2021 Financial Goals

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

January 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

Happy New Year!

My only wish for this new year (I know wishes aren’t a thing) is that 2021 is just…better.

With that said, I am feeling extremely motivated and ready to get-it. To the numbers!

AccountDebtMin. PaymentInterest Rate
Private Student Loan 1$0.00$110.460.000%
Private Student Loan 3-$10,666.59$153.826.650%
Private Student Loan 4-$9,997.13$245.403.750%
Private Student Loan 2-$7,235.81$93.305.150%
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-$4,072.17$60.418.000%
University Student Loan 2-$3,162.45$42.435.000%
University Student Loan 3-$620.48$30.008.000%
University Student Loan 4-$425.05$30.008.000%
Total-$111,621.55$765.82

December 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$112,707.46

January 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$111,621.55

Total Payments: $1,258.51

Net Difference: $1,085.91

It feels really good to be back to making more aggressive debt repayments and seeing my balance meaningfully decrease as a result of my efforts.

If you read my 2020 Financial Review then these numbers aren’t a surprise to you. While writing that post, I realized that looking at the net difference, and not the total payments made, only tells part of the story. Beginning this year, I will record both the total amount I put towards my student loan debt each month and the net difference in my student loan balances.

Student Loan Target Update

With my “debt snowball-avalance-made-up-ish-but-focused” I am currently targeting Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3). I began targeting PSL 3 in December 2020, after a pause in aggressive debt repayment to establish a three month emergency fund.

December 2020 – PSL3 Balance: -$11,355.00

January 2021 – PSL3 Balance: -$10,666.59

I am pretty excited about the progress I made on this loan in December given that my regular monthly paycheck went towards completing my emergency fund. I know it’s going to take some hustle but I would really like to have this loan paid off by the end of June.

2020 Financial Review

My last post of 2020! I’m so relieved. 2020 has been…a lot.

As I compiled this year-end review, I had to take more than a moment to acknowledge how fortunate I have been as, unlike millions of American families, I remained employed throughout the year and did not struggle with housing, food, health care, or education insecurity.

So, given that I was fortunate to remain mostly healthy and employed throughout 2020, how much financial headway did I make, and did I accomplish any of the financial goals I created at the outset?

Student Loan Balances – January 1, 2020

Student Loan Balances – December 31, 2020

Net Student Loan Debt Reduction in 2020: $12,885.84

Not…amazing. Especially when you consider that I benefited significantly from the current interest forbearance on federal student loans, which means the bulk of my loans didn’t accrue interest for nine (9) months of 2020. Ugh.

It’s also…not terrible. That still means, on average, I had a net reduction of more than $1000.00 per month. ALSO, I did set and achieve a goal of establishing a $5,000.00 emergency fund which covers three (3) months of fixed expenses.

My net income (gross minus taxes, deductions, etc.) is approximately $37,000.00. Which means I put almost more* than 50% of my after tax income ($17,885.84) towards debt and savings. However, this didn’t roll out over the year evenly, and some months were much better than others.

*I forgot this is just the net difference in student loan debt. I put significantly more of my after tax income towards debt, some of it just got ate up in interest.

