Busy, Yet Productive: $41,507.06 Paid, $43,801.01 Till Pay Off

It Feels Like Forever:

Hi everyone! This post feels long overdue. Work has been very busy and having things to do at work is job security. As stated in the last post, I’ve picked up another teaching job.

When I’m not advising students on career choices, I am grading, and replying to frantic emails at unholy hours in the morning. The emails and office visits from students energize me, so I’m happy to assist in any way possible.

In addition to job duties, I have made the decision to torture myself by returning to school. On top of this, my daughter is crawling now. While I’m studying, she gets into EVERYTHING; so it can be fun finding her, but scary when she hurts herself.

Student loan repayment hasn’t stopped. Check out the updated balances below.

Reminiscing On Love:

My wife and I just celebrated another year of marriage, pray with us for many more. As the years roll by, I realize the importance of not taking her for granted. We’ve been through so much in our little 6 years and can’t believe she has stuck with me this long. I’m awestruck when meeting couples who have been married for 20 years or longer. A long list of joys and sorrows are undoubtedly present when loving someone.

Love Isn’t Easy:

I remember fondly my first job out of college. The pay and benefits were great and the feeling of accomplishment swelled in me everywhere I went. Being recently married, next on the agenda were children and a house.

Then One Day…

I was given the ultimatum at my job, leave or be fired. Being young and dumb I quit voluntarily. Now thinking back on it, I would’ve allowed my employer to fire me, for unemployment benefits lol. Naively I thought having a college degree would exempt me from hardships.

I imagined my voicemail box full from employers offering even higher paying jobs than the one I left from. My next job wouldn’t be found until six months later, washing cars.

No Love Lost:

My wife loved me before I had the high dollar job and she loved me after it was gone. She remained consistent in her affection toward me, and for that I am thankful.

Student Loan Advice:

  1. Expect and plan for hardships along the journey- A friend once told not to worry. Citing a theologian he said, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.” So it’s best to do what you can when you can, don’t fret.
  2. Believe-To do the seemingly impossible you must believe in the impossible. Someone had to eventually create the first plane, then came breaking the sound barrier, next was space flight.
  3. Stay Consistent-Learn as much as you can and learn to fail. When you fail, never give up because it is your “First Attempt In Learning”. Things take time to improve, with each payment there’s less interest and hopefully less principal owed.

Feel free to comment below and share your warm and fuzzy memories. The next post will be titled, “House Hunting”.

 

 

Pressing Forward: $39,333.96 Paid, $45,974.11 Till Pay Off

Thankfulness
Hey folks! Thanksgiving is almost here and I am thankful for the veterans of this great nation.  Regardless of who’s in office, the responsibility of changing my life for the better is mine.   I am also thankful for my education.  It has exposed me to opposing thoughts and opinions, stretched my view of the world, and equipped me with tools to solve problems.  Student loans are one of my problems, let’s address it together.

Financial Advice
The best financial advice I’ve received was to “Act Your Wage” by Dave Ramsey. This means to only spend what you can afford. I have to admit– it’s pretty difficult living this way, when I want to make my first home purchase, take extra vacations, or frequent the barbershop.

To me, purchases represent the time we spend on jobs, toiling for things we are privileged to enjoy. Had student loans not been as easily available, the prospect of years of repayment would have directed me to other less costly schools. It is no one’s fault but my own. Making purchases beyond my financial means is a mistake I don’t anticipate doing again.

Improved Outlook
Things continue to improve and I anticipate continued growth in 2017.  I resolve to have at minimum $10,000 of principal balance paid off.  This goal will not be easy given my current salary, but anything is possible coming from $85,308.07. So far this year, I’ve repaid $5,038.35 in principal.

This will be accomplished by sticking to the family budget below. Childcare is now $400 instead of $680. A family member has graciously volunteered to keep our baby girl during the day, and we are in turn blessing them. Needs for the baby are significantly less going forward.

november-budget

Also, as mentioned in the last post, we were waiting on the final delivery bill for the baby. Our initial out-of-pocket expense was $1,500 and could have been more after filing with the insurance. Thankfully, we were recently informed that everything was covered under that fee. Although family health coverage of $798 per month is a significant portion of the budget, I remain happy with the benefits.

