2016 Recap

So I shared earlier that I met my major goal of paying off $20,000 in student loan principal this year.  But I’ve some more financial progress outside of my student loan(s).


Vested/Total December 2015: $19,610/$26,992.52

Vested/Total December 2016: $41,865/$48,126

Each year at the end of December, I become vested in more of my company’s matching and general retirement contributions (until I’ve been there five years total and become fully vested), though a portion of their contributions were fully vested after 2 years.  I don’t include my 401k or my IRA in my net worth calculation, partially because there’s no way for me to only include the vested portion in Mint, as far as I can tell, and I’d rather be conservative.

Roth IRA

December, 2015: $2,843

December, 2016: $5,101

* I have not been contributing as much to my IRA this year.  I used to contribute $100 most paychecks.  Since the little man was born, I’ve split this so that $50 gets direct deposited into his 529 plan, and $50 goes to the checking account that I make transfers into my IRA from.


Balance December 2015: ?

Balance December 2016: ($172,973)

I checked last year’s post, and it said that we’d paid off $3,085 in principal last year.  I can’t figure out how to access my old mortgage login, but based on last year’s number, I’d estimate about $1,500 was paid off on the old loan, and since the refinance in July we’ve paid off another $2,026 in principal. The lower interest rate is hugely helpful here.  


Progress is nil — or worse, negative.  But the two main reasons for this were closing costs to do the refinance (well worth it) and extra payments on my loan (also worth it).  I look forward to the year that I make progress in my personal savings account, but for now I’ll have to be happy with making significant progress on my student loans.

2016 Major Goal Met! ($52,277)

Just a quick update to share that I met my main goal, and paid off $20,000 in loan principal this year.  This is probably where I’ll end up for the year, but I’m pretty happy with my progress, and hoping to do even better in 2017.

This is slightly under what I paid off last year (didn’t realize that the total on my last post for 2015 was to the same point in 2015, and not the total for the full year — I must have had an additional payment at the end of the year that put me over the edge.

$56,614 – remaining balance by original loan:

  • $2,625 $0 (freshman year – undergrad)
  • $8,500 $3,614 (1L subsidized loan)*
  • $12,000 (1L unsubsidized loan)*
  • $8,500 (2L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (2L unsubsidized loan)
  • $8,500 (3L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (3L unsubsidized loan)
  • $3,500 $0 (Grad Plus Loan – bar fees and prep)
  • $1,200 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #1)
  • $2,500 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #2)
  • $1,200 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #3)

This is 216 puzzle pieces–10 more than my most recent puzzle post.   I’m so close to halfway there, and should hit it in February.

* On the off chance anyone besides myself is actually reading this.  I’m wondering if I should go in order of smallest to largest on my tracking here (all $8,500 loans first) or by school year ($8,500 then $12,000 each time)?  These are actually all consolidated together, so it doesn’t make and real difference, but I’m thinking it might help me to be able to say that I’m 100% done with paying off my first year of law school — or something like that.

I Cheated… ($51,838.92)

And bought my iPad before I’ve reached my goal of paying off $20,000 in principal this year.  But only because I was able to buy it for almost $150 less than the usual price.  Glad I didn’t impulse buy it immediately when my computer broke.

But fear not, this purchase will not deter me from meeting my goal to pay off $20,000 in principal this year.  I was referred by a coworker of mine for my most recent student loan refinance, and we both received $200 as part of their referral program.  My $200 went right to my principal.  My first monthly payment to the new loan will happen at the beginning of next week, and if that doesn’t take me over the top, I’ll make another small payment towards the middle of the month.

The yellow bar is last year — it doesn’t show hitting $20,000 because of issues with tracking one of my loans, but not an issue this year.  I’ll be posting an update to my puzzle once I hit this milestone.  And I’m excited for the new year, and posting my new goal.  Until then…

Consolidation/Refinance (Part 2)

Part 1 was published quite some time ago.  Originally, Part 2 was intended to be a discussion of further refinancing my loans, into a couple of chunks, including possibly moving a portion of my big loan into a variable interest rate.  I abandoned that thought when I wasn’t happy about the rates SoFi would have offered me.

