Sunday, June 30, 2013

Crazy Week

Sorry for not posting last week. We had one long week.

First, we decided we would refinish our kitchen cabinets. They were this ugly, stained, moldy, and nasty looking brown with some gross glossy finish. We assume they were from 1986 when the house was built. This turned out to be quite a task. We had to sand all of the cabinets down, prime, and paint. We have the cabinets on the wall complete, but not the cabinet doors.

Second, we noticed that our AC was running hot so we called over our maintenance company. They came out Tuesday morning and the meeting only took about 5 minutes for them to figure out the problem. The compressor in our downstairs unit is done. This unit was installed in 1986 and is original to the house. So, we got 4 quotes done and the cheapest was $7,500 for just one unit and a furnace. We have two units and two furnaces that are at a minimum 13 years old.  So, we definitely want to replace everything. The quote we decided on costs us $11,595. This includes two 16-SEER 2 stage AC units, two furnaces at 95% AFUE, and a FREE water heater. I negotiated with the company and told them our water heater was 17 years old and if we were going to spend nearly $12,000, they should replace our water heater for free and they obliged with no problem. This REALLY sucks. That is a ton of money, but it is a necessary expenditure in order to upgrade our units to achieve savings on our bills each month. Luckily, we knew these units would need to be replaced and have saved for it. Also, we looked into some rebate programs and stand to see $900 of it back. This is going to slow down our debt payments a little bit because I had to use some of our summer money from our various jobs to pay for this.

On the bright side, this is the last thing we knew we had to pay for. All in a year, we replaced the roof ($9,500), the AC/Water Heater ($11,595), and painted the exterior of the house ($4,600). If anything else comes up, it will be a complete surprise. 

Lastly, our student loans finally transitioned over. I doubt we will be able to pay anything extra to them this month, but I will post some updated totals in the next couple of days.

Hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Moment of Excitement

Logged in last Friday to check on the interest accrued to our loans and saw that there was a zero balance on what was just over $25K. I was so pumped for a second. I did not understand why it was a zero balance, but I didn't care. Then, I thought it was too good to be true, and it was. Our loans had been bought out and transferred over to another loan carrier. Luckily, it is one we already use and makes it much easier on allocating our payments. I will update our debt totals once the balance shows up on the new account.

Sorry for not posting as frequently. I have been working at the local nature camp for these past two weeks. I really decided I do not like kids between 7-9. I find them annoying for some reason with their complaining and he said/she said stuff. However, the money is wonderful and the people I work with are nice. Only 3 more days of that.

We just got back our tax return and it was more than expected just over $1,000. We plan to mount the flat screen and buy a rug for our living room which is an awkward set up. I will post a before and after picture to show you guys. I anticipate that this will cost altogether about $500. We will just save the other $500. We are up over $9,000 in savings and other cash accounts. The market has been on a little tear the past couple of days and we have made some money.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Over 30% Paid Off!

Good Morning Everyone!

We are over 30% paid off now! We are starting to see that debt total start slipping away pretty quickly, which provides us with even more encouragement to knock all of these loans out! Some of the debt totals are wrong and I will need to fix them as they update, but the bottom line is correct. By the beginning of July, we will have paid off an additional $3,000 or so. This morning I just submitted a $1,510 payment since I was paid last week for my summer tutoring business. I will also have my two weeks at the local nature center coming up. I was able to pick up morning duty for the second week for an additional $100 so I will be receiving $1,300 for that. Also, the wife was able to work an additional 6 days this summer at her school which will pay her $85 a day, so we will get an additional $510 to pay towards loans. Pretty exciting stuff going on.

Update on the $500 gift is all gone. We needed two new front tires for the car and that cost $250. Then, I bought a new suit which was needed badly for the wedding we have next week to go to, and about 5 new dress shirts, some ties, and dress socks for work. I was really wanting a Tony Gonzalez jersey, but I decided to be an adult and use the money for things I really needed. Stinks being an adult.

On another note, we won UGA season tickets for the upcoming season! We are pretty excited about that. It is a bit of a financial commitment with the 100 miles in gas we will drive every other weekend, but I figure it is a good way to reward ourselves for our hard work over the past 9 months.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Over the weekend, we had a call for a friend to go to the Brave's game. This was one of the bigger series of the year against the Nationals. The friend called us about 2 hours before game time and invited us to the game. Since it was such a big series, the cheap seats were $15. Because of our student loan debt, we politely declined. When we did this, our friend called us lame and asked what better things we had to do that night. We responded saying we had student loan debt and we could not afford to spend $45 that night with tickets and parking excluding grabbing something to eat on the way. I guess to some people think that $45 is not that much money, but not us. That is 1/5 of one of our current loans. I was pretty upset about this. I do not understand why people accept debt and that it is OK to carry them into their 40's. I refuse to owe anyone money at 40 including our mortgage.  

