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.

All my debt in the world…

Last month I shared that I decided to refinance my auto loan with PenFed. While I still love PenFed, the process for refinancing my auto loan was a bit cumbersome and seemed to take forever. However, US Bank, my previous auto loan holder, finally processed the payoff payment…

And, on the PenFed side of things…

…all my debt in the world is now located in one place. While I like the simplicity this adds to my life (one less place to log in each month) a part of me now feels “itchy” about seeing that relatively low auto loan balance in the same portal as my much larger student loan*. Perhaps I should not change my financial goal from “less than $60K in student loan debt” to “less than $50K student loan debt” this year and should instead keep the under $60k goal and add paying off my auto loan? While my auto loan is only at 2.39% compared to my student loan’s 3.50% interest rate, it would eliminate a $300.00 payment each month. In addition to further reducing my fixed expenses, it would also lower my debt-to-income ratio… Thoughts?

*I used Paint3D to delete my account numbers and student loan balance from this photo. I feel like my student loan balance, and how much I have been able to pay off, is the only thing that keeps my blog interesting from month to month.

The true “costs” of cheap rent… (PART II)


It’s important to be honest about the challenges of shared living since it is often one of the first things that people mention when discussing strategies for significant debt repayment.

For the most part, my housemates are pretty great. And as I mentioned in another post, I have become extremely close to one of them and I will be sad when she moves out next month. For clarity’s sake, I will refer to her as Mahira moving forward. Mahira is in her early thirties, a psychologist, and a pretty chill housemate. She’s tidy, respectful of space, and very considerate of others. My other housemate, let’s call him Patrick, is a bit different. He is older (late fifties/early sixties), very rigid, and not as considerate. While we don’t have a great deal in common, my interactions with Patrick are generally pretty pleasant and brief.

However, one thing that annoys me to no end is how messy dirty Patrick is. He has every appliance known to man in our small shared kitchen and there is a thin layer of grease and crumbs all over each appliance and the area around them. You would think given his proclivity to be less tidy dirty that he would be a rather chill housemate. He’s not. Unlike Mahira and I who both work remotely and away from the home, Patrick is an Uber driver (who isn’t currently driving) and spends all of his time at the house. That isn’t a problem. You have every right to spend as much time as you want in a place where you pay rent. However, what is a problem is how “sensitive” he is to food smells. He is constantly complaining when Mahira or I cook anything that might be “aromatic.” We have an exhaust in our kitchen that goes straight out the window and whenever I cook, I make an effort to use it. However, today, Patrick stops me on my way downstairs and out the door to question if I am actually using the exhaust and to complain that food smells are still getting into his room. At first, I said, “Yes, sorry.” Then I said, “Actually, I’m not sorry for cooking in a place where I pay rent.” He continued to talk about how upset he was about the smells getting into his room and complained that he might need to buy a window fan for his room. My response was, “Whatever works for you.”

He seemed upset by this. As I finally made my way out the door, I thought, “Should I apologize?” A half-hour later and I’ve decided it’s not gonna happen. First, if Patrick is so incredibly sensitive to food smells, shared living might not be for him (NOTE: he also cooks “aromatic” things and the scents still make their way to my room…I just don’t complain about it because I accept that it is a part of shared living). Second, I think I would feel more obligated to go out of my way to ensure food smells don’t make it up to his room IF he were a similarly considerate person. However, despite multiple requests that he clean the kitchen counter/stove after using it, or remove food debris from the sink after making food, or not put his moldy-year-old kitchen sponge (seriously, it’s the same sponge since I moved in and he puts it sopping wet on the sink divider…there is a thin film on it and it looks shiny…ick) in the sink, then I might feel obligated to “do more.” Also, despite having a rigid schedule of when he feels he should have exclusive access to the kitchen, he constantly enters the kitchen at times that have been allocated to others just to “do my dishes real quick.” I realize I am entirely chaffed by his whining given he is not a considerate person.

Rant over. Again, I realize that there are far worse housemate situations out there and that I could be dealing with theft or violence but it’s still annoying/uncomfortable and it’s still not something you have to deal with if you live alone.

