Month 53: Why 1984 won’t be like 1984

It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly and desperately turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom.

Oh wait… Not that 1984, but $1,984. As in my student loan balance. That’s about what my computer, a MacBook Pro cost when I purchased it in early 2014. This is a moment to celebrate. Why? For the first time ever my student loan is below $2,000. Progress my friends, it’s all about progress.

What about Retirement? $18,223 in my 401k and $362 in my Betterment Roth IRA. So $18,585 total. Credit cards? Credit card balance is around $1400. Each paycheck I make a $700-800 payment toward that with plans to increase once student loans are gone.

Now what about the car???  Current payoff is $29,169.81 at 1.9%. That’s down from $1997.39 from $31,167.20. I have another payment coming up in a week which will drop it below $29k.

Not being content with where I am today, I started to do a little bit of job searching. Interviewed with a local employment agency for a contract gig. The position sounded interesting and I think would be a step forward in my career. However I don’t think they would be able to match my benefits aside from medical and dental. 160 hours of vacation, essentially unlimited sick time, paid holidays, 5% retirement matching… As a contractor, you need to plan for all of those things.

It’s important to look at the big picture when making big moves like working for another company. Can’t afford to leave money on the table. I’ve been following a little bit of Alex Becker‘s work, read his book 10 Pillars of Wealth where he talks a lot about working for yourself and the benefits of a cash flow business. I also am in the middle of Scott Alan Turner‘s 99 Minute Millionaire ebook along with The Procrastinator’s Handbook – Mastering the Art of Doing It Now by Rita Emmett.

My last point and this is a big one. Don’t stop. Live is a marathon, not a sprint. Just because you had a setback or 5 doesn’t mean you let that break you and give up. From 2009-2011 I went a year without a regular FT job, not qualifying for unemployment and over $42k in student loan debt. I was down, depressed and unsure my future. Today I am on more solid footing. Not balling by any means but I’m way better off than those dark days.

Applying my own advice to different areas of my life, learning from experts to save time, minimize frustration and see results.Hope to share more with you on that soon.

Month 52 – Navient $2,479, Retirement – $17,912

Sorry if these updates are getting boring. I’m making progress still. Down to $2,479 from $15,402 just one year ago and $2,970 one month ago.

month52updateMy retirement is steadily growing. 401k is finally vested after 3 years and up to $17,654. My Betterment account is up to $258.

Other than that I did get a raise even though it was less than I was hoping for. Still need to keep looking for more jobs but not trying to get crazy stressed about that. Kind of question whether to put so much effort into a search when it’s not mandatory.

Speaking to the big elephant in the room. This blog… is called Debt Free 32 – One Man’s Mission to get rid of $45159.35 of debt. The 32 part is because I planned do to this by age of 32. Today is my birthday… I’m 33 now, not 32. A couple months short of my goal, but still making great progress since the start of this blog. Over $45k in payments. Under $2,500 left on the student loan. Worst case this sucker will be gone by December. Best case – October. Then I can celebrate and reflect.

Month 51- Navient $2,970, NMAC -$30,190, Retirement – $16,521

Month 51 Update:

Student loan is down to $2,970, as most of you viewers know…I have been extremely impatient to get rid of this one debt. Still made some great progress since last month… That’s $4,529 down. Still chipping away, chip chip chip….😛


Making progress on the car loan at $30,190, another payment is coming out in a week, but as I mentioned before it’s 1.9% and I see little reason to pay it off early. Opportunity costs brah! Plus the emergency fund needs to be cranked up a few notches.

The stock market has been volatile with Brexit, oil prices fluctuating, shaky consumer confidence and the fact it’s an election year… My 401k is still at $16,521 though at +6.62% YtD RoR. So I’m still outpacing the market for now. The Roth is slowly going up at $125. Kind of a joke now, but it’s all about habits. The habit of continually investing extra money into retirement.

Going back to reading mode where I study people who are financially independent and pulling in large salaries. Not sure what my plan of action is right now, but it is inspiring me. I do wonder if I have it in me to work 60-80 hours a week. During the full time work and part time grad school days I easily put in 60 total hours each week on my goals. Some things have changed but a lot has remained the same. No kids, single, also still driven for success. My day job takes more out of me and I’m packing a lot more weight these days but at my core I’m still a driven personality. Just need to keep tapping into that hunger.

