Month 46 – Navient $11,124, NMAC $11,734, 401k $11,014, Roth $3,314

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Student Loan Progress Month 46 – Navient $11,124

Car Loan Progress:

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401k update:

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401k balance update Feb 15, 2016

Betterment:
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Brokerage Roth IRA:

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Brokerage account. my apple stock is down whoa. Glad I’m diversified.

Got my tax refund back. It was a good chunk of cash. Split the money up about 50% between two debts, my student loan and credit card payment that has been lingering. Credit card should be paid off again come my next paycheck. Between last month and this month I’ve paid about $1721 down on my balance.

I officially owe *less* on my student loan than my car. It’s a good feeling. Now I’m basically starting a race. Race to the finish line. Can I pay off the student loan before 12/31/2016? I think so, god willing. I could stop my 401k contributions and def hit the mark but not giving up my match.

Betterment charges a higher fee if I don’t deposit a min of $100/mo to my Roth so just doing the minimum for now. Not pulling out of the market in a panic, not going 100% into bonds. I do think it will get worse before it gets better. I am optimistic it will bounce back though. Quantitative Easing on student loan debts is a topic that has come up in political debates. I’m against bailouts and for people accepting the consequences of their own actions.

 

Layoffs & Early Retirement

More layoffs at my company. There were at least 15 people I have worked with personally in the last 3 months who were let go. Makes me think loyalty to a company is dead. While you’re there you try to be a linchpin and indispensable. However if your work doesn’t result in a promotion or even a decent raise it may be time to look elsewhere.

The idea of having a safe secure job is dead. Skills are everything. We are moving toward a society when a full time employer with great benefits is going the way of the dinosaur. People running their own businesses can allocate more money toward their retirement, in some cases are free to make their own schedules and will often work more hours than a typical 9 to 5 er. There are of course risks, some crash and burn miserably.

As I get closer to being debt free I think about more and more about the concept of f’you money. I see people driving brand new Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus cars. They buy fancy homes and put expensive items inside those homes. Then they work 60-80 hours a week to pay for these things.

Jacob Lund Fisker author of Early Retirement Extreme sums up this situation fairly well.

In real life, the prisoners of Plato’s Cave are those who are prisoners or slaves to their wages and their culture.  A wage slave is a wage earner who is entirely dependent on their wages.  While the wage slave is free to leave the current job, he is not free to leave the job market altogether and he can likely not imagine the possibility of doing so.  He is still entirely focused on the wall.

The wall shows other people not as who they are, but as what they own.  There goes a man in his new sports car, what is not seen is that the car is bought on credit and the man is stressed because he is having trouble making the payments.

Wage slaves have jobs where they can go and spend their most productive hours writing high powered memos so they can be more productive, while other people spend their time ignoring memos so they can be more productive too… … This endless working and playing is called “making a living”, yet people are so busy “making a living” that they have no time for living.  A wage slave is a person who is not only economically bound by mortgages, loans, and other obligations, but is also mentally bound by an inability to perceive that there are other options available. Like the prisoners in Plato’s cave.  Their chains are not physicals; the chains are mental, which in some sense makes them worse because it turns the prisoners into their own prison wardens.

Is spending the most productive years of your life chained to the job market to collect a lot of rarely used stuff that gathers dust in the closet or takes up space in junkyards a wise choice?  Were you really born just to die, leaving a large pile of discarded consumer goods? I realize that not wanting a house full of things makes me look weird and even “unpatriotic”.  After all, more is better and who does not want to be better?   But perhaps conformity is not the only way to live.  In fact, by taking the other end of the bargain, saving as much as other people are spending on wants, it is possible to retire and live on invested savings after just 5 years of full time work.  Rather than increasing the amount of work to acquire more stuff, reducing this superficial need reduces the amount of necessary work.  It is possible to reduce the amount of work all the way down to zero: financial independence.  Indeed, playing the shadow game for five years provides a permanent way out of the cave!  Alternatively it is also possible to return to the cave for a few months every year to earn money for the next adventure out of the cave.

I see people with fancy titles big homes and hair turning white in their 30s.  That and looking stressed out all the time. Is it really worth it?
Is all this stuff we buy to impress people we don’t really like worth it?
Have we not learned from the overconsumption of the Baby Boomers & Generation X?  Is lifestyle inflation something we’re just come to accept as the baseline?

I don’t want to be a slave to money or things that will just lose value over time. Not every one gets it, but a few do. It’s a movement, and it’s growing. :)

One More Podcast

I listen to a bunch of podcasts on money depending on my mood. Or not at all.

One I didn’t include here is Scott Alan Turner’s – Financial Rock Star – No not because he also live in Dallas, but because he’s very straightforward, informational and entertaining. :) The interview posted today Episode 42 –  Broke, Busted, and Disgusted – The Student Loan Crisis with Adam Carroll was very much relatable. I also liked 41- How the Rich Get Richer and The Broke Stay Broke and 21 – 27: The Deadily Sins of Financial Freedom. Each episode is short enough for me to listen to a few back to back while I clean my house or go for a walk.

I emailed Scott about a month ago and he was kind enough to reply. I know I produce content here on my blog but it still amazes me that others care and reply to me individually. Podcasts help me realize I’m not writing or merely talking to myself… :)

What are your favorite go-tos on the subject of money for that added motivation?

Month 45 Update Navient -$12,845.07, NMAC – $11733.55, 401k -10635.70, Roth IRA – $3,308

Month 45 – Making Progress

Skipped last month and spent a ton of money on things. Some I needed, some maybe were more luxury in nature.

