Category Archives: numbers

2017 $$$ Goal

house-of-money

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.

14878879-broken-piggy-bank-filled-with-loose-change-stock-photo
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.)

January update & negotiating like a PAWN star

It’s been quiet on the blog here as the ESCAPE PLAN was in full effect!

The January update essentially was the Escape Plan being implemented! As for debt, I paid the minimums again and am down to $70,910.54 (decrease of $292.65)…keep reading folks, because I’m no longer worried at all about this small creep in student loan repayment!

So how is the Escape Plan agenda going, you ask?

  1. Finalize the new job details and get an offer letter in writing.
  2. Find someone to take over our lease at the condo.
  3. Help Mr. Bacon get relocated through his current company (they have multiple locations).
  4. Give notice at my current job… 2-4 weeks.
  5. Find a new apartment.
  6. Pack up, move out, and get outta here!

That’s right, blogger friends, I have a new job!!!

My previous boss in Delaware had reached out to me over Christmas break about a new office he is opening up at the University. We have always had a great relationship and he was very understanding when I left to go to DC to get more experience in our field. We would still bump into each other sometimes as Mr. Bacon is from Delaware (which is also where we met), and he would half joke about me coming back to work for him. I would half joke that I’d do it if he would pay off my student loans. But seriously, I didn’t want to move back to do the job I used to do…it had to be something different and more challenging.

As it turns out, this would exactly be the different and challenging position I would move back for! I would be in charge of my own office and be involved with some of the research projects with the University–finally a use for that master’s degree that was once completely optional in my field of choice! Now, I hesitate to use the term “dream job” as I’ve called my last 3 jobs my “dream job”, so the next thing to determine…was he serious about paying off my student loans???

We sat down on a Saturday morning, for breakfast at a diner to negotiate terms. Pretty casual as we have that kind of friendly relationship. However, he showed up in jeans and I showed up in work-casual. I was to be taken seriously! I had written down a list of everything I wanted and knew I kind of had the upper hand, as he really wanted me back as an employee. I felt prepared to negotiate LIKE A BOSS, as Mr. Bacon not only subjects me to all kinds of HGTV shows, but I also have to watch Pawn Stars.

One of his concerns was that I wouldn’t stay long-term, as my job history has been a bit all over the place (he knew my background and understood why, but still). Which was when I pulled out the BAM! “if you pay off my student loans over 5 years, I’m willing to sign a contract for that term.” We went back and forth a bit on salary, as DC rates are much higher, and in the end I got basically the same base salary (after taxes), a percentage of profit-sharing in the company, AND we agreed to $10k per year of student loan repayment over the next 5 years.

$10k per year isn’t all of the debt, but I figured I would still pay the minimums so that I could lock down the -0.25% in interest rate, and after about 5 years of me paying the minimums and the company paying $10k, I’d be close to being completely done! So that’d be me paying off $20k-ish, and the other $50k being paid by…NOT me!

I was really happy with the outcome, as I feel the cost of living in Delaware will already be $15k less. With that in mind, the additional $10k of student loan repayment, and then the profit sharing, I think I’ll be making out with essentially a $30k raise, minimum. WHOA! Turns out that last weekend Mr. Bacon bumped into my new/old boss again when he was back in the area job-hunting, and apparently I was making him sweat and stutter over the breakfast negotiation. 😉

This was my first time I felt I had the experience to back up a negotiation like this, as previously I would just accept whatever number was given to me. So…yeah! Yay! Suck that, student loans! 😀

On second thought, moving back in with the parents may be a good idea?!

After two days of perusing housing prices in the SF Bay Area, we realized we’d have to save at least $50k to $60k to afford a 10% down payment on a place in a decent location. At least 2 bedrooms. Condo or townhouse would be ok, single family home–better. Holy crap.

My mom’s always had a standing offer for us to move back home and save money for a house (she reminds us at least once a month), and I’ve been against it for so long. Because who wants to be in their 30’s and just married and living with their parents?

But after realizing what kind of down payment we needed…and crunching the ridiculous numbers (the housing fund being nonexistent at the moment)…hey, we could just put all my income to the housing fund for a solid 12 months and have what we need! And use Mr. Bacon’s income for spending. WOW!!!

