April 2013 Debt Payoff & Goal #2

Ugh. I’ve been in such an incredible state of laziness recently. I tend to be an overachiever so when these little spells hit me I usually listen to them and allow my body to replenish my adrenal reserves, or whatever the cause may be. Maybe it’s because April was my birthday month which always leaves me feeling entitled to all sorts of things I usually don’t (such as endless hours spent watching Gossip Girl). So there’s my excuse for procrastinating this long overdue update…I think this bout of laziness has now commenced.

I have excellent news: My Indiegogo funds came in and combined with my own money I paid off an entire student loan for the first time ever!! Goal #1: check!

Paying off that loan ($1,820) decreased my monthly payment significantly (by $146.62). That is super important because all of my loans finish coming back into repayment this month. That means I will be back to having a giant monthly minimum payment…but at least it will be slightly less giant than it was before.

By happenstance I also made another large payment toward my debt in April. I paid $1000 (tax return money) toward my consumer debt (tuition for the classes I am taking). I wasn’t sure how I would be using my tax return money but—long story short–that was the right place for it.

So yay, my debt payoff totals for April 2013 look incredible:

Student loans: $1827

Credit Cards: $90

Other consumer debt: $1000

Grand total: $2,917

WOW.

That number makes me happy but also makes me a little sick…imagine the traveling I could have done with that…

Whew…anyhow…my payoff totals for May won’t be nearly as pretty. No fundraiser funds, no tax returns, nothing extra is coming my way. I’m still working irregular hours so I’m not even sure how I’m going to make my minimum payments. But where there is a will there is a way and I know it will be taken care of.

Goal #2
My next goal is to get under the $100,000 mark with my student loans. This is a great goal because I am SO close ($100,717) and because as long as I am making the minimum payments while getting on track with work this goal will eventually take care of itself.

5 digits? You will soon be mine.

Tuition.io

I’ve been twiddling my thumbs and (impatiently) waiting for my Indiegogo funds to arrive since April 2nd. It takes up to 10 business days they say. I’m anxious to meet Goal #1 and I’m anxious that I don’t know yet what Goal #2 will be or how I’ll achieve it.

Now that I’m back on O’ahu I’m back to per diem nursing work. It makes for a great schedule–I get to choose when I work based on available hours–but it doesn’t give me the ability to plan ahead because my paychecks always vary.

Should I save my tax refund money in case I don’t get enough hours and use it towards bills? Should I save it for a trip to see my family that is planned for July? Should I combine it with my savings and payoff my truck, leaving me with little savings but less debt? Should I leave my savings alone and put just the tax refund toward one of my loans…and watch it disappear into loan debt oblivion?

These are the things that are rattling around in my brain while I search around on the Internet for sites related to paying off student loans. Even though I can’t actually do any paying at the moment it makes me feel better & inspired to keep going when I read about other student’s experiences.

It’s also how I find out about tools like Tuition.io, found on the blog: Get Rich Slowly.

Tuition.io is is a free tool that lets you view all of your student loans at once. Their site (supposedly) supports both federal and private loan information, which is good if you’re someone like me who has lots of different types.

The site quickly and easily imported all of my Federal loan information (you’ll need your pin, remember that pesky thing?) But once I tried importing my private loan information I started running into problems…loooooong upload times, error messages, etc. I tried three times to upload my private Sallie Mae loans but no dice. A bummer because the site creates some nifty visuals like graphs & payoff estimates and seems to have lots of helpful information.

For those of you with strictly Federal student loans I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out.

In the meantime I’ll keep waiting for my Indiegogo funds….

March 2013 Debt Payoff

April is here and that means three things:

1) It’s my birthday month!
2) My Indiegogo campaign ends tomorrow
3) I will meet financial Goal #1, set for April 10th!

But first an ode to March.
Here are my (AWESOME!) debt payoff totals for March 2013:

Student Loans: $407 (min. payments; all loans are not out of deferment yet but will be by the middle of next month) + 400 extra towards financial Goal #1 = $807

Credit cards: $325

Truck: $200

Grand Total……$1,332 payed towards debt!

This is a HUGE difference compared to the $456.76 that I paid off in February, when I made minimum payments on everything.

As of now I have $102,232 left to go in student loans & $5,675 left to go in consumer debt (remembering that tuition debt increases by $100 per month until July and interest costs like to constantly change my totals). Total now = $107,907

Looking better(-ish) and closing in on Goal #1. Smiley face.

IRS WIN

I finally did my taxes today (correction: I finally payed someone else to do my taxes today).

Being the organization-freak that I am I usually have them done early February. Like “get my W-2s in the mail and they’re done the next day” early February.

