Layout:
Home > Page: 2

Debt update, 2021 goals

January 4th, 2021 at 03:32 pm

Student loan update 

Principal: 43,128.76

Interest: 0

Total due: 43,128.76

 

Interest rate: 3.21 %

Daily interest: 3.79

I have been thinking about my goals for this year, but it's hard to plan without knowing how things will go in the world. Keeping my current 2021 financial goals simple:

-Pay off student loans

- Start investing in non-retirement accounts (have been investing in 401K concurrently with debt paydown)

Debt update

November 6th, 2020 at 01:26 am

Student Loan update:

Principle: $58,638.33

Interest rate: 3.2%

Current interest balance: 0 (just cleared a payment)

Daily interest cost: $5.15

Pandemic Spending

November 3rd, 2020 at 12:51 am

Like most places in the US, my area is seeing the worst surge in Covid cases since this whole thing started. Although so far no new lockdowns have been announced, anyone with common sense will be planning to stay home for most of the winter except for work, essential shopping, and outdoor activities. We also get real winter weather/snow here during a regular year- all the more reason to be prepared to stay home.

 

I have been thinking about my pandemic-related spending lately. I would like to be intentional about investing in things that will improve my quality of life in the winter without overspending on unhelpful things. I am not much of a decorator/shopper to begin with, so some of these things have probably just been overdue since I moved in a couple years ago but now seem more urgent.

 

Spending so far:

After months on the laptop, finally dropped $170 on a real monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Already making a huge difference- I am much more productive and should have done this sooner!

Coffee table for the living room

USB webcam for zoom meetings

More stamps and cute greeting cards to send surprise mail to friends and family

      Cloth masks

 

Items I am planning/considering:

New lamps for my dark, cave-like living room

Additional pantry stocking up

Backup laptop charging cord

Will probably buy more kindle books over the winter as the library ebooks have had very long waits since this started

A pair of knee-high boots

More underarmor style leggings for under my clothes. Really want to keep spending time outdoors all winter to exercise and fight off the blahs

Need to inventory/try on winter clothes, donate those that don’t work and make a list for any missing items (may need some new jeans/socks/1-2 sweaters due to attrition)

Getting a cracked computer screen repaired

Cute teapot/tea set. This is totally frivolous but fun

 

Free items:

Pedometer app to make sure I am getting enough activity in

 

 

Recommended items I love:
       -      Electric blanket! So cozy/luxurious feeling and really cuts heating bills!

Tea kettle – somehow much cozier than microwaving the water

 

What items have you bought to make the time at home more comfortable? Recommendations?

Fast, comforting pantry dinner

October 7th, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Today on the way home from work I was tired and tempted to get takeout, but it seemed daunting to order online ahead of time from my phone and I didn't really want to wait around a bunch of people.

Came home instead and ended up making a quick, comforting (and frugal!) grilled cheese with veggies inside and a cheesy French toast to use up a leftover slice of slightly stale bread.

This is why I usually save takeout for specific cravings or social occasions...can usually make something just as satisfying in half the time in the comfort of home.

Loan update and some spending

September 25th, 2020 at 02:24 pm

It has been a while since my last debt update. Student loan balance is listed below- the next regular payment is $2,388 which is scheduled to automatically deduct on Oct 3. I will also be making an extra payment after getting paid at the end of the month, barring any emergencies, so hoping to see the total drop below $70K.

Current principal: 73,087.15
Current interest balance: 102.74
Current total balance: 73,189.89
Daily interest: 6.42
Interest rate: 3.2 %

I worked some mandatory overtime this week due to a coworker calling out sick. Was not thrilled at the time because I had plans, but at least the extra money will help with my goals!

