Category: Debt Snowball Journey

Debt Snowball Progress – December 2017

We did it!

No we’re not debt-free yet. Don’t worry that I’ll be shouting from the rooftops.

Another month closes on our debt snowball journey, and we are

getting closer to our dream of debt-free.

debt snowball progress

We may not be a lot closer, but if we don’t celebrate the small victories, we might lose sight of the prize.

Thanks to our Christmas budget, our December budget was not impacted whatsoever by the holidays.

Now is the perfect time to establish a Christmas budget for this coming year. It will take you about 30 minutes of work and will save you hours of a headache and worry next year.

We had a delightful holiday with family and friends, and we didn’t break the bank. There is no fear of opening our credit card statements this month because we have money from our budget to cover all expenses.

In fact, rather than worrying about our bills we get to enjoy a little extra money when we receive our Ebates cash back check, cash in our Ibotta money and cash in our credit card cash back. In total we will be getting about $200 back through these three avenues of shopping/spending for the last month.

I’m looking forward to sitting down with our budgets from the last year and recapping how 2017 was for us and setting new financial goals for 2018. Yes, I know this makes me a giant nerd, but I’m okay with that.

Besides if you don’t set goals and set them high then what are we working toward?

What would stop us from frivolous spending?

We were able to make a sizable extra payment on our student loans this month, and we are optimistic this momentum will keep up. After nearly ten years of no raise- thank you State of Illinois, I received a 3% raise that will start showing up in my paychecks this month. It’s not much, but after so many years without one, it seems monumental.

Unfortunately, even though Brian works for the same institution, his unit is not yet receiving the raise. Their union is currently in negotiations that have been ongoing for over 18 months. We are hopeful they will settle their contract soon, and if it includes back pay that will help us tremendously. I’m trying not to count my chickens before my eggs hatch, BUT it’s hard not to imagine how much that could move the needle our debt snowball.

Be sure to check out 2018 financial goals later this month, which will include a recap of our 2017 financial goals and whether we met them or not.

So here’s the update for December

Income report from December

Money from Varage Sale      $   22

Mileage check for work     $ 272

 

Total extra income                               $ 294

 

Extra from paychecks     $406

 

Amount extra put towards student loan      $700

 

  

 

Current outstanding student loan debt    $29,020

 

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Debt Snowball Progress- November 2017

Wow, another month has passed, and we are quickly closing in on the end of 2017.

I can’t believe it.

Call me a nerd, but the end of the year means I soon get to do our end of the year financial recap. Yes, I like calculating numbers, creating debt payoff projections and setting financial goals.

debt snowball motivation

I have felt defeated a lot recently in regards to our debt payoff. It feels like that stupid student loan is going to be around forever. I probably spend more time feeling defeated than empowered in our ability to get rid of this debt.

I was lamenting its existence, yet again, and the staggering amount we still have left. When I shared this with Brian, he was quick to remind me that we have come a long way. We are now under $30,000. That amount is still scary, but given where we started it is quite amazing.

Sometimes when the road gets long, we forget how far we’ve come and how many obstacles we have overcome to get where we are.

To fully comprehend how far we’ve come, I took some time to sit down and think about where we started.

Since June 2013 we have paid approximately $64,000 towards student loan debt, and we cash flowed $33,000 for the following: roof and siding on our garage, a complete kitchen remodel, refinancing our home and two vacations to Disney World.

That means in 4 ½ years we have paid off $97,000 that equals about $1800/month.

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Debt Snowball Progress – October 2017

debt snowball progress-interestDo you know how I got my husband on board to pay off our debt faster?

One word.

INTEREST

I sat down and showed him how much of our monthly payment was going towards interest every month and how much was going to principal. I also calculated how much interest we were paying every year. It was a crazy amount of money to pay for the convenience of lower payments.

At the point that I got him on board, we were paying $4,000 a year in interest. Two thirds of our payment was going towards interest.

YIKES

We have been working our debt snowball for so long that I have completely forgotten how comfortable we were just paying the minimum for years upon years.

