2021 Financial Review

My last post of 2021! Despite the continued mess that 2021 has been for so many people across the world, 2021, particularly the second half, was actually a pretty good great year in AfroPennyland and I’m kinda sad to see it end. Kinda.

Once again, as I compiled this year-end review, I had to take more than a moment to acknowledge how incredibly fortunate I have been. While this fortune was spread across different areas of my life, of greatest interest to the Pennyfolk is my financial outlook. So, how did I do in 2021?

Student Loan Balances – January 1, 2021

Student Loan Balances – December 31, 2021

My refinance lender, PenFed, allows you to instantly request a payoff quote, up to 30 days in advance, so calculating my future balance, including interest, is now fairly easy.

Net Student Loan Debt Reduction in 2021: $22,751.51

Not bad at all! While I know the payments didn’t roll out evenly over the year (see below), that is still an average monthly payment of $1,895.96. My full-time net income increased a bit this year to $40,827.68 (gross income: $54,898.04) thanks to a very modest bonus and additional duties I picked up at University B.

However, the financial success of the second half of this year can largely be attributed to gig work (even the part-time golf job started out as a gig). In the last six months of 2021, I made $4,667.22 (gross) in additional income from gig work and part-time work.

Net Debt Reduction by Month

January$1,411.49 – In January, I benefited from the continued payment and interest rate forbearance on federal student loans and began targeting PSL3 in earnest.
February$1,605.88My apartment flooded in late January and after realizing that my landlord wasn’t going to make the appropriate repairs, February saw me move in with my parents.
March$2,527.17 – As a result of my very generous parents not charging me rent, in March I was able to make the largest student loan debt repayment I had ever made up to that point. I also benefited from a small income tax refund.
April $2,036.34 – April was a repeat of March less the tax refund.
May$2,057.07 – While my May payment was pretty standard at this point, my May was anything but…
June$357.29 – As I had spent May gallivanting up and down the east coast with my best friend, the bills eventually came due and my June debt payments were nothing more than the minimums. June was also a big month for me as it saw me moving out of my parents’ home and into my own space, kinda.
July$1,690.82 – July was a big month. While my debt repayment took a predictable dip when I began paying rent again, I was finally able to say goodbye, forever, to six-figure student loan debt. While this milestone resulted from months of hard work, making it over the threshold in July resulted from my foray into gig work.
August$1,921.49 – While work woes abound in August, there was still much to celebrate as I paid off PSL3.
September$2,581.30 – While work remained unsettled, debt payment this month was significantly aided by a very modest bonus.
October$2,434.15 – In October, I decided that I really wanted to pay off PSL 4 and make it under $90,000.00 in student loan debt this year. I saw gig work as the only way to reach those goals and worked my tush off. There were definitely days where I was tired and regretted picking-up shifts. October also saw me refinance all of my remaining student loans, except PSL4, to a very good interest rate with a great lender.
November$1,375.92 – While this was a pretty average to low-average month for debt repayment, over the Thanksgiving holiday I found out that my father regularly checked on the balances of my loans serviced by AES. Being able to show him how much progress I had made was a proud moment for both of us.
December$2,744.09 – December was a huge month! December is my birth month and generally a time of year when I do a lot of reflection on the past year and the year to come. That was not really possible this year as I was too busy saying goodbye, forever, to $90,000.00+ student loan debt, celebrating paying off PSL4, and interviewing on my birthday for my new job! There is so much to be thankful for in December.

Finally, how did I do with my planned 2021 financial goals?
(Note: On my last blogiversary in July, I decided that the beginning of the year would reflect financial goals and my blogiversary would reflect blogging goals, so I am not reviewing goals 5 and 6 here.)

1) Reduce my overall student loan balances below $100,000.00Pass! – I can’t even begin to explain what a significant milestone this was in my journey.

2) Reduce my overall student loan balances below $90,000.00 Pass! – I think this demonstrated the benefit of setting “stretch” goals. Getting below this amount significantly changed how I feel about myself and my relationship with my student loan debt and finances.

3) Payoff Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3) (-$10,666.59 as of 1/1/2021) Pass!

4) Payoff Private Student Loan 4 (PSL4) (-$9,997.13 as of 1/1/2021) Pass!

7) Increase part-time/side monthly income to $1000.00 Partial Pass – I’m giving myself a partial pass on this one. While I didn’t generate an additional $1,000.00 in gross income every month, I struck a balance between earning more, not being entirely exhausted, having a social life, and achieving my financial goals.

8) Establish sinking fundsFail – I set myself up for failure with the goal by not being more specific. Not only does specificity in goal setting help with assessment, but it also helps with motivation. I think a modified version of this goal will return for 2022.

9) Cashflow final coursework and application process for medical school Altered – I struggled with this for most of the year but I finally addressed my decision in another post.

Whew, what a year. I don’t know that there is really anything more to be said…

HOWEVER, before signing off, I want to THANK everyone who read(s) my blog, and especially those who take time to comment (C, Ellen, Avery, Blissful, Paula, K, Hope, DDSW, and anonymous folks). While I would like to think I would continue writing even if no one were reading, I am incredibly grateful that isn’t my circumstances and that such generous folks have decided to join me on my journey. Thank you!

I hope the end of 2021 finds you and your loved ones safe and as well as can be, and that the start of 2022 finds you the same or better.

7 thoughts on “2021 Financial Review

  1. I don’t know if I ever told you that these year end blog posts are always my favorite to read? You gave me a happy surprise by posting your 2021 review before the end of the year and I love it!

    Congrats on an amazing 2021 and everything you’ve accomplished this year. 🥳 Happy New Year! Looking forward to following your journey in 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awe, thanks, Avery. I actually do remember you mentioning you love the end-of-year posts. I’m glad this post was something nice to receive in your inbox.

      Ahem…so I actually also love reading end-of-year posts too…ahem…does that mean there should be one from Millennial Mayday soon…ahem 🙂


  2. I agree with Avery – this was such a fun post to read! You’ve worked so hard and made SO MUCH progress this year, and I’m glad it has led to you feeling better about yourself and your relationship to your rapidly shrinking debt. I’m excited to hear what you have in mind for 2022. Happy New Year, AP!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ellen! These posts are really the moment where I get to see my progress so I am glad you all like reading them as much as I like writing them. As always, thank you for reading and taking a moment to comment. I wish you, the young adults, and all of your loved ones a Happy New Year!


  3. Happy new year! I’m a lurker but absolutely love your blog. You are a total inspiration and you are going to be an incredible doctor – your thoughtfulness and integrity always shine through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Sarah! Thank you for reading, thank you for the blog appreciation, and thank you for your kind words. While I don’t get to interact with lurkers, I do get to see that folks actually read my blog and that is still really heartening. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year!


  4. Happy new year from a lurker!! I love your blog. You are an inspiration and you are going to be an incredible doctor – your thoughtfulness and integrity always shine through.

    Liked by 1 person

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