Dave Ramsey warned us about this. He told us people would think we are crazy and call us losers for not going out to dinner every night, or see that new movie. We will just carry on doing our thing paying off debt and then we will enjoy life much more without monthly payments.

Speaking of movies, we went to see that new Fast 6 movie this weekend. Don't worry, we have about $100 to AMC movies in gift cards from our students. I would NEVER spend $11.25 to see a movie. Back to the movie, it rocked! It was pretty unrealistic, but was definitely action-packed. Probably my second favorite to the 5th movie. I love The Rock in them and I hope he comes back for the 7th. Yes, they foreshadow a 7th movie at the end of the newest one. If you need help clarifying the meaning of the preview for the 7th, I will be happy to explain! :)

Lastly, tomorrow is our three year wedding anniversary. I have been saving restaurant gift cards for 6 months for this day. We will be dining at Uncle Julio's, a place we would never dream of going because the average entree is $15, but we have some gift cards to go there, so we should not have to spend too much.

Still waiting on the loan's to update. I really hate the wife's student loan company. They are irritating. One more reason to pay these things off!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Loan Cancellation Update #2

Called this morning to ask why my second year of teaching was not counted and they told me it would count once August rolled around. They also told me that my account would be frozen and I WOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY ANOTHER DOLLAR FOR THAT LOAN!! WOO HOO!! This loan was our biggest loan at nearly $8,300 and we were paying $100 a month for just that loan. Now, I do not have to pay $100 a month. We will be rolling this $100 into another loan every month now. If I would have seen this forgiveness earlier, I would not have needed to pay a single dollar to it, but I ended up paying off about $700 in principal. Oh well, I am saving $8,300, I think I will be OK. All I have to do now is submit my paper work every August.

With that loan forgiven, we are not under $70,000 in loans and 28% paid off! We definitely beat our goal, but we will not slow down. Hopefully by the end of the year, we can pay off another 7% of loans and get to the 35% paid off mark come December 31st.

This is a good start to the week. Hope all of you have a similar start!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Enjoying Summer on a Budget

Hello again, I'm here to pass along free things to do in the summer.  This is the first summer my husband and I have off together, as we are both currently working as teachers.  While it's great to have all this extra free time, it's quite the problem when you don't have the budget to go anywhere or do anything that costs a lot of money.  We have had to promise each other not to go "looking" for things to do around the house, because it will likely turn into a headache and very expensive project. Therefore, I've decided to peruse the web for free things to do throughout the summer and pass these suggestions on to you.

The first "free" thing we did this past week was attend a Food Truck event at a neighborhood park.  This is a new thing in our community as of two weeks ago, and I think it's a great idea.  There are different food trucks each week (about six) and a live band and activities for the kids.  It's a major plus that it's walking distance from the house, so we were able to save gas and walk the dogs at the same time! While dinner wasn't free (it was $15 for both of us), this was a great way to spend the evening and do something that we hadn't done before.

So look around your area for food truck gatherings, take the kids, pets and a blanket and have a cheap (if not free) night out.  Another suggestion is to take a picnic, or at the very least your own drinks, and go enjoy the free music.

Stay tuned for more fun and hopefully free events we do this summer.  Here's to not being bored and saving money!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Loan Cancellation!


I told you guys a few posts ago that I was bored at work and I found that I could qualify for a 15% cancellation of my Perkins loan. Well I heard back and I qualified!! Woo hoo! The original loan balance was for $8,310.93. It is now down to $6,960.93; a reduction of $1,350! This is actually a decrease of 16.2%. They apparently base the 15% on the original loan amount which was for $9,000. I am pretty excited about this. This was one of our biggest loans with a 5% interest rate.

As exciting as this is, I am going to call them on Monday and ask them why I did not get the other 15% decrease. I should qualify for another 15% cancellation because I have been teaching for two years in an area of need at a Title 1 funded school. I know I am being greedy, but I definitely need another 15% forgiven. That would be a total of $2,700. Next year, this number will go up to 20% forgiven.

If  you have student loans, please go scour the internet for different forgiveness options on your student loans. They have all kinds of forgiveness for different areas of public service, so be sure you look. It could definitely pay off! If you have questions, I will be happy to help!

Friday, May 31, 2013

What to do?

About two months ago, I sold off some of our mutual funds and individual stock in order to get a healthy balance to invest in a stock. Altogether it was about $4,400. I decided I would find a pretty big company and invest all of that money into it. Yes, I know, very risky. I did my due diligence and found Icahn Enterprises. This is the investment vehicle owned by billionaire Carl Icahn. I figured he would be a pretty safe investment considering he has a lot more money than I do and he does not want to see his money decrease. So I took a shot and I invested in his company at a share price of $67. I was able to get 67 shares at that price. Not to mention, Carl pays his stock owners a $4 dividend on every share.