But since I’ve been on a travel assignment the past 6 weeks I wasn’t home when things started filtering in. I’m doubtful there’s even any tax prep services on Moloka’i anyhow…

So good news, good news, bad news:

Good news: I’m getting a return! I know most finance professionals will say this is actually bad news. There is that whole bit about keeping your money in your pocket to invest during the year rather than letting Uncle Sam have his way with it. However there is no way a single dime of that money would’ve been invested by me this past year so I’ll take the return and call this a WIN. Total federal/state tax return: $1,026.

More good news: I’m back home on O’ahu. I am soaking up the affections of my boyfriend and friends and lounging in my wonderful (tiny) apartment. It is great to be home.

Bad news: I am back on the hunt for the perfect job. 6 weeks of full-time pay was wonderful and left me craving for more. The problem is that I love having flexibility in my schedule, something a regular full-time nursing job doesn’t offer. So I’ve been filling in the pukas (‘holes’) with on-call jobs. I love choosing when I work, I don’t love not knowing when/how much my next paycheck will be. It’s an ongoing circular debate and I have faith that it will work itself out. Or, like last night, my boyfriend will just keep giving me giant pep-talk reminders on how I am going all beast-mode on my student loans and I need to suck it up and settle into a full-time position somewhere. But…but….but…whyyy can’t I have both…full-time hours/pay and the ability to choose my schedule….I whine and wait for it to be a perfect world.

Oh and remember how I said I didn’t know how I would reach my goal but I had faith that the ‘how’ would work itself out? Well it just did. Compliments of the IRS. Reaching my first goal is so close I can almost celebrate it. Goal # 2 is TBD but will rely on my return money. I can’t wait to announce my debt payoff totals for March/April. I can already tell it’s going to be a stupid (read: awesome) amount. Totally geeking out on this =)

Donations gratefully accepted!! It’s a good cause, I promise.

 

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(Home Sweet Home)
Instagram: @tklivebeautiful

The HOW

So how will I pay off this abominable amount of debt? More importantly how will I pay it off before I’m 30?

Truth: I have no idea (Okay well I have a little teeny tiny glimmer of an idea)…

I don’t have a grand amount of savings ($800) or a bunch of investments to cash in like Mr. No More Harvard Debt. I also don’t have any fancy possessions or an extra car to sell.

I have also already been living within my means. My most extravagant expense is travel, which isn’t too extravagant because it’s always to see family or friends. I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific so for my own sanity I’m not cutting that one out…yet.

Additionally I don’t have a full-time job (working on it). Planning this is challenging when I don’t know when/how much my next paycheck will be.

Those things don’t matter though because I have faith that I will figure it out as I go. When the WHY is big enough the HOW will take care of itself right?

The good news is that I have a starting line and it looks like this:

Loan: $1,820      Interest: 8.25%      Mo. Payment: $146.62

That is the second from the list of loans in my prior post (The Ugly, Intro. Part III) If you look at the list you’ll notice that both the interest rate and payment amount are disproportionately high. Why would I continue to pay 8.5% on a loan that small? That interest rate is nearly as high as my credit card (the first one, the second one isn’t earning interest until February 2014…aka never because it will be closed by then).

So goal #1: pay off loan of $1,820 and decrease my monthly payment from $893 per month to $747.

Of course that $146 will go right back into paying my loans (think Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball; if you haven’t read his book The Total Money Makeover cancel all of your plans and go get a copy immediately). It will also give me more peace of mind because there will be months when making even minimum payments is going to be a stretch. Knowing that I’ve decreased my monthly payment by that much will be huge.

My Indiegogo campaign will give me the jump-start I need to start this new race. Everything I earn from the campaign will go toward that first goal and anything I don’t raise I will supplement with my own income. Concurrently I will be chipping away at my consumer debt with each paycheck. I can’t wait to see what my debt payoff totals for March and April look like!

Goal #1
Pay off $1,820 by April 10, 2013
—just a few days before my 28th birthday.

Peace of Mind and Financial Freedom:
Here I come.

 

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Instagram: @tklivebeautiful

The Ugly (Intro. Part III)

So now, finally, let’s talk numbers.
I hope you’re wearing a hazmat suit, ‘cause it’s about to get ugly…

First let’s start with the student loans. They are the numbers I am focusing on but they are part of the bigger picture which includes other stuff. The “other stuff” being consumer/personal debt that I’ve racked up over the past year (see backstory, Intro. Part II).