All of this led to me fantasizing about living on my own and doing a cursory search on University B’s off-campus housing website and Zillow. The prices were significantly more than I currently pay, or am willing to pay, and for a moment I was genuinely depressed. Then I decided that I just needed a number/goal. I needed a number/goal at which I could justify/be comfortable living on my own. I’ve decided that my number/goal is less than $50,000.00 in student loan debt remaining…and I want to get there this year.

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.

REVISED: 2022 Financial Goals

Happy Chinese (Lunar) New Year!

In many ways, January has felt like a bit of a hangover from all of the excitement and changes in December. While I began to make progress in my personal life at the start of the Gregorian New Year, uncertainty, surprises, and disappointment resulted in financial decision-making paralysis in my financial life, making January feel like a false start. This year, I’ve decided to embrace the Lunar New Year as a much-needed second start to 2022.

In my original 2022 Financial Goals post, I talked about embracing the increased simplicity of my new financial picture. I had two fairly straightforward goals and asked for help deciding upon my third goal:

1) Earn the 20% match from Organization C (my new employer).
2) Save $1,000.00 as a non-emergency fund sinking fund.
3a) Allocate all additional money to student loan debt repayment. Repayment goal for 2022: Make it below $60,000.00 in student loan debt.
3b) Make $2,000.00/month student loan payments. Allocate any additional money, including bonuses and raises, to other investment opportunities and increased quality of life.
3c) Make minimum student loan payments. Allocate any additional money, including bonuses and raises, to other investment opportunities and increased quality of life.

There was also a swath of better ideas and permutations contributed by the Pennyfolk (thank you C, Eva, Ellen, Avery, Blissful, and Hope).

As I shared in a recent life update, life is rarely so simple. Thus, my revised 2022 financial goals are:

1) Earn the $2,000.00 match from Organization C.
– That’s right folks, I went from thinking I had hit the jackpot 403b match to seriously questioning whether or not I should invest in my employer-sponsored plan at all. To earn the $2,000.00 employer match from Organization C, I will have to contribute $10,000.00 of my salary. This is a much more significant employee contribution, for a smaller match than I was earning at University B, however a) I am still earning $26,000.00 more at Organization C than I was at University B, b) it’s never good to leave free money on the table and, c) as C said, “You’re not getting any younger!”

Materially, the only change here is that I am earning a much smaller employer match and contributing $6,000.00 less to my 403b. Yea, all bad.

2) Save $1,000.00 as a non-emergency fund sinking fund. – No change to this goal. The deadline for this is just by the end of the year. I have actually learned to like saving and finding a few extra dollars here and there to chip away at this goal throughout the year will be fun.

And finally…

3) Make it below $60,000.00 in student loan debt. – I went back and forth on this third goal for a really long time. In no small part because the Pennyfolk had a plethora of seemingly better ideas and were just really not here for this goal.

Seriously, only two folks wanted to see me continue to aggressively pay down my student loan debt. However, to be fair to the rest of the Pennyfolk, I think some a lot of this is my fault. At the end of 2021, having gotten my student loan debate below $90,000.00, I really did start to feel immeasurably better about my financial situation and started to look a bit further down the road. However, doing this meant that I started to lose focus, and started to think about things (like buying a house) that weren’t really priorities for me. With no real financial plan in place, I have felt anxious and uncertain as to what my next step should be. I hate the feeling.

Additionally, another reason I think a lot of the Pennyfolk weren’t on board with this goal (besides the obviously lost opportunities in the current financial market and the benefits of compound interest) are also that I have done a very poor job of showing you all the ways that my life is very abundant. I realized that while I have been successful in paying off a significant amount of debt over the past few years, I have also seemed pretty miserable. And I could understand, and deeply appreciate, why other humans would support taking my foot off the gas a bit if it meant I might be a little less miserable. Honestly, my life is pretty great. I’m a bit more lonely than I would like to be (as of late…more on that later) but otherwise, my life is good and I feel very fortunate.