I was reminded of this, this past week when I talked with a recent college graduate that I been her advisor. She asked a question about if her loans would still kick in (she was in the glorious 6-month window of not having to pay yet) if she took classes for her Master’s Degree.

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Debt Snowball Progress – September 2017

 It’s eight days until payday, and your checking account is running on fumes.

Is there enough money in the checking account to cover any automatic withdrawals?

Who wrote check #1031 and how much is it for?

How much cash do we have around the house that we can deposit into our checking account right now?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

debt snowball september 2017

These are actual statements that were said in our house last month, and it was a bit scary. I thought the days of sweating a zero balance in our checkbook were behind us, but I was wrong.

I was completely shocked when I sat down to look at our accounts and balance our checkbook. Our balance was $110.84.

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Debt Snowball Progress – August 2017

August 2017 debt snowball

Good-bye summer and hello fall.

Okay not quite, but it sure feels like it the minute we hit Labor Day.

Fall is the best season for us when it comes to paying down debt.

I spent some time thinking about that recently and was able to identify a few reasons why:

 

  • We pack our lunches and eat out less often.

 

  • We don’t typically have any vacations in the fall.

 

  • I teach a class or two as an adjunct, so I bring in more income.

 

  • Brian works more overtime, and there is holiday pay several times before January.

 

I’ve been feeling a bit defeated by our debt lately because the amount doesn’t seem to be moving at all. I know it’s a marathon and not a sprint, but sometimes I just feel like quitting.

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Debt Snowball Progress – July 2017

We’re back from vacation and I’m happy to report that we came in under budget.

It wasn’t much under budget, but at least we didn’t overspend and we had a blast.

family Disney vacation

Is it just me or does August feel like a fresh start to anyone else?

Even though I’m not a student anymore, the start of a new school year always feels like a chance to start all over.

I intend to use this excited, fresh start feeling to motivate us in our debt journey. We are still facing over $32,000 in student loan debt, but our optimistic goal is to be debt-free by December 2018. It is going to take some hard work and sacrifice, but we are motivated.

We successfully made it through the month of July without a visit to urgent care or the doctor. Everyone remained healthy while on vacation and my ankle sprain was handled with minimal cost and no visit to the doctor. Thank you Disney for the free ace bandage, ice packs and motorized scooter rental for the day.

ace bandage and ice packs

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Debt Snowball Progress – June 2017

debt snowballl progress june 2017

Is debt-free possible?

I’m starting to wonder.

We were doing so well for so long, and lately, we’ve really hit quite a few roadblocks.

Alright, probably not road blocks, but rather really tall hurdles.

Now I know being in a wedding, and our vacations are not exactly road blocks. We knew about these events and willingly entered into them knowing the financial implications.

wedding picture
We do clean up nice.

What we did not know about or plan for were all the medical emergencies.  I’m pretty sure it’s about time for our household to have a month off from any health issues.

If we could go a month without visiting the doctor, filling a prescription, or taking someone’s temperature, it would be cause for celebration.

I can’t count the number of times I said, “how is your throat,” “how do you feel,” “what’s your temperature.” I’ve charted medication consumption and body temperatures like an accountant tracks credits and debits.

health chart
Keep track of 10 day antibiotics on a chart on your refrigerator

We ended May with Amelia sick with strep and a reaction of sorts to one medication. This caused us to need two visits to the doctor, and two-copays, plus two prescriptions and countless doses of Motrin and Tylenol.

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Debt Snowball Progress – May 2017

A snail’s pace.

That is what it feels like we are moving at these days in our debt snowball.  Our snowball is not currently going downhill picking up snow or momentum as it goes. It’s more like on a plateau of sorts.

We’re hopeful the downside of the large mountain is up ahead because this is frustrating.

We’re fortunate that we can pay our bills, and we can handle unexpected expenses when they come up, but it’s still hard to not see the debt amount reduced by as much each month as it used to be.

