Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another Big Month!

Rebekah and I used the money from the car sale to pay off our Citicard and our Brandsmart card which we used to buy our TV. Between those two cards we had $3,954.83 on them. Paying them off is a 5% reduction in our debts. This is a huge burden lifted off of us. We never were able to get rid of these it seemed. We were paying $100 a month on each of them so this will free up an additional $200 a month to apply to the student loans. We should really start to see all of our sacrifices pay off now.

It is still a long road ahead, but in one month we have cleared up $11,000 in debt and increased our monthly budget by $700. I am thinking this is where the hard part begins. We will not be able to payoff large chunks of debt each month like we did. It will be small wins each month, but hopefully we will continue to be motivated to pay off debt.

If you hear of any awesome blogs that I could check out to follow other peoples' journey through debt that would be great. One that is really awesome is It is very encouraging and I would highly recommend that you check it out. Hopefully I will have an update for you as we start the new month.

As always, thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tilling Up Debt!

Good to be back.

We had a lot of things going on this month, so I apologize for not writing more. I am still working out a schedule for this blog, so I should get more consistent with my posts (hopefully).

This month we laid down some sod in the backyard. I spent about a week preparing the backyard. I had to move some dirt, drop some weed killer, buy top soil, and then till the land. It was some hard work, but it is good to see the fruits of our labor with the final product. The tall fescue sod is starting to perk up a little bit. I am, however, nervous about our water bill as we have to water it for 45 minutes each morning at 6 am. We also have some white grubs underneath the Fescue that apparently eat the grass roots and destroy your lawn, so I am in the process of locating Nematodes to spray into the soil to kill them.

On to the debt. Last month, my wife and I decided to hire a financial adviser to help provide us with some insight on our debt. She is a family friend and absolutely wonderful to work with. She looked over all of our debts and typed up a proposal for us. We have a plan of action and we are going to stick to it. I want to share one of the more interesting things we found out from our meeting the other day. She showed us our plan and told us that if we paid the minimum on our Citi card (no interest and $20 minimum) we could pay off our debts 7 years faster by applying that $80 elsewhere, as we are currently paying $100 a month on this card. My wife and I were shocked to say the least! We know the credit card will eventually have interest, but in the mean time we will continue to pay the minimum on it so we can attack our student loans more vigorously. So, after sitting and talking through our plan, we should be debt free in 2 years and 11 months. This will all depend on our commitment to the plan, as things are likely to come up that aren't planned!  However, it is encouraging that we can hopefully be debt free by 28, as many people in America aren't debt free at that age.

Here is a picture of our finished back yard for your enjoyment...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is College Worth It?

Ever since I went back and decided to get a Master's in Education, I have struggled with accepting the debt I had to take on in hopes of making more over the long run.

In Georgia, teachers make roughly $4,000 more with a Master's than with a Bachelor's. One would think over the span of a career of 30 years, a teacher could expect to make $120,000 more with Master's. However, considering the rising cost of tuition to go to not only an undergraduate program, but also a graduate program, it makes one think. Especially, since about 54% of recent college graduates are underemployed or unemployed. Some of them take jobs that pay $25,000 a year and with a burden of student debt upwards of $100,000, college is setting them up for a life default and student loan payments instead of mortgage payments. My wife and I are extremely lucky to have the jobs and income we do at only 25, but we feel sorry for our friends that struggle to breath financially because of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Luckily, teaching at an underprivileged school in an area of high need such as math and science, can have $17,500 of their student loans forgiven as long as they teach for 5 years at that school. You better believe I am only 2 years from this and I will apply for that forgiveness.

Back to my thoughts, I paid exactly $31,000 to get my graduate degree. If I deduct the $31,000 from the $120,000 I can expect to make over my career, I will only net roughly $89,000 over my career, not including accrued interest from the loans, which most run at 6.8%. I am not sure if netting $89,000 is worth delaying having kids with my wife for 5 years until we are completely debt free and have $10,000 in a college savings account for our first child that we can afford to continue to contribute to until they are 18. Having children is our dream. We look forward to those years of our lives, but we need to be able to take care of them appropriately. In the state we are in, we cannot afford to do that because we pay almost 60% of our take home pay to debt!

