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.


Temporary Connectivity Issue?!

I paid off the first of my two law school loans!  Now I’m down to just the remaining one and my huge former federal loan.  This is the biggest loan paid off to date, about six years early!  I’m hoping to pay off the second law school loan in the first half of next year — sometime after bonus and tax return time.
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It’s definitely a little daunting to see how big this loan is, but after my payment goes through later this month, it  will be just under $10,000–only a little bit higher than the original amount of the first one.

Onto the title of this post.  Mint.com hasn’t been able to update these accounts so I can see the $0 since before I paid it off on the 10th.  These are the accounts I used to have to manually put in (I remember tracking these at $22,000 — it’s awesome to see that they’re around $10,000 now). I’m a little nervous that this connectivity issue isn’t going to be temporary and I’ll have to go back to manually tracking these.  Which would be really annoying, but might give me more incentive to pay them off.

It’s only mid-month, so I won’t be updating my puzzle, but this loan being paid off means the man and I put a good chunk of money towards this this month.  I thought I was going to make my payoff goal, but my numbers on Mint aren’t jiving, and I’m not sure why.  I’ll have to look into a little further, but I’m pretty happy with my progress either way.  And I’ll definitely get to throw a bunch more puzzle pieces in at the end of this month, so I’ll be happy with the progress either way.

EDIT:  Blonde Moment.  The reason why there is a big difference between my calculations and the numbers on Mint is because these two account haven’t updated to show a $2,000 payment.  Literally the thing I was writing/complaining about.  Wow.

Bigger Paychecks ($87,335)

I’ve been messing with my payroll deductions since the beginning of the year.  In 2014, I had HSA contributions taken out of each paycheck–a decent amount in an attempt to ramp up my account to cover at least the deductible.  This year I decided to move that down to $0 per paycheck, and just have a lump sum taken out of my bonus.  Because I’ve been used to living with a certain sized paycheck, I wasn’t looking to increase my take home pay, but wanted to increase my retirement contributions with the extra money (and largely keep with the theme of pre-tax payments). For my lump sum HSA contribution, I contributed what I had hoped would be the maximum contribution for the year, taking into account my employer’s contribution, and the fact that I’m hoping the man gets a job with better/cheaper health insurance (errr… that the better option is cheaper/more subsidized by his employer than the better option that I have through my work is now), which would render me unable to contribute to an HSA for that part of the year.  Depending on what our family timing plans are, I may keep myself on the high deductible health plan for a year, and keep contributing to the HSA for as long as I can.  I digress…

I had moved my 401(k) contribution up to 10%, then back down to 9%, with $100 going to a separate bank account post-tax, to be moved into the Roth IRA I opened.  The first paycheck I received in February, the 9% contribution was implemented, but the $100 separate deposit had not yet, so this looked like more money in my spendable paycheck.  This paycheck, the separate direct deposit was in place, but my paycheck was still higher than usual.  Could this be my raise? Nope–adjustments from the last minute changes to 2014 taxes (and how much is taken out pre-tax). This change brought me another $90.  I’ll take it!

I’m not sure if it will be in the next paycheck, but I am waiting on a significant raise to show up in my paycheck.  After taxes and deductions, I’m hoping it will be an extra $100 which should reduce my reliance on tapping into my separate savings more often than I’d like (as I have been doing).  I may also potentially increase my student loan payments an extra $50 a month each month, which would be another $450 in principal payments this year.  Every little bit helps me get closer to my goal!

Taxes *

Around this time last year (actually more like around April 15), I filed my taxes and had to pay over $2,100!  This was the second year in a row–for 2012 I had to pay $1,900!  At least last year, I was prepared for it.  Having two jobs in different states, I never quite figured out how to best do my withholding.  But with Job 2 ending in June, the withholding from (permanent) Job 1 would probably be enough that I shouldn’t owe, or shouldn’t owe too much.

But the man and I had our civil ceremony this year, so we can file together.  Seeing as he’s a full-time student, this is extremely beneficial to me because 1) the added personal exemption; and 2) the larger standard deduction.  Add to that some deductions for expenses for our house, and education credits, and we’re very happy with preliminary numbers on our federal return.  A good chunk of this will be paying for our honeymoon.  I also expect that I will be zeroing out UG4 when the return hits my bank account.  The only hold-up is that I’m waiting to receive my W-2 from former Job 2 — though my paycheck/withholding was the same every month, so I have a pretty good (if not exact) estimate in.

