August 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

If you read my 3rd blogiversary post, then there are likely no surprises here. But for the posterity…to the numbers!

July 1, 2019 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$128,663.26

July 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$69,998.37


August 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$67,197.82


Total Payments: $3,000.00

Net Difference: $2,800.55

Not bad. July was an eventful month that saw the end of my work with University B, at least temporarily, and my resignation and completion of my two weeks’ notice with Organization C. As I shared in my resignation post, I expected that at some point I would feel anxiety or regret about my rather abrupt departure but it just hasn’t happened. Throughout my last two weeks with Organization C, the choices and behavior of leadership continued to affirm my decision, and all I really felt yesterday, my first day of being unemployed, was relief.

Because I live on last month’s income, on August 1st I was able to sock away quite a bit of money into savings and have an otherwise normalish budget for the month. That won’t be the case in September as I will not have income from University B or Organization C in August. Organization C pays on the last day of the month for the current month, so my August 1st budget reflects all earned income from Organization C except my paid-time-off (PTO). While I could probably do some quick math and try to figure out what my PTO payout will be, the finance administrator for Organization C shared that she would be cutting a check for my PTO during the first week of August so I am content to wait and see. It’s my expectation that my PTO should cover a good portion of my bare-bones September budget, which necessitates that I earn $2,000.00 in income after taxes and that work in September for University B and gig work should pay for October and every month thereafter. It is my hope that I don’t have to dip into my emergency fund at all and that while I am underemployed, I can also maintain some of the additional savings for unexpected expenses.

While quite a few of you left kind words of support (and I am so grateful for you all), I know other readers are less impressed, perhaps even disappointed, with this choice given my financial history and how little I have in retirement savings. I get it. I do. But there is a lot going on, some of which I don’t plan to share just yet, so I hope you stick around.

The Finances of Resignation

I know I said that I would be back on Friday with my next steps, and I will, but that post will largely focus on my job/career outlook. As I sat down to do my second, only slightly neurotic financial assessment of my pending unemployment, I thought I’d share my assessment here.

Retirement
I’ve decided to get fully financially naked here. Cause…why not.

  • Fidelity
    • University A – $4,279.48
    • University B – $16,328.47
  • Vanguard
    • Organization C – $5,937.20 – This will creep up by another $800.00 come this Friday when I receive my final paycheck from Organization C as a result of employer and employee contributions.

Yea…I really should have more saved for retirement at this point but you all know the story so there really isn’t a point in belaboring it again here. Also, the market has been brutal lately and my return on all three accounts is -%15.00. Obviously, during my unemployment, retirement contributions will cease.

Savings

  • Emergency Fund – $5,000.00
  • Other Savings – $5,500.00

The emergency fund savings is pretty clear given that you all watched me save it. The other savings is money I earned or was paid in July that is waiting to be allocated on August 1st because I live on last month’s income. More on that below…

August Budget
Below is my tentative August budget. The FDGM category seems incredibly light, however, I am trying to do a super low spend month while I am unemployed and I still have a few funds remaining on a couple of gift cards (~$100.00 in total) that I need to use up. I plan to track my spending in August here to keep me in line as I found that helped in February. On the income side, July was a good month due to the payouts from my academic camp work in June and July. I’m grateful that the check for the June camp work didn’t come in June, otherwise, it would have been allocated for student loan repayment on July 1st. Because I didn’t get it until July 1st, it meant that I saved it to budget for August, which allowed me to add a sizeable chunk to my savings.

Unemployment Budget
On my Excel spreadsheet, I currently have this labeled as my “September 2022” budget. It is a bare-bones budget, that doesn’t yet employ any cost-saving/minimum payment strategies and assumes I don’t have any income in August, which would be the worst-case scenario. In this budget, as with the August 2022 budget, I make an interest-only payment on my student loans, which are currently in a paid-ahead status and don’t require payment until January 2025. While this would allow me to not make any payment, I don’t have it in me to watch that balance increase, and I really don’t think I’m there just yet.

