2015 – End of Year Student Loans in Review

I’m gonna keep this short, but…

month44studentloansinreview

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.

Taking a Vacation

Heading to New York for a week this month. Decided I needed a break. Including interest I have paid over $13k toward my student loan balance in the past year.

Some updates:

  • I bought an iPad Mini 2 for $199 plus tax. Best deal I could get over the last 5 years.
  • Paid $280 to fly to New York to see my friends and family. I haven’t been there since June of 2014, almost 18 months ago.
  • Paid $208 for a week long car rental. My folks were generous enough to give me $90 toward it. They also weren’t up for driving and dealing with traffic to and from the airport.
  • Paid an extra $100 in principal to Navient last week.
  • Did a massive cleanup of my apartment. My computer hardware is no longer in my dining room and it feels quite liberating. Not to mention throwing things away that I no longer use…
  • Clothes shopping – Spent close to $200 on some new clothes and a pair of shoes. After some pretty steep discounts. Feet have literally been in pain for weeks.
  • Looked through my paperwork and realized that by waiting on full amount of the WARN settlement money to come in the mail rather than working through a letter from a lawyer I missed out on about $400. Verdict is still out on getting back lost wages.

There have been even more changes at my company. New VPs, managers, new C-level executives, rumors of more layoffs. Guy I worked with pretty closely is also no longer at my company. I would talk to him at least 2-3 times a week. All of a sudden, boom. Still unsure about whether I will be promoted. Think I need to take things into my own hands regarding my destiny. My leaders are nice and knowledgable but their sense of urgency for me is simply not there. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me…

That said….

Investing in myself is the only way I am going to get anywhere. I go back and forth about how exactly to pursue that. Think programming makes sense as a next step. Or at the very least something more technical than what I am doing now.