Net Debt Reduction by Month

January$424.54 – This smaller-than-it-should-be reduction resulted from unbudgeted spending in December 2019.
February$605.68 – This reduction was still smaller than it should have been but also resulted from an accounting error when I switched from using the principle balance to the outstanding balance (principle balance plus accrued interest) which I wouldn’t figure out until the following month.
March$1,465.59 – I was a happy idiot once I figured out the error. March was a strong month for debt reduction as my regular payment was also buttressed by state and federal income tax returns.
April $3,300.51 – April resulted in the highest debt reduction month to date. In addition to maxing out the portion of my debt payment that comes from my monthly paycheck, April also included the first stimulus payment ($1,200.00) and a mileage reimbursement from work. I also began benefiting from the interest rate forbearance on federal student loans.
May – $1,599.34 – Feeling the pressure to payoff Private Student Loan 1 before the balance transfer ended, I continued to max out my the amount I could pull from my monthly paycheck each month.
June$1,172.50
July$1,296.20
August$2,460.69 – I paid off Private Student Loan 1 (PSL1) and the balance transfer before it ended, resulting in the second highest debate reduction month to date.
September$477.23 – Once I paid off PSL1, I switched gears and began to focus on beefing up my emergency fund to cover three (3) months of fixed expenses. This amount reflects the reduction made based on minimum debt payments.
October$475.92
November$484.13
December – ~$1,089.25 – December isn’t quite over but the month is close enough to its end that I can estimate with pretty good accuracy (maybe a penny or two off on the accrued interest estimate), where I will end up for the month. This month saw me finish funding my $5,000.00 emergency fund and return to aggressive debt repayment. I also quit my part time job, and pledged to aggressively pursue more lucrative consulting work in 2021.

In some ways, 2020 was an awesome year for debt reduction for me, even outside of actual dollars put towards it. Having to payoff PSL1 before the balance transfer ended, to avoid interest and embarrassment, forced me to really buckle down. I now know that putting at least $1,000.00 a month towards debt reduction isn’t that much of a stretch, if there are no significant unexpected expenses, and really just requires I adhere to my budget. This was kind of a game changer in terms of how I think about money.

Finally, how did I do with my planned 2020 financial goals?

1) Pay off Private Student Loan 1Pass! This loan was paid off as of August 3, 2020.

2) Pay off  Private Student Loan 3 2Altered. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent diminished capacity to earn additional income over the summer, meant this goal became a stretch. Then I decided to increase my emergency fund to $5000.00. As shared above, I reached my emergency fund savings goal on December 1, 2020 but Private Student Loan 2 remains.

3) Start a small business AND generate an additional $500.00/month in income.Fail…sorta. So I think my intention here in writing this was for this to be one goal. Ultimately, it turned into two smaller goals… I am not quite as far along in terms of my business plans as I would like, but this month, I received a check for consulting work I secured in August and completed in November. While I quit my part-time job earlier this month, prior to departing, an increase in responsibilities at University B and additional hustling meant I consistently netted, on average, an additional $500.00 each month.

2020 Blogging Goal: One (1) student loan balance post a month AND one update post a month. Fail. In February (I know!) and June, I only posted a student loan balance update on the first of the month. However, since the transition to better blog digs, I have been posting much more frequently; and, I imagine this will continue to be the case now that I have reached my emergency fund goal and transitioned back to aggressive debt repayment.

So that’s it. That was my 2020 from a debt repayment perspective. My first post of 2021 will go over my financial goals for the upcoming year.

Before signing off, I want to THANK everyone who read(s) my blog, and especially those who take time to occasionally comment (C, Ellen, Avery, Isabella, Mike, DDSW, Peter, and anonymous folks). While I generally don’t care what strangers think about my financial choices, what you all might think about my progress is definitely a behavior check. Knowing that I will have to report and account for my significant (or not so significant) debt payments and financial choices has been an accountability tool I didn’t know I needed. Thank you!

I hope the end of 2020, and the start of the new year, finds you and your loved ones safe, or getting there, and as well as can be at the moment.


Penny Pincher Meals: Not Your College Ramen

While I didn’t have ramen for Christmas dinner, it is one of my favorite (and cheapest) autumn/winter meals…also this post has been languishing in my “drafts” for several months.

In the United States, ramen is a largely misunderstood dish by those not of East Asian descent. While “ramen” is a hearty soup, usually made of a rich meat broth, meat or fish, and vegetables, in the United States, among non-East Asians, it has largely become synonymous with the sodium laden, nutritionally lacking, instant variant. As I am a personal finance blogger, and not a chef or historian, I am ill qualified to wax poetic about the history of the original East Asian dish. Instead, my focus here will be how I cheaply improve on the instant noodle packages commonly used in the United States.

