Blogiversary: Year 2

Despite recent events, I am in a much better place mentally, emotionally, and financially, if not physically (working on that), than I was last year. For that reason, pardon me as I fully turn up the Tony! Toni! Toné! and host a somewhat more jubilant celebration of my 2nd Blogiversary. (WARNING: Lengthy post ahead…)

Whoot, what a year. I struggled to figure out what this post should be. Should it just be a reflection on the modest goals I set last year, with new goals for this year? Because July is halfway through the year, should it be a mid-point check-in on how I am doing with respect to my calendar year goals? Also, does it make sense to have blogiversary goals that are different from my calendar goals? What is the real distinction between the two? As I am often wont to do in these situations, I decided to permute and do both…

But first, let’s get 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

That is…that is progress. It should also be noted during this time that I saved $5,000.00 in an emergency fund. Given my income during this time period has been just under $50,000.00, this really isn’t bad at all.

Review of Second Year Goals

1) Move my blog from Blogger to another platform and improve the overall appearance and readability.PASS! Like most moves for better digs, the “Ms. Afro Penny” WordPress site is pricier than my “Debt End Date” site at Blogger but the site looks a lot better and posting is a bit more enjoyable. And when I post more, I feel more accountable for my financial choices and every bit of accountability is helpful when your journey will be as long as mine.

2) Post at least twice per month including a student loan balance update post on or about the first of the month.FAIL! I think I am always worried about posting irrelevant content and never want to post unless I really have something to say. This goal will likely return…

3) Establish an alternative income stream bringing in at least $500.00 more each month.FAIL! I achieved this early in the year but decided to switch from steady part-time work to more lucrative contract work, which meant the ups and downs of contract work.

4) Reduce student loan debt below $100,000.00.FAIL! This was a recent fail that should have been a fail much earlier in the year but temporarily moving back home with my parents, due to my apartment flooding, put me back on track….only for this goal to be derailed by May galivanting with my bestie.

5) Refinance student loans at more favorable interest rates.N/A? The pandemic has meant that there was an interest rate abatement on federal student loans which meant a refinance would not have been a good choice. I could have refinanced my remaining loans but given the lower interest rates due to the pandemic, and the fact that all of them are targeted for payoff within the next year, it didn’t seem like the right move for now. For now.

Ultimately, it doesn’t make sense to me to have blogiversary goals and calendar year goals that overlap. Thus, moving forward, blogiversary goals will be strictly related to blogging/vlogging and calendar year goals will be finance related.

Midpoint Check-In on 2021 Financial Goals

1) Reduce my overall student loan balances below $100,000.00 – On track. This should have been accomplished this month but will definitely be accomplished next month.

2) Reduce my overall student loan balances below $90,000.00 Unlikely. While I will easily make it into the mid-$90Ks, it is unlikely I will make it below $90,000.00 without a significant, and unexpected, change in income over the next six months. While I have been flirting with getting a part-time job again, I still don’t know that this would be enough to get me below the $90K mark.

3) Payoff Private Student Loan 3 (PSL3) (-$10,666.59 as of 1/1/2021) – On track. Assuming no unexpected costs, this should happen next month. My balance is currently under $1500.00 and I’m itching to pay it off.

4) Payoff Private Student Loan 4 (PSL4) (-$9,997.13 as of 1/1/2021) – Unlikely. Paying of this loan would get me below the $90,000.00 threshold but see explanation above as to why getting it done this year is unlikely.

5) Weekly blog post

6) Biweekly vlog (YouTube) AND Instagram* post

These will no longer be 2021 Financial Goals as they are really blog related.

7) Increase part-time/side monthly income to $1000.00Not on track. However, I am still willing to give myself a pass on this if I can make this happen before the end of the year.

8) Establish sinking fundsNot on track. I had started this in March to pay for my May gallivanting but it got wiped out by deposits for my new houseshare. I still have time to turn this around.

9) Cashflow final coursework and application process for medical school – I have been on track. More on this is another post.

Ugh. So many words. Overall, it’s looking dicey…but I can still turn it around.

Finally, my Third Year Blog Goals:

1) Blog at least twice a month.

2) Vlog at least once a month.

