What loan should I payoff next? VOTE! (2)

I know. I know. Why am I worried about the next student loan I’m going to pay off when PSL3 is still lingering? Well, did you not read this blog subheading? One OBSESSIVE post at a time. Further, I sometimes have analysis paralysis where my need to investigate all options to a level of minutiae result in me procrastinating or not making a decision until it is too late…which sometimes results in me making a poor choice. So, you’re judgement of me aside…

In September of 2020, I asked the Pennyfolk which loan I should payoff next. Six of the eight responses said PSL3. I began targeting PSL3 in December 2020 and next month, assuming no unforeseen obstacles, it should be paid off. While paying off PSL3 is my primary focus, looking down the road just a bit helps me keep focus on exactly why I make the day to day financial choices that I do. Because it’s not just PSL3, it’s all the financial choices I will need to make long after PSL3 is paid off.

As I stated in my 2021 Financial Goals post, the plan this year has very much been to pay off PSL3 and then PSL4, and finally rid myself of 1) PSL3’s egregious interest rate, 2) AES as a student loan servicer, and 3) the large minimum payment associated with PSL4. However, yesterday, when I logged into my student loan servicing sites to get the “high” of seeing my balances a wee bit lower, I noticed something…

PSL4 – 06/02/2021

PSL2 – 06/02/2021

Hint: Look at “Unpaid Interest” and “Outstanding Interest.”

Yea…so, despite the fact that PSL2 has a balance of -$6,827.01 and PSL4 has a balance of -$9,474.11, PSL2 generates the same amount of interest as PSL4 because it has an interest rate that is 1.36% higher. I feel like at this point I don’t have the right to be shocked by how terrible interest is anymore but AHHHHHH!

It was after the scream that my mind began opening up to another plan… My University Student Loans have a combined, weighted interest rate of 6.87% per month and a current balance of -$7,475.12. I was not really considering paying off these loans next, last September, however, seeing how significantly interest impacts debt repayment has put these firmly on my radar. I have hesitated to pay these off because they have friendly terms, including interest free forbearance if you enroll full time in school; however, that only seems important if I wouldn’t have these paid off by the time I would enroll full time next fall. If I am enrolled full time next fall.

The last and largest loan group are my federal student loans which have interest rates that go from kind to egregious. However, there is no incentive to pay these off ahead of my other student loans while there is a federal interest and payment forbearance (although it likely ends in September). Right now, it is my goal to whittle down my student loan balance as fast as I can before applying for a refinance on my federal student loans.


June 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

The countdown to under $100,000.00 in student loans has officially begun. Hmmm, rereading that seems super sad…whatever. To the numbers!

AccountDebtDebt (7/1/19)Min. Payment
Private Student Loan 1$0.00-$10,231.32$110.46
Private Student Loan 3-$2,466.86-$12,580.49$153.82
Private Student Loan 4-$9,518.53-$13,280.33$245.40
Private Student Loan 2-$6,918.38-$8,271.15$93.30
Federal Student Loan 1-$21,440.37-$20,583.34$0.00
Federal Student Loan 2-$13,946.84-$13,457.55$0.00
Federal Student Loan 3-$11,184.47-$10,737.40$0.00
Federal Student Loan 4-$7,748.09-$7,518.58$0.00
Federal Student Loan 5-$5,561.12-$5,520.10$0.00
Federal Student Loan 6-$3,147.30-$2,849.21$0.00
Federal Student Loan 7-$2,863.10-$2,649.80$0.00
Federal Student Loan 8-$2,457.12-$2,538.91$0.00
Federal Student Loan 9-$2,307.18-$2,047.30$0.00
Federal Student Loan 10-$2,003.02-$1,813.31$0.00
Federal Student Loan 11-$1,639.01-$1,573.49$0.00
Federal Student Loan 12-$1,144.25-$1,035.88$0.00
University Student Loan 1-$3,795.02-$4,581.00$60.41
University Student Loan 2-$3,090.59-$3,629.38$0.00
University Student Loan 3-$474.47-$1,031.21$30.00
University Student Loan 4-$277.88-$857.81$30.00
Personal Student Loan$0.00-$1,875.70$312.62

