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.


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.

Debt Progress – September/October 2014 ($95,596)+

I’m thinking I’ve been neglecting my Debt Progress posts in the last few months.  Then I realized I’ve only ever posted ONE of these bad boys. Well, tonight is the night we fix that!

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 9.31.14 PM

You see that magical $100,000 line!  That’s right, I’m below it!Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 9.31.30 PM

Now I only recently celebrated being under $100,000 in a blog post. That’s because the federal loan number that feeds into Mint doesn’t show interest, which could get to about $400 or something equally ridiculous each month, so I was really see-sawing above and below the $100K mark.  But now I’d say we’re under for good.  Debt also includes whatever credit card balance I had at the time, which I pay off every two weeks or so. THAT SHOULDN’T COUNT MINT!*

I’ve realized I can do a bar graph of my individual loan balances against the same time last year. Once I figure out an efficient way to hide account number information I’ll probably add those in to these posts. I can see a couple thousand dollars of progress in some individual loans, as well as seeing $0 where there used to be balances.

As promised in previous posts this and last month, my Federal loans are getting refinanced today (and it does look like my $200 payment went through before my refinance loan was disbursed), so hopefully in the next few months I’ll be able to see further reductions (from paying basically the same amount).

Lastly, we’ve been putting all of our collected rent money into a separate account which I have not fed into Mint. This is intended to be a bit of a house buffer fund.  We’re going to use a chunk of what we have so far for a project we knew we’d need to do when we bought the house, which I expect will happen this month.  Then we’ll probably put in the rent checks from this month (due on the 15th), November and December into the account.  After that, we will probably put this money toward my student loans–at least until we have to use some of the money for house things and need to replenish it again.

* Sorry about that mini-tantrum.
+ I had a small freak out about my net worth being -95. I think this is because a $750 credit card payment is reflecting as out of my bank account, but hasn’t reflected as paid on the credit card yet. It should really be in the high 94s, which is more tolerable, though still not great.

Jumping in! ($94,373)

I gave a call to the bank on my potential student loan refinance, because I got conflicting emails. Turns out, when they initially entered my monthly mortgage payment into their system, they added an extra digit somewhere, resulting in a $13,000 monthly payment. I now understand why they wanted a cosigner!
But they confirmed that it was fixed and requested some documentation, which was easy to produce (paystub, current loan statement). I checked the status today and not only was I approved, but I was approved for the lowest possible interest rate! I will now have to pay $558 as my monthly payment, instead of $501, but I’ll be moving from an interest rate of 6.625% to 4.74% (after the .25 reduction for setting up automatic payments, which I did).
Too much text. Let’s see some screenshots of what this gets us:

Paying $575 (rounding up my minimum) at my old rate:

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 7.26.04 PM

Paying $575 at my shiny new interest rate:

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 7.26.28 PM


Paid off a year and a half earlier with a whopping $8,519 in total interest saved!  And this is without any additional snowballing to the loan to pay it off earlier.

My original intent was to pay of my undergraduate loans (3.25% – with a cosigner), then decide between attempting to pay off my higher interest federal loans (6.625%) or my “law school loans” (5%).  Now that my “federal” loans are at a lower interest rate I think it makes sense to hit them in the following order:

UG3: $537.28 (Projected November 2014)

UG4: $3,131.99 (Projected March 2014/bonus time?)

UG5: $4,646.23 (I can’t predict the future here)

Perkins Loan: $6,387.96

Law School Loan: $13,683.27

“Federal Loan”: $70,300 (ish)

I will also pay off any remaining balance on my federal loan (interest accruing before the refinance payment comes through) next month.  I’m happy that all of the smaller chunks in the “law school loans” category will now be at higher interest rates than the big daddy federal loan, so that eventually/$28,000 from now, I’ll only have one loan open!


The Most Un-Romantic Blog Post You Will Ever Read ($93,724)

I got married last Friday.  That was our plan BEFORE we got engaged — hence my extreme surprise when a ring was presented to me.  My boyfriend/fiance/hubby (I’m never really sure what to call him) is currently a student, and we bought our two-family house together.  I wanted to ensure that I could put him on my benefits, because I wasn’t sure if his having an income would affect his insurance eligibility, and I’d rather not have to scramble if he were to find out that he now has to pay a huge amount.

But insurance benefits aren’t the main reason we got married this year.  Tax benefits are.  Getting married this year instead of next year means about $6,000 less in tax liability.  That’s a lot of money when you’re planning a wedding/bought a house/paying off debt.  So we got legally married for about $150 in marriage license and officiant costs.  We don’t really consider ourselves married for any purpose other than taxes and benefits, and we purposely planned to do it on the same day as our wedding celebration next year (only one anniversary to remember).

While updating my benefits, I also updated a few more things.  I decided to change my withholding to married, which will lower my tax refund, but will mean more money in my pocket now.  Offsetting this, I increased my HSA contribution.  I’m hoping that I am able to make a lump sum contribution to the HSA around bonus time next year, so that we can get LASIK for my man–I had it about six years ago (is it really possible that it was that long ago?!) and it was some of the best money I ever spent. I mean, I financed it, and that wasn’t wise, but otherwise it was definitely worth the cost.

I also increased my 401(k) a percentage point.  I’m now contributing 8% of my salary.  I would like to do more, and I have it set up to automatically increase a percentage point each year, around what I think is raise time.  Ideally I’d like to be contributing 15% (or really the annual maximum) to make up for the amount of time I contributed nothing towards retirement. The lovely website recommends saving 10-15% of salary each year, which I assume is geared toward helping you maintain your existing level of comfort in retirement.  The good news is, I certainly don’t spend money (on housing, food, etc.) like someone who makes my salary–because I’m sending $1,000 a month in student loans.  So really, I’m living like someone who makes at least $15,000 less annually.  This makes me feel a little bit better, but as soon as those loans are paid off, I want to ensure I’m contributing at least 15%.  Hopefully it doesn’t take me 15 years to get there.