Went on a frugal trip with some friends for a day to  Granbury, TX. Drove the Maxima a little about 250 miles round trip. The car drove like a dream, soaking up the country roads at 80mph. The hotel was $60, then paid for meals. On the first night there I had duck with roasted potatoes and carrots at this shack-like place called Let’s Eat. Food was amazing and almost worth the drive alone. Went to a winery and a brewhouse Between this trip and some shopping I did, spent around $200 in total.


You don’t have a ton of money to have fun! I got invited to Napa in August with friends and the more I learn about the trip the more I’m glad I declined. It’ll be between $1500-$2000 and right now that is money they will get me one step closer to completing my 15 year goal… Next year though we’ve discussed going on a cruise. The verdict is still out on that one, but I think I’m going to go.


Take that Student loan! Getting closer to the finish line. No congratulations until It’s really gone.  Paid more than I have in my entire life this month.

A bunch of coworkers or friends are doing vacations but I’m staying the course. They didn’t have this weight on them for 15 years.

$3,464 is a wonderful number though.


Month 50 -Navient $7,499, NMAC – $30,691, Retirement – $16,149

Month 50 – This is an interesting month. My Roth IRA transfer is still in progress. I have however made some really good progress getting the student loan down otherwise. Currently the balance is down 41% from the $12,845 balance in January.

Navient: 7,499
NMAC – $30,691
Credit Card: $700
Total Debt: $38,890

401k: $16,149
Roth IRA: $25 (rebuilding this back up slowly for now)

As I mentioned in the Nuclear Option post, I’m shifting some gears to get this debt paid off faster. Don’t have too many other tricks up my sleeve near term other than to keep chipping away. It’s almost 1:30am so time to get some sleep.

The Nuclear Option

I mulled this over for a week and decided to pull the trigger. I pulled money from my retirement account for the student loan. Mathematically it may not make the most sense, but…

$3452.04 is in one Roth IRA act at Betterment. It has basically been flat for a year (down slightly under 1%). $585 is in another Roth IRA acct. It was invested in a single company, that company’s stock is down slightly vs when I originally purchased. Trading fees and my strategy to purchasing were not very intelligent. I sold 6 shares and originally bought them in a series of 3 2 share purchases…

That leaves about $4k left to go toward the student loans once I process payments with no tax implications.

My current student loan balance as of 6/3/16 is $7,948. $4k of that is 50%. That lowers my balance to $3,948 and allows me to still get the loan paid off this year.

Why? I’ve had these loans since 2001. Almost 15 years ago. So much debt fatigue… 7 jobs, 2 states, a 10 year high school reunionI didn’t go to and god knows how many dates…

But what about your retirement? I still plan to contribute 6% of my gross to my 401k at work, company matches 3% and I get 2% back annually. So that’s effectively 11%

Car Plans – 150k or bust

I’ve decided to keep my Maxima to 150k miles possibly more. How many do I have now? About 3k. I put on average 15k/year so that’s 10 years. The 2003 I had made it to 196k before the last owner killed the engine. There is a guy on one of the car forums with an 09 that has over 300k miles.

150k is the sweet spot for a couple reasons.

  1. It’s not high enough to the point that no one would consider buying it.
  2. It’s two cars. Basically on my normal historic schedule that’s two cars. That means less total cost than trading and getting another one.
  3. Still somewhat reliable with routine maintenance.
  4. I can’t picture driving the same car over 10 years.
  5. It makes dealing with depreciation mcouch more palatable.

It’s interesting to see YouTube celebrities talk about their (used) Lamborghini Gallardo or Dodge Charger Hellcat, err I mean Corvette z06. Those cars are 2.5-3x more expensive than mine. Not a hater but it’s a big mindset shift. For some the views they get cover the car note each month. Really makes me want to grab a GoPro or other camera secondhan, learn the ropes and start recording. The ideas are a brewing.

Credit and Automobiles

Several of my friends have made automobile purchases over the past two years. The names have changed to protect their identities.