I followed this stock closely and used stop-losses as it started going higher. It was a very volatile stock trading up or down 1%- 2% a day. Eventually it got to my sell point of $90, then the stock tanked and I sold at $87. So, I made almost $1,300 with that stock. Now I have about $5,700 to invest with. I am not sure what to do. The market seems to be very unstable recently. The Fed can't decide what it is going to do and the market does not seem to like that. Now would certainly not be time to be risky. I need some healthy growth stocks that have had a dividend for quite a while. I am looking at a company like Coke. It is a little on the expensive side with a P/E at 21, but it seems to be going through a pull-back right now. It would certainly be a good entry point.

Another one is Costco. They have been on a tear recently. Their earnings are improving and their P/E is high at 25, but EPS is 4. So the multiple is not bad here.

I also question if I should get in a mutual fund. Tanner was correct about FNMIX. That thing has done nothing but go down since I bought it in February. So, I saved a few months of retirement contributions and purchased FBIOX, which is a mutual fund around health care. It has returned close to 35% this year alone. I wonder if I should put my $5,700  into this mutual fund as well and see what happens. I am definitely looking for risk so that I can see some upside, but do not want to be too crazy.

I would love to hear what you guys think, or if you have had any success recently with investments. I would love to know what you invested in and why. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tax Update

Good Afternoon Everyone!

We got an "Annual Notice of Assessment" from our tax commissioner. This number is fantastic compared with the $5,100 we spent last year. The number came in at $3,394.87! Woo hoo! It looks like our $2,100 mortgage will go away pretty quick. I am faxing in this letter and they will post the changes to the account within 5 business days.

It looks like they honored our homestead exemption like they said they would. Also, our home's value decreased $20,000 to just over $250,000, which is what we paid for it. This I am not happy about, but our local school system has been struggling recently replacing board members and fighting accreditation issues. Moreover, we are not looking to sell at this moment so I won't lose too much sleep over it, but I would like our value to slowly climb back up.

This is extremely relieving. I was literally losing sleep over this payment. It looks like we pay it this month, but next month it should come back down. Now we can focus back on paying down our debt! Right now, we have about $900 waiting to clear and post. Once this is done, I will give you guys an update on the debt total. We are going to fight hard to make it to that 25% mark. When our escrow gets figured out, we should be good-to-go with meeting our goal. According to my calculations, that means we will need to payoff $5,200 worth of loans to reach that mark. This should be feasible considering the summer money we are set to make.

I used the $500 gift card to buy two new tires on the car today. This was overdue and something we definitely needed. That cost was $234. My granddad told me to never skimp on tires, so I have always bought the same tire throughout my ownership of the car. Of course they are the most expensive touring tires, but since we are reliable on this car only, I can't afford not to have the best.

To top off this good day, Chik-fil-a was giving away chicken sandwiches today! I only spent $1.50 on my lunch. I cannot resist the sweet tea. I don't understand why. I guess it is just a southern thing. Any of you have the same problem?

Hope everyone has a great Thursday and weekend! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Internet Searching

While at work on Friday, I happened to get bored and do research. I know you all probably think I am a slacker, but I finished cleaning my room and posting grades on Thursday so that I would not have too much to do on Friday. I decided I would look into student loan forgiveness programs available for teachers. Since I am a science teacher, I should be able to qualify for a lot of them.

I found a program for teachers in low-income schools, or teachers in an area of shortage. I qualify for both of these. I then read further into it and it would only apply to Perkins loans. These loans are loans made specifically through the 4 year school. They have a Perkins loan fund which they will issue to students after completing the FASFA. This fund is replenished by the principle and interest payments made by other borrowers. Lucky for me, I have a Perkins loan through my school and it happens to be the biggest loan I have; roughly $8,300. The program will provide the qualified teachers with 15% forgiveness through the first two years of teaching, then 20% for years 3 and 4, and 30% for year 5. If you are interested in this information, here is the link -

When I saw I was able to receive forgiveness for this much of my loan, I ran to my principal and told him to sign off on my paperwork. I got this in the mail on Friday afternoon. I am hoping to hear back from them soon. I have no reason not to qualify so I am pretty optimistic. I doubt I will hang on to this loan that long, but it will definitely be nice to get some relief at least for two years worth. If I qualify, and I if my assumption is right that they will forgive 30% of my total loan value because I have been teaching two years, then I will see a reduction of $2,493.28 bringing my loan balance to $5,817.65. That would be awesome! I will of course keep you guys updated on this.

We have done well to have some extra money in our checking account to absorb the new mortgage payment coming on June 1. I am not looking forward to this, but it could be worse I guess.

We have another $550 in payments waiting to clear and I am going to pay an additional $350, so another $900 will go to loans. This month we will have paid almost $2,000. That is pretty solid. Come the end of summer I project us to be under $70,000 and right around $67,000 in total debt. I am looking forward to that.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day. My family has a lot of vets and I always go pay tribute to them and their service at the North Georgia Cemetery where they are laid to rest. Be sure you thank anyone you know for their service.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


We were denied our request to close our escrow and release the funds. We now have a $2,100 a month mortgage payment for the foreseeable future. This number will go down once November rolls around, but for the next 5 months it is going to suck. There is really no other way to say it. Apparently if you have an FHA loan and do not put down 20% on a home, you are stuck with an escrow until you get 20% paid off. Take home story here, do not buy a home until you have 20%! Why didn't someone tell me that?

