Overdue Post ($78,708)

So I’ve been just a little bit busy with wedding planning.  We got married on September 12, 2014 by a Justice of the Peace, with just witnesses. We did this for tax and benefit purposes, but we did still want to have a ceremony and reception (on the same date this year) for family and friends.  There were definitely times in the last twelve months when I thought we should should save the money we were spending on the wedding, and forget the whole thing, but I’m very glad we did it.  The day ran smoothly, the food was great, and I got to see almost of all of my loved ones in one place.

Now that that’s done, we’ll make a few purchases with money given to us as wedding gifts.  The man would really like a new knife set, I would like a new vacuum, and maybe a scale.  There isn’t a lot of house stuff that we need (which is a big part of why we didn’t register) and our place isn’t that big.  I took a chunk of it and put it toward my lowest student loan, which is now sitting pretty at $3,320.  I also scheduled a payment, after receiving our rent check, for $700 that should all go towards the principal (for some reason, when you schedule a second payment in a month, none of it goes toward the little bit of interest accrued; it all goes to the next payment).  With the man working in a long-term position, he’s making more money than he will once that post is over, and some of that will be going towards that loan as well.  (My hubby is even more enthusiastic about loan payoff than I am–I love him all the more for that!)  So I’m estimating that that loan will be paid off in November. I don’t think I’ll hit my goal of $20,000 in principal paid off this year, but I think if we really push we can get to $18,000 (and I’m not ruling out entirely that we’ll make it).

I’m not sure if my net worth has gone down since my last post (it has been a while since then), but I’m pretty confident that it will consistently go up from here.  I tapped into a little bit of my regular savings for wedding expenses, but I shouldn’t have any major expenses in the next few months.  One thing I did adjust is my HSA contribution, so my paychecks have gone down, and therefore I’ll be saving less, but that should only be until the end of the year.  I will probably max out my contributions through my bonus next year (or, like I did this year, contribute what I hope to be the maximum, if we switch to hubby’s insurance in September).

My house is a disorganized mess which I’d like to work on.  Largely because my puzzle is currently buried under things in my spare room.  But I will try to do an update at the end of this month, and I should have a pretty good number of pieces to add since my last puzzle post.

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Milestone Month ($78,668)

July has been a much better month financially than June.  Notsomuch because I haven’t been spending (I definitely have been), but because I hit some payoff milestones.

With our rent check this month, I paid off the last of my undergraduate loans!  Look how beautiful!

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It only took me ten years…but that’s ten years with a three year, interest accruing break.

In another milestone, I made my usual payment to my “law school” loans today, and my balance is now 2/3 of the original principal.  I’m not sure at what point I would have gotten to this point with just my minimums, but I haven’t historically put much more than the minimums on these.  Mostly I round up my $286 payment to $300, almost always applying the extra to the smallest loan.  I’d say doing this has gotten me 1/3 of the way paid at least a couple of months earlier than I otherwise would have gotten there.  Every little bit helps. [Edit — I think I’m about four months ahead of myself, from paying about $14 extra most months]

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Now that my undergrad loans are gone, I’ll be concentrating my extra payment on the smaller of these two loans (currently about $5,600).  The bad thing about these loans is that making my payments isn’t always easy to administer.  If I don’t want to get charged a processing fee, I have to schedule the payment ahead of time, for one of four days in the month (something like the 5th, 15th, 20th or 30th?).  I originally was scheduling the payment to be toward the end of the month, but now I make it on the 15th (due the follows 1st, I think).  Unfortunately, rent payments go into a different bank account than I usually pay these from, so in months I’m making two payments, I’ll have to update the bank account info for the extra payment, then change it back ASAP so I don’t forget for the next regular payment.  There’s no way to store two sets of payment info, as far as I can tell.

In most months where I’m not making an extra payment, my monthly payment for these two loans should be $550, about $191 of which is the minimum payment for the larger loan.  This means $359 will be paid on smaller one ($1,059 when I’m making an extra rent payment), with about $330 initially going to principal each month.  If hubby is working in the fall, I’m hoping we’ll get this small one paid off my the end of the year.  If not, I’d expect to be done with it by the end of March.

Best Tax Bill Ever ($80,817)

Who gets excited to get their tax bill? The answer:  this girl.  

Last year we paid about $3,600 in property taxes on our house.  We purchased right around this time last year, and therefore missed the cutoff for getting the live-in exemption, so we had a whole year of paying full price on our taxes.  We just received this year’s tax bill, with the exemption in effect, and it will be about $1,200 less for the year.  This means when our mortgage serviced reevaluates how much is going into our escrow account, our mortgage payment will be going down $100 a month.  I’m pretty excited about that.

