Well, November was a bust as far as paying off the student loans went. I ended up only paying the two minimum payments (which are now $242 and $315) and so my total only went down by $343.55 for a new total of $71,532.53. $213.59 went towards interest, which isn’t completely terrible, as I remember my monthly interest used to be more like $300!
So…what gives? November was actually an awesome month. My birthday has always fallen around Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday as I enjoy eating like a fat kid and I’ve always associated my birthday with it. We drove 2 hours north to have Thanksgiving with Mr. Bacon’s family and stayed for about 5 days. We went over the dining-out budget but were under for the grocery budget (obviously because we ended up going out more to see old friends, and cooking less).
I also did something just a little bit crazy. I bought a new triathlon bike! Did I really need a new one? No…but my current one is 5 years old, has definitely seen better days, and I ended up getting an offer I couldn’t refuse on a clearance bike (we’re talking over 50% off retail!). This was through the old bike shop that used to sponsor me, and I’ve been doing some bartering for store credit over the last 18 months (writing email newsletters for them). I paid 1/3 of the new negotiated price as a down payment and may end up doing more newsletters to help pay down the balance. I’m getting back into racing more in 2015 and I’ve had my eyes set on this new bike for a while! It’s actually quite a huge upgrade…like going from a $4000 bike to a $7000 bike! And…I don’t expect to buy another new bike for at least another 5 years.
So…instead of putting down a fat extra payment towards Sallie Mae (which I guess is now “Navient), I put it into my savings/emergency fund. While I am expecting another huge bonus at the end of the year, I don’t want to assume I am getting a certain amount (always dangerous to assume that!). So I am making sure I have a nice cushion to pay off everything, just in case!
In related news, we have been house-lusting for a few months now (obviously since I started making some home saving plans in my head and even considering moving in with the parents…), but seemed to have turned up the heat since Thanksgiving week. We visited some of Mr. Bacon’s old friends who had an amazing property in Eastern Maryland, somewhat off the beaten path, that was only 10 years old and cost them $279k. WHOA!
I will go into more detail in the next post, but we’ve essentially found a desirable area that is commute-able distance with 3- to 4-bedroom homes for under $300,000. WHOA! As my old college friend visiting DC said (he also grew up in California and currently lives in Boston), “what is this, 1987 California?!” So if we only need a down payment of $30k, I think we can realistically save that in the next 16 months (which is when our 2-year lease on the condo ends), and actually be home owners within a year of getting married! That is exciting beyond belief.
BUT…it would require changing the financial priorities from paying off the student loans to saving up for the house. As my loans are at 4.6% and 3.2%, the interest is low, but I do want to pay them off. However, I know waiting to pay them off first would take a long time, and there are lots of financial benefits (and tax breaks) to buying and owning your own home (especially in that area, where we would also be taxed less per paycheck!), so it would end up being worth it! In the meantime, I’m doing my due diligence and researching my options regarding all this.
What do you think? Save for a house, and then pay off student loans??? I’d have to change my blog title, wouldn’t I? 😉