Perkins Loan Repayment
It gives me great joy to announce that I am weeks away from paying back my Perkins Loan. Perkins loans are offered to students with financial need, with the school serving as the lender. The original amount owed was $8,200. Needless to say, I can’t wait to type in “0” in the place of the fourth loan account! You can see the updates for all the loans below.

loans-update-november-2016

Contentment
After 5 years of repayment, I am beginning to learn the true meaning of contentment. To get ahead in life we must start with an attitude of gratitude. There will always be someone we perceive as possessing more talent, resources, or influence than us. We need not exhaust ourselves chasing after other folks’ blessings, look in the mirror and see what you have been blessed with.

You guys have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday. Until next time, continue the fight.

It Takes A Village: $38,125.17 Paid, $47,182.90 Till Pay Off

PhotoGrid_1472670834765

With A Heart of Thanks:

I want to start this blog entry by saying thank you. I am at a loss for words to describe the generosity my family has received from many people far and wide. Thank you to the ladies who encouraged my wife during the pregnancy, ensuring her she would be the great mother as she has turned out to be. Thank you to the guys who prayed for me, offered Godly wisdom and parenting advice.

My Baby’s Arrival/Health Benefits:

My daughter arrived on Sunday, August 7, 2016.  The experience of witnessing the birth of your child is life changing (and expensive too lol). Right now we are awaiting the final delivery bill to determine how it will impact our budget. One thing’s for sure: I don’t want to add any more debt.

With that said, healthcare in America is costly.  Initially, it was cheaper for my wife and I to have our employer/school provide insurance separately.  With the addition of our child, it has become less pricey for the three of us to be under my employer plan.  Thus, our health coverage will cost $798 a month, but the benefits will be well worth it.

Daycare, Baby Needs & New Budget:

On another note, diapers, wipes, baby clothes, car seats and cribs may cost you little, or it may cost you lots, but it’ll cost you.  Thanks to the gifts of friends and family, there were only a Baby Budgetfew baby essentials needed.  All my little girl needs is a loving home and I’m sure my wife and I can manage that.

To the left is my family’s updated budget, click on the image for a larger view.  You will notice two new items: Daycare and Baby Needs.  The $2,894.13 featured in Baby Needs is not our monthly budget for her, but is the amount spent for the month of August.  As months go by, we expect to be able to assess a fair budget for our child.

My wife hates giving one thought to daycare, but she understands it’s necessary given our busy schedules. In her own words, “I love having our daughter near and on me”. Sweet huh? Seeing through the warm fuzzies, she understands we must do our best to: 1) pay off my student loans and 2) ensure her graduation this December.

To wrap up this post, below is an update on my student loan accounts as of 08/23/2016. Thanks for following my journey to student debt freedom thus far.

Loan Update

Once again, thank you to those who have shown love to my little family.

 

Almost Halfway Home: $36,487.04 Paid, $48,821.03 Till Pay Off

I am finally “under the hill”–I now owe less than $50,000 in student loans!  Bring out the bubbly!

Here’s a snapshot of my current loan accounts:

4-6-16 Updatechampagne

If you were to meet me 5 years and told me where I would be today, I would either deem you a lunatic or a liar. Because 5 years ago, my loan balance was nothing to celebrate…

Holiday Blues 2011:

My heart felt heavy with guilt and shame as I drove home from work one week before Christmas in 2011.  The holidays are some of the worst times to feel blue, especially due to job loss.  It was my third time being dismissed from work in two years.  I walked into my apartment without a word after cheerful greetings and a kiss from my wife.

Know How Much You Owe:

Thoughts rushed in at once, “Who gets fired a week before Christmas? How are you going to pay rent?” And the scary one, “How are you going to make your student loan payments?”  I can happily say it has been 4 years, 8 months since I have started this journey.  What helped reduce my student loan debt was knowing how much I owed.  It is possible to track student loan amounts using the National Student Loan Data System’s website.

Taxes & Payment Plans:

If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, his famous quote would read, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and student loans”. Fortunately, for today’s college graduates, Income Driven Repayment plans exist to make repayment easier.

The federal government offers four repayment plans known as: Repaye, Paye, IBR and ICR. Under my current repayment plan, the first three years of interest was waived, and all payments went to principal.  To remain in one of these repayment programs, however, you must submit tax information annually (the processing of which can (surprise!) be incredibly inefficient, but I’ll save that episode for another time).  Thankfully, this documentation can be submitted electronically through Studentloans.gov.

Being enrolled in an “income-based” program made repayment possible during times of unemployment.  In addition, many are eligible to receive up to a $2,500 tax deduction.  This interest deduction has saved my wife and I lots of money, especially since she is now a full-time student.

For more details about the federal government’s income-driven repayment plans, click here.