Take Jordan. Jordan is in his late 20s, lives with his boyfriend. Has a Nissan vehicle that he bought used and is making payments. His payments are around 375/mo and his interest rate is about 15%. Some elements of Jordan’s life have changed and now he has a need to move out of this sedan and into an SUV. Jordan has poor credit due to mistakes made several years ago. Things have improved, but they are still far from ideal. If he buys another used vehicle he will get screwed over again with the financing because of a low FICO and high associated risk. The dealership he approached to buy another used model gave him horrible advice. The suggestion was he get out of his current car through a repo and just buy the one he wants beforehand.That way he doesn’t have to worry about making payments on two vehicles since no one wants to really buy a 5 year old car with 90k miles for what he owes.

My advice? See if a local credit union will allow him to refinance at a lower interest rate once his credit has improved. Or sell the car even though he is upside down, take a loan off to pay the difference and save enough cash to buy the SUV he really wants. In his situation, having another car loan and worrying about student loans and renting a house later this year is spreading him to soon. He will have to either get something really old like a ’99 Pathfinder or just make do with his sedan. I cannot in good faith encourage him to buy another car, the math just doesn’t work.

The next friend, we will call Adam. Adam’s situation is a little different. As a teenager his mother took out credit cards in his name, maxed them out and didn’t pay the bill. He also had one of his cars repoed several years ago when tough financial times hit. Adam is in his late 20s and recently bought a car just hours before we discussed his financial situation. Adam’s payments are ~$480/mo for 72 months on a used Kia that has a purchase price of $18k. The real kicker -his interest rate is 18%. Not 1.8%, not 6%, not 10%… 18%!!! I did some quick calculation. Over the course of his loan assuming he doesn’t refinance. His total payments will be over $34k. He said some people suggested he file for bankruptcy but that would be like a time bomb going off in his personal finances. I also believe Adam is making student loan payments, but not 100% sure.

I care about my friends, but don’t repeat their mistakes.

  1. Cars should be something you get to enjoy, not a financial noose that makes it impossible to do anything else fun in life.
  2. Anything over 6% interest rate on a car is insane.
  3. Car loans over 60 months are also insane. If it takes you that long to pay it off you really can’t afford it.
  4. Pay attention to your credit. It’s like an STD, bad past decisions can and *will* haunt you in the future.
  5. Nothing with a motor should be more than half your gross income. I got that one from Dave Ramsey and pretty much agree. Cars will depreciate and going much above that will leave you car poor. Expenses such as maintenance / repairs, fuel costs, and insurance will eat up more cash than people who just focus on the payment will realize.
  6. If you buy a new car and are younger, you may need to cut lifestyle elsewhere. In the case of both friends and myself, we eat out infrequently. Many millenials though are totally rejecting the idea of purchasing a car and getting into auto debt.
  7. Credit. Protect it at all costs, ignoring it makes you much more of a slave to money due to all the interest.
  8. Opportunity costs. Retirement planning, other activities to boost net worth. Jordan is going to college now and has a FT job. I doubt he has enough extra money to contribute into a retirement account. I have doubts about Adam contributing to his 401k because of his gripes about not having enough money to do certain things.

I’m lucky that my credit never got screwed up over the years, through my various trials and tribulations. My student loan is 4.25% and car is 1.9%. No credit card debt that carries from one month to the next. Not everyone is as fortunate. I hate paying more than I need to on anything. I used a 25% off first order coupon for Taco Cabana online. I buy items on Amazon if they’re cheaper than my local store.

It’s hard to watch people deal with financial pain, but at the end of the each day…we all make our own decisions.

Death of a Friend

No I’m not talking about Prince. Though his death was definitely a shock to me. I have listened to his music since the 1980s. Took me about a week to deal with it. Nor am I talking about my father who passed away at almost 11 years ago after 19 years of health problems related to kidney failure.

I’m talking about the death of someone else I knew. Someone I was really interested in dating. His name was Chris. He was only 29 years old. His birthday is two days before mine. Chris had his fair of struggles in life. He confided in me with a few of them. I really wished I was able to do more. We unfortunately lost touch with each other last June.

Yesterday I went to look him up on Facebook and found that he passed away just over a month ago. **One Month**  I don’t know from what. I feel a sense of loss. I never met any of his family members. He wouldn’t let me get close enough to be a regular figure in his life. I tried a few different occasions. Work or other things going on his life got in the way. Wish I could hold him again and tell him to stay strong and that everything would be alright. He was a beautiful person inside and out, just wanted to see him at his true potential. Not working crazy hours at a hotel just to make ends meet. His family setup a gofundme page to help with burial expenses.