After elimination of UG4, I’ll be down to:

  • UG5 (the last one from undergrad!):  $4,410
  • Law School 1:  $6,056
  • Law School 2:  $13,145
  • Former Federal Loans:  $69,468

And with March’s payments, I’ll be under $93,000!  I’m pretty happy with that.  UG5 will soon be getting $225 a month.  It’s a little hard to think that I used to pay about $1,000 to the federal loans (the minimum if they were on a 10 year term instead of a 25 or 30 year), and another extra couple hundred (or $1000!) to my undergrad loans!  Damn I miss having a second job sometimes!  Damn I hate paying a mortgage!  Now it will take me four months of regular payments to get to a $1000 reduction in principal on UG5…but at least that’s an extra $200 a month, instead of just the minimum.  Hopefully we can keep some costs down on the honeymoon (even though I haven’t been on a vacation in FIVE YEARS), so they’ll be a bit more to loans!




*I’m temporarily excluding my net worth, as I’m shuffling some money around accounts

Better than Yesterday ($91,446.48)


I know I shouldn’t be saying “Ugh” with a title of better than yesterday, but I just realized something that annoys me.  I made my $700 payment today from the joint (house) account.  As a result, this transaction will not show up as a Student Loan Principal transaction, though the reduction in principal clearly shows in my net worth calculation (hence the title of “Better Than Yesterday”).  I’m thinking I might be able to add a dummy transaction, which I will look to do after the close of the month — I don’t want to show up as way over budget for the month because this transaction isn’t out of my usual accounts.  It’s annoying having so many damn accounts.

That will take care of tracking my 2015 Goal (I had a really hard time not typing 2014 there — weird).  As to the overall student loan repayment goal (as in Paid. Off. Completely.) I’ve decided to do another type of visual. I’m a huge dork, and I love jigsaw puzzles.  So I bought a $500 piece puzzle, and am hoping to periodically post my progress by way of puzzle.  To be clear, my original loan balance was around $130,000, and is now a lot closer to $100,000.  I’m just going to go with $100,000 as my base to be mathematically easy.  So for every $200 that is paid off, I will add a puzzle piece.*  I started it off with 18 pieces, and I’ll be adding 2 to 3 pieces most months I don’t make the extra $700 payment from our rent income, about 6 pieces on months that I do, and hopefully there will be months with a lot more.

That’s all I have for today.  I’m hoping to actually post a picture of the puzzle around the 31st when I see what my end of month balances are.  Because my payments aren’t $200 (in principal…or just generally) at a time, I think the best plan of action will be to see what my balances are, see what the total reduction from $100,000 is, and then make sure the total number of puzzle pieces matches.  I’m also not posting the current picture because I’m too damn lazy to get off the couch right now.

* Wouldn’t a 1000 piece puzzle, with each piece representing $100 be a lot more mathematically easy?  Heck yeah, but I DO NOT have the patience to do a 1,000 piece puzzle over the course of three years, and the puzzle I picked is visually very easy to do a little at a time…I’m not going to pull my hair out looking for a new piece every time I pay $100.

Not Much to Report ($91,944.27)

As the subject says, I don’t have much to report. I just had five days in a row off of work, and that was awesome. I had kind of a rough day yesterday, and I’m still kind of down about things, but they’re completely non-financial. Whatever.

On two positive notes, I should start seeing retirement contributions from my company in my paycheck on Friday. I won’t be vested in any of this for another year, but I’ve never worked anywhere where I’ve gotten so much as a 401k match before this. The amount is a percent of my salary, and isn’t at all contingent on my contributing my own funds.

The other positive point is that we received our rent check from our tenant earlier this month (rent is due on the 15th–he’s always early). We just did a mobile deposit, so once it clears I’ll be sending that $700 to UG4, bringing the balance to right about $2,000. I’m not planning on making a similar payment next month–we used up $1,200 from the account to pay a contractor for something we needed to take care of for the house, and I’d like to replenish the account a bit. Ideally, I’d like to keep a balance of at least $5,000 in the account, but I think I’m going to keep alternating rent checks in the account, until we get to the $5,000, and use the others for student loans.

One thing I’ve found frustrating, is that I haven’t been able to set up a goal in Mint on paying off student loans. But I did realize that I can at least view the total amount of payments in a given category for this year. I’m at a mere $600ish this month, for a two reasons: 1) my big payment went through two days later than normal, because the normal payment date fell on a Saturday, so two more days of interest accrued and were paid, 2) I only paid $150 on my UG loans, instead of the usual $225 because of the hangover from December. Hopefully this chart will look a whole lot better in a week (and more so a month) from now!

