September 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

To the numbers…

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

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

September 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$67,197.00

Total Payments: $200.00

Net Difference: $0.82

Nothing to see here…I know! I owe you all an explanation for my absence. I so appreciate everyone who left me a comment or sent me an email checking in on me. You have no idea (really, no idea) how much I miss ya’ll. I owe you a life update, a response to comments you left here, comments on your blog posts, etc. I will do ALL of that…after September 9th when I sit for the MCAT (medical college admissions test) 👀👀👀.

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.

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.

-$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…

May 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

Nothing to see here. To the numbers…

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

April 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$79,347.41

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

Total Payments: $2,000.00

Net Difference: $1,762.06

Yea. A bit of a dud. I am really trying to be grateful for this because there was a time when $2,000.00 was a significant stretch. However, coming after my massive March payoff, it feels particularly pathetic. I spent most of April out of state (which is why this update is getting up late), hanging out with my best friend. April felt more spendy than it actually was because I had savings set aside for my travel. This meant I avoided the post-travel financial hangover and my May 1st payment put me back on track to meet my 2022 financial goals.

I am headed home today and I expect a return to disciplined spending this month. In fact, I am really hoping a bit of frugality in May sees my student loan balance dip below $70,000.00 after my June 1st debt payment. Fingers crossed.

April 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

This update contains no surprises if you read the post where I delighted in making it below $80,000.00 in student loan debt but there is a bit of additional insight. To the numbers…

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

March 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$86,645.29

April 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$79,347.41

Total Payments: $7,537.56

Net Difference: $7,297.88

Yea. March 2022 is easily my best biggest debt payoff month on record. This was made possible by my biggest single debt payment, on March 1st, of $4050.00, and followed up by an additional payment of $3,487.56 on March 14th after University B paid out my vacation leave as a result of the change in my employment status from full time to temporary. After I accepted the new role at Organization C, I knew that my vacation leave was going to be paid out by University B and I figured it would go a long way towards helping me get below $60,000.00 this year. I just figured it would happen when I departed University B at the end of June. Receiving my payout in March was a nice surprise.

That being said, it should be noted that my March 1st payment, which resulted only from my full-time income from Organization C and my part-time income from University B, was an even bigger payment than my leave payout. Because I live on last month’s income, this payment was made possible due to my extreme frugalness in February. Unfortunately, March was a very spendy month and, while I haven’t calculated it yet, I expect my April 1st debt payment, which will reflect March’s unbudgeted spending, to be quite pitiful. It won’t be minimum payment pitiful but it won’t be great. While some of this spending was planned and there is money set aside in my sinking fund for it (like plane tickets for a reunion and to see my best friend), some of it was not and reflected belt loosening that often happens after I buckle down AND reach a significant goal. While April is a month that includes a bit of travel, I am really hoping to get back on track with my spending this month so that I can maximize these last few months of part-time income from University B.

-$79,210.69: Goodbye, FOREVER, $80,000+ Student Loan Debt!

As is the case with most of these posts, I feel happy, shocked, and a bit like I don’t know what to say. While I knew I had to reach this milestone fairly quickly to achieve my goal of getting under $60,000.00 this year, this happened much sooner than I expected due to the biggest monthly payment I have ever made, on March 1st, and University B paying out my vacation leave. I will get into the weeds of my March payments on April 1st, so for now, let’s just take a gander at my PenFed student (educational) loan payoff screen:

Unreal. As has been the case in the past, it was difficult to find someone else who blogged about this particular milestone so I headed over to DDSW’s page. (It’s been a while since I linked to her blog so if you haven’t read it, I would suggest you grab a cup of your favorite warm beverage and head on over.) Rereading her blog as I reach each of these milestones is helpful from more than a celebratory perspective. Her posts provide insight into what she was thinking (usually strategic) financially at the time and help me reflect and plan without needing to bother the Pennyfolk. In the post linked above, she talks about feeling like she has turned the corner with her debt and refinancing. This resonates with me. For whatever reason, even though it’s still a five-figure debt, there is something about seeing that first number decrease…

A refinance is food for thought. I LOVE PenFed thus far and would like to keep them as my lender, however, their lowest interest rate is 2.89%. As my rate is fixed at 3.50%, getting something lower AND fixed might be tough. But it won’t hurt to ask. As you can see above, my loan will now accrue interest at a rate of $7.595545 a day or $227.87 a month. While that is far less than it has been at any (non-pandemic) point in my journey, I would never object to it being lower. I think given my significant increase in income, I might apply for a refinance after I reach my goal this year. Yea, no need to hedge with “if,” it’s now just a matter of time.

As always, I want to thank all of the Pennyfolk who read (and especially those who engage) my blog. You all are appreciated far more than you know.