Keep in mind that these numbers are constantly changing (due to payments and interest) but essentially my student loans, in order of lowest to highest, look something like this:

February 2013

Loan                   Total Outstanding         Min. Payment

University’sLn            1023                            16
SM CR TRN                1958                            147
SM                                2086                            11
University’sLn            2349                           34
DOE                             3552                           24
Wells Fargo                3495                           50
SM                                3969                           57
University’sLn           8624                          118
SM                             25449                         168
SM                             50414                         268

TOTAL                  102,919                     893

SM stands for Sallie Mae. She and I aren’t the greatest of friends. She is the holder of the majority of both my federal and private loans, which are too numerous to list but this is how they are grouped together in terms of payments. At the moment some of my loans are on deferment, or partially deferred, so my monthly loan payment is lower that $893. Some of these mo. payment amounts will have changed since the deferment started but since I won’t know what they are until they come back into repayment I’m sticking with the original mo. payment numbers. All of my loans will start coming back into repayment mid-April to mid-May.

In addition there is the consumer debt. Although this number is much smaller, this is the number I feel the most vulnerable exposing. I pride myself at being a person who lives within my means. I am great at budgeting and excellent at planning ahead. One year ago this number was zero and I intend to get back to that asap.

My consumer debt is composed of three things: personal debt owed for my vehicle, credit card debt and personal debt owed for a series of classes I’m currently taking (non-nursing related).

When the breakup happened last year the ex left me with our vehicle. Because of the circumstances of the breakup I’d say 99.9% of the people in my life, upon finding out that I was going to pay him for it, responded something like “Eff him!…he should let you have it for free after what he has done to you…don’t pay him…don’t ever speak to him again and keep it…” etc etc etc.

While I understand that reaction I also deeply believe in the power of Karma and our energetic connections with one another. Yes I was hurt, but I would survive (and thrive!) and it isn’t like me to be vindictive. He had purchased the vehicle for the two of us to drive at no cost to me and I felt that it was only fair to give him my portion for it. Total cost to me: $1800, of which I’ve only payed him $200. I’m grateful for his patience in the matter.

The credit card debt has not come of anything frivolous, lots of basic living expenses that I simply didn’t have the funds for: gas, groceries, toiletries, etc.
Total amount (ouch!): $2400

The series of classes I’m taking will be complete in July of this year, but until they are I’m accumulating tuition debt at $100 per month. It was $200 per month until October of last year but I was able to get a scholarship (yay!) and it has been cut in half. Because I haven’t payed tuition in a year (give or take) my outstanding debt is $2100. Luckily both the truck and the tuition aren’t gaining interest, so the only thing gaining interest that I’m having to make payments on are the credit cards. And yes I said card(s)—plural—because in my panicky-ness last year I opened up a second credit card. What a dumb dumb.

This is the part where I insert a list of numbers because I can’t figure out how to insert a table due to current lack of knowledge re: HTML…..

March 2013

Item                  Amount        Min. Payment

Truck                     1600                     –
Credit Cards         2400                    58
Tuition                  2100                     –

TOTAL               6,100

As I said before this number was zero a year ago and now that I’m getting close to being back on track (aka finding full-time work and getting a steady paycheck) I am confident that this number will drop pretty quickly.

So total debt, including student loans and consumer debt is….drumroll…

$109,019

Am I terrified? Abso-freakin-lutely.
Stay tuned for how I plan to abolish this dastardly number….

PS: My Indiegogo campaign only has 26 days left!

599082_10100524145739726_799289929_nInstagram: @tklivebeautiful

The Backstory–aka How I Got Into This Mess (Intro. Part II)

I graduated from the University of Hawaii in December 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Nursing. It took me a total of 5.5 years to complete my degree. The first 2 years were pre-requisites and the last 3 were nursing school (it’s a competitive program). I had a semester between pre-reqs and the start of the nursing program (hence the 5.5 years). Compared to other universities the yearly cost of my education wasn’t that high, approximately $20,000 per year. That included everything; tuition, books, room/board and any extra expenses.

I had to take out loans to cover the majority of those costs. I’ve always been a great student and I did get a few scholarships but they were usually in the $1000 range so it wasn’t much altogether. I also worked part-time throughout college but let’s be honest, that was beer money. By the time I graduated (in the middle of our Great Recession) I had accumulated approximately $115,000 worth of student loan debt. I say approximately because at the time it was so overwhelming that I wasn’t keeping track of it. What I was doing was keeping my head in the sand.

I have lots of different types of student loans (federal, private, etc) so after the varying grace periods ended I started paying them back mid to end of 2009. Luckily for me I had totally scored on my first job. I got a great job at a big medical center. I was grateful and knew how lucky I was, many of my former classmates weren’t able to get anything. At the time the hospitals just didn’t have the resources to hire new grads. Anyhow–like the frog being slowly boiled alive in the pot—once all of my loans came into repayment I was making a monthly payment of $900. Ouch.