Anyone else save a butt-load of money living with their parents at an awkward age and stage of your life? I know a ton of friends that did this post-college (their early 20’s) but not too many over 30.

Overdue: August recap and 1-year Bloggoversary!

Better to be overdue in blog posting than overdue in my debt payments, kids! 😀

By now, it’s so far along into September that I’ve kind of forgotten how August went. Fairly uneventful. I stayed mostly within the normal budget, and was able to put an extra $1,500 into the student loans. Nice! There were a couple “splurges” in August, namely I finally got an eye exam for the first time in 3 or 4 years and bought new contacts, and we also got a camping tent for our annual Labor Day weekend with Mr. Bacon’s race car friends. Overall, everything was very reasonable, which was reflected by being able to toss in the $1,500–what I’m now striving to pay extra each month.

So the new balance as of September 1st was $76,985.70. That’s a decrease of $1,821.63 from the previous month (payments of $2,057.14 with $235.51 in interest). Not too shabby!

But in between September 1st and the 1-year bloggoversary (September 5th), we got our mid-year bonuses! Nice! So I threw in another $1,500. That put the bloggoversary balance at $75,518.30, a decrease of $1,467.40 with $32.60 in interest in those 4 days.

That brought the total paid off in the year since the blog launched to $19,508.57 and 20.53%! Just shy of of $20k, and over one-fifth of the debt paid off. Wow. Despite feeling like I’m still a debt-paying slacker half the time, I can honestly look at these numbers and be impressed with myself. $19.5k is no joke!

Now, I could’ve thrown a ton more towards the loans with the bonus money, but instead put it in places it’s been needed: we officially opened up a joint weddings savings account and I put a big chunk toward my emergency fund (reserved for much-needed car maintenance). Also paid for the plane tickets back to California as my brother just had his first baby! My first nephew! Sometimes just throwing a ton of cash at the student loans makes it seem like it’s going into a black hole…so this way I feel like I’ve distributed it evenly into various debts and savings/emergency funds.

Overall, I feel like I’m in a pretty good place. I haven’t been as stressed out about finances lately as I’ve learned to control what I can, and that most of the pressure comes from within. Changing up the game plan last month really helped, along with communicating better with Mr. Bacon about our joint budgets.

It still seems like so much to go, but then again, looking at $75k is mind-blowing when I remember how many years (over the last 5!) I had “about $95k of student loans” that never seemed to budge. The newer game plan has me on target to be under $70k by New Year’s Day 2015, and under $50k by the 2-year bloggoversary, which will be the month of our wedding. YAY!

Let’s keep the momentum going strong!

$8.29 in interest per day…small victories!

In doing my monthly calculations, I’ve realized that the amount I pay in interest has slowly but surely come down. Sallie Mae’s interest compounds daily (ugh), and I tracked the last few days to see that it’s been $8.29 per day of interest since my last extra payment. Which makes for about $240 to $250 per month in interest, which is a bit less than the $300-ish a month when I first started the blog.

At this point, I’ve paid down about 19% of the original amount, woohoo! That’s almost one-fifth! So it makes sense that my interest has gone down about one-fifth as well. I still have a ways to go but it is nice to see that the numbers are slowly budging. Even if it does seem soooooo slooooooow!

Anyone else calculate how much interest they are racking up each day? It’s eye opening! It’s like an entire meal!

Game Changer…changing the game plan!

I’ve made a concerted decision to update my game plan and move my self-imposed deadline from my 35th birthday (November 2016) to a bit later…May 2017. Not that you were even aware that I’ve kept changing my self-imposed deadline. When I originally started the blog, I was really conservative (and realistic!!) and said I wanted it all paid off by my 36th birthday (November 2017). Then I started making some more aggressive to “SUPER AGGRO” plans and kept turning it up from Labor Day 2017 (aka the blog’s 4th birthday), up to Labor Day 2016 (the blog’s 3rd birthday) or our first wedding anniversary (both September 2016). So it’s gone anywhere from a 4-year plan to a 3-year plan in trying to pay off $95k in debt, which would be a decrease of $25k to $35k per year (not including interest!). Then reality set in, and I recently pushed the deadline back to my 35th birthday when I started to realize I couldn’t keep up with those aggressive payments.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve even nailed any of the monthly goals for any of the aggressive plans, and then I end up just being extremely hard on myself and feel like I never have enough money. No wonder I get really stressed out and depressed over feeling like I’ll be poor and paying off my student loan debts forever!

