All posts by Jocelyn

About Jocelyn

lover of bacon, hater of student loans!

2017 $$$ Goal

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I realized recently why I have not been able to stick to budgets very well in this past year. I don’t really have a concrete $$$ goal any more. In late 2012 (the FUCCD days), it was to get myself out of over $13k of credit card debt within one year. After that, it was to tackle the student loans (the birth of this blog) by X date. When I landed my current job 2 years ago, it came with a sweet student loan payoff helper I negotiated, and I’ve been lazily just paying off the minimum balance since then. 2015 was nuts with simultaneously saving up for a wedding AND A HOUSE (which also both had a due date). Now that all those things have been checked off, it’s been hard to focus on staying on track, because…meh.

I was playing around with some numbers over the weekend, and realized that if I can keep my own variable expenses down to $750/month, I can actually throw in $1,400/month into savings. We’ve been trying to save for home repairs, but not until the credit card gets paid off. So my goal this year is to save up $15,000 for various home improvements, like a new roof, fence for the yard, paint, and other random things. The deadline for this goal is December 31, 2017. (Sure I’ll probably be spending it along the way, but I will definitely track how much I’m kicking to savings each month.)

The credit card is down to $3,233.17 today (I know, not much difference since last month, although it climbed up way higher and we were able to throw $1,800 towards it) and our tax refund (over $2000) should be on its way tomorrow. I’ve been tracking it. I’m fairly confident this card will get closed out by the end of the month and am also moving any recurring expenses off of it.

Oh yeah! Before I forget, my new student loan balance as of the 1st of this month is $52,359.53. My payoff helper will be kicking in $10k towards this by the end of the month, which will be so exciting to finally get it down to less than half of what the original amount was. Huzzah!

2017: A New Hope…more updates, and a no-shopping challenge.

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SO! 2016 blogging was kind of a bust. I mean UGH, I blogged twice! February and May. That’s it! PATHETIC!
What is also embarrassingly pathetic is that credit card debt got a bit out of control with some unexpected summer expenses, and then I just had the mentality of “f**k it, whatever!” as far as budgeting goes. I guess after finally getting the house and paying for the wedding, and even getting the student loan situation manageable, I fell in the trap of “it’s okay, you deserve it!” Life has been very stressful. Retail therapy!
As of today, my CC debt is up to $3,879.76. (Where’s the throw-up emoji?) It pains me to write that in a blog post (which is probably why I have not blogged, which is probably MORE REASON to blog).
Less pathetic:
My student loan balance as of January 1, 2017 is $52,736.20. WOW! That’s 44.5% paid off since the birth of this blog!
This is especially exciting because I visited my parents over Christmas vacation and when I helped clean out my old childhood bedroom, I found old student loan statements back when I consolidated all of them (back in late 2006 and early 2007–a decade ago). My totals back then were about $97,000-ish. When I started this blog in September 2013, they were only down to $95,000-ish–a measley $2k paid off in 7 years. In early 2015, when I was looking at starting this current job, I wanted student loan debt payoff to be part of my salary package, and it was down to $71,000-ish (almost $24k paid off in the 2+ years since the blog of the birth). I had been aggressively throwing all my extra income at the mountain of debt, we’re talking about an extra $1,500 per month, and one time even threw in over $5,000 of my Christmas bonus (which is a ridiculously large Christmas bonus).
Now another 2 years later, and it’s another $18.5k down with just paying the minimum payment each month. I’m not having to throw in big extra payments like I used to, and I’m still on track to pay everything off by February or March of 2020.
Good job and pat on the back for the student loans part!
Horrible job on the credit card debt!
The two things I will focus on in 2017 for this finance blog will be:
1. Go back to blogging a monthly update on the state of affairs (student loans and credit card debt). ACCOUNTABILITY!
2. Implement a NO SHOPPING CHALLENGE for all non-essential items. I have a small stack of gift cards, so if I get the urge to buy something, I will consult the gift card stash.
Maybe in the next post I’ll go on a little soapbox about how budgeting is like being on a diet, and my twisted and sordid relationship with budgeting calories, in the meantime, happy new year to my faithful readers! (If anyone is still out there…say hi.)

from $95k to $55k…is this real life?