Our debt payments will obviously slow down and I do not think we will be able to hit that 25% mark. As bad as I want it, I just don't see how it will happen. 

I have some payments waiting to be cleared out. We paid about $800 to principal this month and once the accounts reflect that, I will update the totals again. 

I read the greatest article this morning about a family that paid off their mortgage in less than 5 years. Pretty incredible article that details how they did it. It provides me with some encouragement and new ideas. Maybe it will provide some of you the encouragement to kick that small credit card bill or put you on a path to being debt-free. Here is the article is you would like to read it

Hope everyone has a great day. Last day of school with the kids today! And, faculty bowling after work! Woo-hoo!! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Debt Totals Updated

Our loans finally updated our $700 payment! It took nearly a month, but here we are. We are now 19% paid off. That is not too bad considering we started 9 months ago. I just paid an additional $595 plus our monthly payment of $353. So, we have $900 going to loans this week. I am starting to collect some tutoring checks as well, so that total will start decreasing rapidly in the next two months. Our goal is to be 25% paid by October. It is hard, but I know we can keep at it. We have been doing a relatively good job at keeping on track except for December.

More to come soon in a future update.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I won!

There was a local contest for teachers who work in our community for a chance to win a $500 gift card to the mall here in Atlanta. Some of the students' parents nominated me and I was selected as a finalist for the award. Then, whoever had the most votes would win and it turns out that was me! Woo hoo! I am really not sure what to do with this. I am not the person that buys clothes except at Goodwill because they are too much anywhere else. I have been wanting a Tony Gonzalez jersey, so I may indulge myself that, but I am out of options after that. I will certainly let you guys know what I decide.

On another note, I am really looking forward to this summer. I think being a counselor at the local nature center will prove to be extremely fun and rewarding. Not to mention the extra money that will come with it. It looks like it will be a busy summer, but we will certainly enjoy it and enjoy the lower student loans.

Hope everyone finishes their weeks strong!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Summer Money

So, I found out this week that I will be able to lead a couple weeks of summer camps at the local nature center. They pay $600 for the week and I will only work from 9:30-3:30. Not too bad. That will amount to $1200. There is a possibility that I will be able to work another week as well.

In addition, I will be doing some tutoring for students to prepare them for high school biology. It is pretty tough at the local high school, so some of the parents asked if I would lead the summer tutoring and I absolutely agreed. Since this is my first year, I figured I would charge $150 per student for 16 hours of tutoring. I am looking to have around 10 students, but could grow up to 20 students. So that should amount to $1,500 in extra income.

My wife will be working as a nanny for a family that we love. She will only work two days a week for a total of 8 hours, but that is about $100 a week, so $800 in extra income.

Altogether, we should be looking at about $3,500 in extra income, which will all go to the student loans. Lastly, my wife will get paid twice in August due to some contract changes at her school, so we will pay all of that to a loan as well. It looks like we will be able to pay off about $6,000 in total in student loans this summer. That is almost 10% of our loans! Not too bad. I am really looking forward to paying that off.

Once I update out debt totals, we should be about 20% of the way done! Woo hoo! I would like to be at 30% paid off by the time September rolls around. Hopefully we can make it!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quick Posting

I have been bit by the poison ivy bug! Last time I caught poison ivy, I was about a day away from going to the emergency room. I have been taking my antihistamines that I need in order to survive. I think I am highly allergic to it.

On another note, some of our payments have gone through for loans. We are waiting for the 10th and the 21st for the rest to be paid. I am hesitant to pay extra with a $2100 mortgage payment screaming at me due on 6/1. I am really anxious about this and lose sleep about it.

We went to Chipotle yesterday for the teacher appreciation day! We ate at the restaurant for under $8! Woo hoo! I really wish we had discipline with the sweet tea that they brew up there. It is impossible to resist it, so we always get the sweet tea. If you are from the south, you will understand!

Hopefully next time I update, I am poison ivy free!

Hope every one has a strong finish to their week! 12 days until school is out! Pumped!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rainy Blues

I don't think it has stopped raining in about 12 hours. It is a constant fall with a few rolls of thunder every now and then.

So, we got home yesterday after having a pretty good day at work until we opened our mailbox. Inside of it was a letter from Franklin-American Mortgage. Not the bank we applied for a mortgage with but bought our mortgage from our previous bank. Inside of the envelope read that we were short on our escrow and they bank did not anticipate our increased taxes and hazard insurance year-over-year. They said our new mortgage payment would be $2,120, which is almost $400 more than what we currently pay which is $1,754. Ridiculous! I called them and they apologized for making a mistake on the calculations and not charging us a balanced amount each month to cover the escrow's expenses. Ugh! How can they anticipate an average family can afford to spend an additional $400 month?! Not too many people can do that, including us.