Tack on the cost of living (my rent alone is $1100) and despite the great job things were tight. I continued on that way, making decent money (approximately $55,000 per year after taxes in 2011) and making my monthly payments. Then in 2010 I pulled my head out of the sand and decided to get serious about my situation and started doing everything I could to educate myself on personal finance. I knew I was in deep and I wanted to know how to get out.

After a crash course in personal finance I was able to get on track in 2011. I was making my monthly loan payments, payed off my credit card, was saving ~$600 per month and was even paying a little extra on my loans. I was doing pretty well. In my personal life I was dating someone whom I planned on moving with in March 2012, he had to relocate for work and I was supposed to go with him (aka leave Hawaii…dumb right?). Long story short everything was riding on that move. I was saving & planning for it, gave my job huge advance notice (mistake)….and it didn’t end up happening. He got cold feet & bailed–my life and items were literally and figuratively packed up and ready to go. I’d even given notice on my apartment that I loved so much. Frick.

I ended up getting to keep the apartment but my less-than-compassionate Manager at work had already filled my position and had decided (in my emotional leave-of-absence…I needed a week to get my head together) that I couldn’t have my job back. Like most setbacks in life the entire episode ended up being a giant (and I mean GIANT) blessing in disguise. On a personal level so much growth and so many wonderful things have happened for me since. I had a decent amount of savings ($7,000-ish) and no job…so no schedule. While I was in the midst of trying to find work (and I assure you, the job market for nurses in Hawaii is still junk) a lot of amazing things happened. I got to go home to Washington State and spend some time with my family including my grandmother who passed away shortly after. I got to take a trip to Vegas with my best friend from high school, my sister and my cousin (who generously payed my way, considering my circumstances). I got to take a trip to Maui & Lanai with two of my best girlfriends when I was back in Hawaii. I got to deploy with the Red Cross to New Orleans, to volunteer with the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. I even got to go to one of my best girlfriends’ wedding in New England in Autumn. Better yet I got to do the latter with my incredible new boyfriend, someone whom I’d been friends with for the past 3 years.

So there is no doubt that in my personal life things were and still are good, despite the financial setbacks of 2012. I’ve learned to surrender and to have faith; (God, the universe, whatever you want to call it) always has a plan for us that is so much better than our own.

But let’s get back to business.

Once I lost my job in March I got kind of panicky. Okay I got a LOT panicky. That is after I peeled my broken-hearted ass out of bed. I was applying for jobs left and right but things just weren’t coming through. My panic put me into a survival mode mentality. Even though I had savings there was no way I was going to spend cash unless I had to, I wanted to stretch it out as long as I could. Remember that credit card that I’d payed off? Well I started using it again. I put my student loans into deferment…the thought of a $900 payment was too overwhelming…I was able to defer all but $407, which I still had to pay monthly. My sister moved in with me, which took a portion of the strain of paying rent away. I was able to find a couple of on-call jobs. They provided me with just enough income to make my bills each month but didn’t provide me with medical benefits etc. I was scraping by and making up the deficit at the end of every month with my savings and credit.

Fast forward to January 2013 and my savings were officially gone. Red Cross had asked me three times to deploy to assist with Hurricane Sandy but I just couldn’t swing it. Still no full-time job. Partly because of the market and partly because I was being picky…after all if I’d waited this long to find something…I didn’t want it to be something soul-crushing. And the only full-time jobs I’d found were just that.

Then 3 weeks ago, nearly one year after all of this started, I was offered a temporary 2-month full-time position here on Moloka’i. I couldn’t have packed my bags and kissed my lovely boyfriend goodbye any faster. Travel and work, heck yes! It has been beautiful. I love the job and adore the people here. I wish I could transport them all back to O’ahu with me, job included.

Then a few days ago a friend (Stephan Gardner http://www.stephangardner.com/) asked me if I’d heard of Indiegogo. I hadn’t but once I looked into it the gears started turning…like I said before there is way too much time to think on Moloka’i…maybe I could use this tool to help pay off my loans, so that I could have the freedom to do the things I love again, especially traveling for volunteer work? So I posted a campaign and it has already been more successful than I could have imagined and I want to keep that momentum going. That is what inspired me to come here and start documenting my journey. I’m not the first person to do this and I’m sure I won’t be the last (go look up ‘No More Harvard Debt’ http://nomoreharvarddebt.com/) The idea now is to keep the debt-payoff snowball rolling, to get and stay on course, and to hopefully inspire others to join me.

So that is my story. Next we will talk numbers.

But first, check out my awesome Indiegogo campaign