So, back to the question, is college worth it? I am not sure. Of course I wanted to go to college. I wish someone would have told me what life would be like with $90,000 in debt by the time I am 23. I might have second-guessed myself. Or, I would have gone to a school that accepted the HOPE scholarship in Georgia and not a private school in Tennessee that my family said they could pay for, but obviously could not.

I do not regret going to a private college. I had a wonderful liberal arts education that taught me a tremendous amount of information that I now use everyday in my teaching. I met some incredible people and developed lifelong relationships with each of them. I would never trade the memories and experiences I created in college, not even for the $90,000 back. College was without a doubt the best 4 years of my life. However, it set me up for living about 8 years in debt (hopefully less, but realistically 8), unable to travel or have children. I feel like I am going in circles with this and of course there is no true answer and only opinions.

I would love to read some comments on other people's thoughts on this.

Bye Bye, Hallie!

These last few weeks were crazy! My wife and I decided to sell one of our cars. It was a 2007 Honda Accord Coupe (pics to follow) named Hallie. It only had 68,000 miles on it and blue-booked it at $14,000. We still owed about $7,000 on it and were paying $320 a month towards that. So, we sold the car for $13,750 and made a little over $6,000 on the car sale! Woo hoo! We are using this $6,000 to pay down some other debts that we have. With one big swoop, we just got rid of $13,750 of debt! Making this decision was certainly not easy and big props to my wife for going out of her comfort zone to sell her car. However, this is a decision that will pay off in the long run.

All we have now is a 2002 Honda Accord that was a gift for my graduation from high school. It is paid off and has 116,500 miles on it. We just spent $800 to get it cleaned up and make sure the mechanics were good, which obviously they weren't because we spent $800! We are hoping my Honda lasts us another 5 years, or 200,000 miles. We should have paid off all of our debts long before this time allowing us to pay cash for a new car as a reward to ourselves for being crazy.

In addition to selling the car, we finally got rid of Comcast! Woo-hoo! I had been wanting to do that for so long. We were paying $125 a month for their service. Since cancelling them, I switched over to AT&T for internet only at $29.99 a month. This will save us an additional $95 this month to apply towards our debt. This was also not an easy decision. This is a major compromise on my part. I love being able to watch football on the weekends. It breaks my heart that I do not get ESPN. However, I was able to go to Bestbuy and purchase an RCA indoor antenna for $11. I get all of the major channels like CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC plus about 20 other local channels. Luckily, I still get most of the games and CBS and ABC will always play the big games on Saturdays and I will get some good NFL games on Sunday through NBC and Fox. All of these channels come in HD and look BEAUTIFUL on the TV. I am very excited about free-HD. We also signed up for a subscription to Hulu Plus for $8 a month to get all of our shows we may miss.

In addition to the Comcast savings, when I cancelled my wife's car insurance with USAA, it saved us $57 a month! I am very excited about this. From now on, we will be able to apply approximately $472 extra a month to debt. Moreover, when we use our $6,000 profit from the sale of the car, we will be able to clear up an additional $100 a month by paying off one our student loans. So, we basically just gave ourselves a $572 raise per month or $6864 over a year. Pretty awesome I would say!

I do want you guys to know that it is NOT this easy. We have been married 2 years and we always talked about it for two years, but we never made an effort. We would get ready to start the program and then something would happen to prevent us from being aggressive like we are now. Luckily, the timing has worked out for us now and we are being really intense about reducing our debts. I can't wait to see how much debt we are able to pay this month.

Next up are those dang student loans! In the mean time, I will start to post some other websites I look to for inspiration. I will also talk about some of my investments I have made. I would love for any of your insight and expertise in the matter. I find investing really interesting and fun and I am always looking for ways to increase my wealth too.

As always, thanks for reading. Here is a picture of Hallie to send you off...
Bye Bye, Hallie!