We are drafting a letter to send to them to close our escrow and release the balance to us. I thought an escrow was a good idea when we bought the house, but it turns out it is not. I would like to have control over our payments and savings so that we can accrue interest and pay the bills ourselves. Our financial planner warned us about this, but we did not listen. Sorry if you are reading this! Should have listened to you!

Hopefully this will be taken care of by the end of the month. If not, we will have to pay that ridiculous high mortgage payment. I will not look forward to that. More importantly, we will not be able to pay much extra on our loans.

Hope you all are having a good weekend!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Random Thoughts

Good evening everyone...

On a daily basis I take my dogs on a walk for about 45 minutes. It gives me a chance to calm down from the day, get a little exercise, and do some thinking.

On this particular walk I started thinking about when I was 18 getting ready for college. I thought back to a specific conversation between my mom and I. I asked my mom if my college was going to be paid for and she told me not worry about it and "just have fun", it would all be taken care of. I did not question her because it sounded like it would be for in cash. I would regularly ask my mom about the payments and she told me she had a monthly payment plan to pay tuition. She never once mentioned that she was paying for school through student loans. I find myself wanting to go back to 18 and ask my mom to sit down with me and tell me the financial situation for college. I wish she would have told me you x dollars to spend. If you spend more than that amount, you will have to get student loans to cover the rest. Then, I wish she would have told me an estimate of my monthly payment to student loans once I graduated. I really wish she would have included me in the discussion for the financing of college.

Then, I started thinking about how many people in student loan debt did not have parents that did not tell their kids how college would be paid for; they simply responded "don't worry, it will be taken care of, go have fun". If you are a parent reading this please sit your high school senior down at the dinner table at the start of the school year and explain to them 1) how much money you have socked away to pay for college and 2) what student loans will be like if they need them. I feel like a lot of this could be avoided if parents just explained the college budget to their students.

On the other hand, why don't high school seniors have to take a personal finance/ adult life class? I know this sounds stupid, but if someone had told me what life would be like with student loan payments, I would have tried at all costs to avoid having them! I feel like high school seniors should be informed on student loans and debt in general before they go to college. Many of the kids will receive a credit card in their name and take out student loans. They must understand the "ins-and-outs" of these things before they get them. Most kids would look at this as a symbol of freedom, and to a point it is, but they are ultimately bound to whatever amount of debt they take on for the next 20 years and if they do income-based payments, 30 years! That is a good chunk of their life to carry this burden. I feel it is only fair to teach students about these and let them make the decision on their own.

Sorry for the random thoughts, but I go worked up on my walk about this.

We are pending about $1,000 in extra loan payments this month! Woo-hoo! I will update the debt totals as soon as I get the payments cleared and see the new balances.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

We're Back!

To all of our readers...

We sincerely apologize for not writing an update in nearly two months. There may, or may not, be a good reason for this.

Over the past two months, we went through the process of painting the exterior of our house. While at first glance this seems like a dumb decision since we are trying to pay off debt, but in an effort to save money long term, we went ahead and painted the house. The whole job, including replacing parts of the cedar siding, was $4,500. We had an original cost of $3,800, but as you have seen before, the trim on our house was entirely black. So, some of the rot was not noticeable until the workers were on a ladder and could actually see the deteriorated trim.

My wife tried three different paint colors before she found the right one. Those things are not cheap! They cost about $7 a piece at Sherwin-Williams, but the color she chose turned out beautiful! We are extremely happy with the work that was done. Pictures are at the bottom of this post.

So, the real reason I did not write a post is because I did not feel like I would add any encouragement to anyone going through the same thing we are. Here we are nearly $75,000 in debt, but we decided to spend $4,500 to paint the exterior of our home. However, we truly went back and forth on this for three months before we decided to do it. That $4,500 could have gone a long way to paying off debt. On the other hand, we could have spent about $10,000, if not more, to replace the siding and paint over the long haul, not to mention the amount of energy that was escaping each month. So, we decided for the long run, it would be in our best interest to paint the house.

 Now, for a little laugh, here is a picture of my dinner from tonight. This is what dinner for people who are in debt looks like.

Some delicious peanut butter bread with about six tortilla chips and a glass of milk. I would love to see some pictures of other peoples' dinner that they are eating while they get out of debt.

Also, I am going to start a tally of the debt we pay off by staying under our grocery budget each month. Last month, we were able to add a whopping $110 to debt from  staying under our grocery budget each week and only buying necessities.

Now for some pictures of the house!


Thank you guys for reading!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rolling Over

I am in the process of rolling over my Roth IRA into a fund with Fidelity. It is called Fidelity's Emerging Market Income Fund. I have a friend who is in this fund and loves it. The fund pays a monthly dividend of $.065 a share it has also grown an average of 12% a year, not too bad. If I were to buy into this fund today, I would make $30 a month in dividends, which is $360 a year just on dividends, not including capital gains or growth. Pretty awesome.