So…I would need to earn approximately $2,000.00 in post-tax income to meet my financial obligations each month. If I earned nothing each month, I could keep afloat for six months if I employed cost-saving measures in month three. I can’t imagine a world where it would come to this (I actually love working retail and I would do it in a heartbeat if I absolutely had to), but it’s good to see the numbers on paper.

My Resignation

One of the great things about having this blog is that it is a place for me to confess all of my financial-related neuroses. I am financially intimate with you all in a way that I would never consider behaving in “real life.” However, this also means that you know where all the financial bodies are buried. I can’t paint a distractingly cheerful picture for you about my choices without you considering what it means for me financially. And this is mostly a good thing…unless I want to make a decision that would not appear to be in line with the financial goals I express here. Like resigning from my current job without another offer. Let me finish!

My last day at Organization C will be on July 31st. So…how did that happen? Honestly, it was a confluence of many different things. Most significantly, it was the nature of my role (think social equity focused) and Organization C’s desire to be “neutral” while advocating for democracy. How do you do that? How is it possible to hold up voting as a civic “right” and a civic “good” and be “neutral” when states pass laws that are meant to target and diminish voter turnout among minority groups? And if that is all you do, say “voting good,” then what are you really doing? Really accomplishing? And does this moment in American history, in the ongoing experiment in democracy, not demand more?

If I am honest, I had only been with Organization C for only a few weeks before I determined that the organization didn’t really do anything. To be fair, this was not always the case. The organization was founded with a specific mission and focus that was accomplished several decades after its founding. And there were several points in the last few decades where the leaders of the organization contemplated whether or not it needed to still exist. I think they decided to continue, for historical reasons, however, they no longer had a targeted mission or focus and consequentially the organization is a bit aimless and doing things without any way to demonstrate the efficacy or impact of their work. And it would be one thing if this was just my opinion but it’s not. It is the opinion of quite a few board members who struggle to define and advocate for what the organization “does.” However, the current president, my supervisor, is committed to this path…

Perhaps the final straw came when the organization asked me, as the only person of color on the staff, to help lead a pitch to a city struggling to respond to community anger after a policeman killed an unarmed black man, and the video leaked showing an interaction that was markedly different than what the police report stated. After meeting with the chief of police, it was clear that neither the department nor the city was really interested in meaningful reform. They just wanted people to stop being angry. We told them what they needed to do to have productive conversations with the community but they weren’t really interested. They just needed an external organization to co-sign on their plan. And my organization needed me to co-sign on their plan as a black face. While I understand that non-profit organizations need to raise money, and sometimes form non-mission-focused alliances under this auspice, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t just be a black face standing at the front of the room supporting a bad plan designed to suppress community anger.

There were other reasons that factored more or less significantly into my decision to resign but I need not discuss all of them here. I made this decision a little more than a week ago and waited for panic, anxiety, or regret to set in. I’m still waiting…

This isn’t a cliffhanger, it’s just the end of part 1. I will be back on Friday, my last day at Organization C, to discuss my immediate next steps. And just so no one thinks I have entirely left financial responsibility behind me, I have an interview with University B, for a temporary (9 months), fully remote role, scheduled for this Thursday.

I want you back…

Recently, I read an article on 90s nostalgia, and apparently, a Gen-Z TikToker pronounced N’SYNC by articulating every letter in the band’s name. While other millennials were outraged by the blasphemy that could befall such a revered band of their youth, I thought…eh. Each generation has its own pop stars and I have never shared the fondness of my predecessors for the New Kids or for Jack Harlow or BTS of today’s youth. In any instance, “I want you back,” has always been a bop and that doesn’t seem to be up for inter-generational debate. It is also the essence of a recent meeting I had with a dean at University B…