There are many varieties of instant ramen noodle packages sold in the U.S. of various flavors and costs. My favorite brand, in terms of its accompanying seasoning packets, is the South Korean brand Nongshim. I was introduced to this brand by a roommate in my early twenties and quickly became addicted.

This brand is not particularly cheap and a single package could cost between $0.89 and $1.79 depending on where you purchase it (I know that isn’t incredibly expensive in the grand scheme of things but stay with me). Now that I am much older, and concerned about how much sodium I consume, I am unlikely to purchase this brand because I rarely use the accompanying seasoning packet. While I am not a connoisseur, what I have noticed about instant ramen noodle packages is that the primary differences between the “good” and “bad” kind is the quality of the seasoning packet as opposed to the noodles themselves. Since I don’t use the accompanying seasoning packet, I generally now purchase the much cheaper Maruchan brand just for the noodles. The Maruchan “Chicken Flavor” (again, the flavor doesn’t matter as I am only going to use the noodles) can currently be found at Kroger for $0.10/package.

Ultimately, for me, this meal is about $0.02-$0.10 more expensive than the Tofu Veggie Soup I make depending on ingredients; most of this additional cost is because even at $0.10 package, noodles are still more expensive than rice. That being said, they are a whole lot faster and it takes me less time to make Ramen than it takes my rice cooker to make rice.

The actual cooking is beyond simple, and like most of my Penny Pincher meals, uses one pot.

  1. I cook the egg(s) in the bottom of a five (5) quart pan on medium heat using one (1) tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. After the eggs have completely cooked, I empty them in a dish and set them aside.
  3. OPTIONAL: I cook the noodles in 3 cups of water on high for five (5) minutes. At this point, the noodles should be soft, but not completely cooked, and have released most of their starch. I then strain the noodles to remove most of the wheat starch.
  4. I rinse the pot, then adding vegetable broth (you can use a low sodium or homemade broth to control for sodium) or my soup base mix to enough water to cover the noodles, eggs, and turnip greens. The turnip greens will release water so I add slightly less water than I expect to need.
  5. Cook on medium heat until the noodles are fully cooked and the turnip greens are tender 5-10 minutes based on your heating element.
  6. I usually make enough for one large serving and add the entire pot to a large bowl.

Like all of the meals I feature in the Penny Pincher Meals series, the reason this is a staple for me is because it allows me to substitute whatever ingredients I have to quickly use up leftover bits or to take advantage of deeply discounted produce (like mushrooms or other veggies) at the grocery store.

Today, I quit.

Yea, that title is a little…dramatic. But this is a blog, and I gotta keep it interesting.

The title is also little…inaccurate. I began writing this post more than two weeks ago when I sent my letter of resignation to my part-time employer. I had been wanting to do it for some time, for a confluence of reasons, which I share below…

So, I quit.

(Technically, I allowed them to keep me on the payroll in case someone calls out in the future but that’s not quite as dramatic).

I kinda know what you must be thinking. “Really, chick? You quit a part-time job that was moderately inconvenient while still in -$112,707.46 of student loan debt?” I sure did, and I mostly don’t regret it:

1) My wage was decliningMy wage continued to decline as the site I worked at underwent renovations, and the hours available decreased based on the construction work.

2) The work became increasingly laborious – The work I was being asked to perform continued to stray significantly from the tasks for which I had been hired, and were increasingly labor intensive. (i.e. Moving office furniture and cleaning up after construction workers). I don’t think there is anything wrong with this work, but the people who perform it generally get paid more than $10.00/hour. The new construction also previewed that in the future it was going to be a lot harder to complete the tasks I was usually assigned. I had been “making due” with a less than ideal site since I started and my employer had stated that he was looking for a solution to some of the challenges the site presented but despite being a very nice man, he was a very bad communicator. Because I was responsible and completed my work with little oversight, he would often not visit my worksite for several weeks at a time. I would tell him about the changes and what it meant for our work and he kept promising to stop by but never did. He finally showed up this past week, my final week at the site, and realized how much harder it would be once the construction was finished and why he should have been to the site much sooner. He apologized, but for me it was a bit too little, too late.