I am looking to do this because I somehow lost $400 in my Roth with USAA last year. I am not quite sure how and I am going to call about it to see what is going on. I am hoping that we will see a real nice return being in this fund this year.

I made a mistake in yesterday's update. We paid off $1,081 in principal last month. I forgot I updated my loan payment earlier in the month.

This loan payment will not have a lot go to principal. Since we focused so much on my wife's loans, my interest has accumulated to $200. Ugh!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Really? $.09?

Just went through to see how we did this month. We paid exactly $700 to principle this month. Not too bad, but not as much as I thought we did. I really hate interest. Have I said that before?

Anyway, when I logged into to our accounts, I noticed we owed $.09 on one of the loans. Really? $.09?! I am thinking of mailing them a dime for this loan. It would cost more for the postage than the loan. We are going to end up paying them about $40,000 on $30,000 of loans. They wont let go of $.09? Ridiculous.

I did get excited when I updated our percentage paid. We are getting close to 20%! Woo-hoo! We should reach 20% paid long before our first year trying to get out of debt. Not too bad.

I will be posting an update tomorrow on some opportunities that have arisen where we can make some extra cash.

Hope you are all having a good week!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Use Your Resources

When we set out on this journey of debt reduction, I had no idea how much we would have to scrimp and save, even more so now that we bought a house.  Don't worry, we aren't living in poverty, but there certainly is no room for shopping trips to the mall, spa treatments (not that I did much of those anyway), or fancy dinners out (fancy for us is less than $30!). One thing I've tried to do more and more is to take advantage of are the resources around us. Recently, a friend from college came over to look at our yard and give us her professional opinion.  She is a landscape architect and is planning to provide us with a long term vision for our yard as well as tips on pruning, drainage, plant types etc.  Best part about it... she's free!  Depending on how in-depth her plans go, we may pay for her services eventually, but for now her consultation is free.  Another example of using our resources is buying furniture from people who have nicer things than you.  If they are looking for an upgrade, chances are that their cast offs are a good thing for you.  We have gotten a free desk, coffee table and $130 leather loveseat this way, just by asking.

Another example of using resources around us... tax preparation.  For the past few years, we've used a family friend for our taxes.  Our rate is great, and we've received a pretty decent tax refund each time. My point is, that chances are the people around you have something great to offer.  Whether it's an extra couch, or some free advice, I suggest you ask around for help!  No, I don't mean begging and pleading on someone's doorstep, but there's nothing wrong with being smart, and calling on those who have different talents than yours.

Finally, something that has saved us money is coupons.  No, I'm not the crazy coupon lady on Extreme Couponing, but every little bit helps.  Even if it means switching brands for an extra $1 of savings, it's worth it, just to apply to loans.  Yes, I've become that person who wants to squeeze every dollar into debt that I can... because I'm tired of this black cloud hanging over me!

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day Update

I was going to post last night, but found myself too depressed from the Falcons loss yesterday. Tough game.

Anyway, it looks like we have about $800 extra this month. I think we are going to payoff the smallest loan which is about $490 and we will put the rest in savings. We have to keep on saving to for the upcoming exterior paint job. Taking care of that $490 is a small victory, but it will clear up about $8 a month. It is really irritating that $151 of that $490 is capitalized interest. Bah!

This morning we went and moved some boxes at the mother in-law's work place for $30. It was only 20 boxes, so it breaks down to a little over a dollar a box. I wish they had more for us to move. This money will also be applied to debt.

So, I was checking out some different types of investments the other day. I came across this website called Lending Club. It is a peer-to-peer platform where people apply for loans and individual people can fund the loan with small investments. It may seem dangerous, but it is not a scam. When you look for a loan to invest in they range in APR from 6% all the way to 24%. Obviously, the 24% will be the riskiest. But, you are able to see all of the financial information of people vying for loans. You can see their income, credit score, buy/rent home, number of delinquencies, defaults, and so on. It makes me feel very comfortable knowing you have the power to choose which loan to invest in. When you log in, you are able to see your interest accumulate on a daily basis. It makes me feel better being on the other side.

It is just an experiment for us, but I have already put in $75 and I am waiting on the money to clear so that I can purchase two more loans.

I will post some more updates on this very soon!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Using Groceries to Pay Down Debt?!

Each week, we have an $80 budget to spend at the grocery store. Usually, we spend right around the $80 mark. However, the past two weeks we have only spent $65 each week. We decided that any money we had left in our grocery budget would be applied to our smallest student loan. also, this has encouraged us to find some extra coupons.

Now, we go around the store and ask ourselves do we really need to spend that $2 on potato chips or that $4 on coke? Or, do we want to put that $6 to debt? I think this could potentially become a healthy idea not only for our budget, but our waistlines as well. Woo-hoo!