Spending was way up this month up due to a relative with a (nonmedical) emergency, but that should be a one-time expense and I am lucky to be in a position to help. On the personal spending side, I am looking to make my apartment a little more winter-ready before the weather gets bad, especially because I don’t know what flu season is going to look like and we might all end up spending a lot of time at home if there is a surge. So far I impulse bought a basket to keep my remotes and phone charger in ($7 at Aldi) and ordered about $10 of supplies to do some minor repairs. I’d like to replace my bedding at some point- bought it in a rush after my prior comforter was ruined during my last move and have never found it very cozy, but I’m picky about this and willing to wait for something I love. I also bought a book that was highly recommended and not available through the library- $3 for a used copy + $3.99 shipping. At least one other person I know has already asked to read it after me, so feels worth it.

I was already planning to order the next kindle book in a series I’ve been reading when it comes out Oct 1. It is listed at $3.99 and I have $2 in digital credits from Amazon for choosing no-rush shipping. (I try to shop locally, but sometimes specialized items are only available online.)

Grocery Challenge Wrap Up

August 28th, 2020 at 05:45 pm

I went grocery shopping - was out of eggs and low on fresh produce. I spent $44.75 on the following items:
1 loaf of Italian bread
1 dozen free range eggs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 2L diet coke
1 packet instant mushroom gravy
6 pack ramen noodles
1.29 lbs loose potatoes
1 head of cauliflower
2 cans of black olives
3 lb bag of mandarin oranges
1.67 lbs loose mushrooms
1 sleeve of garlic (5 bulbs)
2 lbs tomatoes
0.5 lb ginger root
Microwave popcorn (6 bags)


I also spent $10 earlier in the month, I think on some kind of produce.

This brings my monthly total to 207.29. Should not need anything else before Sept 1.

In the interest of transparency, I did have some food spending from my entertainment budget- a medium pizza ($9) and some fancy groceries for a special birthday dinner for the boyfriend.

I still have a bunch of food leftover from this month’s shopping, but I prefer to keep things on hand, especially during the pandemic. I am okay with this level of grocery spending, although as you can see there are things that could be cut further in a pinch.

$1

August 5th, 2020 at 09:18 pm

So far the grocery challenge is going pretty well. I did spend $1 for a box of frozen broccoli cheese bites at the dollar store today to get up to the card minimum. They were a good deal and will get eaten eventually.

Based on how things are going so far, will definitely need to pick up more vegetables this month. The challenge is making me more aware of food waste. Today I found three potatoes had rotted on the bottom half.

Grocery Challenge

July 30th, 2020 at 07:23 pm

This is inspired by East Coast Saver’s August grocery challenge, but will be modifying it a little. My goal isn’t a certain number, it is just to track things closely to get an accurate picture of my actual grocery food spending. It’s hard to tell because I do a lot of socializing with food (less since Covid, and only in an outdoor distanced manner) and also tend to pick up small gifts at the grocery store, like doughnuts for the office or pet treats, that skew my tracking. I don’t grocery shop on a set schedule either, so that makes it even harder to tell what my actual spending is. It feels like groceries have gotten more expensive during the pandemic, but without hard numbers, may just be perception.

My goals this month: track all spending on food for me (household of 1). Will not include gifts, cards, household cleaning products, etc and will not include any takeout if I get some. Eat almost exclusively at home, pescovegetarian. Do splurge on pricier animal products, like free range eggs.

I did a huge stockup today because I needed to do some other errands near/in a few stores anyway and have been putting off grocery shopping for a while. Hoping I will just need a small fill in trip here and there. Some of the cost is a little misleading because it will last longer than a month. I got:

Asian market:
Jumbo family pack rice noodles
Rice sticks x 3
Frozen wonton wrappers
Large sliced water chestnuts x 3
Bamboo shoots x 6
Mixed vegetables can x2
Total: 38.34

Walmart:
Jumbo coffee creamer x2
Mushroom gravy mix x2
Annie’s boxed mac and cheese x2
2 lbs butter
Garlic salt x 2
Cayenne pepper
Instant mashed potatoes x2
Large bottle olive oil
Assorted pastas x 6 (on sale)
Jar garlic alfredo pasta sauce x2
Total: 34.47