May 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$104,040.67

June 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$101,983.60

Total Payments: $2,157.31

Net Difference: $2,057.07

Not bad! Only $100.24 went to interest this month! Most of that has to do with the continuing low interest rates and the federal student loan interest and payment forbearance; and, a tiny amount has to do with my shrinking balances on loans with more egregious interest rates like Private Student Loan 3.

However, the bigger story is that I am now less than $2,000.00 away from being under $100,000.00 in student loan debt. At the moment, this is bittersweet. As I shared in my June 2021 Budget Update, I spent all of May traipsing along the eastern seaboard with my best friend. While this was a blast and something I mostly don’t regret, it’s hard not to acknowledge that the $2,426.22 in unplanned spending in May is considerably more than the $1,983.60 in additional student loan payments I could have made today to bring me under $100,000.00 in student loan debt. Ugh. That hurts. For this reason, my under $100,000.00 in student loan debt dance will have to wait until July at the earliest. (Note: As I was writing this, I realized I actually had saved more for my May trip, but that the non-emergency savings had gotten reallocated as deposits for my new houseshare).

Alright, I wanted to get this one posted before I became consumed with moving over the next few days. While this isn’t as gleeful as an update as it could have been, I still feel like I am moving in the right direction and that June will find me back on track to meeting my financial goals for the year.

June 2021 Budget

Whew, May is mostly over and not a day too soon. Neither my wallet nor my waistline could handle it for much longer. To the budget…

Unplanned Spending – Okay, let’s talk about the obvious: I had unplanned spending of $2,426.22 in May. How did that happen? Well, I spent a month traveling the eastern seaboard with my best friend. We visited Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, the Outerbanks, Charleston, Savannah, Panama City Beach, Mobile, Biloxi, and New Orleans. Generally, we spent a couple of days in each city, staying longer in Charleston and New Orleans. It was an awesome almost month’s long trip and I only regret not budgeting better for it. Initially, the plan had been to stay in two different places for the month and perhaps split the cost of a house rental. However, things changed late in the game and my bestie suggested we visit a bunch of different cities. As I have stated previously, my bestie and I are in much different places financially and I should have maybe pushed back a bit against this idea. Spilled milk.

My only saving grace here is that as a result of tuition reimbursement and an outstanding consulting work payment that paid, I was able to immediately payoff the balances from this trip without dipping into my emergency fund. Yay! However, this means I will also have the lowest debt repayment month update on July 1st that I have had in awhile since it also took all of the money usually targeted for debt repayment to pay it off. Nay.

FDGM – The next thing you probable noticed was the skimpy $122.91 food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous budget. Yea, I know. Even if I scrimp, it is unlikely that I will be able to get by on that little in June. However, a couple of things are working in my favor… First, my new diet. So the traveling also meant eating out almost every night and enjoying decadent foods. While delicious, it did terrible things for my waistline, and my budget, and I will tighten it up significantly in June when I also get back to regular exercise. The move out of my parents’ home (more on that below) means I will also spend less on gas getting to everywhere. Additionally, I am expecting one more very small check (less than $150.00) that I would love to put towards debt repayment that will actually go towards helping me meet ends so that I can resume meaningful debt repayment on July 1st.

Rent – I am really excited to be moving into new digs on June 1st. The property is cute, centrally located, and a steal at everything included for $550.00. While staying at my parents’ home would have been the better financial choice (and they have suggested I stick around several times since I told them I was moving out), this is the much better choice for me overall. While I told Paula (hey, lovely) I would break down what the “true” cost of moving my June budget update, I am thinking it’s better left to another post.