As you will remember, I left University B in December of last year not because I didn’t like my job (sure, there were aspects of the role that were less than desirable, but that is true of all jobs). I left because, despite service to the department, division, and university beyond what was expected, I was offered a “promotion” without an accompanying raise. While I didn’t share it here, I was infuriated by this because 1) my requested raise to accompany the promotion was very modest; I asked for $5,000.00, 2) there was no counter offer; I wasn’t offered any additional money at all, and 3) I knew of a friend in another department within the same division that did get a $5,000.00 raise after her promotion to the same title; she also worked for the university for a shorter period of time and had fewer years of experience. For me, it felt like either the university didn’t materially value my contributions, despite their continuous verbal lauding of my work, or my boss didn’t have the desire to push for my increase. It was only later that I found out how truly correct I was…

In the time since I had made the transition from full-time employee to part-time temporary employee, there had been significant shifts in my division. The new Dean, who started around the same time I did, not long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, finally began to unveil her new plan for the division. It included the removal of several people from leadership positions for which they were under-qualified or ineffective; including my former bosses’ boss. I was impressed. While there is much, much, much more to the story than would make sense to share here, the Dean and I were known to each other and she was unaware as to why I had decided to leave. So I sent her an email.

I sent this email with less than two weeks left on my temporary contract, the point of which was to let her know that I had genuinely loved working with students and was hopeful about the future of the division under her leadership; and, that discussions about compensation, which she seemed to have demurred from at past division-wide meetings, had to be taken more seriously. While I expected some form of a response, at minimum, a fare-thee-well, what I received was a dinner invitation…

Dinner with the Dean was relaxed and we spent most of the time talking about shared experiences in higher education. After about an hour and a half passed, just as I had to put up some pretense about splitting the bill, she scooped up the billfold from the table and looked me directly in the eyes, and said, “So, what would it take to get you to come back?”

Blogiversary: Year 3

It seems like the American experiment in democracy is crumbling, inflation is wild, and I don’t think I can vote myself out of being systemically stripped of rights but financially, I’m in a decent place. A better place than I have been in a long, long time. In fact, after my August 1st payment, I will have less debt than I did when I left college 14 years ago…

Last year, I decided that my anniversary posts would be a permutation between a mid-year check-in and an end-of-year evaluation of my blogging goals. For the most part, I’ve decided to stick with that plan but first, to the numbers…

Student Loan Debt Journey

Blog Start – July 4, 2019: -$133,259.74

1st Blogiversary – July 4, 2020: -$119,119.98

2nd Blogiversary – July 4, 2021: -$101,626.31

3rd Blogiversary – July 4, 2022: -$67,017.92

Well…damn. So a bit of a spolier for the August 1st student loan balance update but kinda worth it for the reflection. The me that started this blog on July 4, 2019, could only have dreamed that in three years I would be where I am with my student loan debt. While I knew what it would take to get it done I had no real plan and was only guided by faith in myself to work hard. Obviously, it took a lot more than just working but…I’m here. $66,241.82 less indebted. Even though some of though five thousand of that was auto debt that I paid off (and then added to), it’s still debt I paid. In three years I have paid off a NET $66,241.82 in debt. I know I am supposed to look at that number with a twinge of guilt and a wish that I had been able to put it towards something else but at the moment I’m just grateful.

Next up, a mid-year check-in on my 2022 REVISED Financial Goals:

1) Earn the $2,000.00 match from Organization C.In Progress. At the beginning of the year, I made the correct election and this is happening. This would generally not be a financial goal but I ended up having to address it after being so disappointed by the employer match.

2) Save $1,000.00 as a non-emergency fund sinking fund.Completed. I was able to complete this using income I earned while working at an academic camp part-time for two weeks in June. The sinking fund actually has several thousand dollars in it at the moment that is waiting to be allocated towards something. I keep going back and forth about what that something is. Hopefully, I’ll make up my mind soon.

3) Make it below $60,000.00 in student loan debt.Likely. The betting odds on this one in Vegas would be pretty high. While this goal seemed outrageous at the beginning of the year when I didn’t know what was going to happen with University B, months later, it seems all but inevitable. August will be the last month where I will have any residual income from University B. However, even if I only make payments of $2,000.00 for the remainder of the year (which is the payment I can comfortably make using only my full-time income) then I should still make it below $60,000.00 in student loan debt in early December. It feels weird to be so matter-of-fact about this…

Finally, my Third Year Blog Goals:

1) Blog at least twice a month.
– Passed! While the summer has marked an appreciable slow down in posts, for a while there, I was blogging quite a bit a month.