That’s it.

And finally, finally, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who take time to read my blog, and especially those of you who take time to comment. I’d like to think I’d keep writing even if no one were reading but I don’t really believe that to be true. Having to post my debt updates each month helps immensely with accountability and that would be impossible without you. So…THANK YOU!

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

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

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

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

PSL4 – 06/02/2021

PSL2 – 06/02/2021

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

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

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

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


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

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.

Which student loan(s) should I pay off next? (Vote!)

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be focused on saving. Listen, I told you who I am at the very top of this blog: “Climbing out of $130,000.00 of student loan debt, one obsessive post at a time.” It’s not my fault if you didn’t listen…er read. (Note: It took me many years to learn the life lesson that you need to listen to people when they tell you who they are and not who you imagine or want them to be).

So I haven’t changed my immediate goal. My immediate goal is still increasing my emergency fund to $5000.00 by the end of the year, which represents about three (3) months worth of fixed expenses, INCLUDING my minimum student loan payments. (Note: Some of my student loans, such as my university loans discussed below, can be very easily deferred due to hardship, which would allow this money to stretch a bit further). However, the process for saving is pretty simple. There is no real strategy required and on the first of the month (and on the biweekly pay cycle for my side gig), I just need to transfer money into my savings account. Pretty simple. Pretty boring.

So, my mental energy has instead turned to which student loan(s) should I pay off next? This turn in mental energy is helping me to stay motivated while saving and probably results from the fact that my income has increased since taking on the part-time job and will increase a bit again on October 1st. I will discuss these increases later this month in an income update when I will have a month’s worth of paychecks from the part-time gig and my October pay stub. Unless I move this increase to savings (like retirement savings…but that is another post) I could very well reach my $5000.00 goal early and could possibly return to debt repayment this year. I know!

I have decided that in 2021, I would like to pay off at least $20,000.00 in student loans. This would bring me to the mid 90s and probably allow me to qualify for a traditional refinance. So my question should actually be, which two student loans should I pay off next?

University Student Loans

I broke down my student loan debt pretty extensively in the aptly titled post, “The Breakdown.” But a Cliff notes version is: my university loans are held by my Alma mater (they are the lender and the servicer) and while they have terrible FIXED interest rates, the university is very generous with its deferment/hardship policies, which are periods in which no interest accrues. These loans are also forgiven in the instance of death or permanent disability.

So if you review my most recent debt update, you can see that these four loans have a mix of interest rates. Using this NerdWallet Weighted Average Interest Rate for Student Loan Consolidation calculator, I determined that collectively, my four university student loans represent the following:

Yuk. Generous repayment terms aside, that interest rate is atrocious and that monthly payment is nothing to sneeze at.

Private Student Loan 3

I hate this loan. It’s one of those loans that I have already paid back far more than the original balance, the interest rate is atrocious and the balance is gross.

Private Student Loan 3-$11,628.07$153.826.670%

Even in this environment of pretty low interest rates, the variable interest rate on this loan is still 6.670%. At peak times, this interest rate has been over 9%. Ugh. It is serviced by the same student loan servicer as Private Student Loan 4. I have exhausted the hardship/deferment/forbearance on this loan which means it sticks around in the event I lose my job or suffer other financial hardship.

Private Student Loan 4

This is the first private student loan I ever took out. It is serviced by the same servicer as Private Student Loan 3. It was prior to the 2008 recession and has a decent interest rate but a very significant minimum payment. In fact, outside of my rent payment, this is the largest payment I make each month. As of my student loan update on September 1st:

Private Student Loan 4-$10,854.06$245.403.875%

While this loan has a variable interest rate, the rate has never quite reached 6%. Using the Dave Ramsey method of paying off debts smallest to largest OR the avalanche method of paying of highest interest to lowest interest rate debts, this loan wouldn’t be on my radar. However, the minimum payment on this student loan represents a significant amount of cash-flow each month and if I were able to knock-it-out, it would really help me gain some traction on my debt repayment.

So, what should I actually do?

Blogiversary: Year 1

Excuse me while I put on a bit of Tony! Toni! Toné! and host a very low key celebration of my first blogiversary. This is a rough moment in many ways but I owe it to future Ms. Afro Penny, as well as to the sacrifices made by immediate past Ms. Afro Penny, to celebrate this milestone in debt repayment and keep chugging along.