Regular grocery store:
Bag of shredded cheese x 2
Block of cheddar (small, on sale)
2 dozen eggs
Frozen cauliflower x3
Frozen broccoli
Frozen french fries
$1 veggie frozen pizza
6-pack ramen noodles
Bottled dipping sauce
5lbs jasmine rice
Earl grey tea (50 ct)
Louisana tea (100 ct)
Instant coffee
1 zucchini
Ginger root
Green cabbage
Whole fresh cauliflower
Hot peppers
Tomatoes
2 lbs whole mushrooms
Total: 76.83

Total stock up: 151.54

The teas, rice, noodles, and cheese will definitely last more than a month.

I won’t be posting detailed meal plans, but will try to post updates that include what my diet is like with this shopping. Today was coffee with creamer, unsweeted iced tea, rice noodles with vegetables and egg, and a little leftover frozen breaded cauliflower. Have not been super hungry with the heat, but may have grilled cheese or egg on toast for dinner to use up some bread.

Five Digits!

June 3rd, 2020 at 10:35 pm

My student loan dipped under $100K this month! Currently at $97,805.21. Daily accrued interest is at $8.59. I remember how far away that seemed when I started this blog. Will keep chipping away at it- especially with all the economic uncertainty looming, can't wait to get this paid down!

Still here, time flies!

May 13th, 2020 at 06:36 pm

Long time no update! Have been chipping away at debt, working, and mostly socializing by phone/zoom as we are still under a lockdown where I live. Looking back at my last entry, I can’t believe how quickly time has flown since this whole crazy thing started.

After various delays due to staff being out at home, finally received reimbursement for $1500 of work-related expenses from earlier in the year (mostly airfare for business travel, all pre-Covid). I applied this to my student loan, along with a check for some accrued overtime from the last quarter.

Current Loan snapshot:
Student loan balance (3.21%):
Principle: $104,993.91
Interest: 0
Total: $104,993.91
Daily interest: $9.23

The regular monthly payment of $2,388.76 that will autodebit on the 26th. Getting close to five digits! Will continue to throw any extra money in the budget at it, but I somehow owed quite a bit on federal taxes this year, so waiting for that check to clear my account this month. Still trying to figure out why the withholdings were too low, even though I didn’t claim any exceptions/dependents and money was withheld for taxes on every check, even for overtime.

Stay at home finances

April 1st, 2020 at 09:15 pm

The state is under a stay-at-home order, so apart from going to work (considered an essential industry) and infrequently to the grocery store, I’m at home. Have worked a couple extra shifts and there will probably be more overtime as people get sick/quarantined and need to be replaced.

Financially, I don’t spend a lot on going out anyway, but of course that is down to zero. I have been avoiding the cafeteria at work as part of social distancing (that’s one way to cut out unnecessary coffee spending!) Also cancelled a trip to see friends and would have otherwise spent money on date activities, but being in a long-distance relationship means no travel = no dates.

Areas I’m spending more:
Groceries! Picking up extra things to leave on the porch for my parents when I do shop to minimize how often they have to go out. Also bought a few extra things that I usually wouldn’t due to shortages of my usual products or to avoid making a second trip to another store to get something more cheaply.
Gifts: Sent some gifts or gift cards (ordered online) to friends and relatives who are furloughed right now or on fixed incomes
Donations: Pretty worried about the food banks and animal shelters, both due to not having their regular fundraising activities and the increased demand they will probably see in this tough economic situation.

Working on using up things in the pantry, to minimize food waste AND shopping trips. Today I focused on a big bag of dal that’s been languishing in the cupboard for a couple years. Made something similar to this recipe, but added half a cup of rice as well: https://myheartbeets.com/instant-pot-green-moong-dal/ The bag is still about 1/3 full, but it’s a start! It wasn’t amazing, but it was certainly edible and filling! May freeze part of it for later.

Anyone up for a use-up-the-pantry challenge?