I recently admitted, under direct questioning by Dude Avery, that I, ya know, like, like him. He seems to, ya know, like, like me as well, so hopefully another bonus of moving back to the city is getting to spend time with him.

Storage – Because I can’t move into my new digs until June 1st, I had to keep my storage unit for June. It is my hope that I will be able to ditch this for July or at the very least downgrade to a smaller unit. We will see.

I’m moving out…

I know. Hear me out.

Exactly one week ago, I signed a lease for a house share in the city. I imagine this is shocking to you all as I have stated more than once (1, 2, 3…) my intention to continue living with my parents through the end of the year, when I expected to know more about my status in the medical school application process. However, after time spent on the road with my best friend (more on that later), I realized I very much missed independent living. For this reason, I dipped my toe back into the rental market and found a house share I thought would be a good fit for me and hoped the Pennyfolk would approve. So, onto the questions…

When are you leaving home again? – My lease begins on June 1st (although I am hoping to move in Memorial Day weekend) and goes through May 31st of next year. If I get accepted to medical school in my current city, then I would consider staying put if my landlord is agreeable (she lives abroad). If I get accepted to medical school elsewhere, then my lease would be end and I would move for school. If I don’t get accepted to medical school, I can extend my lease and consider the next life steps.

How much is your rent? – $550.00!

What does that include? – EVERYTHING! The rent includes all utilities and parking in the subdivision.

What is the deal? – One of the perks of working at a university is that at larger universities in larger cities, there are often off-campus housing boards on which only people with a direct association to the university (student, staff, faculty, etc.) may post. My new landlord bought the house while a postdoc at the university but took a job abroad after school. While she could rent it for significantly more or sell it, for now her goal is just to keep it rented consistently so she doesn’t have to spend time looking for tenants and to cover her mortgage.

Where are you living? Is it safe? – It’s actually in a much nicer area of the city than where I was previously living. I will be sharing a tri-level townhouse (Northeastern folks would recognize it as a “rowhouse”) with two university graduate students. The person I am replacing in the home was a medical student at the university where I work. The photo above is essentially what the house looks like and how it is set up. On the first level of the home, which is what I am renting, there is only my bedroom and bathroom. The next level has the living area including the kitchen, living room, and laundry. The top floor has two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom.

While my future housemates seem like lovely people, I love the fact that I will be living on the bottom level alone.

Is this really better than staying with your parents? – Yes and no. My parents were lovely and I was staying at their home for free. While my rent is super cheaper it’s still more than free. However, I will begin class again in late May and the drive from my parents house to campus is an hour and a half each way. And, as my employer expects me to be back on campus in mid-July, I was also dreading the hour commute from my parents home to work in traffic.

Beyond that, I had slowly come to miss my independence in a lot of ways that it is difficult to articulate.

What does this mean for your goals and budget? – Not as much as I thought it would. Certainly not as much in the short term as this month’s long roadtrip I am on with my best friend. I will do a deep dive into the numbers later this month with an updated June budget. But that is for another post…

Thoughts…Shocking? Disappointed? A huge mistake? Not surprised at all?

May 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

I apologize for my tardiness. Between the end of classes and being out of town, this just wasn’t the priority it should have been. To the numbers…