I started this blog a year ago, on July 4th 2019 with the intention of documenting my student loan debt repayment journey. In my first debt post I shared that my current debt stood at: -$133,259.74; and, I set a payoff date December 9, 2025. So, a year later, am I any closer to my goals?

As of July 1, 2020, my debt stands at -$119,119.98. That is a reduction of $14,139.76. Yay! Not bad. Not…great. If I continued at a similar rate of repayment for the rest of my desired payoff term, I would not make my goal.

While it is my usual pattern to do a deep dive into the numbers and create new and elaborate plans for what the upcoming year will bring, I’m just not mentally there at this moment. Instead I will outline my list of five very moderate goals. 

Second Year Goals

1) Move my blog from Blogger to another platform and improve the overall appearance and readability.

2)  Post at least twice per month including a student loan balance update post on or about the first of the month.

3) Establish an alternative income stream bringing in at least $500.00 more each month.

4) Reduce student loan debt below $100,000.00.

5) Refinance student loans at more favorable interest rates.

That is it. I could be a lot more elaborate with my goals and do a much deeper dive as to the feasibility of any of these goals, and perhaps I will, but for the moment, this is it.

I hope this extended weekend finds you and your loved ones safe.

I know, I know…the last revision of 2020 Financial Goals

So last night I wrote my ah-ha post. The ah-ha moment is still true and I’m not taking anything back. However, this morning, while still obsessing over my debt, I found this awesome, free, ad-free, no sign-up How soon could I pay off my debts? calculator. This was obviously the absolute worst thing for a debt obsessive person like me to find. However, in the era of COVID-19 and Saturdays spent at home, it could obviously have been a lot worse.

The calculator is no-muss, no fuss and is great for someone with a lot of individuals lines of debt because it allows you to enter up to 20 creditors. To calculate a repayment plan, it ask for: the creditor, the balance, the minimum payment, the actual payment, and the interest rate. Additionally, you can enter how much additional you plan to pay each month and any on-time payments you expect to make (like a bonus or tax refund). Again, the absolute best and worst thing for a debt obsessive person to find. After entering in this information it spits out what your repayment would look like using a roll-over method of repayment (also referred to as the “snowball”), and you can have it compute the results based on paying the debts in 1) lowest to highest balance, 2) highest to lowest interest rate, or 3) shortest to longest payoff period.

Other cool things: It also tells you how much you would have saved over the same period of time as your original payment plan if you invested the amount you would have paid (you can also adjust the interest rate and below I adjusted it to a very modest 2% savings rate). AND, while I have only included the tables below, it also produces a very awesome debt payoff calendar for each creditor so it shows you which month you will pay off each creditor.

Note: These payment plans assume a January 2021 start since I still plan to pay of PSL 1 and then save for a used car through the end of this year unless my income increases significantly. This means, the debt balance and repayment plan does not include PSL1 or my car lease/car payment but does include estimated minimum payments on my federal student loans which will resume in January 2021.

1) Lowest to Highest Balance

2) Highest to Lowest Interest Rate

3) Shortest to Longest Payoff Period

Unsurprisingly, the “Highest to Lowest” interest rate resulted in the greatest amount of savings in terms of both money and time saved. However, whereas with the “Lowest to Highest Balance” and “Shortest to Longest Payoff Period” eliminate creditors/loans in the very first month and then consistently every couple of months, it takes 11 months before the first debt is eliminated under the “Highest to Lowest” interest rate payoff plan. Ugh.

And just for fun, I calculated what my repayment plan would look like if I increased the extra payment each month up to $1500.00. For the sake of space here, I will only include the updated “Highest to Lowest Interest Rate” and “Lowest to Highest Balance” below.