So far, we have been able to apply $30 to loans in addition to what we have been paying extra already. I am shooting for an additional $300 payment coming up this week. I hope life does not happen and we have an extra $300 to do that. I will keep you guys updated!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bank of America Blues

I really dislike BOA. I have never liked them. I swore I would never bank with them. They are too big and they do not care about the little people, like me.

Many people have had some problems with them, especially with student loans. We have a couple of friends that are unable to pay them their minimum monthly payment. BOA refuses to negotiate a new monthly payment with them and extend the life of the loan. I cannot understand this. Why would they not? That is more money for them in the long run, granted the risk of default is higher.

Recently, they bought out one of my old credit card companies and my card converted to a BOA card. I was extremely irritated by this. I knew it would be trouble before it ever started. I made a $16 purchase on my old card the month before BOA bought them out. I paid this balance off the next month and called to cancel the card because of the BOA buyout. The lady said she would close the account once the funds were received. However, I just got a bill from them for a $1.50. They call this a "minimum interest charge". Why would there be a minimum interest charge when I paid the balance in full and closed the account?! I really, really, really, dislike them. I am going to have to call them and pay a stupid buck-fifty for some ridiculous charge when I paid the card off. Ugh!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The One Car Life

So, it has been a little over 4 months since we sold the Honda.

We get some strange comments. People really don't believe that you have one car and ask "why would you do that to yourself?". I commonly respond by saying, "why would you put yourself through two car payments when you really only need one car".

It really has not been too difficult on one car. It just takes some careful planning to make sure we can both do things that we need to.

The best part is not paying a car payment every month! Also, no insurance payment, no ad valorem tax on the car, gas to put in the tank, maintenance, and you get the picture. This has really been awesome. It has saved us so much money. However, we are not executing that payment ($320) and paying to the loans. This is a must. We will start doing that this month.

Many thanks to my wife posting the other day. She is the best.

I would love to hear if anyone has ever encountered anyone like her boss that believes debt is a part of life.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Is Debt a Fact of Life?

Hello All, this is Brad's wife, adding my thoughts to his blog for the first time, so here goes!

It's been quite a journey, albeit a short one so far, of getting out of debt.  There's always something to think about, talk about, something we could be doing MORE to make our debt go down faster.  Brad and I are both of the opinion that the faster we can get out of debt the better, because only then will we have greater financial freedom and be able to do more, whether it be traveling, house updates etc.

Throughout this journey, we've encountered a variety of opinions on getting out of debt, from the supportive to the skeptical to the let's change the subject as quickly as possible response. One response that stands out in my mind is from a co-worker.  After thanking him for a gift card as a Christmas present, I told him that Brad and I could finally have a date night!  He scoffed at my response and said why don't you go on more date nights, you're young and childless, what are you waiting for?  I then informed him that we were trying to get out from under our student loans, and that means eating at home more and not going to movies or fancy date nights.  He then laughed and laughed and said that debt was a part of life, and that the sooner I realized that the sooner I could go about enjoying my young marriage and child free life.

This made me pause but went on with my day.  After reflecting on it later, I realized that this mentality is prevalent in societies everywhere, but especially in the United States. We rack up thousands of dollars on credit cards, we buy houses and cars we can't afford, and we take out loans for vacations.  This lifestyle has become the norm, and it's something I don't think we should settle for, and it's something that Brad and I won't settle for.  I hope that moving forward, especially after seeing our country these past few years, that more people can choose a debt free lifestyle and not one that ties them to a life of financial stress.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Painting Time

So, we really need to paint the exterior of our home. It is rough. We have cedar siding and some of it is starting to crack and the paint is slowly chipping away. Also, it is just plain ugly. We asked our neighbor who has lived here since the neighborhood opened why the house was painted white with black trim. He told us that an english guy bought the home in the late 90's and painted it right away. Great, now we have to pay about $4,500 to paint and do some carpentry work.

We have got 4 quotes ranging from $3,900 all the way to $8,500. You can tell which way we are leaning...$3,900 easily. But, and the reason for the post, is that one of our quotes was for stain rather than paint. He said it would keep the features of the cedar siding (which I love) and would also penetrate the wood for a deeper protection. However, this was the $8,500 quote. Could anyone provide some guidance on staining the house? We do not have one house in our neighborhood that is stained, so I have nothing to compare it to.

I hate having to pay all of this money while we are tying to get out of debt. $4,000 is a big chunk of debt and could free up almost $60 a month for us, but I fear the longer we put off painting the home, the more money it will cost us in the long run. We are hoping to use our tax return to help us pay for this since it should be sizable amount of money.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

P.S~ You can see the ugly black and white exterior of our home in the halloween post.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quick Update

I did some day trading on $300 bucks last month. Turns out I made about $250 off of that! That day trading is a dangerous game and I got lucky. I decided to pull it out and I bought myself 10 shares of Starbucks. I would have used this money to pay off some debt and reinvested the rest, but it was in my retirement account. Pretty cool making nearly 100% off of that money! Woo-hoo! I will let you know about Starbucks in the near future!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Investment Time

I am finally here to update you on some of my investment moves I have made.