But here I am posting a Part 2, so I must have something to share.  Heck, I’ve got two somethings:

Mortgage Refinance

In my last post, I noted that I didn’t add much to my savings account this year. My goal had been to add $3,000.  Part of why this didn’t happen is that we refinanced our mortgage in July.  I got a couple of Zillow alerts that our estimated house value had gone up. Originally we put 5% down, so our interest rate was a (terrible) 5.25%.  Part of this is due to the fact that our house is a multi-family.  Because our house value has increased approximately $30,000 in the two years we’ve owned it (some due to improvements we’ve made and some due to the market), we now have 20% equity, and were able to refinance to a 3.5% rate for a 20 year loan.  I think our principal and interest payment went up by less than $10.  Paying off our mortgage 8 years earlier for a mere $10 a month? I’ll take it.  Our mortgage payment will go up a little bit more because of increases to our taxes and insurance premium, but those are unrelated to the refinance and would have happened anyway.  Our payment is still less than it was before we qualified for the homestead tax exemption.

Student Loan Refinance

Here we go again! I’m looking into refinancing my current 15 year loan (about 13 years left) to a 5 year.  Unlike my prior refinance and the mortgage refinance, where the monthly payment didn’t change all that much, if I do this my minimum payment will almost double.  In theory, I should be paying over $1,100 to my student loan every month, though my minimum payment is currently about $555.    The lowest possible rate I could get would be 1.95%.  That’s an awesome rate.  If I’m able to get that, I’d only be paying about $100 in interest every month.  Changing my minimum payment to (approximately) $1,050 will give me a lot less wiggle room, but I’m hoping it will provide some motivation to tighten my belt elsewhere (I’m looking at you, Amazon and work lunches).  I also only put two months of rent payments toward my loans this year–last year I did six.  I’m looking to put pretty much every rent payment toward my loans in 2017.  This should give me a bit of wiggle room in months where I wouldn’t otherwise put the full $1,100 toward my loan payments.

So hopefully this goes through and I’m able to start plowing through loan principal in what remains of the year and into 2017.  I’ve got some ambitious goals for 2017 that I’ll post about once I hit my big 2016 goal.
EDIT: Drafted this a while ago, but just getting around to publishing. I’ve been approved, and the payoff check should be getting sent any day now. More details in my next post, whenever that is.

I Got Serious ($55,366)

After my last post, I took a look at my accounts and did a couple of things:

1. Made a $2,000 payment from my savings account.  I’d have to check what the balance was at the beginning of the year, but I don’t think I’ll end up with much of a balance change for the year. It should be mostly untouched until Christmas time (and/or time to pay for life and hopefully disability insurance).  I’m guessing I’ll end the year with about $3,000 in there–significantly lower than my original goal of adding $3,000 to the account for the year.

2. Made a $1,400 payment from the house account.  I was originally going to put November and December’s rent toward my loans.  Instead I’ve basically used August and September’s instead.  Next year, most of the rent payments will be going towards my loans.

3. I had also recently made a $600 payment and my monthly draft of $554 went through.  

All told, I only have about $1,700 left in principal to get to my 2016 goal for loan payments.  I’ll probably make a small payment with my next paycheck (probably around $200) just to keep momentum going, but I shouldn’t have a problem hitting my goal of $20,000 in principal before the end of the year.  Huzzah!

(This is 206 pieces)

A Quick Note…

Just a quick note to say I’m still alive.  My computer officially died (so it’s much harder to post) and I’m thinking of replacing it with an iPad.  I’m about $6,000 short of my 2016 goal with three months to go.  I’ve decided to hold off on the iPad purchase until I hit my goal, in the hopes that this will give me incentive to focus.

I haven’t used any rent payments toward my loan payments so far this year. I’m thinking that the final two payments will go toward loans, for $1,400.  I’ll probably pull $2,000 from savings too.  If I make the monthly payments I had been making at the beginning of the year, that brings me pretty close to $6,000 in principal, so hopefully it can be done.

