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

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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
Navient$731686.55%$1476April$74218
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! : )


Don’t Copy My Lucky Escape

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I always wanted to travel from a very young age. Even though color television was relatively new there were plenty of movies at the cinema and color magazines with articles on faraway places to feed my mind. I was never quite sure how I would realize my dreams. After all commercial passenger flight was not like it is today. As time passed it became obvious that many of these places were indeed in reach. An uncle actually spent some time in the Merchant Marine. He crossed the Pacific many times visiting lots of countries in South East Asia though he was rarely in port for long enough to actually explore many of those countries in depth. I didn’t see myself as a seaman, but his stories reinforced my desire to travel. It would be all about earning the money and finding the time.

Not without Problems

Years on I have pretty much fulfilled my dreams, but it has not been without problems along the way. There is plenty of temptation which sometimes manages to push common sense to one side. As the real estate market grew common sense should dictate that the equity created should be used sensibly; retirement is an obvious thing to consider. I must confess that at times remortgaging funded travel which although immensely enjoyable brought no financial return.

Credit Cards

Most people have succumbed to credit cards. They offered readymade credit limits. They should really be used for convenience. Instead, I managed to build up some core debt; balances on a range of cards and each of those cards were costing me penal interest at the end of each month.

Fortunately, I saw the problem growing and was able to rectify the situation before it got too serious and beyond control. The danger is that credit card balances can somehow escape being regarded as real debt because until the recession came many didn’t feel they would have to be paid back in full. The recession ended any feeling of complacency because as people’s finances crumbled demands often poured in. I had managed to negotiate a consolidation loan before the recession struck. I cut up all but two of my credit cards immediately and paid off every outstanding balance incurring such high-interest rates. It did mean for the next five years I had a fixed monthly payment to make; 60 months and all that money I had used to travel was paid back at a realistic interest rate.

Lessons

I’ve learned a few lessons in this exercise. Certainly I have enjoyed my travels and hope to continue to do more as retirement approaches. I’ve been fortunate that my income justified the consolidation loan because I certainly lacked some financial self-discipline at times. Credit card companies were perfectly happy to issue cards to anyone who wanted them. Indeed, they seemed to offer them without being asked. It is a trend that seems to be returning today even though the recession has only just receded. If anyone asks me now about cards I would certainly say that they should only be used for their convenience, and not a way to get a loan. Every monthly balance should be paid off in full; I do this now although it took me a while to realize its importance.

There is nothing wrong with borrowing money responsibly. There are loans available for those with the ability to pay the loan amount in full, and the interest rates can be less expensive than what you are paying on cards. That was what I found in my case. I was fortunate to have both a full-time monthly check and money made part-time with my online writing. I write on a variety of subjects based on what my clients want. In addition, if anyone invites me to write about finance, I volunteer advice for nothing. The recession produced many casualties. A huge proportion of them were not as complacent about borrowing as I was. Circumstances brought them down.

I think back and feel relieved that my complacency did not cause me more problems. I’ve seen most of the world and intend to continue to see more in the coming years. Credit could have been my downfall, yet borrowing solved my problem with a sensible consolidation loan. If you look at your own situation and see some of the warning signs that I have alluded to then seek advice. If you have the time and patience, you can do the research on your own, and you can end up apying a lot less on your debt over the long run as you pay it off.


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