1) Highest to Lowest Interest Rate

2) Lowest to Highest Balance

While the “Highest to Lowest Interest Rate” still results in the greatest amount of savings between the two methods, paying $1500.00 more each month still shaves off more than a year of repayment than if I am only paying an extra $1000.00 each month regardless of which method I choose…

I will admit to being torn. While I very much would like to stick to the most mathematically efficient way to pay off debt, I will admit that the “Lowest to Highest Balance” method does hold some appeal at this current moment when it has been almost a year since I had the psychological reinforcement of paying off a debt, and I still have three more months until I payoff the next one…

So…thoughts? Am I entirely nuts for finally for finally wanting to swallow the Ramsey kool-aid and go “Lowest to Highest Balance?”

The Ah-ha Moment – Revised 2020 Financial Goals

Yesterday, I received both the federal stimulus check (deposit) for $1200.00 and a $300.00 reimbursement check (deposit) from my employer. While I had already written a post about what I would do with the money when I received it (Note: I expected to receive it much, much later), as I sat there looking at my unusually flush mid-month bank balance, I began to obsessively review my debt repayment plan to make sure I was making the “right” decision. After some hemming and hawing, I put the entire $1500.00 towards Private Student Loan 1 (PSL1). With this payment, the Citi portion of PSL should be paid off of June 1st and the Discover portion of PSL1 should be paid off on August 1st.

While I sat on my couch filling out an application for a side-gig, I began to think about how my goals would need to be readjusted given that I wouldn’t be able to make the kind of money I had expected to make this summer from academic enrichment activities since University B, and the surrounding public school districts, announced that they would be cancelling in-person activities for the summer. As I began to do this, I also began to think about the upcoming months, through the end of the year, and what I could successfully achieve with respect to debt repayment. At some point, I was reminded that my car lease is ends in early January and that I need to either buy the lease out now ($12, 176.18), buy the lease at the end of the lease period in early January ($10, 282.50), or return the car at the end of the lease period and buy another vehicle.

Initially, I began Googling “Auto Loan Calculator” tools to figure out how much the car payment would be if I took out a loan for the amount of my vehicle. Of course it only made sense to buy my car at the end of my lease because it is a 2018 and will only have 32,000 miles on it and you can’t purchase a late model vehicle, with so few miles, for that price. However, at some point, while I was doing all of these calculations, I just stopped for a minute. I thought about exactly what I was doing. And then I went on the following internal rant to myself: 

No, YOU can’t purchase a late model vehicle, with so few miles, at that price because YOU can’t afford it. If you could afford it, you would be able to pay cash. But YOU can’t afford it. Which is why you are looking up auto loan calculators. You might as well be looking up $12,000.00 in additional debt calculators.

This was my ah-ha moment. The moment I realized that I will never be rid of debt if I always allow myself to justify borrowing money and if I don’t look at borrowing as adding debt to my already massive total. So, I came up with the following revised financial goals for the remainder of the year, assuming my income does not change:

1) Pay off PSL 1 on August 1st
2) Pay off University Student Loans 3 ($847.42) & 4 ($663.35) on September 1st Updated: Next day

3) Push the $60.00 minimum payments from USL3&4 to PSL3 Updated: Next day

4) Save $ to purchase a used vehicle at the end of the year (~$3,500.00)

I decided to payoff USL3&4 because their minimum payments are large in proportion to their balances. For example, PSL2 which has a balance $7,854.39, only has a minimum payment of $93.30 a month. Additionally, more of the current minimum payment for PSL3 goes to interest than to principal and as I would be pausing additional debt payments for the remainder of the year, I wanted to still be making some progress.  Updated: The very day after I wrote this…I know, I know.

I know that was a lot but…thoughts?

I really just want to end the debt cycle once and for all. That was an important moment and decision for me.

2020 Financial Goals

Image result for Happy New Year

It should come as a shock to absolutely no one that a self-professed procrastinator is getting her “2020 Financial Goals” post done in the waning minutes of New Year’s Day…

2020 Financial Goals

I have decided to be very concrete about my goals for this year.

1) Pay off Private Student Loan 1 ($8,600.00 remaining as of 1/1/2020) by the end of the promotional period.

This was originally a Discover Student Loan with an interest rate of 9.74% that I balance transferred to two separate credit cards using a 0% interest with a 3% balance transfer fee promotional offer. I blogged about the process here and the psychological reasons propelling me here.

2) Pay off  Private Student Loan 3 – The current balance on this loan as of 1/1/2020 is $8,001.38.