2) Vlog at least once a month. – Fail! I could have achieved this. I have the content and the tools. I just keep going back and forth about how much of myself I want to put out on the interwebs. Because once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

I’m going to skip making blogging goals for the upcoming year. I plan to focus on using my blog as a journal to work through more of my personal life. It feels like I always wait to come here until after I have “figured it out,” but I think blogging about things, especially the bigger things, could be beneficial.

FINALLY, a HUGE THANK YOU to anyone who takes time to read my blog, and especially those of you who comment. I sound like a broken record at this point but I am endlessly grateful for your support throughout this journey. Thank you.

July 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

If you tuned in for my super lowkey celebration of making it under $70,000.00 in student loan debt, this post contains nothing new…but let’s take a look anyway…to the numbers…

July 1, 2019 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$128,663.26

June 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$74,672.59


July 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$69,998.37


Total Payments: $4,875.00

Net Difference: $4,674.22


I used PenFed’s payoff estimator to determine how much interest would accumulate on my loan over the course of the month, which resulted in my oddly specific payoff amount; I saw no point in announcing that I had made it under $70,000.00 in debt if interest was going to push me back over the threshold by the end of the month. So July 1st finds me still under…just barely.

Today is the day I make my large monthly payment so I will be significantly under after my payment processes. While I have returned to my PenFed account frequently over the month to find inspiration, it’s nothing like it was in the past. I fear the days of getting outrageously excited by debt repayment progress are over. Or, perhaps it is just the weight of everything else at the moment…

In other random financial news, Splash Financial and So-Fi are constantly sending me mail trying to get me to refinance my student loans. I finally checked out my “pre-approved offer” just to see what else might be out there given that I paid off $20,000.00 in debt in six months.

Yea…I’m gonna stay put.

Perspectives change…

It’s shocking how much money, or specifically, more of it, changes your perspective. And apparently, it needn’t be a great deal of money. In my instance, all that was needed was $26,000.00…

Back in January 2020, prior to the worldwide onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was invited to serve as an evening coordinator for a specialized academic camp. At the time, I was in -$127,688.14 of student loan debt, making less than $50,000.00 per year, and thrilled for the opportunity to make more money. I distinctly remember where I was when I received the offer and then going home and crunching the numbers to see how much I would have after taxes and would be able to put towards my student loans. I was so excited. Fast forward to June of 2022, and I’ve paid off an additional $57,890.55, excluding interest of course, and now have less than $70,000.00 in student loan debt remaining. When the camp position is offered to me this time, I am a bit less thrilled.

In addition to the salary increase that accompanied my new role with Organization C, I am still working in a part-time capacity for University B and receiving half my previous income. My current financial position feels so much different than it did a little more than two years ago and I feel significantly less…desperate? I think absent that desperation, I am able to look at the compensation for this camp role (which is $1,000.00 less than they were offering in 2020 because of decreased attendance) and say that I am not being compensated appropriately for the amount of work that is required. While I hired an awesome staff of college students and recent graduates, I spend a great deal of my time shielding them from extra work to ensure that what they are being tasked with is commensurate with the compensation they are receiving. We are one week into camp and I am exhausted. However, the camp has run rather smoothly and I have no doubt I will be offered the role again next year. I also have no doubt that my answer will be a resounding, “Thank you, but no thank you.”

I am not saying that I won’t be a bit giddy at the end of camp when I am able to put a couple of thousand dollars more toward my student loans and rebuild my sinking fund. The moment that I make those transfers will be a proud moment and my time at the camp will likely seem worth it when I include what it allowed me to accomplish. However, at the moment, I am in the thick of it, and just tired.


Note: I’m sorry this post is a bit depressing. I almost thought about not posting at all but the road of debt repayment is more than just big payoffs and milestones, and I want to be honest about what my experience has been and what I’ve needed to do along the way.