March 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

My ambitious plan to blog every day in February was quickly derailed after the realities of working a full-time job and a 20-hour a week part-time job began to take their toll. However, the “Lunar Do-Over” was not for naught as my spending in February was severely curbed and I refocused on my financial and personal goals. To the numbers…

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

February 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance(s): $88,504.21

March 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$86,645.29

Total Payments: $2,091.09

Net Difference: $1,858.92

Sorry, ya’ll, I messed up. This week sucks in terms of late afternoon and evening commitments, so I was trying to pay all of my March bills early in the day. Unfortunately, I failed to grab a screenshot of my balance before I made my massive (yea, I said it) March 1st payment so the balance displayed on the main page (the screengrab I usually share with you all) is much lower than it was this morning. So instead of the usual account landing page screengrab, my update this month is just a screengrab of the loan transaction log (my March 1st balance results from me adding the $550.00 payment that was made this morning back to the resulting balance of $86,095.29).

That screengrab screwup aside, February was a much better month in terms of my spending, however, because I pay debt based on the previous month’s income, how financially fruitful February was won’t become apparent until April 1st when my March 1st payments are reflected. I was actually pennies below my February miscellaneous budget until a terrible work one-on-one with my new boss resulted in me buying myself a couple of salad kits and a carton of sorbet for lunch and dinner yesterday ($14.68) in an effort to eat my feelings. This ended up pushing me $14.15 OVER my budget on the last day of the month. I have…few regrets.

February 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

As I shared in my REVISED: 2022 Financial Goals post, January has kinda felt like a hangover from the excitement and change brought by December, and not a lot nothing got accomplished on the financial front. But…to the numbers.

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

January 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance(s): $88,878.54

February 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$88,504.21

Total Payments: $636.76 (minimum payment)

Net Difference: $374.33

Yea, I know. I’m almost embarrassed…almost. That is a pitiful amount of debt payoff and I certainly wouldn’t make my goal of getting under $60,000.00 in debt this year if I had any more months like that. However, in my defense the greater context is that once I got under $90,000.00 in debt, paid off PSL4, and got a new job in December, I pretty much lived it up for the rest of the month which included my birthday and the holidays. When my December credit card bills came due, I immediately paid them off, with nothing really left over for an additional student loan payment. As I shared in my revised goals’ post, I am embracing the Chinese (Lunar) New Year as an opportunity to give a fresh start to 2022 and to attack my goals with renewed focus. I just made my big February 1st payment and I’m decidedly back on track.

Onto my daily post…

Lunar Do-Over Day 1: February 1st

1. How much did I spend today?
$10.00 – This one kind of stings because it should have been a $0.00 spend day but I am currently traveling for my new role (there is about 10% quarterly travel) and my new colleagues are planning to take me out to Mexican tomorrow. Which is cool, because I love Mexican…except I am lactose intolerant. And since I want my new colleague to continue liking me, it meant I had to stop off at Kroger and pick up a generic lactase enzyme (e.g. Lactaid). I’m going to try and see if I can order a dairy-free dish but if not, at least I won’t be uncomfortable.

I will be traveling through Thursday which means I get to expense my meals and transportation.

February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Initial Balance: $463.77
February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Remaining Balance: $451.81

2. What financial information have I learned to help me when I’m debt-free? – I recently opened up a bit more about my financial situation to a mentor (we’ll call him Mr. Pokémon) and he has slowly but surely been sharing his wisdom with me. Something of which I was totally unaware is The Rule of 55. Mr. Pokémon plans to retire early but has most of his money locked up in retirement funds. As we talked about my most recent career moves, and my career hopping past, he talked about the Rule of 55 as a reason he may stay with his current employer until he turns 55. He shared this Forbes article with me and today, I finally read it. Highlights from the article:

a) “The rule of 55 is an IRS guideline that allows you to avoid paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty on 401(k) and 403(b) retirement accounts if you leave your job during or after the calendar year you turn 55.”

b) “Penalty-free early withdrawals are limited to funds held in your most recent company’s 401(k) or 403(b) under the rule of 55.”

c) “You aren’t locked in to early retirement if you choose to take early withdrawals at age 55. If you decide to return to part-time or even full-time work, you can still keep taking withdrawals without paying the 401(k) penalty—just as long as they only come from the retirement account you began withdrawing from.”

I have recently thought about what early retirement might look like for me…if I’m not partnered (and maybe if I am) or if I don’t have a family (or maybe if I do). While 55 probably seems too far off for folks who have done everything right, I think 55 could potentially be a good target for me. If I am successful in paying my student loan debt off before 40 then I would have 15 years to save as much as I could for retirement; with or without the benefit of the Rule of 55. For the record, retirement for me probably doesn’t mean not working. It would mean not “having” to work or perhaps doing work about which I am passionate but not particularly well paid.

3. How have I lived abundantly? – This was pretty easy today. I am traveling in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (Washington, Oregon, Colorado, etc.) and while I am far too intense and direct of a person to live here permanently, I genuinely appreciate how much more laid back the work culture is here. Today, my new colleagues pushed me out the door early and I took a walk along the river on the way back to my hotel while listening to my current, favorite music. It was such a good day.