Paying off both of these debts by the end of the year is a bit aggressive. However, it also seems achievable given that I reduced my debt by more than $16,000.00 in 2019. If I am able to pay off both of these student loans, I will be down to three loan servicers and somehow that also seems like an achievement. I will also consider applying for a refinance at the end of the year. While I was unsuccessful the first time I applied, I believe my DTI (debt-to-income) will be much better and give me a better chance of being approved.

3) Start a small business AND generate an additional $500.00/month in income.

For some time I have been considering and writing about getting a side job. While I did find something in early September, ultimately, it wasn’t the best use of my time or gas and I only accepted one assignment. The more I have thought about it and researched, the more I am convinced that what I really need is my own business. I have a couple of ideas that I have been researching and discussing with some folks already in the business and while I am not planning to dive in, I would like to get something going by March.

And that’s really it. It may not seem like much but if I could successfully hit any and/or all of these goals, I will end this year in a significantly better financial position that I am in now.

And while it isn’t financial, I realized one of the reasons I didn’t write as much here is that I was ashamed when I wasn’t making as much progress as I wanted. In 2020, I’m gonna let that ish go, and…

2020 Blogging Goal: One (1) student loan balance post a month AND one update post a month.

I am committing to writing two blog posts a month. While that might not seem like much, it will help keep me accountable and force me to acknowledge when I’m not where I need to be and perhaps work through what needs to change.

Private Student Loan 1 and Revised, Revised Goals

So in a recent post, I shared that I used the balance transfer method to transfer my Private Student Loan 1 balance to two of my credit cards, using a 0% interest for 12 months, balance transfer offer. I initiated that process this past Saturday and as of this morning, Wednesday, August 7th, I have transferred the funds in full to my student loan lender (I intentionally did not use the words “paid off” here as I didn’t payoff anything, I just reorganized my debt).

Private Loan 1 Balance (Paid to Student Loan Lender): -$9,817,69
Discover Card Balance: -$3,450.50
Citi Card Balance: -$6,695.00
Private Loan 1 Balance (After transfer to credit cards): -$10,145.50

If you read my post, you know that $295.50 of the balance increase resulted from the balance transfer fees. However, if you subtract $295.50 from the new balance, you would notice that there is still a small difference of $32.31. That difference was an overestimation on my part. Unfortunately, unlike a lot of lenders which allow you to get a payoff estimate, my student loan lender did not and I didn’t do the math. Ugh.

In any instance, I will make very little progress on this loan this month because I used the leftover from my August 1st salary (which wasn’t a full salary because I didn’t start at the beginning of the month) to finish cash flowing my moving/settling expenses (seriously, moving from literally one side of the country to another is not cheap). While it is disappointing that I won’t make much more progress on my student loans this month than the minimums, I knew this was a possibility and I’m grateful not to have had to go into debt or touched my emergency fund (look C, I can find a bright-side too!). So onto the revised, revised goals…

August 2019 Goal – My goal this month is to cover the cost of the balance transfer fees and, add the difference mentioned above, so that my balance on September 1st is the same or lower than the balance on August 1st. On September 1st, when I get my first full paycheck from my new job, I should be able to make the first really significant dent in this loan. My goal in August is also to find my first/initial side hustle. 

When checking my accounts this morning (I told you, I do this almost obsessively), I noticed that despite being a 0% for 12 months, 3% balance transfer fee offer, Citi said my offer end on 6/1/2020 (see below). While I have zero plans to have this debt lingering around that long, it did make me think more about how I should pay these two debts. While I initially thought I might pay the minimum on Citi and chuck everything at Discover, the smaller balance of the two, now I am not so sure. While Discover does have the smaller balance, their balance transfer doesn’t expire until 8/16/2020, two months later (again, even though I have every intention of having this paid off well before then, a buffer is always good).



Revised 2019 Private Student Loan 1 Goal – Payoff my Citi balance ($6,695.00). While it would be much easier to list the smaller debt as the goal, that wouldn’t really push me. I want something that is going to push me to hustle and sacrifice. It’s literally going to take everything I have and then some but I really want this for myself.

Okay. This should be the last post this week, I promise.