-$69,797.59: Goodbye, FOREVER, $70,000+ Student Loan Debt!

I needed this. I wasn’t supposed to reach this milestone this month but I needed this, so I made it happen.

“I made it happen,” is the TLDR version. In reality, this was made possible by the fact that I will be essentially working evenings/nights at a summer camp this month, which provides $500.00 in a “personal” stipend in addition to occasional meals. What this means is that I expect to spend far less on gas, meals, and miscellaneous spending, which in addition to being offset by the personal stipend, allowed me to steal a couple of bucks from my “food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous” budget line item. I also borrowed a few more bucks ($475.00 to be exact) from my sinking fund account. Given that I have a four-month emergency fund ($5,000.00), I figure I should be okay. Especially since the sinking fund still has a couple of hundred dollars in it.

I needed this because I am feeling a bit lost and frustrated and it is my hope that making it under the $70,000.00 mark will get me that debt repayment “high” and help me refocus and stop being reckless. I’ll let you know how that goes…

As always, thank you all for joining me on the journey. You don’t know it but you all serve as a mental check whenever I contemplate financial decisions. At some point, “What would (insert: C, Ellen, Avery, Eva, Paula, or any of the other Pennyfolk) think if I did this?” always crosses my mind. You all are appreciated.

June 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

To the numbers…

July 1, 2019 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$128,663.26

May 3, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$77,585.35

June 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$74,672.59


Total Payments: $3,120.00

Net Difference: $2,912.76

Better. Still not the $4,000.00 payment I could make if all my ducks are really in a row but better than April. I’m trying not to get too hung up on what could have been and instead appreciate how far I have come.

In a pity party post I wrote over the weekend, I shared that June is going to be a very busy month. And while that is still the case, I will have to find time to celebrate, if only a little. More in a post tomorrow…

Needing a break…

I moved to the city in which I currently live shortly before the pandemic. I didn’t really have time to get to know people or make friends, and for the most part, I was okay with that. However, as the pandemic waned, I began making friends…a lot of friends. This past weekend, I had a baby shower, a birthday party, and a dinner to attend all in one day. It was a lot. The problem is, when I become friends with someone, I try to be a good friend and this includes showing up for people. For this reason, I have always kept my friend networks pretty small as it is difficult to really “show up” for a lot of people. At the moment, I am tired and really want to withdraw a bit but don’t know how to do this in a way that communicates “I’m not depressed or asking for help, I just need a break from constant, extended social interactions.”

A friend of mine was shot. He’s not even 30. He is the kind of person that doesn’t get shot…articulate, well-educated, and hangs with good folks… I am not really the praying sort but at the moment I genuinely wish that I were. The most I can do is try to support the people closest to him.

Last week, Bill Cassidy, a senator from Louisana, said, “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.” For a moment, I was gutted. For “whatever reason…” I remembered why I wanted to go to medical school. In my 30s, I no longer had the youthful hubris of believing that I could change the world but I did believe that I could improve the health outcomes for the people with whom I came in contact…

People in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX are morning the deaths of loved ones because our nation’s elected officials refuse to pass gun reform, despite the fact that a plurality of Americans support banning the kind of weapons that were used in both massacres.

Gentleman Avery is actively trying to prevent me from moving on. I generally don’t speak to my exes. I am on good terms with most of them and all of my breakups were amicable. When it’s over, it’s over. I am a good communicator, date men who communicate well, and when it is over, it is generally something we both understand. Gentleman Avery is a bit different. He engages me in a way that I have never experienced and I realize that in dating other men, I am constantly looking to replicate the interactions I have with him. Which is unfair to them…and myself. Despite being committed to moving on, I haven’t been able to move on from him and this is partially his fault. He doesn’t really want me to move on and continues to engage in behaviors that a therapist would probably call emotionally manipulative but that I believe are really just selfishness…

The next couple of weeks will be very busy for me as I wrap up part-time work at University B, try and stay on top of my full-time job, and provided support for the academic camp in the evenings. In a cowardly fashion, I plan to use this work busyness as an excuse to pull back socially and take a break.