Post-Bonus Post

Another quick update, because I’ve made my largest loan payment to date — $10,000!  I’m not positive if all $10k will go to principal, but the most that could potentially go to interest is less than $100 (since less than that accrues every month now!).  The puzzle will remain the same either way – 276 pieces.  Over halfway there!

$44,695– estimated remaining balance by original loan:

  • $2,625 $0 (freshman year – undergrad)
  • $8,500 $0 (1L subsidized loan)
  • $12,000 $3,695 (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)

I’m down to five of my original loans–and should get rid of the second 1L loan in the next two months, I’m thinking.  As promised, I put 6% of my bonus towards my 401(k) (and got an awesome profit sharing contribution), $750 towards my HSA, and booked tickets and a place to stay in California for five days this summer.  The only thing I have left to book for the trip is a rental car.  I also bought a sweet new blender, and I’ve been working on trying to mix up my smoothie game.  

I’ve already filed my taxes this year, and I should be getting a pretty good sized return–thanks little man! I’m hoping to put another $3,500 (minimum) towards my loans once that comes in.  I have not put any rent payments toward my loans – yet.  I have to transfer the money from our house account to the bank account that’s connected to my student loan, and that takes a few days.  But I’ll be putting another payment through as soon as that clears.

(I’m trying to make a border at this point, so that eventually I’ll just be filling in the middle–I realize that right now it just looks very unorganized)


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.

2015 Recap! ($72,307)

So I’ve already posted something close to a final loan payoff figure for the year, but I do need to provide the final amount).

In 2015, I paid off (approximately) $20,671 in student loan principal!

(Puzzle still to come — I’ll be honest, it would have only been 4 more pieces from the last post,so close to a quarter of the way there–the math is like 4.92 puzzle pieces or something–but not quite)

But wait, that’s not all. There are a few other financial milestones I’ve made this year, that I haven’t given their proper due all year.

401(k) Contributions

This year, I contributed $10,574 to my company 401(k).  Because I just became partially vested in some of my company’s matching and other contributions, I also became entitled to another (approximately) $2,000.  My total amount vested as of today is $19,610.

Roth IRA

I opened a Roth IRA earlier this year, and tried to put about $200 a month into it. Once things are more settled in 2016, I might see if there is a way to direct deposit into this account, instead of having to do a transfer (which gives me the opportunity to transfer it elsewhere).  But for now, my balance is $2,843.

HSA Contributions

With the baby coming and Mike’s eye surgery, I actually spent a huge chunk out of my HSA this year, and have almost met my deductible for the year (I might actually hit this once I get all of this year’s bills). But I contributed the maximum of $6,050 this year (plus $600 coming from my employer), and ended the year (as of now) with $3,761 in the account.  Up from $2,638 last year.

Mortgage Payments

I round my monthly payments up to the nearest $100 and send the extra to principal.  This is around an extra $40 a month.  Doing this for the last year and a half has cut three months off of my payment schedule. Doesn’t seem like much, but every time I do it, it helps more and more.  Total we’ve paid $3,085 in loan principal this year.  I’d estimate our equity in the house to be about $14,000, which assumes the house is worth exactly what we paid for it–I feel pretty confident that with the minor improvements we’ve made, and the housing market generally, it’s probably worth more than what we paid, so I think this is pretty conservative.

When I’m able to calculate my net worth through Mint, it doesn’t include any of these items.  Total they add up to $40,214 that I should conceivably be including in my net worth (though I prefer to see the more conservative number).  If I had included these, my net worth would be ($32,093).*  This number might be even be positive in a year.

(*caveat: I don’t include my hubby’s separate accounts here, again to be conservative, and because I don’t like to think of his money as accessible, even when it is. With that said, the money in the house account is as much his as it is mine, and ditto for the equity in the house.)

That’s not so bad.  I was feeling pretty down today about my ever-dwindling savings, but this helps me see how much progress I’ve made over the past year (and last couple years). Doesn’t mean I don’t have a LOT of budgeting work to do, but I need to not be so hard on myself.

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.

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:

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.08.35 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.09.12 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 8.10.39 PM

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.



February Goal Recap! ($87,482)

Here’s how I did 2 months into the year.  Just about $1,600 went to principal this month, which brings the total for 2015 to:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 12.57.58 PM

That’s about 14.5% of the way there, with about 16% of the year past us.  I’m okay with that–I should  be able to put an extra $1,000 or so toward debt, not counting the rent money from our tenant that is scheduled to go towards loans alternating months.

For for the total debt payoff goal.  I painted the cardboard backing, so it would be easier to actually see the puzzle.  I didn’t actually have a paintbrush, so I used a paper towel, so please excuse the uneven paint job (but hey! more incentive to cover it up ASAP).  And you can actually see the puzzle against the background.