AccountDebtDebt (7/1/19)Min. PaymentInterest Rate
Private Student Loan 1$0.00-$10,231.32$110.460.000%
Private Student Loan 3-$4,307.78-$12,580.49$153.826.620%
Private Student Loan 4-$9,535.66-$13,280.33$245.403.750%
Private Student Loan 2-$6,984.67-$8,271.15$93.305.120%
Federal Student Loan 1-$21,440.37-$20,583.34$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 2-$13,946.84-$13,457.55$0.005.310%
Federal Student Loan 3-$11,184.47-$10,737.40$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 4-$7,748.09-$7,518.58$0.004.450%
Federal Student Loan 5-$5,561.12-$5,520.10$0.004.450%
Federal Student Loan 6-$3,147.30-$2,849.21$0.005.600%
Federal Student Loan 7-$2,863.10-$2,649.80$0.004.660%
Federal Student Loan 8-$2,457.12-$2,538.91$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 9-$2,307.18-$2,047.30$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 10-$2,003.02-$1,813.31$0.005.600%
Federal Student Loan 11-$1,639.01-$1,573.49$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 12-$1,144.25-$1,035.88$0.005.600%
University Student Loan 1-$3,865.71-$4,581.00$60.418.000%
University Student Loan 2-$3,090.59-$3,629.38$0.000.000%
University Student Loan 3-$505.76-$1,031.21$30.008.000%
University Student Loan 4-$308.63-$857.81$30.008.000%
Personal Student Loan$0.00-$1,875.70$312.620.000%

April 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$106,077.01

May 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$104,040.67

Total Payments: $2,157.31

Net Difference: $2,036.34

Not bad. Only $120.97 went to interest in April. Again, in general, that’s not great but given how large my student loan balance is, it’s definitely a win.

Last month, C suggested that I include the “original” balance amounts on my student loan report and include balances that have been paid off during my journey. It was a good idea, so I obliged. In the third column, I have decided to include the balances at the time I started this blog; I have also included the personal student loan from my best friend and Private Student Loan 1 (PSL1), which I originally removed from the table once they were paid off. While my student loan balances have been higher (and lower) at some point prior to when I started blogging, given that this was really the start of my journey here, I’ve decided the blog start balances make the most sense.

Easier said than done…

The Universe, life, God, or whatever your existential bent may be, frequently tests your commitment to any plans, goals, or values you dare to speak aloud. Less than a week ago, in April 2021 – Life Update, I stated:

5) Consulting Work – This continues to be a balancing act. I have accepted a second project that will take me through the end of May but I will not accept any new work over the summer. I know! It doesn’t really seem as though I am in a position to be turning down lucrative work. However, taking the second semester of organic chemistry over the summer will be very intense, and other than work at University B, which is much more lax at universities during the early summer, I want that to be the only priority.

Right. Having dared to speak this allowed, I get the following email from a colleague this afternoon:

Hi, AP.

We were hoping to have our new (insert outstanding role) in place before the (the summer camp), but it is looking like that is not going to happen, so we are in a position to hire a couple of people to be (instructors at a virtual camp). I don’t know how much flexibility you have with time in your job, but we would love for you to be a part of the (camp staff) if you might be able to swing it.  We know it’s a long shot but figured it couldn’t hurt to ask!

Typical daily schedule is here: (link removed)

Pay would be $2,000 for the two weeks. 

Please let me know if you might be interested and if you have any questions! 

Take care, Colleague

Ugh. This should be a no-brainier. I should have immediately responded to my colleague stating, “Thanks so much but no thanks this summer.” But I have not done this. Instead I have spent the last half hour trying to figure out how I can do all three (job at University B, summer camp, and summer class). Realistically, it’s not possible to do all three and the most significant friction is between my planned academic summer course and the virtual camp schedule.

I don’t know why I haven’t already responded to my colleague. That’s not true. I do know. It’s called, “opportunity cost.” There is a real cost of applying to medical school and there is an opportunity cost, and I have never gotten quite as comfortable with the later as I am with the former.

April 2021 – Life Update

Once again, I have been missing in action in terms of posting. However, to be fair, I did try to set expectations for this in March when I shared that April was going to be a brutal month on all fronts…

1) Applying to medical school – In terms of completing the final prerequisites for applying to medical school, it’s really just a full on sprint to the finish line. Over the next seven days, I have five exams, several of which happen on the same day. The key here is prioritization.

