $200 and reduced his total bill by $800.

For the first time in my life, I was in the right place at the right time.

He’s home. He’s healthy – kinda. And I saved $800. I will sleep well tonight.

I’m rolling $1,700 into my debt snowball. It will take less than two months to fix the step backward – but he was worth all sixty days… and then some. I’m sooo glad he’s home.

Whew. Back to life.

Here’s his new photos.