To achieve this goal would require a $28,879.54 net decrease over the course of the year. I think I can do it. I KNOW I can do this.

Okay…this has gotten too long. Finally…

For the month of February, I plan to post every single day.
(Note: If you are a regular commenter eh hem, C, Ellen, Avery, Blissful, etc., please don’t feel like you need to comment regularly. You all have been so incredibly supportive of me during this journey, I know you all are crazy busy, and I appreciate your support whether you comment or not 🙂 ). Posting every day is really about me taking my Lunar New Year start seriously. In each of these posts, I plan to write 1) what I spent that day, 2) what I learned about finances to help me for when I am debt-free, and 3) how I lived my life abundantly.

A huge thank you to all of you that voted and commented. You are deeply appreciated…I hope you aren’t too disappointed with my choice.

January 2022 – Student Loan Balance Update

If you read my 2021 Financial Review, then there isn’t much to see here. Well, that’s not exactly true… To the numbers!

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

December 1, 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): $91,622.63

January 1, 2022 – Student Loan Balance: -$88,878.54

Total Payments: $3,196.74

Net Difference: $2,744.09

So the first thing to note is that soul-crushing interest is back. Okay, okay, the first thing to note is that the table is gone. With only one student loan, it seemed to make a great deal more sense to just take a screenshot of my account since it includes all of the pertinent information. The second thing to note is that soul-crushing interest is back. Also, the Biden Administration has decided to extend the student loan payment and interest forbearance on federal student loans until May 2022 despite saying that there would be no additional payment or interest rate forbearances. Obviously, I’m not at all upset about it. Ha! Lol, can you imagine? I am clearly a upset about it. Or rather, I am upset about how I timed my refinance. However, I am really happy that our lawmakers are continuing to prioritize student loan relief for millions of Americans. So, I’ll get over myself.

I’ve stated ad nauseam that December was a huge month. No need to rehash it here. With uncertainty about what my transition at University B will look like and my new job not starting until later this month, January is going to be an odd and unpredictable month in terms of income. In my 2022 Financial Goals post, I asked you all for your help in deciding how I should approach my student loan debt repayment in 2022. If you have not already voted in the attached poll, please do so expeditiously! If you are feeling a bit more chatty, leave me a comment! For now, I will focus on paying at least $2,000.00 in student loan debt payments this month…

2022 Financial Goals

Happy New Year!

If you read my 2021 Financial Review, then you know 2021 was a pretty good year for me financially. Given this upswing, you might think I’d be headed into 2022 fairly optimistic and confident about my financial future. And you would be correct…kinda. More like half correct.

While I am perhaps more optimistic about my financial future than I have been at any other point in my adult life, I am also the most conflicted. When I said that my progress in 2021 changed how I felt about myself, my student loan debt, and my finances, I wasn’t being hyperbolic. For the past two-and-a-half years, I felt trapped by my debt and, given all the opportunities I have been afforded in life, I felt a great deal of shame about being trapped. However, making it under $90K in student loan debt, a new job, and the greater financial security that comes with that progress, means that my financial horizon now seems…bigger? That I have some obligation to future AfroPenny to do something more than just pay off my student loan debt…?

As I mentioned in my student loan refinance post, one of the things I am most excited about that resulted from choices in 2021, is the increased simplicity of my financial picture. I want that simplicity to extend to my 2022 Financial Goals, so there will only be three…

1) Earn the 20% match from Organization C (my new employer). – I don’t think it is possible for me to do anything other than contribute enough to earn the full 20% match from Organization C. This would result in $15,000.00 of my gross salary going to my 403b this year.