Now the question is:  do I continue paying that extra $100, toward the principal of the mortgage, or do I add it to my student loan payments?  The mortgage has a higher interest rate at 5.25% (crazy, right?) than any of my student loans, now that they’ve been refinanced (currently 5% and 4.74%).  Our mortgage interest rate is so high because of our lower down payment and the fact that it’s a two family.  Part of me wants to aggressively pay down the mortgage, in order to refinance to a lower rate, but I’d need to get to 25% equity to do that (because of the multi-family), and who knows where interest rates will be by the time I accomplish that.  I do feel confident that it’s not gone down in value since we bought it, and with some additional labor I think we can increase the value more.  There were definitely issues with the house that the previous owner just didn’t want to deal with.  With good bonuses and paying extra on the mortgage instead of the loans, I think I could get to 25% two years from now, but I don’t think I want to sacrifice student loan payoff.  I might think more about this in the upcoming months, but for now I’ll just be excited that our minimum payment will be going down soon!

Sorry for the absence! ($81,006)

It’s been a while!  And I’ve spent a LOT of money in the last two months.  We went on our two week honeymoon to Hawaii at the beginning of the month and had a GREAT time.  We did a lot to make it  (relatively) inexpensive but still fun.  We used two sets of airline points, so total we spent about $1,000 on flights for two people, including two inter-island flights. We also stayed mostly at VRBO condos, which was not only less expensive than staying at a hotel, but which we actually really enjoyed.  We liked having access to a kitchen.  We made breakfast almost every day, which was especially helpful on the big island — we were kind of in the middle of nowhere.

As to an actual financial update, I feel like I haven’t made much saving progress, but I guess my net worth is still improving, so that’s something.  This month I will finally pay off the last of my undergraduate loans!  It only took ten years–which, um, is how long it’s supposed to take, but I stopped paying them for three years while I was in law school, and any principal reductions I’d accomplished in the three years prior were completely wiped out.  But in less than a month, they’ll be gone!  And on to the next!

As to loan payoff, I’m up to 64 pieces of the puzzle — with a total of $87,168 to go.

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I got a new puzzle in Hawaii — just for fun — hopefully that one won’t take 3 years to finish!

My hubby graduated from his masters program in May, so we’re hoping he’ll be working in September, which should speed up the debt reduction, and hopefully eliminate my Perkins loan, which is currently at $6,389.  This will be the biggest one to date.

 

 

Found Money!

it’s not really found, it was saved.   I was a little bummed to see my account balances go down so much as I purchased the last of our honeymoon plane tickets and made rental car reservations, but then I logged into Capital One and realized that I put money aside in a separate account for this very purpose!  This means that I still have enough money to shops for used bikes for me and hubby–we live right by a bike path and he would like to be able to use it for more than just walking. I’m fine with just walking it, but he’d like to bike, and I’m all about couple activities.

April (Already?) Recap ($83,117)

So I’ve definitely slacked this month on posting–what else is new?  But I realized that today is the last day of the month, and I have a terribly depressing monthly update to post.

After paying over $3,000 (is that right?) in student loan principal last month, I paid just a tiny bit over $1,000 this month.  This is actually more than a standard month should be, because I had a little tax return excess still in my account, and I knew that I have the extra paycheck coming in May.  Essentially I front-ran a bit of my May payment, so that my normal monthly payment for May on my undergraduate loans will bring me under $2,000.  I should have no problem paying the balance off of that one in July.  Maybe I can even get rid of my next biggest loan (currently about $5,800) by the end of the year.

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For the year, I’ve paid $7,015 in student loan principal:

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Which isn’t too bad.  The bad news is that I only added five puzzle pieces this month, bring me up to 51.  I’m officially over 10% there!  More bad news?  My computer is being a jerk right now, so I’m giving up on typing and just going to pa going to post the picture.  Enjoy:

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Cost Cutting Update

A couple of months ago, I posted about ways in which I could cut some of my costs.  I wanted to give a recap:

Car Insurance:

We’re now paying $886 a year for car insurance.  I had been paying $790 a year–for just me.  And my hubby had more coverage than me.  So my portion will be about $30 a month less than what I had been paying.  I’ll need to set some money aside because we’ll be paying in 6 month chunks, but for the first couple months it will only be a bit more than I had been putting away monthly.

Cell Phone:

I switched to Ting and have paid one bill so far.  I definitely need to work on not using data by checking facebook during the workday, and googling random things on my train rides.  I have started playing sudoku and bringing my kindle instead, which will hopefully help. The takeaway is that my bill last month was $49 instead of $98.  I’m guessing it might be up to $60 this month due to data use, but again, I’m optimistic I can routinely  get to $45 a month.

The only bad news–my phone has been acting up, and I may be in need of a new one soon.  This might mean going back to a contract, and going on a joint Verizon plan with hubby–since he is adamant about not leaving them (full disclosure:  I love them too, but they’re plans aren’t great for one person).  So while I’ll still be saving over Sprint, I might be paying a bit more per month.

Credit Cards:

Shortly after I posted, I got a mailing informing me I can upgrade my Capital One card to a Quiksilver card–keeping my card number and the age of the account, but losing the annual fee.  That was surprisingly easy!

Still waiting for my taxes to be cheaper–I think that will update in July, but I could be wrong on that.  In other news, I’m down to just the one last  undergraduate loan, and I think it will be gone in July or at the latest early August. Either way, I’ll be down to just law school loans in time for my birthday.