3) Increased commute – My commute time slowly creeped up from about nine minutes to about twenty minutes, each way, in traffic. Admittedly, some of this was most certainly due to holiday shoppers on the road, but some of it is was also due to the fact that I live in a city and more folks have slowly returned to working in person.

4) Cut into my evening availability/Time tradeoff – The increased commute time in the evening, after my primary job, was tough because I have been pursuing consulting work (I landed some and will be paid in January this month for a recently completed project). The more I looked into it, the more I realized that with a bit more effort, that the consulting work could be pretty consistent. Ultimately, the last project I completed took me two full work days (16 hours) and a couple of meetings to complete, and I was paid more than I made in a month in my regular part-time role (80 hours). The work is very “hot” at the moment and each consulting project is also good for my resume.

5) Wage stagnation – In the past, I mentioned that I covered another site for a coworker. What I didn’t mention was that I actually spoke with them when we met to exchange site and access information. While I was speaking with them, they mentioned that they had been working for my employer for almost five years. I was quite frank and asked them how much more they were making now as opposed to when they started. They were very forthcoming and told me they were currently making $10.00/hour. I was kinda blown away. Even in retail you get a $0.25, $0.50, or $1.00 bump after each year you are employed.

For all of these reasons, I decided that it was best for me to be a bit more aggressive in my pursuit of consulting work and to let go of the part-time gig. While I appreciate the additional income earned and the experience, I owe it to past and future Afro Penny to make sure that the investment and sacrifices for my education and personal development are used in the most strategic (and lucrative) way possible.

So, how do I think this will impact my ability to accomplish my financial goals for the next year? I’ve done the math and to achieve my somewhat audacious goal, in addition to my monthly minimums, I need to pay an extra $1,500.00 on my student loans each month. At least $900.00 of that is scheduled to come from my monthly paycheck, which means I really need to pay an additional $600.00/month or $7,200.00 over the year. That seems like…a lot. And it is, but I think it is the right kind of stretch goal.

In my first post of 2021, “2021 Financial Goals” I will break down my 2021 financial goals, and how I plan to achieve them.

Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3)

The time has finally come…

As a result of meeting my three (3) month emergency fund goal on December 1st, today, with my first part-time job paycheck of December, I get to return to aggressive student loan repayment. I. AM. SO. EXCITED! Earlier this year I asked the readers of this blog which student loan(s) I should payoff next. The answer was pretty clear:

I am super curious as to which student loan was being referred to by the person who checked “other.” Alas, I will never know as they did not leave a comment.

With my emergency fund full, and the decision made, I will now direct all of my energies towards paying off Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3).

Balance as of 12/4/2020: -$11,207.28
Minimum Payment: $153.82

I hate this student loan for so many reasons.

1) I hate this student loan because it has terrible terms and I have no way of pausing payments or requesting forbearance should I encounter financial difficulty.
2) I hate this student loan because it has an obnoxious interest rate; as seen above, the current interest rate for this loan is at 6.65% despite a current U.S. Federal Reserve funds rate of 0.25%. At its zenith, the interest rate for this loan was 9.01% (as recent as December of 2019).
3) I hate this student loan because I have paid almost $10,000.00 in interest since it was disbursed.
4) I hate this student loan because, up until the drop in interest rates brought on by the pandemic, almost half of my minimum payment each month went towards servicing interest.
5) I hate this student loan because the balance owed has always been greater than the amount originally disbursed.
6) I hate this student loan because its balance, relative to the amount disbursed, and my debt-to-income ratio, mean that I can’t currently refinance it.

And finally, I hate this student loan for how its continued existence makes me feel about my past financial choices…and myself.

That…that felt good.

Well, today marks a turning point in my relationship with this student loan. Today, I used my entire (ha!) first part-time paycheck of the month to put $166.20 towards this student loan. While it doesn’t seem like much, and it isn’t much, this payment was significant in terms of the change it represented. For the first time since this loan has been disbursed, the balance owed is less than the original amount disbursed.

