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Posts tagged with: motivation

Ashley’s July Debt Update + General Life Updates


It’s that time of month where our checks have all come in, bills have all been paid, and we’re getting to see how much progress we were able to make on debt. And – spoiler alert – it was a good month for debt payments!!!!

First, let’s get right to the debt table…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20July$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$63500% (through April 2017)$500July$7650
Medical Bills$57610%$25July$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$86,518 (June balance = 91,058)$4928Starting Debt = $145,472

It’s still exciting to see so many empty rows, the debts having been paid off.

And can I get a virtual high-five for entering into a new first digit for debt payments? Just last month we were still in the 90k owed range and here we sit this month in the mid-80s!!! How exciting is that?! Still a heap-load of debt, no doubt, but it feels like it’s really moving at this point!

Also:  you ask for it, you get it! In response to reader comments requesting an updated break-down of my Navient Loans, I’ve made this special new table just for you!

NumberTypeAmount Owed
Amount Owed
1-01 Federal LoanUnsubsidized08.25%
1-02 Federal LoanUnsubsidized116875.80%

FYI, I broke apart my Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) Department of Education loans way back in March 2015. Please note that the original table did not include any Federal student loans, but I’ve gone ahead and included those in the updated Navient table.

Recently I’ve really started making good progress on paying down some of my student loans. They are, by far, the largest combined debt that we owe. But I’m still tackling them individually because I find it gratifying to pay them off loan-by-loan. After we buy a house, I’ve thought about refinancing to get a better interest rate, which would cause them to all be lumped into one new loan. But I’m not going to do anything related to credit until after the house deal goes down, so while the loans are all separate I continue to knock them down one-at-a-time. The next loan in my sights is loan 1-04. I’ve been doing a modified snowball method, paying the smallest loan first but focusing solely on my unsubsidized loans first.


I feel very fortunate to be in a position where we are making a nearly $5,000 debt payment within a single month. This will probably be our highest debt payment all year, given the way our salaries work (our highest income months are June and July). Our pay was higher than usual this month, so we had a higher than usual debt payment. We also did some savings for our house down payment and a little bit of spending on back-to-school shopping, conference-travel expenses (the trip isn’t until August, but I pre-paid a hotel, flight, etc.), and a surprise birthday present for hubs (his birthday is in early August).

It’s just crazy to think how big a hole we’re dealing with due (primarily, among other things) to the enormous amount of student loan debt we had. I’m so glad that my degree is finally coming in handy and helping to give us a larger-sized “shovel” (aka: income) to get out of the mess we’re in. (credit: Ramsey for the hole & shovel analogy). I certainly do not take it for granted.

In August I don’t get paid at all from my part-time job, so our income will be a little lower but we still have a buffer since hubs still has his income and I have my full-time job income. I’ve been working hard at balance this year. We’ve spent more money on having occasional date-nights (the goal is to have one per month, though we’ve been averaging closer to every-other-month). I’m also determined to start entertaining more, especially after we are in a new house! And, to give another personal (but related to finances) update, I’ve finally scheduled an appointment for therapy. Remember when I talked about wanting to go to therapy nearly a full year ago? I made it as far as to do some internet research, find someone I liked, and then I called and she wasn’t accepting new clients. That was nearly a year ago and I’ve done nothing about it since then. But even though I feel much better now than I did at that time (things are on the ups – my dad is in an assisted living, we’re selling his Utah house, preschool starts again in 2 weeks, hubs and I have had more date nights and fun stuff  out of the house), I still feel the desire to talk to someone. I’ve experienced a lot of major life changes in the past year between starting back to work full-time, starting the girls in preschool full-time, dealing with my dad’s health crisis, recent deaths in the family, etc. etc. etc. I think it’s good and healthy to take the time (and money, if one’s budget allows. thank you generous university insurance plan!) to have little “check ins” every once in awhile. Plus, we’ve got more major life changes ahead as we begin the process of house-hunting and officially putting down roots here in Arizona (something that’s strangely difficult to come to terms with. We’ve been living here a solid 6 years now, but I always thought we’d move back to Texas to be by family so it’s odd to realize we’ll likely remain in Arizona for some time to come).

Anyway, all of this is just to say that I’m still working to add more balance back into my life. I’m now into my 3rd year of debt payoff. The first solid 2 years I was 100% gung-ho on the debt reduction train. I’m still on the train (as evidenced by this month’s killer debt payment, thankyouverymuch!), but I’m trying to add more room to our budget for normal “life” stuff. Dates, kids’ activities, entertaining friends, going to therapy. I’m even thinking about maybe re-joining a gym once the kids are officially back in preschool (for long-term readers, you may remember I bought a gym membership a couple years ago and cancelled it after only a couple months to try to save every penny and put it all toward debt).

I just want to keep it real with you all as I’m on this journey. We’ve had 2 years of solid, hard, grueling work. We still have a very, very long way to go. But this is a marathon for us, not a sprint. We couldn’t have maintained that pace forever (and it would have been unhealthy and damaging to try). I’m still trying to be reasonable – we’re not going all-out crazy spending money. But I think it’s important to start letting the girls participate in different activities (I’m still limiting to one activity at a time. Right now it’s swim, but we’ve put in a cancellation notice effective at the end of August and plan to start a new activity in the Fall). I think it’s important to put more time and effort (and, yes, money) into strengthening our friendships by having people over and hosting more get-togethers. And just generally doing more paid activities that we’ve been foregoing the past 2 years. All while trying to still make hefty debt payments that we can be proud of.

