Getting Rid of My Debt, Part 12: Recap, and WOWWWW

Will spring ever get here??
Will spring ever get here??
Bikes in the snow. My baby blue has been inside throughout all of this.
Bikes in the snow. My baby blue has been inside throughout all of this.

I’ve noticed that people tend to really like these posts on my blog, and I hope it’s because my progress inspires people. This has been a really tough winter in the northeast – ridiculously “butt cold” temperatures and when it does warm up, it’s just to snow.  (See my evidence in the pictures above.) So, I needed a pick-me-up to make me feel good.  I have been meaning to chart my progress on my wall, so I gathered up the numbers.


Here’s how they look since I started really keeping track:

Sept. 2013:

Personal loan: $4,211.42
LAL loan: $20,939.94
Simmons Loan: $23,620.04
Big Daddy (federal) loan: $75,390.94

TOTAL BALANCE: $124,162.34


Personal loan: $000000000 (gone, gone, gone!!!!)
LAL Loan: $18,871.05
Simmons Loan: $23,620.04
Big Daddy (federal) loan: $75,390.94

TOTAL BALANCE: $117,882.03

DIFFERENCE (DECREASE in DEBT): $6,280.31  🙂 🙂 🙂

Of my last two payments on my LAL Loan ($455 and $171.95, respectively), here’s how much went to principal and how much went to interest:

$455 total payment = $397.46 to principal and $32.54 to interest
$171.95 total payment = $169.12 to principal and $2.83 to interest

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me!!

It’s been 5.5 months and I’ve gotten rid of more than $6K in debt, AND have increased my savings accounts to more than what they have ever been before since I’m on my own.  I’ve gotten rid of enough shit in my apartment that I can now keep all of my christmas decorations here instead of taking up space in my brother’s attic. I’ve gotten a job at the gym which has been a goal of mine, and I start this Thursday evening. I’ve taken an additional test with NASM and passed, and am working on test #3 and certification #2.  Out of nowhere, “my” author has asked for  my help again on her book, and she really respects my work (and sense of humor) and pays me well for my time. I have a positive net worth due to my retirements savings and am continuing to put in more than 6% of my salary into my 403(b) account on top of the 10% that my employer puts in a pension (yes, really, I have one) plan, in which I am fully vested.  Things are coming together!! 

(To my friends out there reading this, if I ever get down on myself, could you remind me to read this post? Thanks.)  As my brother said to me on facebook the other day “Sis, you’re doing it!”

You may have noticed that two of those loans don’t appear to have changed, balance-wise, since I embarked on this course. Today, that changes. You see, when I had more debt, I asked my lenders to allow me to just pay the interest that kept accruing on my loans per month. That equals $558/month. Yes, it’s depressing as hell to think about paying over $6,000/year just to keep a loan from growing.  I’m calling my lender today and will be asking them to put me back on the standard repayment plan, so at least some of my payment goes toward cutting down the balance. It may not be much, but as I have learned, every little bit helps.

Good things are happening. I don’t know how or why but as I say to some of my friends when they question why things start going their way, “do not question the wisdom of the gods, just go with it.” 

And now, for those of you who love the snow, I leave you with one more image. If I had been standing next to this snowpile (which wasn’t created by plows, etc., it was just there, it would have at least been up to my waist.)

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Feeling cold yet? :-)
Feeling cold yet? 🙂

Getting Rid of my Debt, Part 5: Making Progress Mondays series

Working on saving these so I can owe less of these...
Working on saving these so I can owe less of these…

Two Christmases ago, I remember thinking to myself, “this sucks. I have less than $500 in savings, over $7000 in credit card debt and can’t even charge anything even if I want to because it will put me over the limit, and I have less than $30 in my checking account. HOW did I get here? I’m 39!”

Yes, I look at this moment as my financial rock bottom.

Today, my savings account is much healthier, and I can afford to rent a car this week to go home for Thanksgiving. (I found out Budget will let you rent without a credit card if you fit certain qualifications.) I have zero credit card debt (and zero personal cards–the only credit card I have is a corporate one.) I have $1169 due on a personal loan and I will have that paid off by Dec. 31st, “come hell or high water” as my mom used to say. The only debt remaining will be my student loans. Read more

Getting Serious about my Debt, Part 3 (all 122K of it, plus or minus a few bucks)

When I wrote my earlier post about fear, my friend Kate said maybe I should turn my fears on the side and take a look at how far I’ve come. I definitely want to do that. But for tonight, I’m going too take a look at how far I’ve come in getting rid of my debt in about 6 weeks. It helps me to see it in perspective like this. It is working. Just not as fast as I might like it to move.

Here is a picture of my overall debt as of Sept. 3rd of this year (just click on the photo to enlarge):

Total Debt as of Sept. 3rd
Total Debt as of Sept. 3rd

And here is a picture of my debt as of October 14th ((just click on the photo to enlarge):

Total Debt as of October 14th
Total Debt as of October 14th

I think this is good considering it’s only been about 6 weeks. The difference amounts to $2,026.38!! And yes, I really have nicknamed one of my loans, Big Daddy.  And yes, that’s a fixed interest rate of 7.5%. I know….sigh….

You might wonder how I don’t paralyze myself by looking at these numbers. Well, I try to not look at them as a whole. I try to focus on the little gains I am making in them month to month.  My LAL loan has a variable interest rate that can go as high as 9%, so it’s my next area of focus after my personal loan is gone.  That and establishing more of an emergency fund than what I currently have. Then, Big Daddy and then finally the Simmons loan. (My financial advisor suggested this order.)

There is a line in one of my favorite YouTube videos where Logan Smith makes the point that people always think that they need to earn more money, but they forget that “they can always spend less.” He emphasizes the word “less.” That made a big impact on me. It’s part of why I sold my car. It’s why I don’t eat out much, especially for lunch at work like many of my colleagues. I can eat healthier if I bring my own from home. The few times that I have bought lunch at work is when someone is quitting and it’s a good-bye lunch. And dinners, I usually eat at home also. And all those books that discuss the “latte factor?” Yeah. Those don’t apply to me either.

While i have taken Logan’s words to heart, I am also looking for ways to increase my income. A friend of mine, whose husband is out of work, told me about mystery shopping. I just signed up with a few companies over the weekend and have already received some emails about “shops” in my area. I’m excited to try it out, and hope that there are opportunities to do more than pose as a buyer at a car dealership (what i have already seen posted.)

One thing I like about the concept of mystery shopping is the freedom you have in scheduling your shop. You get a date range during which the shop should be done but the actual scheduling ultimately works on your own schedule. I’m hoping I can make a little bit of extra money to out aside for my tiny house (or just pay off debt faster), but I need to make sure I still have time for studying and writing, as well as my furballs. I don’t want to lose sight of my priorities in addition to getting rid of my debt.

This doesn’t take into account any money I am trying to save. It’s hard to do both – save and drastically pay down debt simultaneously. But I’m trying! (That’s for another post — I’ll keep this one short.)

Stay tuned, I will let you know how it goes, on both the debt reducing and the mystery shopping fronts!