Original amount disbursed (more than ten but less than fifteen years ago): -$11,049.72
Balance before payment: -$11,207.28
Balance after payment: -$11,041.08

So…I hate this student loan because the balance owed has always been greater than the amount originally disbursed., I have, and will continue, to work my tush off until this student loan is a thing of the past. While I will discuss it a bit more in-depth when I talk about my financial goals for 2021, it is my hope to have this student loan paid off in the first half of next year.

December 2020 Budget Forecast / November 2020 Budget Review

November wasn’t terrible. To the numbers…

November 2020 Budget Review

This overage is a bit deceptive as it was actually “planned” spending on Christmas gifts. While I could have waited until December so that I didn’t have to count the “overage” in November, it made more sense to save money on some Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals instead. As of December 2nd, I only have two more relatively inexpensive gifts to purchase and then I’m all set for gift giving. While I resisted doing it at the outset of my debt repayment journey, next year, I may finally commit to creating sinking funds.

One change that did materialize in November was my expectation that my part-time paychecks would be much smaller now that I am no longer picking up extra shifts at other sites, and just working hours at my current site. I shared that I needed to do this to avoid additional “costs,” and I am disappointed to see that my monthly part-time income has declined from about $500.00 when I started to now less than $400.00. As I have shared previously, my employer really seems to like me and has reached out to reassure me that the renovations at the site will be completed by New Years day and that my hours should return to what they were. I still don’t know…

When I was in graduate school, I was working for a company that was paying me a miserable wage for what was expected (and they were super smug about it) and I finally decided I was finished and my time and skills were worth more. A very short time later, a new opportunity came along that paid me twice as much. While it was likely just coincidence, I think there is something to be said about appropriately valuing your time and making space for the market to respond…with help from a good gig search of course. I think it might be time for me to do that here.

December 2020 Budget Forecast

So the exciting news I shared on December 1st is that I made my three (3) month emergency fund goal of $5,000.00 and will return to aggressive debt repayment this Friday, with my first part-time paycheck for December! However, I know most eagle-eyed readers will immediately look at that “food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous” budget and say, “What?” Yea, I know. So this month is one of those months where I “know” there is “income” coming in from some other places as a result of some contract work and gifts (December is my birthday month). Additionally, I have quite a bit of time off this month that I will likely spend at my parents’ home where I will have to fight my mother’s inclinations to overfeed me. For that reason, I’m not really worried about overspending this month.

December 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

To the numbers!

AccountDebtMin. PaymentInterest Rate
Private Student Loan 1$0.00$110.460.000%
Private Student Loan 3-$11,355.00$153.826.650%
Private Student Loan 4-$10,215.87$245.403.750%
Private Student Loan 2-$7,298.74$93.305.150%
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-$4,105.61$60.418.000%
University Student Loan 2-$3,191.76$42.435.000%
University Student Loan 3-$646.37$30.008.000%
University Student Loan 4-$452.24$30.008.000%
Total-$112,707.46$765.82


November 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$113,191.59

December 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$112,707.46

Difference: $484.13

Okay, that exclamation point might have been a bit misleading and suggested that the numbers would be more exciting than they are. There isn’t really much to see here beyond the slow roll over from -$113,XXX.XX to -$112,XXX.XX. But that changes this week, because…

I reached my three (3) month emergency fund goal of $5,000.00!







While it doesn’t really compare to the elation of paying off a debt, it does feel pretty good. This is actually the most money I have ever had set aside, as an adult, that wasn’t earmarked for some future purpose.

I am beyond thrilled to return to aggressive debt repayment this Friday. Lately, I have been tired (and sick) and shuffling off to my part time job each evening has required a lot of discipline. There were definitely moments where I wondered, “Why am I doing this?” I think it will be much easier to stay motivated now that I know, every two weeks, I will be able to throw a bit more cash at my balance and begin to see it meaningfully decrease.