2) Save $1,000.00 as a non-emergency fund sinking fund. – Just because I didn’t plan for it doesn’t make it an emergency. This pot of money would be used to cover things that I should plan for in my budget…that I generally don’t. This includes things like my annual Costco or Prime memberships, car registration, car inspections, oil changes, Microsoft Office, insurance, etc. I would like to hope that if I didn’t have my student loan debt that I could devote the mental energy to better budget for these things…but I know that won’t be the case. I’ve often said one of the great things about being in your 30s is no longer pretending that you are going to change and, instead, learning to plan for who you are. I think one of the reasons that I have been successful at debt repayment thus far is that I have been mostly singularly focused. I am hoping that establishing a sinking fund prevents me from wrecking my budget when these expenses pop up but doesn’t take any time or attention away from my other goals.

So far, so good. Here is where I need help…

As I shared above, my new financial horizon seems bigger than just paying off my student loan debt. And this has been affirmed by other folks who have been both proud of the progress I have made but who also want me to start thinking about “other things.” My parents are split: my father thinks I should tough it out a bit longer and pay off my student loan debt while my mother thinks I should buy a house. The Wizard (my best friend) thinks that now that I have a fixed, low-interest rate on my student loans, that I should be in no rush to pay them back and should instead invest in property or ETFs. Gentleman Avery thinks I should pay off my student loan and get rid of the mental burden that accompanies it. (Note: I had talked to him about how my student loan debt made me feel at one of my lowest points. He wasn’t particularly considerate so I haven’t really told him about all of my progress but he does know about the new job.) To be fair to all of them, none of them know exactly how much student loan debt I have remaining. But you all do…which is why I am soliciting your advice. I think I really have three options for my third goal and would really like your input as to what I should do…

3a) Allocate all additional money to student loan debt repayment. Repayment goal for 2022: Make it below $60,000.00 in student loan debt. – I know! So this would pretty much be a continuation of the status quo with a massive goal for this year. This would be a lot easier if I were benefiting from the continued interest rate and payment forbearance on federal student loans that was just announced by the Biden Administration despite the fact that they said there would be no additional forbearances…but water, bridge, and all that jazz.

While I am drawn to this goal, there is also part of me that wonders if the additional hustle is worth it… Using the How soon could I pay off all my debts? calculator, I figured out that I could be student loan debt-free by 40 if I made payments of $2,000.00 per month (shoutout to Paula who also mentioned a similar number in her comment about my new job). Even with goal 1, this would just be a tiny bit of a stretch each month. This amount would become my budgeted monthly payment and wouldn’t vary as my interest rate is fixed. Any additional income I made beyond that amount, including any raises in the future, would be mine to do with as I liked. So…


3b) Make $2,000.00/month student loan payments. Allocate any additional money, including bonuses and raises, to other investment opportunities and increased quality of life. – I recognize that this is still a large amount that is still very dependent on me living a relatively frugal life. However, at the moment, it seems like I could still make this payment with little to no “hustle” as long as I stuck to my rather lean budget. Alternatively, the other good thing about 3a) is that making the cuts now, while we are still in a pandemic, I am unpartnered, and without children, is an easier choice to make now than it might be a couple of years down the road… That being said, I would also expect that my earnings would also have increased a couple of years down the road.


3c) Make minimum student loan payments. Allocate any additional money, including bonuses and raises, to other investment opportunities and increased quality of life. – This is the Wizard’s suggestion and my least favorite option. However, it would be an unfair thought experiment (and question for you all) if I didn’t at least consider it. I think my fear is that all that would really happen is that my quality of life would get upgraded. Maybe move out from the city and purchase a house? I have no investment acumen and no real interest in learning about the market (I have tried podcasts, books, and YouTube), and so if this money didn’t go to a house or savings, I worry I wouldn’t invest it or not invest it wisely.

So, what do you think?

I have decided last year’s quote from C in 2021 is going to be my mantra for 2022 as well as it is where I think I am in terms of mindset at this moment:

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

I hope this 2022 finds you, your loved ones, and your communities in a better place than we have been for the past few years. Happy New Year!