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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.

Asterisks ($94,194)

I have an event saved in my iPhone calendar this month, that consists solely of ******.  I think this was intended to be my payoff date for all of my undergraduate loans.  This would have been in addition to paying an extra $500 on my highest interest loans (the federal loans).  But alas, leaving the second job and the resultant moving/buying a house have resulted in other plans.

BUT that doesn’t mean I haven’t made some progress.  I input another $200 payment to my federal loans which hopefully will go through today/before my payoff loan is disbursed.  Essentially I didn’t want the interest I currently have on the loans to get capitalized in, but I’m not sure if my attempted payment will get in first.  AND the balance on UG3 is about $300, which I can definitely pay off with the additional paycheck this month.

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I’ve apparently been tracking the amount of interest paid for a while — it does not seem like long ago that I figured out a way to set that up, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9.36.39 PMThe numbers don’t seem to have changed all that much since January — either around $475 or $520, and I think the fluctuation really has more to do with the day of the month I made a payment (or number of days in the month), than a real change.  Next month however (or actually, maybe this month) I’m expecting my interest payment to be closer to low $400s.  I’ll take the extra $75 a month towards principal, thankyouverymuch.

I’ve been seriously slacking on the posting. Blame the fact that I no longer live alone.  But I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things in the next few weeks, with budget posts (ummm I’m bad at sticking to the budget), goals for the rest of the year and for next year, and getting back into posting monthly recaps.  I’m also hoping to give an idea of what I think my “true” net worth is — accounting for the house/mortgage, 401(k), HSA and house savings.  To be continued.



January Recap! ($98,670)

Still/back under $100,000!  And I did pretty great this month, if I do say so myself.  This is largely due to an extra paycheck because of the (in name and salary only) job switch.

The pretty picture:

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Student Loans!

I paid off $2,567 in PRINCIPAL this month.  All of the “Fees and Charges” pie is interest paid on loans.  I think this is smaller than usual because of the timing of my payments vs. the payments last month.

I spent $632 on auto/transport this month.  Some awesome things about February:  my auto insurance is split into 10 monthly payments, so I don’t have a payment next month; there’s $84 I don’t have to pay.  It’s a mutual insurance company, which means I’m also expecting a dividend payment of about $150 or so.  My employer also just announced a discount program on car insurance, so I may look into that to save more money (though a friend of mine is my insurance broker, so I may stay where I am, and I kind of like the dividend thing).  I am getting rid of my towing plan–only $20 annual, but I have AAA, so I don’t need it anymore.  Knock on wood, but it’s also been MONTHS since I locked myself out of my still-running car (yes, I’ve done this more than once).  February will also be the last month that my train pass will have to be purchased completely with after-tax dollars.  Probably another $20 in savings each month.  Lastly, I drove to the farther train station much more than usual this month, resulting in more gas and parking spending, which I hopefully won’t repeat in February.

Food: $429 this month, about $300 in groceries.  This is probably the smallest amount I’ve ever spent in this category.  I need to reign in my pretzel purchases (maybe with more snacks for the train), but I won’t beat myself up too much.

It’s pretty rare that I have a separate pie slice for health and fitness.  This is from a doctor’s bill at the beginning of the month, and a prescription that I’ve submitted a reimbursement for (I didn’t have the account number information for my new health/prescription plans).  I have another doctor’s bill that I’ll be paying in early February from the same appointment (one for lab testing and one for the appointment and procedure itself), so the budget there will also be unusually high.

The “Other” and “Shopping” categories are what I really want to work on next month.  I spent $45 at Walmart in the middle of the month, and have no idea what I bought.  None.  I do know that it wasn’t groceries, though I sometimes do my grocery shopping there.  I spent another $40 on Amazon (light bulbs, a lint lizard that I haven’t tried yet, but is pretty necessary for some spaces in the house, and a paper towel holder to mount on my island).  But seriously, what did I buy at Walmart?  OH! I bought an over-the-toilet storage unit for some additional much needed storage space in my newly-organized apartment.  I feel better now.  The phone bill and my Netflix/TiVo are monthly bills, but tickets to a Red Sox game, and a paint your own pottery night added an extra $120 this month.  I might be spending a big chunk on some concert tickets this month, so this category probably won’t be going down too much in February.

In summary, I’m pretty happy with this month’s spending and debt progress.  I’ve already scheduled a loan payment for February, and I’m hoping that moving the money out of my account early in the month will prevent me from spending.  I’ll post more on the February budget this week!