Credit card balance has been blowing up. I sold my bike earlier this month for $260 and put all of that toward it. Still almost $2k

Navient is down to $12,845. Haven’t been able to pay as much I want to on account of the CC but I have been setting aside $250/wk for either bill.

NMAC – Finally under $12k on my car $11,733.55 to be exact. I hate having a car note. I look at cars to buy daily on the used market. The deals suck though. Between financing, maintenance, the fear of buying someone else’s headache or dishonest dealersI don’t think it’s worth it. Only to save $5k or so and in some cases add 100k miles. It’s almost encouraging me not to sell / trade in. This thing can make it to 120k easy.

401k – Switched over future contributions to a Roth 401k. I still have decades left until retirement and don’t want to pay taxes on any appreciation. Taken a bit of a nosedive with the market the way it is, but I’m diversified and look long-term.

Roth – Contributions still on hold and still dropping. Numbers will go up so I’m only mildly concerned.

I semi completed my tax paperwork. Looks like I’ll be getting a refund of close to $2k. Waiting on some HSA files to come in the mail. May be able to get the student loan to $10k by March?

I have been feeling out of balance spiritually and emotionally. Maybe that’s the result of 4 days straight without having a meal with someone (dog doesn’t count) and being single / frustrated. I haven’t set foot in a place of worship other than to attend the wedding of someone who didn’t like me at all. I’ll have one good day where I see people and the rest will be crappy. I’ve faced worse challenges in life but the friends things seems to linger year after year since moving to Dallas in 2011. Kinda feel stuck… Made some plans this week / next week so it will get better soon at least.

2015 – End of Year Student Loans in Review

I’m gonna keep this short, but…

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Since I started this blog I’ve paid over $29k not including interest on my student loans. Sort of like with compounding interest, I will see the biggest improvement in my later years. In 2010 and 2011 I paid either 0 or a portion of interest as part of the income based repayment program.

Been a tough road, but I can do this. I am doing it. The finish line is getting closer and closer.

And for my car… Down $4,749 from my original loan balance of $16,762. If you’re going to not be smart and buy a slightly used but more depreciated value vehicle. Doing what I did, negotiating down, getting a good deal on a trade (or selling it separately) getting a 0% financing option is the next best thing. When every payment goes to principal the outstanding balance drops pretty quickly.

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I repeat myself a lot on this blog. Habits are everything  and repetition is the mother of skill.

Selling my bike

imagePut my mountain bike up for sale on Craigslist, asking 320 negotiable. I haven’t used it in a year. Was also wishing I’d find a boyfriend or even a friend that appreciated biking as much as me and would want to ride together. Got the bike in August 2013, none of those things happened and I use my road bike pretty much exclusively.

If I don’t get at least 50% of the value I paid in 2013 I’ll just keep it and use as a backup. There are some cool trails in DFW I’d like to explore too if it doesn’t sell.

Putting my money where my mouth is. Upping funds earmarked for student loans to $1k/mo from ,,, temporarily lowered my emergency fund account to $500 and putting Roth IRA contributions on hold from $500. Staying on track is my main goal. Dating life may suffer but if he is a good fit he will understand. If not then maybe I’ll just be single for another year.

My Inspiration

Gonna take some time out and give a shot out to the people who have inspired me on this journey.

  1. Joe at No More Harvard Debt. Joe is close to my own age, also has an MBA and got sick and tired of being stuck in debt. He started in August 2011 and finished in 7 months.
  2. Pete at Mr. Money Mustache – He showed that retirement is attainable by the age of 30. He lived below his means and put more of his income into retirement / investments than really anyone else. The idea that I could have enough to retire by my early 40s is appealing to me. Plus his forum and following keep the motivation going.
  3. Patrick Combs – He inspired me to reach for more out of life and not lest the past dictate my future. His Good Think blog motivated me to go to college. The story Man 1 Bank 0 also was appealing as someone who used to work in the banking industry.
  4. Early Retirement Forums – A little intimidating at times since everyone’s income seems to be more than double mine… but some of the stories people have posted are inspiring. Not to mention feedback on how I’m doing.
  5. Listen Money Matters – Originally two guys from my neck of the woods (northeast NY) who have a no nonsense approach to money and investing. They inspired me to get a Betterment account and do steady contributions into my Roth IRA. After 2009 I got spooked and thought never again.
  6. Dave Ramsey – As a gay man who is not in alignment with any one religion, the idea of listening to advice given by an Evangelical Christian seems unlikely. Agree or disagree with him, Dave has a track record that works. I cut back my consumption since it’s repetitive. Sometimes people with a big mountain to climb need the repetition though.
  7. Suze Orman – Love her, hate her. She’s become famous by telling people to clean their act up.
  8. Rick Edelman – Ric Edelman offers a unique perspective as a financial advisor. His firm has billions of assets under management. Unlike many of the other experts he has a keen eye on exponential technology and the latest developments in the industry.
  9. Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to Be Rich – I have automated my finances and am amazed at the successes of people taking his courses. I haven’t grown a pair of balls yet in that area, but I still have a vision of what’s possible.
  10. Me – I’ve made a lot of progress and will continue to make a lot. I’m very anxious to have the student loan debt gone. This month I almost  refinanced my student loan through Earnest. Despite a $200 lower minimum monthly payment, the  .43% higher interest rate, negative effect of taking a new loan out on my credit and extended my payments longer than the end of 2016 were not.