The difference a year makes

I didn’t realize the importance of today until mid-morning. I thought it was just a regular Tuesday. A normal December 23. It’s actually my brother’s birthday, but I forgot that too until just now.

This Tuesday isn’t just any old Tuesday.

One year ago today, I started my journey to pay off my student loans.  What a year it has been.

On December 23, 2013:

  • I was unemployed, though I did have a job interview after the Holidays.
  • I had $45,330 in student loan debt.
  • My minimum payment was $525.25 (which is a pretty fun number… 5252525252525)
  • I was really struggling to manage my mental health and got into fights regularly with family and friends who said that the right opportunity would come.
  • My savings account was dwindling fast.
  • I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas, because really, who wants to tell another loved one that you are still unemployed.

Now to December 23, 2014!

  • I am happily and gainfully employed.
    • That interview after the Holidays turned into a great job, with great people, doing something I didn’t know I could love as much as I do. #nerdsunite
  •  I have $16,983 in student loan debt.
  • My minimum payment is $154.63. (Not such a fun number, but look at how little it is!)
  • My mental health is good and my marriage seems to get better and better every day.
  • My savings accounts are still sad, but only because I’ve put everything into my student loans or Roth IRA.
  • I’m really excited for Christmas because I love my family and I can’t wait to hang out with my cousins.

It’s been an amazing year.

Thank you to everyone that’s come along for the ride with me. I didn’t expect to find such a great group of people. To everyone who is open enough to share their own story, everyone who reads this or is bold enough to comment and everyone that keeps it real (or real silly) on Twitter.  Thank you.

It wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable to get where I am today without you.

Merry Christmas.


Operation: Birthday Freedom

I initially wrote this to publish in early October. Then I lost my mind.  See here. Then I had 2 amazing debt repayment months in a row. See October and November. I’ve decided to reignite this post because it is what I want more than anything. I will have to hustle to get there, but it’s possible. If I have to hustle, I want the PF world there with me cheering me on. Here goes. 

Since the beginning, my birthday has been one of the driving forces behind my debt repayment journey.

Initially, I wanted my loans paid off by my 30th birthday. Having student loans in my thirties was something I wanted to avoid. Paying them off while I could still remember law school was also important. My 30th birthday was almost 3.5 years from graduation and slightly less than 3 years from when I entered repayment. September 2016 was my big goal! This felt like an extreme plan at the time. I didn’t even run the numbers, I just had it in my heart that I would be out of student loan debt by 30.

When I entered repayment and started throwing cash at my loans, I realized I could shorten my goal. I ran the numbers and even wrote a post about it.  If I paid $1700 per month, I’d have everything paid off in March 2016. Coincidentally, March 2016 is my half birthday! (Yes, I’m one of those weirdos that celebrates half birthdays.) I’d be 29.5, taking a whole 6 months off my “extreme” plan.

As I executed my plan, I kept getting ahead of schedule. I would run the numbers when my monthly payments hit my account and December 2015 kept coming up. How cool. I’m on track to pay off my loans in exactly 2 years.

But what if I really went for it? What if Hubs and I hunkered down, got creative, started hustling and really went for it. How long would it take?

Could I pay off my student loans by my 29th birthday? before?

I want to find out.

As of November 30, I have 1 debt remaining.

Loan #1 20,376 $18,596

Loan #2 8,500 PAID OFF!

Loan #3 8,500 PAID OFF!

Loan #4 5,828 PAID OFF!

Loan #5 2,125 PAID OFF!

(and a car loan. You can read about him here).

To be free of student loans by my 29th birthday, I need to pay $1916/month. I can do this.

September 2015 or bust.

My money nightmare

Have you ever had a nightmare about money? I’m not talking about your worst case scenario where someone throws their hands in the air and says ‘This is a nightmare!” I’m talking about a horrible dream where you wake up physically upset afterward.

I had one on Monday morning. I was so upset when I woke up that I considered calling in sick or at least late to work because I was so overwhelmed.  I’m glad I didn’t call in because once I got up and told Hubs about my dream, my brain slowly stopped being so angry and I had a normal day.

Here is what my brain decided to torture me with between 6:20 and 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

I went to the mall with Hubs. Everything was normal but he said he needed to make a stop at the Pandora Jewelry store. When we got there, he had something on reserve so he just had to pay for it. What he ended up buying was a Pandora bracelet for $499. Then he paid $64 for a sapphire charm bead (50% off!) and $79 for the charm to be polished and treated with some special chemical.

My birthstone is the sapphire and these bracelets are typically purchased for women, so I tried to talk Hubs out of it. I didn’t want the bracelet. I probably would never wear it and it was $642 before tax. That money could easily be spent elsewhere on something more meaningful.

He informed me that the bracelet was for him (wtf?) and that he was so frustrated with how tight I am with money that he just wanted to spend and didn’t really care what he was spending on.

I stormed out and he paid for the item. When he found me, he was wearing a cheap looking, too tight bracelet with the charm. I tried to talk to him about it, but he taunted me about the incident. He stood far enough away from me where I had to talk too loud in the open space and it ended up turning into a scene. He kept saying that we make good money, he should be able to spend it on whatever he wants.

It was around this point that he was holding a small Asian child and I realized it was a dream and not real.  I woke up still angry and feeling humiliated (in the imaginary mall). It took 15 minutes for those feelings to completely go away.

What a great way to start Monday, right?

After shaking off my morning grumps, here is where I determined my dream to come from:

  1. My sister’s boss allegedly owns several Pandora Jewelry stores.
  2. My sister told me she was buying a lot of her Christmas gifts at her work because she gets 50% off. I told her 50% off or not, don’t buy any gifts you can’t afford.
  3. Hubs really wants a new sectional couch. He wants to buy it now, I want to buy it when my student loans are paid off.
  4. We have the money for the couch in savings. I want to use that money for his Roth IRA next year and he wants to use it for the couch.

Apparently those 4 facts are enough to give me a rough start to my Monday. I still have no idea where the small Asian child came from.

Have you ever had a nightmare about money?