 

Ting Ting Ting! ($82,199)

My current bill is $44.68!  That’s about half of what my last Sprint bill was, for the exact same service (just trying to be conservative with my data usage).  I used XL+ data (just over 2000 MB), which accounted for $30 and change of my bill.  But I’m hoping that I’ll be able to work on using less and less of my data (ensuring I’m on WiFi whenever possible, hopefully bringing my Kindle in with me so I’m not randomly surfing the internet during my train ride), so that I can hopefully get this down to $19 a month on data.  I also used over 100 text messages this month, by talking to a friend I’m not usually in touch with, so I don’t expect to go over the smallest allocation next month.  Though I think that’s only a $2 difference.

Either way, I’m really happy with my decision to change to Ting so far!

March Recap! ($83,753)

Again, I’ve got an estimated net worth here.  I think I might be being extra-conservative with the estimate, but I’m okay with that.  The honeymoon money is almost spent/moved to another account, so that’s good.  I’ve started to get a little overwhelmed with all things wedding, and realizing the expenses that we’ve yet-to-incur, and what they may be.  I was looking into getting a string quartet/some kind of classical string performance for the ceremony, but I just can’t justify spending $800 on an hour.  iPod Tchaikovsky it is!  At some point I’m going to have to do a few posts about what we’re spending on the wedding, and what we’re prioritizing (and what we’re just plain unwilling to spend money on).

Now for the reason you’re here: March Recap!

Student Loans Principal Year-To-Date:

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Thought #1 is… YAY! This is 30% of the way there, with 25% of the year behind us!  The bad news is, my tax return and my bonus have already happened, so I won’t have these kinds of windfalls for the rest of the year.  But I’ll keep plugging either way, and for now, I’ll be happy about the progress.

I saw another blogger’s post on the monthly interest they’ve paid (who was this?  I would like to give you a shout out!)  Here’s a little bit of a view of mine.  I think in 2013 I was still paying some old accrued interest, but really started paying aggressively around that time, so after that I was just paying the interest that accrued monthly.  It’s not terribly easy to see, but there was a significant drop in October (paying only a partial month’s interest), that’s stabilized right around $380.  Other than monthly variation (months with 31 days, months where the payment date falls on a weekend, so the payment doesn’t go through until Monday) this number should slowly go down every month.  I’ve been guesstimating the interest for my undergraduate loans, but they’re around $10 a month at this point.  My numbers should be pretty exact once the last one is paid off in August (and it WILL be paid off by my 32nd birthday). I’m hoping to see serious changes here once the man in working.  For various reasons (co-signer, low balances, multiple loans, the fact that I’ve had them for TEN YEARS) I’ve been paying off my undergraduate loans first, even though they have the smallest interest rate (3.25).  Starting in August, my extra payments will be going toward my highest interest rate loans (5%).  The difference between the two isn’t huge, but I’ll take it!

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Now for the main event:  My puzzle of total(ish) student loan progress!  My current loan balance is:

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That gives us 46 pieces in the puzzle–16 more than last month!  I’m pretty happy with that–that’s almost 10% of the puzzle!  And, you know, almost $10,000 from the $100,000 I’m counting down from.  16 pieces is probably the most at a time we’re going to see this year.  And I had a 16 piece chunk ready to add on–after the colored pencils are done it’s going to get significantly more difficult.  But, it’s going to be a while before that happens.  For now, here it is:  46 pieces representing $9,200 of payoff since the $100,000 mark.  I feel confident that in May, I’ll get over 50 pieces, for 10% of the puzzle.  10% of $100,000 feels pretty good, I think.

 

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Food! ($83,584)

I had a really good morning, taking the dog to get a pedicure (a/k/a getting her nails trimmed, since I’m too scared to do it myself), then taking her out to play fetch, and generally ride around. We don’t have a fenced in yard, and live on a busier street, so we haven’t tried taking her out back without a leash. We have to get more creative to find more open places for her to run around. There’s a really nice park not far from us, but they can be strict about the leash policy. I would not be disappointed if they wanted to put in a dog park there.
After we got home, I went out food shopping. I haven’t gone food shopping by myself in a long time. I like to take my time and go down every aisle. The man — he doesn’t. I was good about my purchases today, and didn’t buy any junk food whatsoever. I’m trying to watch what we eat, specifically eating a lot more vegetables and less pasta. We eat a LOT of pasta, largely because I know how to make it. The man also has multiple rice dishes in his repertoire. But damn, trying to eat healthy can be expensive. Even more concerning than the expense: will all of that food go bad in my fridge when I inevitably don’t make it? I tried to get a good mix of easy things (grapes, blackberries and clementines for taking to work), cooking vegetables (cauliflower, a zucchini, peppers and onions for stir fry) and lazy cooking vegetables (frozen green and wax beans, frozen butternut squash). Tonight’s dinner was a success (meatloaf, mashed cauliflower and the beans)–I won’t be too upset spending money on all this food if we are actually successful about eating it.

I really want ice cream now.