So over this weekend, I finally thought “ENOUGH!” What’s another 6 months of paying off student loans if it means that the next 2 years will be that much less stressful? I was finding I didn’t have any extra money to contribute to an emergency fund (for car repairs), the travel fund, the triathlon fund, or the wedding fund. (And no…definitely not any retirement funds.) I’ve been waiting for the mid-year bonus (any day now, please!) to take my car in, as it hit 90k miles recently and is overdue for a check-up and probably new brakes. My savings/emergency fund is practically nonexistent. We don’t have the minimum $500 to open up a savings account for the wedding. And I charged our airline tickets to CA next month on the new United credit card (balance not due until October).

I can’t live that way. It’s ridiculous.

Since making the decision (in my head) to go a little bit easier, I’ve felt a wave of relief. That’s the obviously nice thing about self-imposed deadlines. They are SELF-imposed! Duh! That means you can change them…yourSELF! I’m already feeling way better and less stressed. The next few months I know I’ll be able to make these payments and won’t beat myself up so hard.

Anyone else find they try to bite off more than they can chew?

789!!

I finally checked my credit score. It’s 789! I feel like I just did awesome on my SAT’s!! (Yeah, for you younger readers, the highest score on the SAT’s back in the 90’s was 800.) ok, I know that the highest credit score is 850 but I’m still very much in the “excellent” range. Yay!

The planned stall is over!

I just sent a $1500 payment to Sallie Mae Thursday night and got paid yesterday. Whoop whoop! I’m going to keep most of yesterday’s paycheck for April rent and then the next one (April 4th) can be diverted for the taxes I probably owe. 😦 One of them is the “extra paycheck”! (I get paid biweekly so two months out of the year are “extra paycheck months”.)

Yeah, I still need to do my taxes! I also gotta change all my addresses (at least I did the USPS one), but we also still need to clear out of the apartment completely and then hang up all our pictures up here in the new place. And maaaaybe get a couple new furniture pieces… I know I blogged a week ago about being almost done moving out of the old place, but then we took a break from moving out and instead got settled in. And by “got settled in” I mean, battled it out on the phone with Verion FiOS for an average of an hour each night, grrrrrg. :X

It’s been a debacle that I’ll chronicle in another post, but hey, at least we are up and running with cable and internet again! And even a landline if we actually want to purchase a home phone…weird! It’s been an exhausting last couple weeks, what with moving and then arguing with the cable company every night, but back on topic about being back on track…

Yeah! I was impressed with my checking account balance as I had run the numbers a month ago and had thought my loan payments would be stalled for at least two months with all the latest life changes (mainly the move and the taxes). I think it’s thanks to getting the $900-ish retro-pay post-bonus, along with having an emergency fund! So I went ahead and diverted $1500 over to the evil mistress Sallie Mae, which was my monthly goal amount when I made the Original Game Plan. I won’t get to divert the extra paycheck to the loans as it’ll get delegated to taxes, but considering that I’ve only made one other $1500-ish monthly payoff since this blog was born (excluding the ridiculous $6k I paid in December from the Christmas bonus), let me give myself a genuine pat on the back. Which we all need to do more of; I think most of us PF bloggers are pretty hard on ourselves! More pats on the backs, please!

So if I can then transition to the “More Aggressive Post-Raise Game Plan”, or the “Aggro Game Plan” for short, starting next month, I’ll actually be under $80k by June, not July as the “planned stall” had guesstimated. Man, I can’t wait! Every $10k is such a big milestone. I also just re-enrolled in automatic debit on my federal student loans (that’s the $224 minimum payment per month). This gives me back my 0.25% decrease in interest, huzzah!

We’ll see how the Aggro Game Plan works out soon enough. If I can follow it starting next month, I’ll be down to under $50k by next April…which is when we want to get married! More wedding-planning posts coming up soon. I’ll have to put down my very naïve (?) ideas of getting married on a budget so that I can possibly laugh at them years and years later. Or not!

Anyone else got good finance news this month to displace the upcoming bad news of possible late March snow again???