The End In Sight:
I constantly review my repayment schedule, and in doing so, keep myself motivated as to the finite nature of this “student loan phase” of life. One of the most concrete ways to accomplish this is through using a repayment calculator. A simple, yet effective calculator can be found through FinAid.org.  The website can print a repayment schedule based on your loan amount, interest rate, and loan term. It is a tailored picture you can always revise to help envision your expected payoff date, and gives you the ability to play around with your payment budget and see the effects.

I hope this information has been helpful in providing motivation, goals, and vision.  You, too, can make progress in your repayment journey by:

1) Knowing what you owe,

2) Taking advantage of tax and repayment options, and

3) Seeing the end.

 

Feel free to post any specific questions, or additional advice you have gained on your journey, below!

Until next time, continue the fight, friends.

 

Income-Based Repayment: $28,433.14 Paid, $56,874.93 Till Pay Off

My Repayment Plan

Grrr… Outrageous loan payments:

It was one of the hottest days ever experienced in my life. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Summer, 2011 was officially the hottest ever for Texas.  Sweat rolled down my forehead, over the bridge of my nose, and onto my laptop as I reviewed projected monthly loan payments.  My apartment’s a/c unit and ceiling fans were all cranked full blast to no avail, my living room was an oven.  I stared at the number slated to be my undoing and it stared back at me: $981.73, was my projected monthly payment.   Then something happened…

My wife showed her support:

In frustration, I swung my fists angrily in the air and exclaimed through tears, “I have ruined myself financially!”  To this my wife replied, “Boy, you are so dramatic” and let out a hearty laugh.  At this point, there were two things in the world I did not particularly care much for: her and those blasted loans.  She walked over to me said with a smile and said, “Your loans are my loans”.

Unlike me, my wife has $0 debt.  She is currently in her graduate program and owes loan companies and the federal government nothing, I am very proud of her.  Her educational background is also in sciences (Biology and Chemistry), she’s been blessed to have scholarships.

How I’ve tackled repayment:

I soon researched different repayment options through my loan servicers and applied for the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program.  In 2011, the maximum payment was 10% of your discretionary income; presently, it is 15%.

Below are tables displaying my monthly payments under IBR with each loan company.  The first table below shows the initial monthly payment of $535.90 calculated for repayment.  However, I decided to be more aggressive and pay $402.51 bi-weekly, bringing my monthly total to $805.02.

IBR Monthly Repayment.jpg

Less interest accrues on the principal loan balances with bi-weekly payments as opposed to monthly payments.   This is because there is less time for interest to accumulate.  This is a well known method used for paying mortgages, so I thought to myself, “Why not use this method when I have the mortgage without the house?” lol

Remember, my initial monthly payment was forecasted at $981.73, with complete repayment scheduled after 10 years.  Actual Bi-Weekly PaymentSince I’m currently paying a total of $805.02,  one would assume I’d end up behind on the “standard” 10-year schedule for repayment.  But God blesses me throughout the year to make additional payments whenever possible.  My current progress still slates me to be completed before the 10 year mark.

 So this is my repayment plan.  The next blog entry will discuss my wife’s favorite… our personal budget.  So I have questions to ask you.  Are you currently taking advantage or ever even heard of the IBR program?  Have you found creative ways to speed up your repayment process?

Why? -$27,281.44 Paid, $58,026.63 Till Pay Off

As of February 17, 2015, here’s the damage I have caused myself financially:

student loans.jpg

So why am I disclosing my financial situation on social media? Well, I’ve been inspired by another blogger, Joe Mihalic who accomplished the incredible feat of paying off 90k in student loans. He displayed a great amount of discipline and financial prowess while budgeting. You guys should check out his blog, it is called “No More Harvard Debt“. I have also failed to mention that Mr. Mihalic paid his debt in full after 10 months, awesome right!?

Not exactly… being a Harvard grad who earns six figures plus bonuses annually won’t make many sympathetic.  He described his salary in his own words as “modest” in comparison to his peers in banking lol. In my opinion, he deserves everything he has gotten out of life. To have a degree from Harvard, Joe is undoubtedly very intelligent and driven. Please understand everyone, I am proud of him and not the type to sip on Haterade.

However, I am someone who may never see a six figure salary. I have also worked minimum wage jobs for the first two years of loan repayment while significantly decreasing my loan principal balance. This blog will serve as encouragement to the “Average Joes” out there, no pun intended, who struggle to find gainful employment as I have.