The AMCAS medical school application widow opens on June 1st. This is the official start to the application season. Not to be overly cliche but “Where did the time go?” It feels like December 31st was not long ago and I was fretting over whether or not to go for it. For the moment, my plan is: 1) finish the semester, 2) take the second semester of organic chemistry, in person, over the summer (May 24th – July 14th), 3) study for the MCAT (July 14th – August 30th), 4) sit for the first September MCAT exam, 5) finalize applications by the end of September, 6) and pray for interview invites.

I have a friend who is already in medical school and she has remarked several times, “The hardest part of medical school is getting in.” I can’t imagine this is actually the case. However, it does often seem this way because you have so little control over the application process. Everything is incredibly subjective and highly dependent upon the medical school admissions committee and what kind of class they are trying to build…which is dependent on the changing needs of the medical field and the academic interests of their preceding classes. The best you can do is apply to schools that are a good fit and interview well.

2) Dating – Still not much happening on this front. Dude Avery and I have been in less contact. I think he remains on the fence about my decision to continue staying with my parents. To be fair to him, he doesn’t know my entire financial picture. That is, he knows I have student loan debt but he isn’t aware of exactly how much I have. And not because he hasn’t asked. He has. I have decline to share up to this point. I think talking about your debt with someone is incredibly intimate. Surprisingly, more intimate than many other things… In fact, in many instances, you are physically intimate with someone long before you would share the details of your finances with them.

Further, like a lot of logic oriented people, he tends to be emotionally dispassionate about finances. Which is probably a good way to be. But that’s not who I am. Or at least not where I am with my student loan debt. I could see him making an entirely reasonably comment about my student loan debt that inadvertently hurt my feelings. And, I just don’t have the energy to invest there at the moment.

3) University B – I have been grateful that my work at University B, for the most part, has been fairly easy to do while taking classes. Much of this is because my role at University B often requires that I work on evenings and weekends which means that I get lots of “comp” time. Comp time has allowed me to take time off during the work week when I need it to attend class or study. The end of the semester at universities means lots of reporting and that will ramp up in May, but I am hoping to get the bulk of it done between the end of my classes in April and the beginning of my summer class in late May.

4) Living at home – Continues to be pretty great. I finally broke down and shared with my parents that I am applying to medical school. I was afraid to share it with them previously because I was still on the fence but I finally admitted my plans in full and they were, unsurprisingly, very supportive. They even suggested that if I got into medical school in a nearby city, I could continue living with them to save money. That…that will not be happening. But I love them so much. For now, the plan is to stay with them through the end of this year (2021). By December, hopefully I will know my fate with respect to medical school.* If I am accepted somewhere, then most likely I will continue to stay with them until I move for the start of medical school in the summer of 2022. If I am not accepted somewhere, then I will start apartment hunting.

*Possibly not the case at all if I decide to also apply to D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine) programs as their application season doesn’t start until September and doesn’t end until March.

5) Consulting Work – This continues to be a balancing act. I have accepted a second project that will take me through the end of May but I will not accept any new work over the summer. I know! It doesn’t really seem as though I am in a position to be turning down lucrative work. However, taking the second semester of organic chemistry over the summer will be very intense, and other than work at University B, which is much more lax at universities during the early summer, I want that to be the only priority.

I know it’s pretty bland but that is my life at the moment. I have continued to make good progress on the financial front thanks to the free rent afforded by my boomerang child status (yea, I accept that it applies) and my May 1st update should show me still on track to pay off PSL 3 in June.