On Friday, I will share the results of the poll where I asked the pennyfolk (it’s how I refer to you all in conversations with myself) which student loan I should payoff next, and I will make my first non-minimum debt payment in three months!

November 2020 Budget Forecast / October 2020 Budget Review

I overspent in my October 2020 budget by $454.68. There. I said it.

Let’s get to why I am not freaking out as badly as I might during any other month…

October 2020 Budget Review

YIKES! What the heck happened? I was so excited as I was creating this budget that I put a note for myself at the bottom of the budget! I had crushed it in September and then…this. October was one of those months where a lot of things (some predictable, some unpredictable but preventable) came together in a way that was financially costly. Like, locking my keys in my car and having to call a locksmith to get them out at 11:00PM at night 😳 I also got sick (Not COVID-19; I think we forget that there are still other viruses and bugs out there waiting to prey on our immune systems) and began ordering take-out soup and comfort food. I was bad. And the social-political tension in the United States didn’t help. (I work in a student affairs role and have to provide support to students who are stressed out, anxious, and experiencing mental health concerns. It can generally be a bit draining and this significantly increased over the past few months.) Over the last two weeks or so I had a low level of anxiety about work and all that is happening in the U.S. Unfortunately, food is my crutch. Working on that.

This should be freaking me out. I should be ashamed AND worried about no longer being able to meet my early December goal for a three (3) month emergency fund ($5,000.00). But…I’m not really worried. Why?

November 2020 Budget Forecast

I worked hard in October. And while this isn’t an excuse to blow my budget, it does mean that some of that hard work is paying off in November and cushioning the impact of my overspending…

1) I picked up shifts at my regular part time gig – I blogged about that in a post on the cost of earning more. Overall, the extra shifts I worked over these ten days resulted in approximately ~$181.94 in additional income. (That is not net income and does not include the increased fuel costs).

2) Activity referee – As I mentioned previously, I sometimes serve as a referee for an activity that has transitioned successfully into the virtual space. While this does mean the number of opportunities for refereeing are more limited, and I am now competing against a larger and more qualified pool of candidates for gigs; ultimately, when I do find a gig, they are still pretty lucrative. This month, I got paid for work done primarily in October and I was paid $300.00.

While some of the additional income was used to payoff my spending from October, and pad my November FDGM budget, most of the additional income went towards my emergency fund as planned. In fact, because of the additional November income, I now expect to have my emergency fund completely funded on December 1st when I get paid by University B, AND to still have a few dollars to restart aggressive debt repayment. I KNOW!

Part of me is like, you could have been done even faster if you had been more careful and disciplined in October. The other part of me is like, my debt repayment journey will be long. I will undoubtedly fall short sometimes. It seems like the most important thing is not to lose sight of the end-goal and to keep going.

P.S. Sorry it’s late Ellen 😓 I didn’t have it in me to write on election day. Hello to all my new visitors 👋🏿

November 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

To the numbers…

AccountDebtMin. PaymentInterest Rate
Private Student Loan 1$0.00$110.460.000%
Private Student Loan 3-$11,447.27$153.826.660%
Private Student Loan 4-$10,429.97$245.403.750%
Private Student Loan 2-$7,361.36$93.305.160%
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-$4,138.83$60.418.000%
University Student Loan 2-$3,220.95$42.435.000%
University Student Loan 3-$672.09$30.008.000%
University Student Loan 4-$479.25$30.008.000%
Total-$113,191.59


October 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$113,667.51

November 2020 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$113,191.59

Difference: $475.92

Nothing to see here. I continue to make minimum payments on all of my student loans as I take a respite from accelerated debt repayment to beef up my emergency fund to $5,000.00, which I will achieve in December.

As I stated last month, the current interest rate abatement on federal student loans means this is a bit less painful than it could have been as I don’t have to watch my overall balance increase from interest accruing on my federal student loans. The other bright-note is that interest rates continue to drop, which isn’t great for saving, but it means my minimum payments go that much further each month.

On election day (cause I’ve already voted and need a distraction), I will come clean about October spending (yikes) and my November budget forecast.