I Made Up This Number ($83,264)

Because I’ve still got some honeymoon spending to do, so I don’t want to post a lower number, only to see the negative number grow.

I listen to a lot of Dave Ramsey podcasts on the train home from work.  I definitely feel like he would tell me I need to pay off my loans on an even faster timeframe than I am.  I am paying for my wedding (in spite of the fact that we’re already actually married) and our honeymoon.  While I think we’re being pretty frugal, we are still going on vacation for two weeks.  But it’s going to be a looooong time before we’re going to be able to do this again.  It’s been five years since I’ve been on an actual vacation — and I think I’m enough on the path to paying off my debt that I can reward myself a little bit.

Should I be feeling guilty about this spending?  After my contract is up, should I be cutting my cable?  Should I be taking the $40 I round up my mortgage, and applying that to my next student loans (even though my mortgage interest rate is actually my HIGHEST–however that’s possible).  Should we stop any grabbing sushi about twice a month?  Should I be bringing PB&J to work everyday? (Full disclosure:  I actually love me some PB&J, as long as the right kind of jelly is involved).  Should I not be contributing to my retirement, even though we’re 31 and 32, and have less than $20,000 saved collectively?  Should I clear out my savings (the stuff that isn’t earmarked for something specific)?

I think it’s easy to follow simple rules, but I think everyone’s individual situation is a little different.  And because I’m making actual progress on my loans and have a drive and plan to pay them off, it makes more sense for me to enjoy life a little, and to address multiple financial goals (savings, retirement) while paying off debt.  I’m happy to pay off interest instead of more personal investing, but I’m not willing to turn my nose up at things like a 401k match.  Does anyone else feel the same?

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Are You Sure It’s Payday? ($105,257)

Hooray for every other Thursday!

It seems a bit unsatisfying, considering that October was a three payday month for my main gig, so I had a lot of extra money to throw toward my debt last month.  I also got my check from my other job on the same day as my last payday, so it was a huge hit of money.  Now I look back at my blogs from around two weeks ago, and my net worth was higher then than it is now. What gives?

But I realize that I spent a lot of those paychecks–I don’t get to keep all of it.  Or most of it for that matter.  It really reinforces how nice it will be when I’m not spending $2,000 a month on student loans, and I’m not paying over $500 a month in interest.  I don’t think “nice” is the right word.  Amazing?  I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast on the train today, and one woman said that she realized she needed to get a hold on her financial situation when she discovered she spent $750 on interest the previous year.  I pay more than that in two months!  How is it that people can deduct interest on million dollar homes…but I make too much to deduct my loan interest!?  (I really realize that “I make too much money to deduct student loan interest” is probably the most obnoxious complaint ever, but I only make as much as I do because I work two jobs, and commute four hours a day to make that happen–because I don’t want to pay student loans for 30 years. Mini-rant over.)

So anyways, the moral of the story is that this paycheck seemed less fulfilling than the last set.  But I am paying another $450 on my federal loan–about $350 of which will go to principal, and $300 on my loans from my school, with around $200 going to principal.  So I can take some comfort in that $550 of that won’t have a negative effect on my net worth.

Other than to pay off my student loans–a long term goal if there ever was one–I don’t really have set goals.  I’m trying to determine some good ideas for shorter term goals.  According to Mint.com, my debt currently stands at $111,039.  I want to get it under $110,000 by the end of the year, without dipping into–and continuing to add to–my existing (meager) savings (since I’ll likely need a good chunk of come tax time.  But that doesn’t seem terribly aggressive.  That actually seems like a pretty lazy goal.  I have my Vertex24 debt reduction calculator Excel sheet, which says that putting an extra* $700 a month toward my “snowball” will mean my next undergraduate loan (UG2) will be paid off in February, and the one after that (UG3) in June.  So I’m making a six month goal to have both paid off in May.  If I get hired for reals this shouldn’t be a problem–but how easy it would be would depend on the as-yet-unknown pay differential.

And as much as I hate to abandon the snowball when I’ve barely started, I may start trying to save a large chunk of change in anticipating of moving after those two are paid off.  Abandoning the snowball doesn’t mean (shouldn’t mean–please yell at me if this changes) that I’m abandoning my budgeting and attempts at frugality, just a change in where the money’s going. But AGAIN, this is me focusing so much on the longer term.  I should enjoy the small victories of paying off these small undergraduate loans while I can. Right now I can pay off one every four months or so, but once those babies are gone I have much larger chunks to deal with.  Anyway…I’d also like to get my net worth into the negative five figures by June–which sounds like it will be easy, but it will depend on how much of a tax hit I take.  Sigh.

In cheerier news: I looked at the Mint app on my phone when I started writing this, and it’s different!  Apparently there was an update of some kind today, so I’m off to investigate it. I’m really excited for when I get to post my end of month pretty pie chart.  But for now, I give you:  COFFEE!  I’ve now had four straight days of bringing my lunch, and two of coffee.  I’ve spent a whopping $4.76 on coffee this month (With the remainder of the $10 reload sitting on my card).  I used to spend around $80 a month!  Someone give this girl a cookie!

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It looks like I was really good in October–really it’s because I reloaded my Starbucks card at the end of September and my mom gave me a $25 card.  I was still way better than I had been (I’m looking at you February and May), but not as good as the chart implies.

* Really more than $700 a month extra.  My minimums on my federal loans are based on 30 year repayment, but I pay based on a 10 year repayment.  I also round all my payments up to be even.