April 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

Nothing worthy of a preamble. To the numbers…

AccountDebtMin. PaymentInterest Rate
Private Student Loan 1$0.00$110.460.000%
Private Student Loan 3-$6,136.07$153.826.620%
Private Student Loan 4-$9,549.80$245.403.750%
Private Student Loan 2-$7,046.73$93.305.120%
Federal Student Loan 1-$21,440.37$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 2-$13,946.84$0.005.310%
Federal Student Loan 3-$11,184.47$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 4-$7,748.09$0.004.450%
Federal Student Loan 5-$5,561.12$0.004.450%
Federal Student Loan 6-$3,147.30$0.005.600%
Federal Student Loan 7-$2,863.10$0.004.660%
Federal Student Loan 8-$2,457.12$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 9-$2,307.18$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 10-$2,003.02$0.005.600%
Federal Student Loan 11-$1,639.01$0.006.800%
Federal Student Loan 12-$1,144.25$0.005.600%
University Student Loan 1-$3,935.56$60.418.000%
University Student Loan 2-$3,090.59$0.000.000%
University Student Loan 3-$537.00$30.008.000%
University Student Loan 4-$339.39$30.008.000%

March 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$108,604.18

April 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$106,077.01

Total Payments: $2,657.31

Net Difference: $2,527.17

Not bad! Only $130.14 went to servicing interest this month. The combination of low interest rates, the federal student loan interest rate abatement, and temporarily living with my parents means that the interest accruing on my loans is the least it has ever been and I have the ability to make the largest payments I have ever made.

Student Loan Target Update

Four months ago, I took the advice of the Pennyfolk and began targeting Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3) for aggressive repayment. I had a list of reasons for why I hated this particular student loan, the least of which was it’s egregious 6.65% interest rate at a time when interest rates were at an all time low. Unsurprisingly, one of my 2021 Financial Goals is to payoff both PSL3 (-$10, 666.59 as of 1/1/21) AND Private Student Loan 4 (-$9,997.13 as of 1/1/21). So, three months into 2021, am I on track to meet this goal?

March 2021 – PSL3 Balance: -$8,454.39

April 2021 – PSL3 Balance: -$6,136.07

…I think I am. If you read my April 2021 Budget post, then you know I shared that given my current progress, I should have PSL3 paid off in June. However, what I didn’t notice until I began writing this post is that paying off PSL3 will also bring my overall student loan balance under $100,000.00. I. Know.

Thank you all so much for the continued support and check-ins. You have no idea how helpful it is to have a place to share the highs and lows of debt repayment.

April 2021 Budget

As promised, my April 2021 budget. Usually, I’d just drop this here and say the budget is pretty self-explanatory but a lot has changed since my last posted budget in December 2020 (apartment flooded and I moved in with my parents) so I will try to succinctly review those changes below…


The biggest change in my income from December 2020 to April 2021 is that I no longer have a steady part time job. In, …I Quit, I explained the reasons why I thought giving up my part time gig was a good idea and, for the most part, I was correct. Much like in graduate school, when I decided my labor was worth more than $8.00/hour and I immediately found a gig where I earned double, something similar happened here. Soon after I quit, a mentor and friend told me of his plans to open a consulting firm; since then, he has began slowly but steadily sending projects my way. While these projects don’t pay at regular intervals (I get paid when he gets paid and he doesn’t get paid until after the work is completed) they are flexible, don’t take very much time, and pay a lot more per hour.

My income at University B has stayed pretty much the same. While I haven’t received a merit increase since my hire at University B due to my summer start date and the onset of the pandemic (apparently increases during the 2021-2022 academic year may be frozen as well), I was very fortunate to remain employed throughout 2020.

Fixed Expenses

No Rent –
The biggest change to my budget is that I no longer pay rent or other utilities associated with independent living, like internet (utilities and even laundry were included in my stupidly cheap rent…sigh). However, it was obviously not possible or advisable for me to try and fit all of my belongings and furniture into the room I occupy at my parents’ home, so I now have a storage locker and renter’s insurance. The storage locker is fairly reasonable at $55.00/month for a 5×10 unit with a local business; and, they gave me 50% off the first three months of rent. In my haste to be out of my mildewing apartment, I almost purchased the storage facility’s renter’s insurance at $10.00/month for $2,000.00 worth of coverage. However, the manager was pretty great and allowed me to pay just the rent and provide him with proof of insurance before the next month. This gave me time to call my auto insurer, who was able to get me a rate of less than $10.00/month for $10,000.00 worth of coverage.

