Happy New Year!
If you read my 2020 Financial Review, then you know what this past year looked like for me financially. My moderate success in 2020 has made me bold, and to reach my 2021 financial goals, I’m gonna have to hustle my tush off. WARNING: This is a long post.
1) Reduce my overall student loan balances below $100,000.00 – Wow. I can actually achieve this goal without very much hustle. That is, even if I earn no additional income outside of my full time job this year, or have a month or two where I don’t nail my rather tight budget, I should still be able to accomplish this goal.
2) Reduce my overall student loan balances below $90,000.00 – Yeaaaa… Who thought I would be setting this goal, this soon? Not me! This goal would require a net reduction of ~ $21,000.00. While this seems like a lot given my net income was only about ~$37,000.00, in 2020, I did achieve a net reduction of $12,885.84 and saved $5,000.00 so a net reduction of ~ $21,000.00 isn’t so far fetched…
This goal is only possible IF 1) I hustle to earn additional income, and 2) the interest rates stay relatively low. A continued interest rate forbearance on federal student loans would make this goal that much more achievable, but I’m not counting on it. Ending the year below $90,000.00 in student loan debt would be a HUGE milestone in my journey. I know this debt amount would still seem terrifying to most people but to me it would be amazing. To achieve this goal, I MUST achieve goals 3 and 4, which not so coincidentally, are serviced by the same student loan servicer (AES) and come very close to that amount…
3) Payoff Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3) (-$10,666.59 as of 1/1/2021) – Thanks to some hard work and good financial fortune, I began targeting this debt in early December 2020. As shared above, as long as I make decent progress this year, this goal should be pretty easy to accomplish and help me polish off Goal #1.
Note: The reason it doesn’t show a monthly payment is because my extra payments (paying the original minimum even as the balance decreases and extra payments) have put me in “paid ahead” status.
4) Payoff Private Student Loan 4 (PSL4) (-$9,997.13 as of 1/1/2021) – This is very much a stretch goal. However, as I stated above, if I am to stand any chance at achieving Goal #2, then this is an absolute must. While this student loan has the lowest interest rate (3.75% as of 1/1/2021) of any of my private student loans, it also has the largest minimum monthly payment ($245.40). While it might make more sense to payoff PSL2 first, because it has a lower balance (-$7,235.81 as of 1/1/2021) and a higher interest rate (5.140% as of 1/1/2021), it also has a much lower minimum monthly payment ($93.30). At this time, when my student loan debt is still very high, I have decided to prioritize lowering my financial exposure. For example, if I found myself without employment for any extended period of time, I believe it would be much easier to swing a $93.30 payment than a $245.40 payment.
Note: The minimum payment recently fell to $234.53 after they recalculated the term (48 months) based on the current interest rate and payments (for some time, this loan was just always “paid ahead” as I employ the Ramsey method of continuing to make the same minimum payment even as the minimum payment declines as a way to make “painless” extra payments).
A note on my university student loans: I know some folks would like to see my university student loans on the chopping block given their interest rates (5-8%!). They aren’t on the chopping block right now for reasons I will address briefly below, and later more extensively.
5) Weekly blog post – I know! If I failed at doing two blog posts a month, why does it make sense to ratchet the goal up to four? 1) I need the accountability and 2) I realized I have things I would like to work through and want to write but I have held back because I didn’t want to “bother” or “annoy” you all by posting something that wasn’t really significant. (Yea…let’s not get into the socialization behind that). However, I’ve thought about it and 1) to achieve my huge goals this year, I am going to need to stay on track 90%+ of the time, and this blog helps me do that, and 2) you all could always just ignore my blog or not read 🙂
My blogging schedule for 2021 will be a blog post every Friday. I will also post my monthly “student loan balance(s)” updates on the first of the month. During months where the first of the month is a Friday, as is the case this month, I will only post once…except this month, where I have posted my student loan balance(s) update and this lengthy post. Eh. It’s New Year’s Day. It warrants an exception.
6) Biweekly vlog (YouTube) AND Instagram* post – I have received gentle prodding to be a more active member of the personal finance community on both of these platforms (On YouTube, I have lurked and commented under an alternate username, but only recently joined as Afro Penny). As I stated at the beginning of my old blog, Debt End Date, I have very little interest in turning this blog into a revenue stream. Perhaps that is “money left on the table,” but I like this blog as is. However, YouTube is a different beast and if I take the time to create and edit videos (so much more work than blogging), then I am open to the idea that they might be monetized.
*Thank you for the Instagram suggestion Isabella. 🙂
7) Increase part-time/side monthly income to $1000.00 – I don’t really know how I am going to achieve this goal consistently given that I recently quit my part time job. But I am someone who is good at making plans once I have a “real” goal, so I figured I better make this a goal.
8) Establish sinking funds – After reviewing my forecasted and actual monthly budgets for the past year, I realized that other than the occasional overeating, the only times I consistently overspent we related to my car and gifts. In an effort to thwart future disruptions to my budget, and really “adult,” I have decided to finally establish sinking funds.
9) Cashflow final coursework and application process for medical school – I KNOW! Did not see that one coming, did ya? If you were to click on the “drafts” tab for this blog, and scroll to the bottom, you might find something surprising. Or, not so surprising.
So, clearly I haven’t gotten into medical school..yet. But, I drafted that post when I first started this blog and then continued to edit that post with reason after reason as to why it should one day be posted or deleted. I have finally decided that I don’t have enough information to make that decision… Initially, I thought I would provide a bit of background and explanation as to what my plans are here, but this subject really does deserve it’s own post and this one has already gotten a bit long in the tooth. Per my new blogging schedule, this post will appear on Friday, January 8th. Before then, I will remind you that I said I was done taking out student loans for good. I meant that. I mean that.
Happy New Year!
I am really excited about the possibility for positive change this new year represents, for every aspect of my life. In terms of my finances, I have decided a quote from C is going to be my mantra for the year:
I think it’s important to not totally abandon the idea of getting out of debt, but also not sacrifice the rest of your life to “serving” it. – C