It’s been a hectic (but quiet on the blog front) 3 months, and here we are in May already. I missed the updates for March and April, and amazingly we are looking at over 41% of my student loans paid off since the birth of this blog!

If you look at my very last post, I was stoked that I had hit almost 30% paid off. Well, if you recall, I had negotiated a student loan payoff deal with my current employer and the first of 5 x $10,000 payments hit my Navient account on my first re-anniversary with this job. I’ll get a check every anniversary for the next 4 years as well! Here are the monthly outstanding amounts that have gone down since the last update:

March 1, 2016. $66,528.05
March 3, 2016. $56,540.13 (huzzah work anniversary!)
April 5, 2016. $56,181.26 (oops I checked 4 days late)
May 1, 2016. $55,779.22

That’s a whopping total of $39,247.65 paid off (41.3%) since the birth of the blog!

I’ve been still paying my standard minimum payments (totaling about $557/month) and looking forward to the day (projected in about a year and a half or so) when that gets knocked down to $242/month.

Unfortunately we’ve racked up a balance on the credit card, but have been able to pay it off each month; and there’s still the furniture (interest free for 12 months) we’ve been working on. The good news is that Mr. Bacon was finally promoted to full-time status at his job, which comes with amazing healthcare benefits (and even a pension!). He was even able to apply his 12 years of experience from a previous job, which moved him up the payscale by 12 levels–pretty insane (in a good way) how cut & dry that was.

We also got our taxes done–I was able to manage getting the federal returns done on my own using the H&R Block software and we got over $1300 refunded. BUT the state returns were tricky since we lived in two different states, so I ended up paying someone $135 to get those done. We ended up getting about $250 back from Maryland and owed $380 or so to Delaware. Not too shabby!

Other than that…we got A PUPPY! So much for no major life changes this year. 😉 That might explain part of why our expenses went up this month. Looks like I will be adding a budget line item for the Bacon Pup! My goal this month is to start using the budget categories in Mint.com again to get an idea of what they all are.

No-Spend February! ?!

So I’m pretty sure there was not a new year’s “Happy 2016! this is all the amazing things I’m going to do this year!” blog post yet.

I missed the January/new year’s update, and here we are in February already.

My latest student loan balance today was $66,872.99 which believe it or not, is practically 30% (29.63% to be exact) down from the original balance at the birth of this blog. $28,153.88 paid off in less than 2.5 years. !

Holy crap. That’s kind of incredible to me, from how stagnant that balance had been at $95k for the 7 years between grad school graduation to the start of this blog. And that we paid for both a wedding and new house last year!

Today I deleted the Amazon app off of my iPhone. We had a lot of expenses over the holidays and I got into the habit of buying too many things off Amazon. I’m pretty sure I don’t really need anything else, so I’m going to try some version of a “No Spend February”. No spending on things I want, but don’t really need. (Running race entry fees are ok!)

I’ve got to revisit our budgets again.

Next month is my 1-year anniversary at work and the first employer-paid chunk of student loan repayment. Oooooooh.

2016 will continue our adventures as homeowners (saving up $8500 for The Roof Fund and paying off the furniture we got a 12-month deal on). At some point I’ll have to tackle the taxes too…which will be interesting doing them as a newly married entity (filing jointly?) since we both worked in two different states last year, got married, AND bought a house.
What’s in store for your 2016?

October & November update. going sub-68!

November 1st totals: $67,879.21.
That’s a decrease of $333.08 (another $557.14 in minimum payments, with $224.06 of that in interest).

December 1st totals: $67,537.80.
Decrease of another $341.41 (another $557.14 in minimum payments, $215.73 in interest).

Overall, I’ve paid off 28.93% of my original debt and $27,489.07 since the birth of this blog!

Allrighty then! So October… blogging during the honeymoon totally DID NOT HAPPEN! But we had a good time nonetheless. We had prepaid the condo at the beach and some wedding gift money left over that we used for dinner etc. That actually got way expensive…we ate out for lunch and dinner almost every day, and the last few days I freaked out a little bit because of the dwindling budget. So we then went cheapo for a couple days (ordering Chinese take-out and hitting up Chick Fil-A, which we both enjoy LOL).