My total debts are $93,802.  It’s crazy to think about how recently I was celebrating being under $100,000. I’m not making the progress I used to make when I had two jobs, and no housing expenses, but refinancing my big loan to a lower interest rate has definitely made a difference.  Even though I was really close to the $93,800 mark, the puzzle only reflects $94,000 – 30 pieces.  My two undergraduate loans reflect interest when they show up in Mint, but I don’t think the others do, so it might actually be that my debts are a bit higher, but if I keep using Mint eventually the interest amounts will be so low that they don’t matter in the calculation too much (in a few years…)



So that’s it for my recap!  Hopefully I’ll have plenty more progress to report in March when I finally receive my tax return, and maybe I’ll eventually even get better at budgeting!

January Goal Recap! ($90,455)

So here’s how far I am into my 2015 goal to pay $20,000 in principal to my student loans this year:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 5.24.54 PM

This is only 6.5% of my goal after 8.3% of the year has gone by, but I’m really hoping a lot of progress gets made in the last third of the year, so I’m not going to stress about this too much, in spite of the fact that I paid extra from the house account this month.  Aside from that extra $700, I also only made a $150 payment on my UG loans, instead of the usual $225 monthly payments.  So it’s essentially a smaller amount than most months when I’m putting the extra $700 in.

As to my overall goal to pay off all of my student loans (hopefully by the time I’m 35–I’m currently 31 and a half).  This is the puzzle visual. I checked out what my total debt as of today, per Mint, and my grand total of student loan debt is $95,406.36.  Subtracting this from $100,000, I get $4593.64, and dividing by 200…22 pieces into the puzzle!  And really really close to 23!  Next month will likely add another 4 through normal payments, since I’m so close to another piece now.   I may also put a little bit of my bonus money towards UG4, so that it will be paid off by late March or early April.


I’m going to have to work this out so that neither I, nor HGTV, are visible.  But for now, here’s the limited 22 pieces of progress.  I might have to paint the cardboard backing white so that the pieces are more visible, but I’ll start filling in that corner instead of the edges.  You know, so you’ll be able to see actual progress.  And also, because I totally have pieces in the corner assembled in the box…

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!

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.51.17 PM

The 2015 Goal ($91,493)

This is a big goal, but here it is: I want to pay off $20,000 in student loan principal in 2015. In 2014, I only reduced by about $8,600, but here’s why I think it may be possible:
– Now that I’ve refinanced my largest loan, I’m paying less interest, and a higher monthly payment each month (because I switched from a 25 year term to a 15 to get the lower interest rate). Of my $555 monthly payment, over half goes to principal. For all of my loans, my current payments reduce principal by about $700 a month. ($8,400 for the year)
– My balances are, slowly but surely, going down. I hope that my bonus is big enough that I can pay off UG4 and (fingers crossed) a chunk of UG5 in February. This will free up $225 a month to start going to my “law school loans” at 5% (the refinanced loans are also from law school, but aren’t services through ECSI). Lower balances–especially reducing them towards the beginning of the year–mean marginally lower interest payments. Even if this results in only $10 more a month going to principal, it’s still something–I’m never going to pay more interest than I’m currently paying because all of my rates are fixed.
– I’m hoping for a small raise. I may bump up my 401(k) contribution a little, so I’m not expecting much more per paycheck, but maybe for the year this will mean another $500 towards my loans.
– My mortgage payment gets rounded up to $1,400 a month. I pay this whole thing from my paycheck, and have been saving the $700 a month we receive from our tenant as a “House Emergency Fund.” Now that the fund is a decent size, I’m going to start putting some of this money towards my loan. I hope I’m being conservative in figuring I’ll be able to put $4,200 of this towards my loans.
– We’re having our wedding ceremony this year. I’m putting a lot of money towards this that could instead be going towards my financial goals (but not planning on going into any further debt). My tax return, most of my bonus and some savings are earmarked for this. But everyone tells me I can expect to receive a bunch of monetary gifts. I’m not planning on relying on any kind of number here, but I will say that most of any gifts we receive here will go towards my loans.
– Lastly, since we bought the house and moved in together, we’ve been a one-income household. I’m optimistic that this will change in September. The man agrees that paying off my loans is a big priority, and we’ve successfully been living off one income this whole time, so I expect that about half of his take home will go to my loans. Because we both had chunks of time where were weren’t contributing to any kind of retirement plan (him while he was either not working or in school, me while I was either irresponsible or in school), I’d like to really step up both of our 401(k) contributions once he’s working again to try to make up for some lost time. Again, because we haven’t been relying on this money, I’m hoping we won’t miss it.

So that’s my goal, and I’m now accountable to the whole blogosphere. I might look into adding some kind of progress tracking bar to the bottom of my posts throughout the year. Any thoughts on how to do that are welcome!