The first, I sold off some major gains I had from when I invested a small amount in college. I used this money to purchase 5 shares of Chipotle. Yes, I am a loser. I love their burrito and I now own 5 shares of the company. Sad, but true. I see some good growth for this company in the future. They are just starting to expand internationally and I believe the share price should go up to $400 a share at some point in the next couple of years. I will hold this one for a while. I have made $25 since I purchase it. I was up about $80 right after the fiscal cliff, but it has seen falling back down a little bit.

I have considered selling my position in Sirius XM for a while, however it continues to perform beautifully! It returned over 60% last year! With the resurgence of auto sales, I think this stock should continue to do well. I have made over $800 since this purchase. I was initially in at .05 a share and it is now at $3.16 a share. Almost 1,000% of my investment. I wish I would have put every dollar I had at the time in this company...ugh!

Lastly, I have $2,700 from an old retirement account to invest. I am unsure of where to put this money. I think a mutual fund would provide me with security, but less money. Also, I would love to put it in an aggressive stock to earn a lot more. I have considered looking into some established companies like Walmart, McDonald's, or Amazon to purchase with this money. I would love to hear some feedback on this one.

To this day, I have made $727 over the year from my stocks alone. Not too bad. I would like to increase this and start taking my capital gains and applying them to debt.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Little Things

Good Afternoon!

Back in December, I went to pay my student loans for the month of December. I had to wait to pay the loans until the actual due date, which was the 15th. Normally my principal to interest is $304 to $166, but this time is was $231 to principal and $239 to interest. I was so annoyed! I had to think about this and it was because I waited until the due date to pay it. I forgot that the interest is compounded on a daily basis, not monthly. From there, I decided I would no longer wait until the actual due date to pay. This month, I paid the bill on the 1st and the principal I paid was $367 and interest was $122. I was very happy to see all of that money go to principal. Now, I am paying very small amounts on a weekly basis to try to keep the interest earned down, so come time for the payment, I am able to pay more to principal.

No wonder people are not able to pay these off. If they wait until the actual due date, more interest has accumulated. I can't imagine what it is like to miss a payment and have that interest become capitalized! I believe this is the reason we now have the problem we do in America. Some people have to wait until the day they are paid, which commonly falls on the 15th, a common pay date for working Americans.

In the next couple of days, I will talk about the moves I have made in our investment accounts. I am watching these very closely with the looming debt ceiling crisis. More to come on this later.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Goals!

After reading a lot of other blogs, I decided I would create a list of goals. This is a great idea! It will ensure we are staying on track to meet our ultimate goal of becoming debt free!

Our first goal will be to be under $62,000 this time next year. We will need to pay off about $13,000 of debt. I think this is certainly attainable.

Next, we are going to eat out only once a week. This is very important for us. We have to make sure we are not spending more on fast food. On a side note, we got $150 in gift cards to Chipotle! If you do not know of our addiction to Chipotle, please go back and read about it in an earlier post. We are terrible about going there. So, hopefully, we will not have to pay money for Chipotle until the beginning of March.

As I think of more, I will come back and add some more to it. Happy 2013 everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Early Update

One of my new year's resolutions was to sell some things each month and use that money to pay down debt.

First thing I sold was my old Xbox 360 on ebay for $191! I was pretty excited about getting that much for it. I included all of my games, but I thought I would maybe get $120. So, that was a nice surprise.

I also sold some of these old paver stones we had dug up in our backyard. I sold 20 of those for $70.

We had this old Sony TV in our garage that was just collecting dust. I was able to sell that for $50 to a college student after his was stolen. I felt good about that sell.

Lastly, and the most exciting, I won my fantasy football league! $120! Woo-hoo!

All together, that is $431 to pay down some debt with! That will put a pretty good dent in one of our loans! I am extremely excited about that.

I hope to be able to do this more often. If you guys have any other ideas on how to make some quick cash, please let me know! I am always looking for different things to do to make some easy money.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Did Not Make Much Progress

We did not make much progress. After adding up our total student loan debt, we only paid off $700 of debt in 2 months. However, we did save $1,700. So, we did not reduce much debt, but we did increase our savings. I may empty some of the savings into the loans and wipe out a couple of the smaller loans. We have not decided on this yet. We did pay off 15% of our debt in 4 months though! That is definitely a positive to look at!

I will post some investment updates soon. I am going to go back and review my yields from the year on investments.

As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone!

It has been quite a while since I posted an update. My sincere apologies! We had a family friend pass away a couple weeks ago that was expected. So, we took some time for that and the holiday travels allowed time to get away from us! But, we hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

I am going to go through and update some of our debt totals in just a minute to get a look at our progress. Hopefully we will see some!