The last few months were exceptionally busy, which meant less bargain shopping, menu planning and the like. I am dedicated to using some of my extra time this summer to save money through the use of deals websites, coupons, bargain shopping and finding fun, free (or inexpensive) ways to enjoy our summer.

sale sign

We also have quite a few things that we want to declutter from our house that we haven’t been able to list for sale online yet. I haven’t had time to do that, and I know I will list those in the next few weeks. With any luck maybe that will be a hundred dollars or more.

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Debt Free: What is your motivation?

woman with student loan debt

What is your motivation to be debt free?

I’m betting you have more than just one reason.

But what is that one thing you plan to buy yourself once you make that final payment?

For me, it’s a new couch.

Yes, a couch.

new beige couch

What I mean is, I want a brand new couch that has never been owned by anyone else before me. I want a nice, comfy couch where I can sit to read a book or lay and take a nap.

relaxing on a couch

I don’t want to use a couch cover to hide the ugly maroon pattern of a couch that is dozens of years old and way outdated.

Seriously, when we’re debt free I’m getting myself a new couch and not just a “new to us” couch, a brand spanking new couch. No one else will have sat upon or taken a nap on my new couch before me.

It seems a little ridiculous when I say it out loud. It’s not like Brian and I don’t earn decent salaries and couldn’t just go out and buy a new couch today, but that’s not the point.

I could certainly forgo paying down our debt one or two months and buy a very nice new couch, but it wouldn’t be as satisfying.

That new couch is my reward for years of dedication to paying down debt.

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Debt Snowball Progress- April 2017

debt snowball

Emergencies – they are always out there, but if you have an emergency fund set up the emergency is usually a minor annoyance rather than a crisis. We had a couple of emergencies come up this month, but since we’re aggressively paying off our debt, we were able to reallocate money towards these emergencies rather than having to take money from our emergency fund.

Our “emergencies” were of the health care variety. I am very thankful for our health insurance, which eased the pain.

Did you know that medical expenses are the #1 reason for all personal bankruptcies?

62% of all personal bankruptcies are because of medical expenses and of that 78% of the people had health insurance.

Just because you have health insurance does not mean you are exempt from the devastating effects of medical expenses on your finances.

An emergency fund is an absolute necessity.

We found out Amelia had to have tubes put in her ears and her adenoids removed. That surgery and subsequent prescriptions cost us several hundred dollars. A few weeks after her surgery Cassidy was up all night with ear pain. A visit to urgent care informed us she had an ear infection. It turned out to be a resilient little ear infection which cost us two doctor visit co-pays and two different medicines. The tiniest bottle of ear drops cost us $90 WITH INSURANCE. Apparently, it is liquid gold!

So in April, we ended up spending several hundred dollars in unanticipated health care expenses.

Geez, I can’t imagine if we hadn’t had insurance.

We were fortunate not to have to dip into our emergency fund. We were not able to put as much money to the wedding we are in or towards our student loans. It is frustrating when these type of things pop up to slow down our debt snowball, but I’m glad that we were able to cover the expenses. We will just be set back slightly.

This month we had planned to complete saving for the wedding we are in and to fully fund our upcoming summer vacations. However, due to these emergencies, we were not able to do that. I anticipate in May we will. We were still able to put another $100 towards the wedding and $1,680 towards vacation.

As always, we were able to make the minimum payment on the student loan, which still reduces the overall amount – not much, but it’s still moving in the right direction.

As part of decluttering, we sold $62 worth of things from around our house. We also got cash back on our credit cards that we put towards vacation (a story for another day of how we are paying nearly half price for our entire vacation because of leveraging credit card offers).

Our food expenses went down, but we still aren’t hitting our goal yet. “This month we spent $784 overall for groceries and eating out. We are still a work in progress. Right now I am in the midst of the 5-week course about grocery budget makeovers. Look for a review in the coming months.

 

So here’s the update for April

Income report from April

Money from Varage Sale                                     $    62

Money from Ibotta                                              $    22

Cash back from credit cards                                $1,696

 

Total extra income                                               $1,780

 

Current outstanding student loan debt               $33,458