We’re well on our way to hit that $30,000 debt-reduction goal for 2016. I think our future is bright.

Where are you on your debt reduction mission? Did you go all-out the whole time, or did you add in some “breaks” and periods with more balance? How long did it take you to get out of debt? What was the #1 thing that helped you to stay the course and eventually get out of debt?

Question of the Week – Tackling Debt


This is our Sunday series where we all respond to reader questions. If you want to submit a question, please go to this post.

Question of the Week

 Are you planning to tackle debt in an “all-out” kind of style or more of a “slow and steady wins the race” pace? – Jocelyn


Our plan is to sacrifice as much as we can stand to pay it off as quickly as possible. Life gets in the way sometimes but we just want that burden gone. 


To be honest, I am a little in the middle.  I am throwing the majority of our income, setting up our emergency fund and on debt.  But at the same time, there is a lifestyle that I have grown to love.  Being home when my children wake up, when they go to bed, and everything in between I simply love and for the most part am probably not going to change.  But as my income grows from all my ventures from home, more money will be thrown toward debt.


I did not even have to think about this one…I’m all in! I am so anxious to be out of debt and free up some of my income that every dime is thought and re-thought before it’s spent.  I have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets exploring different scenarios.  Granted, I have to balance my “all in” with four kids and their lives too, but I am pedal to the metal…all in!


Is it cheating to say both? To be fair, we’ve been paying down our debt for over a year now, but it’s definitely been at more of a “slow and steady” pace. Starting in January of this year we really got gazelle intense. I am SOOOO committed to eradicating our credit card debt. I am trying to tackle it with absolute dedication (examining all opportunities to cut costs, increase income, etc.). Our goal date for being credit card debt-free is March 2015 (one year after starting blogging here at BAD), but if I have it my way we’ll be finished by the end of 2014. But our credit card debt makes a relatively small proportion of our overall debt (which also includes a car loan, license fees, medical debt, and student loans). I see us staying focused and intense on paying off the car and license fees (and will continue blogging during this time). But If I am 100% honest, I feel much less urgency about the medical debt (which is interest-free) and student loans (which is NOT interest-free). Everyone I know with student loans basically finances it over the course of a mortgage:  15-30 years!!! I don’t want to be in debt that long, but the numbers are so huge and daunting, I would be lying if I said I am certain we can remain gazelle intense until its gone!!! I guess I haven’t fully decided regarding our pace of debt-repayment for these debts (medical & student loans). I’m hoping that as we continue along the journey, each additional “win” will help build momentum and make the process feel easier and more comfortable as it simply becomes our way of life. But if anyone would like to share a success story or tips for staying motivated, please leave comments! I find success-stories particularly compelling and would love any and all tips on staying motivated for the long-haul!

Staying Motivated…


I struggle a lot with motivation. Sometimes, I actually convince myself that $19,000 in debt isn’t that bad and start to wonder why I’m working to pay it off so quickly.

Working to become debt free would be an easy journey if it were only a few months, but when it stretches to years, that’s when you discover who you really are in terms of dedication.

It’s been just shy of 18 months since we began our journey and to be honest, I find myself growing weary – especially when my personal life gets slammed (more on that tomorrow). I find that when my personal life gets messy…so do my finances.

I was browsing iTunes for free podcasts and stumbled over the Dave Ramsey radio show. His podcasts are free (shorter versions of his radio program – there are some commercials) and you don’t need an iPod to listen to them. You can listen directly from your home computer. I was feeling down this morning and for some reason, listened to his podcast on my way to work. A family had paid off nearly $100K in debt and drove all the way to Dave’s studio just to shout, ‘We’re Debt Free!!!’

It made me smile. Today, it was what I needed.

Check out the show. It’s free and a good source of encouragement.

You are going to get tired. You are going to get weary. You are going to flounder in your decision to live below your means. But we can stick through it because one day, it’s going to be you and me screaming…


Still Pushing…


As I mentioned earlier, the motivation from the results of reducing debt has pushed me to set other goals I did not think possible. I’ve been training to run in next year’s marathon (though the heat wave has halted me for the last two weeks). A close friend of mine has decided to participate in her first triathlon and asked me to do it with her… in 6 weeks. She is doing a Sprint (half triathlon) so I crazily thought maybe I had a chance to be ready despite the fact that…

I don’t know how to swim.

I won’t drown, I’m simply limited to a doggie paddle and as it turns out, that won’t get me very far.

Even worse, I SHOULD know how to swim. My father set a state record in competitive swimming. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I married a competitive swimmer who also played water polo.

Unfortunately, I realized that three of the six weeks before the triathlon are blacked out for wedding events and will severely cut down on my preparedness – and I have yet to stick a toe in water. I turned my friend down but now I’m looking at the next one in March and… I think I can do it.

Little Rewards for Big Financial Steps…


In case you missed it…

We paid off our credit card last week.

We’re still working on my husband’s truck loan and the student loan but we promised ourselves little rewards for each payoff. It’s a good way to stay motivated when finishing a long stretch before starting yet another long stretch.

Surprisingly, my husband suggested a night out (surprising because I expected him to suggest something more along the lines of a macho flat screen TV or a beefy new grill). We purchased tickets to see Spamalot at the Civic Theater downtown. The tickets were $17 each (we sit in the nosebleed seats) and with dinner, we’ll likely spend a total of $100.

We get a one night break and it’s off to frugality again.