Loan snapshot:
Student loan balance (3.21%):
Principle: $114, 229.67
Interest: $60.24
Total: $114,289.91
Daily interest: $10.04

Financial housekeeping

February 15th, 2020 at 08:27 pm

It’s about time to do review recurring monthly expenses. I try to do this at least once a year, to see if better deals are available and try to keep fixed monthly bills in check. Auto insurance is a great deal around here and should stay the same (I was mildly injured by another driver this year, which weirdly goes through your own auto insurance per our state laws, and Geico was very helpful. Great customer service. Can’t say the same for the medical billing people at the ortho clinic, but that’s another story). Renters insurance is bundled. Medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums are determined through work. I locked in a promotional $40/month rate for home internet for two years a few months ago. Disability insurance will go up a little because I’m adjusting my policy, but that’s worth it. Need to look into getting a better deal on my cellphone plan, but I’m nervous something will get messed up with my keeping my current number, which is essential. Honestly the headache of that has been putting me off. My regular monthly student loan payment went up by around $400/month when I refinanced, but when you factor in the lower interest rate and the fact the term switched from 10 to 5 years, this was a savings overall.

Other financial housekeeping goals for this year: Need to sit down and figure out/change how my 401K is allocated. They automatically put me in an age-based fund when I was hired, but the mix is probably too conservative (too many bonds) for me. I should also probably move some of my savings into the market to earn better interest, but I’m pretty conservative about having a liquid cash cushion for emergencies.

Recently sent some extra money that had gradually built up in other budget categories toward my student loan.

Consolidated student loans:
Total: 121,233.34
Daily interest cost: $10.65

$9.90/month

February 5th, 2020 at 12:17 am

Really loving this new "daily interest" display on the student loan website. I sent in the $550 cash back bonus as mentioned before, and also $3354 from extra shifts/side work in the last several months. The daily interest cost is now $11.26, for a saving of 33 cents per day/$9.90 a month. That's more than my Hulu subscription!

New consolidated loan

February 3rd, 2020 at 07:19 pm

As I mentioned in my last post, I refinanced my federal student loans with CommonBond. They disbursed the check to Great Lakes at the end of January, but I am still waiting for the payoff to go through on the website. The estimated payoff period for that is Feb 4-mid February because they physically mail a paper check and it can take some time to receive and process it. Meanwhile, my new private loan is officially active, so I’m updating my loan chart:

Consolidated Student Loan:
Principle: $131,916.00 Interest: $46.36 Total balance: $131,962.36

As part of the refinancing deal I got a $550 signup bonus, which I’m submitting as my first extra payment. This company clearly focuses on a certain type of borrower, because my daily interest cost for the loan is listed right there next to the balance on my account statement. ($11.59/day, ouch). Looking forward to watching this go down!

Refinancing

January 20th, 2020 at 04:09 pm

I finally pulled the trigger on refinancing my government student loans. My application was approved and the scheduled date for everything to go through is in late January. My current servicer, Great Lakes, takes forever to process payments, so I don’t expect the process to be finished until early Feb. I have one final payment to Great Lakes in process right now for $1,944 (usual monthly amount), then in February I will start paying the new company. This will lower my interest rate from 6.55% to 3.2% fixed, which will obviously be a big help. The new loan is on a 5 year repayment term. There are no penalties for making extra payments to the new servicer, so I plan to continue to pay it down aggressively. I should really have done this sooner, but I was hesitant to lose the option of going to IBR if something happened like a job loss, etc when my total balance was more like $250,000.

I got soft quotes from several of the major companies before ultimately choosing CommonBond. The fixed interest rate quotes I received were all the same, but CommonBond’s customer support really impressed me, they had the best “what if you run into unexpected life emergencies” policies, and they had the best referral bonus, which is sent out 3 weeks after your loan is disbursed and you make your first payment to them. That said, friends have used Laurel Road and Sofi and also been happy with them. Amazing how customer service improves when you are the actual customer, rather than the Dept of Education being the customer and you being the annoyance they have to deal with to keep that sweet government contract money...