Since it is already December, no use writing two blogs about each month. A lot of the big expenses seemed to hit in early November. There was the big furniture bill (which we did finance…no interest for 12 months but we need to contribute between $400-500 each month), the Lowe’s credit card for new house stuff, the big credit card I mentioned from last month, and our first utilities bill.

I’m not too alarmed that I’m only paying the minimum on the student loans since my employer will be helping to pay these down, with a big chunk once a year on my work anniversary (coming up in March). I’ll re-evaluate then, but in the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of other expenses to worry about.

November, we’ve been getting the handle on all the new costs of being a new homeowner (and newlywed!). Of course we just had the dryer die on us a few weeks ago and ended up buying a new one. Turns out the homeowner’s warranty was kind of crappy…and so was the dryer that died. It was better to replace it completely than to keep paying high deductibles for fixing the crappy dryer! Luckily there were already Black Friday’s deals at Lowe’s, AND I had a 10% coupon from the new mover coupons! It is much more energy efficient and has a cool steaming function. 🙂 No ironing, please!

We also got to host Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws in the new house! I absolutely loved it…we love being homeowners and truly having a place to call our own. I probably went to the market 3 or 4 times just for the big Turkey Day, but it was all worth it, and hopefully these leftovers last us through this next week, because that was a high grocery bill!

It’s been a tough juggling act managing all these new expenses and the new living situation, I’ll admit. We have more debt now, most of it is interest-fee, so my goal for December is to tackle the rest of the debt that does carry interest, and we can start the new year fresh!

House bought and we are hitched! Now what?

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We did it. We really did it! We closed on our house on August 31st and got to move in and hang out in the final weeks leading up to the wedding. It was pretty amazing. The beach wedding! So much love and happiness! Everything has been great! We are both back at work for the next week and a half, and then it will be honeymoon time in North Carolina.

Perhaps I’ll do more blogging about house shopping and wedding details/budgets (I did add up all the final numbers…*cringe*) but in the meantime, I’ve missed another monthly update, so here’s a two for one:

September 1st: updated total $68,551.47. Decrease by $330.80.

October 1st: updated total $68,212.29. Decrease by $339.18.

I also missed the 2-year anniversary of the blog! If we go by my updated total on 9/1/2015, from the birth of the blog (9/5/2013), I’ve paid off $26,475.40 in the last 2 years! That sounds huge!

As far as goals for this month, we put most of our expenses on our airline credit card (paying the balance off each term), so we have until November 2nd to pay that off. It was amazing how generous people were, we did not expect to receive so much in wedding gifts! We racked up quite a few expenses between the new house and the wedding. The good news is that it looks like everything’s going to balance out and be all right. It’s been a super stressful time and I feel like we can finally breathe, relax, and enjoy the moment!

Until next time. I’ll do some blogging during the honeymoon!

Keeping calm in May and June and July, humming along under $69k!

Oh…hey, Bacon Payoff fans! I’m still alive and survived the last 3 harrowing months. Today I woke up and it’s August. Haven’t updated since May 14th and we are 2/3rds done with summer?! And I’ve probably lost all my readers as I haven’t even done my absolutely minimum of once-a-month financial updates.

Alas, May was spent trying to completely replan a wedding.

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June was spent cramming in as much training as I could for my half-ironman triathlon.

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And July…July was a surprise because we started house hunting locally on July 3rd, saw at least 20 houses inside and out…wrote up a first offer…negotiated over last weekend…and this past Monday (July 27), our offer was accepted!

buy a house

So, no blogging, BUT holy crap, a wedding was replanned, a half ironman was completed, and a house was bought! There was definitely a lot of “keeping calm” needed. 😉

There really hasn’t been much that’s exciting about paying off the student loans, because my minimum payments are humming along on auto-pilot ($557 a month). This essentially brings my grand total down by a measly $337-ish every month (or $4044-ish per year), but when my 1-year work anniversary kicks in, my employer will be contributing $10,000 each March for the next 5 years. I even did a very rough spreadsheet where if I keep kicking in $557/month during this time period, my loans will be down to only $347 TOTAL after that 5th and final $10k payment. Of course after the 3rd payment, my loans with the higher interest rate will have been wiped out, so I won’t have to contribute the whole $557 per month–my minimum payment would be knocked down to $241 per month. That’s not until March of 2018, so I have some time before I re-configure that spreadsheet!