Moving Forward ($94,105)

We’re moving forward slowly but surely with the house stuff.  We’re experiencing some issues with our 2013 taxes–the IRS hasn’t processed both of ours yet, which is making me nervous, but it’s not so late in the tax season that we can contact them about it.  So we wait in frustration.

I’ve been dealing with some house/family issues, but the number one thing that I’m thankful for is that my boyfriend and I are on the same page. We’re on the same page with spending money, and paying down debt which is awesome.  It’s definitely helpful to have someone who sees things from the same perspective as you, and agrees with you that’s it’s not reasonable to get a loan to fix some (purely cosmetic) things–not everyone feels this way.  But, realizing that a large chunk of cash is going to go away in less than three weeks (this Friday will be my last second paycheck, and my last paychecks before closing!), my net worth has increased almost $10,000 since December 2013 and, excluding the mortgage, should hopefully stay above negative six figures.  I won’t be seeing this change by $2000+ a month anymore, now that I’m no longer getting the extra paycheck, and having to pay a mortgage, but we’ll get there slowly but surely.

I need to catch up on my budget/spending recap posts in the next week or so, and I don’t think my weekends are going to be any less busy with the house purchase.  I hope that post-move I’ll get better at posting on a regular basis, and I’m sure I’ll have more expenses to discuss, and all kinds of budget changes to deal with.  I also hope to update my goals–which might have been doable if I had been able to keep up this living situation for another year, but the housing gods had other plans.  Until then…

Lazy Sunday ($97,398)

I spent the last hour or so in bed, reading blog posts while my man friend watches soccer (bogarting my computer in the process), and decided I should see if there’s been any updates to my credit score. I knew my last late payment (about seven years ago) should be dropping off sometime in the next couple of months. When I refreshed my score–BOOM! It’s gone! My score (which has been slowly increasing over time as a result of my low utilization) jumped 23 points as a result.
I also have two hard inquiries and 7 open installment loans. The oldest inquiry should drop off in another couple of months (credit card I applied for in April 2012 when I was still highly irresponsible), and open loans should be down to six around the same time. I’m hoping to be down to four by the end of the year, but I don’t think either move will have too big of an effect–certainly not the 20+ point increase I saw this morning.

It’s looking more and more like a house purchase won’t happen in 2015 anyway, but by the time we’re ready I should be down to four revolving loans and one (or no) hard inquiries, except for the mortgage application, whenever that happens.

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:

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 9.28.51 PM

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!

Good News/Bad News ($101,050)*

* First, I should preface that my net worth here is a guesstimate–I have a $585 credit card charge that hasn’t posted yet, and it feels disingenuous to exclude it. It would be a different story if it was $50, but it’s not. The charge is for my sister’s baby shower, and almost exactly offsets the extra paycheck for working four short days as a temp.

Next, the bad news: none of my discretionary deductions came out of my first paycheck at the official job. This means no 401(k) contribution (yet) so that account will stay at $0. It’s also means no money in my HSA, and potential for additional catch-up deductions in my next paycheck. I hate how long it’s taken to get everything set up here.

Now for the good news: my paycheck was about $400 more than I was hoping it would be with all my planned-for deductions. What to do with that extra money…? PAY OFF UG2! I scheduled a payment for Monday for $638, which should kill that loan, and leave me with a measly 7 student loans open! I’m really hoping that clearing this amount out of my bank account will mean less wasteful spending for the rest of the month.

What do you do with extra money when you don’t have debt?

Working (?) From Home ($102,535)

I’ll be working from home today*. Because the roads around my house don’t appear to be plowed, and it took me FIVE HOURS to get to my train station last night (and another 30 minutes for the drive home from the train station, but that time was completely reasonable).  The drive home would probably have been a little easier if I had done it at 6:00 like I was scheduled to, and not 9:00 since it actually started snowing again in that time.  Anyway, the train website says trains are delayed 15-20 minutes today…and since that’s what it said for most of last night I’m not trusting those jackals.

I did get some good news when I arrived at the train station last night though–apparently parking will remain free for another six months!  I’ll update my budget when I get some kind of reliable confirmation that this is, in fact, the case, but hooray for continuing to save $80 a month!  Hopefully they’ll keep this going for as long as I live two hours (not five, but two) from my job.

I paid $1,000 or so on UG2, my smallest remaining loan.  It’s down to $636!  So next month that will be wiped out on schedule.  I do need to start saving for tax time, as well as putting money away generally this month.  According to my paydown calculator, UG3 is scheduled to be paid off in June.  This does not account for (1) the fact that I’m now making more money, or (2) the fact that May has three paydays, so my goal is for UG3 to be gone in the beginning of May.  I’m not sure if I threw this out there before, but my calculator projects UG4 to be paid in October and UG5 in March 2015–my goal is for all of these bad boys to be paid in 2014. If I tackle my highest-rate, highest balance federal loans next I’d be concentrating on them from April 2015 to July 2018–that’s a long time with no payoffs.  Serious sad face.

Lastly, I updated my Law School loans, that don’t feed into Mint. Hence the increase in net worth.  I had been carrying them at ($22,900), but moved them up to ($22,000) since I got just under this number before the year ended.  Like I alluded to above, I think I might save these two for last since they have a lower interest rate than the federal loans.

I’m off to nap for a half hour before I have to start getting to work. 

* Don’t worry–I’m not blogging while I should be working–I don’t generally start for another hour or so.