Applying to Medical School (5) : The True Cost of Attending and the “Sunk Cost” Fallacy

This post has been sitting in my “drafts” for quite some time and, honestly, I still probably wouldn’t have gotten around to writing it were it not for my upcoming review of my 2021 Financial Goals…

As I have shared with some of you who have written to me privately by email, at this time, I have decided not to pursue medical school. I have gone back and forth about this decision for YEARS, however, coming to terms with a few things has gotten me to a place of mostly contentment with this decision. A few things…

The few things mostly have to do with my motivations and desires. While these are enmeshed and overlapping, I will do my best to pull these apart here:

1) Sunk Cost – I think part of my motivation to continue down this path had to do with the sheer amount of time and money I had invested in this endeavor. Beyond just the upfront course costs, there was also the missed year of professional earnings, retirement savings, and accumulating student loan interests that resulted from me returning to school full time to take premed courses. When you make that sort of investment of your time and money it is difficult to walk away. Unlike if I had pursed a graduate degree or had been working, walking away was made more difficult because I felt like I had nothing to show for that time. I still feel this way. However, I have also come to realize that this “sunk cost” cannot be a primary motivator.

2) True Cost of Attending – One of the great things about being an older premed is that physicians don’t feel obligated to give you the “rah, rah, you can do it” pep talks. Instead, many of them were brutally honest about the “true cost” of a career in medicine, and how much more complicated that choice becomes for someone in their 30s. PRIOR to the pandemic, I talked to happy physicians who were supportive and encouraging, but I also talked to miserable physicians who talked to me about the constant sacrifice of time, happiness, and money that the study of medicine requires. While I think it is possible that I could have been one of those happy physicians, especially if I found a way to make medical school cheap, I realized that I was not willing to make the other sacrifices…at least not at this point in my life. For a long time, I think when I would have these thoughts I would just attribute it to me being a lazy person. I’m not a lazy person. Instead, I’m making a different choice about how to spend my energy, talents, time, and money.

3) Service to Community
– I turned to the pursuit of a career in medicine just before I graduated from graduate school. My own recent interactions with health professionals and my research on the reproductive care of black women made me passionate about ameliorating healthcare inequities. My academic work in graduate school had also left me feeling like “my feet didn’t touch the ground.” What did it matter if I could have erudite conversations with my fellow graduate students…how did that improve the lived experiences of anyone? While I don’t think the answer to that question is important to everyone, it is important to me. And it will continue to play a large role in shaping my professional work. However, medicine is not the only way to be of service to my community.

4) Stimulation
– And finally, prior to going to graduate school I was working a corporate job. While the pay wasn’t bad (seriously, I made more money at 26 without a master’s degree than I did at University B), I was constantly bored and unchallenged. I loved graduate school and was convinced that medicine would provide me with a way to continue being stimulated, while also being of service to others, and eeking out a decent living. As I concluded above, I realized that there are also other ways to do this that don’t require investing 7+ years of my life in additional education and training at the cost of many other things.

Okay. That’s most of it. Almost all of it. People in my life have had different thoughts about my journey with medicine and their influence on me was more or less significant at different points. When I made this decision, I didn’t talk to anyone about it. Didn’t ask anyone for their opinion. Didn’t solicit advice. At the end of the day, this is my choice and I’m the one who has to be comfortable with it. And, for the most part, I am. There is a chance that some of this contentment has to do with me finding an alternate path to achieving much of the above (I told y’all before that I’m a planner) but that is for another post.

I got a new job!

If you read my Misc. Income Report (Earned through 12/17/21): $243.01 post, then you might have known this was coming. If not, now you know!

For the past few months, it has been quite obvious that I have been frustrated with my boss and compensation at University B. In fact, I seriously thought about quitting and only backed away from that decision after I realized I would lose all of my employer matches to my 403b contributions as I had yet to meet the three-year vesting date. I was frustrated, a bit depressed, and felt stuck but I was planning to ride it out until July of 2022. How quickly things can change…

The week before Thanksgiving, a colleague and friend reached out to tell me that they had been made aware of a role with a non-profit for which they thought I would be a good fit. I reviewed the role and not only was my educational experience exactly what they were seeking but my work experience also matched up neatly with what the organization stated were its’ future objectives. Unlike most instances in which I would piddle around and ultimately not end up applying, this time, I invested significant time in writing a very tailored cover letter, updating my resume, and getting feedback about both from others. And it paid off.