I can’t promise more regular updates, but hopefully I’ll be posting from an iPad soon.

Puzzled ($57,036)

I thought about posting a progress update to my 2016 goals, but I think I’ll save that for next time, as I expect it to be pretty lengthy, as my expectations and priorities have changed slightly. Until then, I wanted to update my puzzle.

It’s been quite some time since I posted an update to my puzzle and to this blog generally. There are two tangentially related reasons for this. The first is that my little man joined us on May 5, so we’ve been pretty busy with that (and I generally like to write/post when I have some time home alone, and I don’t have too much of that).  The second is that the puzzle had been stored in little man’s room before it was his room.  While his nursery was a work in progress — crib and dresser being built, glider getting delivered — the puzzle was moved to an unknown location. The man didn’t remember exactly where it was moved to, and I only rediscovered it yesterday.

Back in February (?) when I last updated the puzzle, there were 167 pieces.  As of today, my loan balance is $64,049, so the puzzle will now reflect $35,800 paid off, or 179 pieces.  Twelve pieces is not a lot of pieces to add, considering the amount of time that has passed since my last update, but I’m hoping I’ll get back into the groove of things this month.   I’m hoping pretty much all of the baby “things” have been purchased at this point (including a second carrier, blankets, and the aforementioned (expensive) glider).


As far as open loans, when de-consolidated (is there a better word for this?), this what I’m left with:

  • $18,000 $0 (1L Law School Loan – paid off!)

Former Federal Loans/Big Daddy Consolidation, Currently at $64,049

  • $2,625 $0 (freshman year – undergrad)
  • $8,500 (1L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (1L unsubsidized loan)
  • $8,500 (2L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (2L unsubsidized loan)
  • $8,500 (3L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (3L unsubsidized loan)
  • $3,500 $2,549 (Grad Plus Loan – bar fees and prep)
  • $1,200 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #1)
  • $2,500 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #2)
  • $1,200 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #3)

It’s nice to see that this list includes only ONE Big Daddy Loan loan, and that the only undergraduate loan included in the consolidation has been eliminated.    Hopefully I’ll be able to make more progress in the next three or four months than I have in the last three, so that I can pay off the Grad Plus loan and move on to make a small dent in my subsidized loans this year.

Woohoo! A Net Worth! ($58,517)

I have a usable net worth again!  Mint is once again able to connect with Firstmark, the servicer for my last remaining loan.  I had to “close” the loan from their old web-site, and re-add the loan on their new site, but it’s working now.  I changed both of my ECSI loans to closed as well, so I should still see their history, but the old balances are no longer feeding in.  I’m glad I can get back to tracking.  I was at around ($72,000) the last time I was able to post a net worth, and it was even higher when I was able to post it regularly.  It’s hard to believe how much higher it was when I first started keeping track a couple of years ago. Bonuses are a beautiful thing–if only they weren’t restricted to once a year.  While I’m not expecting to see the net worth figure here hit $0 for another 2+ years, I do think I’ll be able to get to an actual net worth of $0 in the next year or so (which would include my retirement balances, home equity and HSA balances–I generally only count the cash I can spend in my net worth calculation here).

In the next couple of months I’m looking to spend around $1,000 on some baby things.  I have my shower in a week, then I’ll go shopping in April to get whatever I still need.  I’ll also be able to order my pump from my health insurer in early April.  Hopefully the baby’s arrival won’t add too much to the monthly budget, and I’ll have three months where I don’t have to worry about commuting expenses.

Speaking of April, we once again have our driveway paving scheduled! So that should be done before the baby gets here, thankfully.  After that’s done, we are going to look into refinancing the house.  We haven’t paid off too much since we bought it (about $5,000 in principal), but we’re hoping its increased in value enough that we’d only have to put in a couple thousand or so, to get to the 20% equity we’d need to refi.  Over the life of the loan, it would save us around $90,000! I thought my math was wrong on that, so I ran two mortgage calculators–one on the balance of our loan over 28 years, and one on the potential refinance over 20 years. $90,000 it is.  So similar to my student loan refi in late 2014, we’d be paying less than $50 more a month, to get the loan paid off much earlier.

