The 2015 Goal ($91,493)

This is a big goal, but here it is: I want to pay off $20,000 in student loan principal in 2015. In 2014, I only reduced by about $8,600, but here’s why I think it may be possible:
– Now that I’ve refinanced my largest loan, I’m paying less interest, and a higher monthly payment each month (because I switched from a 25 year term to a 15 to get the lower interest rate). Of my $555 monthly payment, over half goes to principal. For all of my loans, my current payments reduce principal by about $700 a month. ($8,400 for the year)
– My balances are, slowly but surely, going down. I hope that my bonus is big enough that I can pay off UG4 and (fingers crossed) a chunk of UG5 in February. This will free up $225 a month to start going to my “law school loans” at 5% (the refinanced loans are also from law school, but aren’t services through ECSI). Lower balances–especially reducing them towards the beginning of the year–mean marginally lower interest payments. Even if this results in only $10 more a month going to principal, it’s still something–I’m never going to pay more interest than I’m currently paying because all of my rates are fixed.
– I’m hoping for a small raise. I may bump up my 401(k) contribution a little, so I’m not expecting much more per paycheck, but maybe for the year this will mean another $500 towards my loans.
– My mortgage payment gets rounded up to $1,400 a month. I pay this whole thing from my paycheck, and have been saving the $700 a month we receive from our tenant as a “House Emergency Fund.” Now that the fund is a decent size, I’m going to start putting some of this money towards my loan. I hope I’m being conservative in figuring I’ll be able to put $4,200 of this towards my loans.
– We’re having our wedding ceremony this year. I’m putting a lot of money towards this that could instead be going towards my financial goals (but not planning on going into any further debt). My tax return, most of my bonus and some savings are earmarked for this. But everyone tells me I can expect to receive a bunch of monetary gifts. I’m not planning on relying on any kind of number here, but I will say that most of any gifts we receive here will go towards my loans.
– Lastly, since we bought the house and moved in together, we’ve been a one-income household. I’m optimistic that this will change in September. The man agrees that paying off my loans is a big priority, and we’ve successfully been living off one income this whole time, so I expect that about half of his take home will go to my loans. Because we both had chunks of time where were weren’t contributing to any kind of retirement plan (him while he was either not working or in school, me while I was either irresponsible or in school), I’d like to really step up both of our 401(k) contributions once he’s working again to try to make up for some lost time. Again, because we haven’t been relying on this money, I’m hoping we won’t miss it.

So that’s my goal, and I’m now accountable to the whole blogosphere. I might look into adding some kind of progress tracking bar to the bottom of my posts throughout the year. Any thoughts on how to do that are welcome!

And We’re Back! ($92,628)

At last!  After almost two months, the refund of my credit balance has been issued.  I haven’t actually gotten it yet, but at least my accounts are no longer completely wonky.  This looks like about $2,000 of progress since I was last posting it regularly?  It’s really hard to tell for me now.  When I wasn’t paying a mortgage, I didn’t ever have huge outflows from my accounts, except for my loan payments, which were mostly offset in the net worth calculation by debt reduction.

As soon as the new year hits, I should be able to file for a homestead exemption on my property taxes.  If this lowers my mortgage payment (by about $100) I’m not sure if I should take the extra money and put it towards my loans, or to continue putting it on my mortgage (my highest interest rate!)  After five payments, I’ve paid off $1,250 of principal — a little depressing, but by paying an extra $40 and change a month, my final payment is now $25.  After the next payment, I’ll have cut that last month out completely, and every five payments will likely knock off another month.  For now the extra I’m paying isn’t too much, and hasn’t been making too much of an impact, but as the principal slowly goes down, it should make more and more of an impact.