The head of the organization reached out to me the week after Thanksgiving to set up an initial interview. I was then offered a second interview with a larger swathe of the staff for the following week. And this week, I was invited to a follow-up meeting with the head of the organization that was ultimately so they could feel out my continued interest and make me a verbal offer. I received a written offer less than an hour later.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I cannot begin to explain how excited I am. As I have hinted at in all my posts this month, this is a career-defining opportunity as it means a significant increase in income (+$26,000.00) and positions me well, in terms of job title and responsibilities, for my next role.

I know that this is a personal finance blog and I owe you all the gory details as to what this means for my student loan debt repayment plans, and that post is coming, but for now, I just want to be ecstatic.

As always, THANK YOU all for your company and support along this journey.

December 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s) Update

If you read my Misc. Income Report (Earned through 11/26/2021), then you already know that December is shaping up to be an interesting month and that my December update was going to look a lot different from previous updates. If you didn’t read that post, then now you know. To the numbers!

AccountDebtMin. PaymentInterest Rate
Private Student Loan 4-$2,558.63$45.403.625%
PenFed Refinanced Student Loan-$89,064.00$636.763.500%

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

November 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$92,998.55

December 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s): -$91,622.63

Total Payments: $1,708.09

Net Difference: $1,375.92

A couple of things… First, I went back and forth about how to structure my new chart. I know folks like it when I include the balances when I first began blogging on July 1, 2019 but there just isn’t a neat and intelligible way to do that. (Umm this is very much a challenge so if your Excel game is strong and you think there is a better way to present this, let me know). Also, part of the benefit of paying down loans and refinancing is a much simpler financial picture. As I very much want to embrace that simplicity, I have opted to just list my beginning student loan balance above the monthly reporting.

Second, while November wasn’t great for student loan debt repayment, it was also better than the net difference is making it look. As I explained in my post on refinancing, not only was the refinanced loan for slightly more than the current balances were at the time, due to the payment dates, I still had to make my November 1st payments. What this means is that my refinanced balance is actually a couple of hundred dollars lower than what appears above. Ultimately, this is fine as any overpayment will either be refunded to me in the form of a check or credited to me by PenFed if the check is sent to them.

Third, by this point, I know that you know that I make my largest monthly payment on the 1st of the month when I get paid at University B. What do you think are the chances that my minimum payment on my refinanced loan and my extra payment of Private Student Loan 4 on December 1st pushed my overall student loan balance below $90,000.00?

Private Loan Student 4 (PSL4) Update

This one is trying to hang on but I will not be thwarted! Paying PSL4 off this year would actually have me set to achieve ALL of my 2021 Financial Goals. Okay, maybe not all but at least all the targets. I threw a huge chunk of cash at this loan today and less than $1,000.00 remains. For that reason, I have decided that this loan WILL be dispatched this month.

Gig Misc. Income Update

Net Misc. Income Goal for November: $200.00
Net Misc. Income Actual for November: $1,242.38
Difference: $1,042.38
Net Misc. Income Goal for December: $600.00

November was a good month for misc. income. I know what you are thinking, “How is it possible that it was such a good month but your total payments didn’t crack $2,000.00?” It was a confluence of things but between a slightly more expensive month, a modest November 1st payment, and some income being set aside for December holiday shopping, not all of my misc. income made it to my student loan balances this month. In December, I hope to continue striking a good balance between hustling and LIVING. On that note…

Part-Time Job Update

I’ve put in my two-week notice at the golf club. I know! I didn’t even make it a month. However, I got sick the week of Thanksgiving and realized that unlike gig work, which I don’t have to take when I am sick or tired, I have to show up at the golf course for every scheduled shift. Which means I went to work when I was still feeling sick instead of staying at home. I realized this was not in my long-term best interest and sent my notice.

Overall, November was a pretty good great month. December has the ability to change my financial future in a major way…I’m sending out good vibes that it does just that.