Of course, several months ago, I changed my subheading to “The Great Bacon Payoff…bringing home the bacon to (buy a house and then) stomp down the student loans” and I am as surprised as anybody that we are able to actually buy a house this soon after moving back to this area. More on the house later…we are hoping to close on August 31st and most of wedding planning should be getting done this month, so I hope life slows down just a little bit and I’d love to get back to blogging more!

Keep-Calm-And-Blog-On

In the meantime, here are the boring ole numbers for the past 3 months that I’ve neglected:

May update: $69,562.57 total as of 6/3/2015. (minus $323.35)

June update: $69,237.29 total as of 7/4/2015. (minus $325.28)

July update: $68,882.27 total as of 8/1/215. (minus $355.02)

Our budget has been pretty unusual because of all the circumstances, so I’m not going to nitpick or beat myself up. We’ve gotten so much done in terms of “big life stuff” and it is only getting better!

I hope everyone else is having an awesome and productive summer!

A Wrench in the Wedding Planning

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Just as we are 5 days away from the “4 months to go!” mark, and I was actually getting excited about flowers, for crying out loud (isn’t the blue and purple so pretty???), we got word that there are construction delays at our original venue. CRAP. This had been locked in like a whole YEAR ago and was one of the first things we had checked off the list. We always knew there were renovations about to be done…and the delays were adding up but we were just in touch in early April and everything looked good, they promised things would be done by Mid-September.

Now of course there are now foundation issues and they will probably still be renovating the house… Ugh… We are still welcome to use their space, but no guarantees what will be done and not done!

Just trying to breathe here…and figure out where else we can get married that doesn’t gouge my eyeballs out. So many places are like $6,500-$8,500 just for the venue, or $100 per person!

I know there are brides that plan things in just 4 months, right?!?

April 2015 update, sub-$70k!

Another milestone I finally crept under…sub-$70k! My total student loan debt got down to $69,885.92 on May 2nd! This was just with the minimum payments since we switched the plan from student debt payoff to wedding and home savings. I paid the standard $557, which brought down my total by only $330 (UGH, $227 in interest!). On the plus side, it’s also a huge payoff milestone–over $25k for the first time! $25,140.95 paid off total since the birth of this blog. Hooray!

Budget-wise, April was much like March, as in still semi-sharing with Mr. Bacon’s dad and stepmom, although by the end of April, they were about 90% at their beach house. So a similar theme in that we went over budget in fast food and dining out, and under budget for groceries. We also switched Mr. Bacon’s license plates back to Delaware ($738 for a year-old car, yech!).

The great news of course, mentioned in my previous post, is that our landlord back in the DC area let us off the hook for the remainder of our lease in terms of not having to pay the $1500/month rent until the old condo gets rented out. (It’s still not rented out…and I just saw he dropped the rent down to $1450.) Thank you, landlord! We can actually pay off debts and save up money now!

Coming up, at least our credit card debt is much better–just under $1800 right now, with our $1200 security deposit due in the mail any day now. So the goals in May are to pay off that credit card debt, save up wedding money and finalize our vendors and invitations, and start investigating the possibility of buying a house.

Spoiler alert! We actually got approved for up to a $325k house today…which actually gets you something nice in Delaware! More on wedding planning and house hunting soon.

Rent-free fist bump!

Woohoo, I have some great news! While our place near DC still has not been rented out in two months, our landlord has been very reasonable and decided to give us back our security deposit this week and let us off the hook in paying the rent for the remainder of the lease. Wow, since when does that ever happen?! It pays to be amazing tenants!!

This is such a huge relief for us financially, with the random costs of moving, the unexpected Cali trip and our upcoming wedding. Now that we are rent-free (house-sitting for Mr. Bacon’s dad), we can pay off the credit card balance and my bike next month, then June through August will all go to the wedding fund! Looks like we’ll be able to move out by the end of August too! Super exciting!

Anyone else have amazing news or an awesome landlord??