I’m just speechless. RIP Chris. You will be missed. Not just by me but by all the people you’ve touched.❤


Month 49 – Navient $7,922.89, NMAC – $31,188.19, Retirement – $19,045

Month 49 Update

As I mentioned the last month… I did purchase a new car, am not relying on credit cards each month and putting aside more money toward emergency funds. As a result, I decreased student loan principal balance only by $592.32.


Navient:     $7,922.89 @ 4.25%
NMAC:        $31,188.19 @ 1.9%
Credit Cards – To be completely paid off by end of month
$69.08 (Costco Amex – groceries + gas)
$502.73 @ 12.24% (Chase card used for food / Amazon / utility items mostly)
$41.21 – Department Store card for mother’s day gift.
Total Credit Cards: $613.02
Total Debt: $39,724.10
Savings:      $2800.02
This figure includes money earmarked for emergency fund, rent, car payments, etc.

401k – $15,166.29 – Up $1,691 since two months ago. Only $10,108 is vested.
Roth IRA – $3,315.10 with Betterment. My earnings are still -2.5%
Brokerage House – $564.07 – Down 10% due to AAPL. Might be a buying opportunity for more shares if it dips lower. Only own 6 shares which is about $3 a quarter in dividends.
Total Retirement – $19,045.46

As expected, my car insurance went up since buying the new car. $703.88 it was $592.95 before. For 65% more horsepower a 19% increase in premiums isn’t bad. I also switched everything over to e-policy to maximize my savings.  Still have uninsured motorist coverage even though I have never been involved in an accident in my 15 years of driving. No tickets on my record for Texas and the ones I got in NY are no longer a factor.

Do I have any regrets about buying the car? Nope, it feels like a car that is truly made for me. Cockpit-like feel to the cabin, the effortless acceleration of the VQ engine, the exterior ground lighting, the LED daytime running lamps, no body roll in corners. Those shiny aluminum alloy rims on 245/45R18 Continental Procontact tires too. So much grip in the corners and 0-60 in 5.9 seconds. Put it in sport mode, the steering tightens up and the throttle is super responsive. The $30k 4DSC. Guy I work with with a Mercedes Benz CLA complimented me on the car, said he thought about getting one but it was 6 months too early.

IMG_0573 copy 2
2016 Nissan Maxima SV – Added $31k of debt but excites me every drive

I may be obsessed, I try not to park close to other cars and only wash it by hand with Optimum’s No Rinse car wash product. Was paying  $40/week at the gas station wash with my black Altima and the results were mediocre. $15 at the regular car wash only to see a ton of swirl marks from their highly abrasive “soft touch” brushes. Now I do it all myself and can have the car completely done in 30 minutes. My absolute fastest washing the car by hand was 15 minutes. Yes I use a grit guard, microfiber towels and do a pre-spray to loosen up any dirt first, but…can’t recommend the product highly enough.

Last but not least… I decided to get serious about losing weight again. That was one the span of about a week. I threw my 6 individual packs of Famous Amos cookies in the trash. For breakfast I switched to eggs and protein (bacon, sausage or their veggie equivalents). For lunch I eat a salad and a protein source. I try not to go overboard with anything that has sugar. The protein fills me up and I crave the junk food less less. In  2015 I was 215 just to put things into perspective. The last time I did the ketogenic diet was 2012 and I got as low as 207. I was too extreme though with it and feeling dizzy all the time. Now I’m just being less hardcore while still enjoying carbs.

What good is money and fancy things if you aren’t in decent enough shape to enjoy it? This is after about a week.

Hoping to continue the trend and be in the 220s next week. Being fat and tired is not the way to live a rich, fulfilling life. Stay tuned. Thanks all for sticking around and reading all my posts.

Last but not least… Joe made a new post about 4 years later on No More Harvard Debt. Check it out. His book is pretty good too. My approach / situation / income varies but at my core I still enjoy not wasting money on things I don’t enjoy and cut back on things like food, entertainment and clothing to help reach my long term goals. Live With Passion!🙂