University Student Loans – Some eagle eyed readers will notice that this is the same payment amount I have previously been making despite my belief that I could get these deferred while in school. So, it turns out that only one of my university student loans (there are four) can be deferred without interest if I enroll in school for any number of credits. The other three only defer without interest if I enroll full-time. (The difference is apparently in the donor language as many of my alma matter’s university student loans result from alumni et. al donations). You may be thinking, “But Afro Penny, if one of them can be deferred without interest, why are you still making the same payment?” Good question. Mostly because the forty dollar difference wouldn’t mean very much to my overall budget each month (or even in terms of my ability to repay PSL3) but over a year, the additional forty dollars per month will help to painlessly but meaningfully chip away at the other three student loans.

Car Payment – I already wrote about this in another post. I will not sport with your intelligence by rehashing my decision making here.

PSL4 – Unlike PSL3, which I actively hate, I have always been somewhat fond of PSL4…if one can be fond of a student loan. The terms of this loan have always been very favorable in terms of interest rates and benefits. This loan automatically deferred when I began taking classes part time, and in discussion with the Pennyfolk, I have decided to just make interest payments (I pay $45.40 each month which is technically more than interest but the minimum payment was $245.40 and I like round numbers) and put the lion’s share of the minimum payment towards PSL3. At the moment, I believe I will make my first aggressive payment towards this loan on July 1st.

PSL2 – No change.

PSL3 – Big changes here. I have maintained the minimum payment on this loan despite changes to interest rate (due to the pandemic) and loan repayment terms (due to my aggressive payments advancing the due date). At the start of 2021, I envisioned being able to put an additional $1000.00 a month towards this loan. While this would be significant, it would not be enough for me to pay off both this loan and PSL4 in 2021, unless I serious hustled for consulting work. However, now that I am no longer paying rent, I can add my $700.00 rent payment to this amount, resulting in an additional avalanche-snowball payment of $1,700.00 dollars each month. This is a game changer and I now expect to pay off PSL3 in June!

Cell Phone – This is new. My parents were previously paying for my cell phone bill as a part of their family plan on Verizon. That bill was over $200.00 a month for limited data. Ummm…no thank you. At the start of the New Year, my parents wanted to upgrade from their gently used six year old phones (yea…I know) and I pushed for them to leave Verizon at the same time. They listened to me and are now on T-Mobile’s 55+ plan, paying a flat $70.00/month for both of their lines and unlimited data. I then picked up my own line with T-Mobile for $70.00/month with unlimited data. There is no real contest in coverage. Verizon’s is just better. However, for the $130.00 in saving each month, my parents are pretty happy with the switch.

Federal Student Loans – The Biden Administration has extended the interest and payment abatement on federal student loans to September 2021. I am almost as grateful for this as I am for the free rent at my parents’ home. Almost. What this means is that about $400.00 worth of interest does not accrue on my student loans each month; and, the difference between my student loan payments and the net decrease in my student loan debt remains very close. At the moment, payments on these loans will remain paused until at least the end of the year when I have paid of PSL3 and PSL4.

Insurance – I explained above that I purchased renter’s insurance to cover my storage locker. Another small change is that like many driver’s across the nation, my auto insurance premium has temporarily decreased due to pandemic rebates for less drivers on the road.

Unfixed Expenses

These have fluctuated a bit but are pretty much the same. While I shouldn’t have anything in the “unplanned spending” category, a HSP plan incentive challenge at work has me doubling down on my commitment to exercise more. The University is currently offering $225.00 in incentives for their current challenge. Walking more means I needed to ditch my cute, but not super functional, Adidas, for a pair of Brooks. I also found a couple of great deals on Christmas gifts for my mother. She has an unusual collection and the items are difficult to find. For this reason, I look for them throughout the year and buy when they become available.