And, hey! I got a raise! It’s nothing close to the raise I got last year, more like a cost of living adjustment, but gives me an extra $30 or so per paycheck.  When I get back from leave, this will be partially offset by commuting fare hikes, but it’s better than nothing! I’m hoping that next year, I’ll get a promotion, with a slightly higher raise and bigger bonus target.  This means I need to work my tail off as much as possible before I go on leave.

February Recap

I’ll cut to the chase:  with my annual bonus, I paid an extra $7,750 in principal on my student loans in February!  I was planning on paying around $7,500 with my bonus, but I decided to push it up a bit, so that if I make my payments in March before the next statement generates (on the 11th), the entire payment will go to principal, because I’ll be closing out the loan entirely.  That will take me down to one student loan, with one required payment every month.  This is currently on auto-draft, but I’m going to do a second (or third, depending on when I decide to make them) payment each month so that I’m still putting approximately the same amount toward loans each month.

I expect that my principal payment will be around $900 each month, so each month I’ll be able to add 4 or 5 pieces to the puzzle.  I wanted to put a few more pieces together in the box, but I realized I probably have over a year’s worth put together already.

For February, I added 44 pieces to the puzzle, now totaling 167 pieces.  My current student loan principal balance is $66,563.69.  I skipped the whole “Quarter of the Way Done the Puzzle” stage and jumped right to “Third of the Way Done the Puzzle.”  Sweet.  Not expecting that I’ll get to halfway there in 2016, but I’m pretty happy with my progress anyway.

  • $18,000 $585.98 (1L Law School Loan)

Former Federal Loans/Big Daddy Consolidation, Currently at $65,977.71

  • $2,625 $977.71 (freshman year – undergrad)
  • $8,500 (1L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (1L unsubsidized loan)
  • $8,500 (2L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (2L unsubsidized loan)
  • $8,500 (3L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 (3L unsubsidized loan)
  • $3,500 (Grad Plus Loan – bar fees and prep)
  • $1,200 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #1)
  • $2,500 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #2)
  • $1,200 $0 (Irresponsibility Loan #3)

Before the end of the year, I’d like to see the two smallest underlying loans ($977.71 and $3,500) be wiped out, and hopefully a big chunk of one of the $8,500 loans too.

Once my Law School Loans are completely closed out, I’ll start calculating an approximate net worth.


Getting Frustrated/Making Progress

I’ve started to give up hope that my Law School Loans will once again feed back into Mint.  At this point, I can live with just hiding the accounts entirely once my second LSL is paid off (which should hopefully be next month).  But now my big daddy former federal loan servicer has redesigned its website, and these aren’t updating now either.  I really don’t want to wait until I’ve paid off this $65,000 balance for my Mint accounts to be correct.   Hopefully this will just be a transition issue, and it will correct itself by the time my LSLs are hidden.  The good news is that it should be easy to determine my remaining loan balance, since it will only be one website to review.  Still, very frustrating.
On a much happier note, I received my bonus on Friday.  In addition to my 401k contribution, I added $4,100 to my HSA.  I now have about $7,600 in there, with an annual (in network) out-of-pocket maximum of $8,000.  Hopefully I don’t get anywhere near that, and I have a decent amount to carry over into next year.  

After these deductions, I also got a decent chunk of cash.  We bought a crib and a dresser for the baby this weekend, which we’ll hopefully put together this weekend. I’m keeping a little in my accounts to be put towards a glider for the baby’s room.

Lastly, I made my two usual payments on my law school loans earlier this month — $300 toward the beginning of the month (formerly the $250 beginning of the month payment to my undergraduate loans), and my $300 normal payment on the 15th.  The next day I could have made a scheduled payment is the 20th, which is a weekend, and wouldn’t actually go through until Monday.  I decided to pay the $1.95 convenience fee to make a payment earlier, which is actually less than the interest that would have accrued in the meantime anyway.  I’ll include the actual amount of my payment in my end-of-month recap, which should show tons of puzzle progress.