And that’s it. I expect this budget will look much the same through at least June of 2021. However, each month, I will try to review major changes in income and expenses from the projected budget where it happens.

The so-called “Boomerang Child”

Oooooo-kay. It has been some time since I posted a budget. There was some laziness at the beginning of winter, followed by the unexpected flooding of my apartment, and me moving out of my apartment and moving in with my parents. The winter was…eventful, but I am looking forward to spring. Because my finances have finally settled since the move and I generally have a good idea of what my monthly expenditures will be, while living with my parents, I decided I would post a budget forecast for April (and I will). However, before I could do that, I figured I finally needed to address what it means to live at home, for me. I need to address it because I find that when I don’t work through how I feel about something that is tied to my finances, I often make a rash decision that is usually not in my long term best interest.

So…I hate the idea of being a boomerang child. I was entirely unaware of this word or that it might be applied to me, as a result of my present living arrangement, until Dude Avery began heckling me about it (he really is the worst). The barest amount of research found that the most common definition is: boomerang child (n) – an adult child returning home to live with their parents for economic reasons after a period of independent living. I think the reason this gets under my skin so much is because it implies a level of financial irresponsibility or parental overindulgence that has often been used to talk about millennials. To me. (I recognize that it may often result from an instance of genuine need or convenience of care for others).

As an incredibly independent person, I think I bristle at the implication that I am currently staying with my parents because I have not been financially responsible or do not have the means to live independently. This is simply not the case. I was a senior in college in 2008 when the recession hit. I watched many folks of my generation not get jobs after college or move back home with their folks (this is probably definitely what I should have done). But I got a job, lived frugally, and continued living on my own after college. AND took no meaningful steps to pay back my student loans for almost a decade. But that’s old news.

Further, while I still have significant student loan debt, I am fairly frugal, and on the advice of the Pennyfolk, have an emergency fund of $5000.00 set aside to address instances like this. The point being, even if I have not made the best financial choices in the past, for at least some time now, I have been a financially responsible person and my financial situation isn’t precarious enough to necessitate that I live at home. (I recognize there are some that might disagree).

Stepping off my soapbox, I also recognize that while this definition may not have been initially applicable to my reason for staying with my parents, it certainly would become applicable if I decide to remain living with my parents once the pandemic lifts…which is something I am considering. While my April budget will go into greater detail, while staying with my parents, I am able to put an extra $1,700.00 towards my student loans each month. This means that even without an extra job or consulting work, I could easily have both PSL3 and PSL4 paid off this year while cashflowing the application process to medical school.

What to do? My parents have been incredibly amazing and I have far more independence and alone time than I could ever have imagined. Overall, I am very comfortable and the anxiety I had about moving in with them has entirely dissipated. At the moment, staying through December, which would allow me to payoff both loans and likely know where I stand in the medical school admissions process, is very tempting. If I stayed and were accepted to medical school, then it is likely I would continue staying with them and move out the following June/July to go to school. If I were not accepted, then I could find a place on my own early in the new year. Before I make a final decision, I will have to have another talk with my parents…

I will also admit that some of this is coming up right now because of a conversation I had with Dude Avery last night. He can be exceptionally frustrating and has been playing both sides of this decision from the beginning. He suggested back in 2020, mid-pandemic, that instead of renewing my lease, that I move back home with my parents to pay off my student loans. At the time, the idea was appalling to me and I wouldn’t even consider it. Six months later, my apartment floods and I do just that. He then suggest that I not look for a new apartment and instead stay with my parents for as long as I need, and focus on paying off my debt. (Note: Dude Avery has made all the right financial choices in life, and is very frugal). However, last evening, Dude Avery wants to know when I am planning to move out of my parents home and back into the city. This felt like whiplash and I didn’t really know how to respond. While more context for our relationship would seem useful here, I don’t really feel like this is that post. What I will say is that Dude Avery lives in the city.

Ugh. I will make a decision about this, one way or the other, soon.