Update On What I’m Up To Now…

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So I haven’t posted in two years. I am still alive and I’m still living a thrifty lifestyle, but boy have a lot of things happened.

So the biggest thing is I got a promotion at my day job which meant a 25% increase in salary, which has been a huge help for paying down my student loan debt. The other big help is that the company I work for went public, so I am in the process of cashing in stock options to pay off the remainder of the debt. In a couple months I will be entirely debt free, 9 years ahead of schedule.

This has been such a tremendous relief and has allowed me to start planning for the future and expanding to work on other projects.

Another big development, I got engaged last year to my boyfriend and we will be getting married sometime this year. We haven’t gotten that deep into the wedding planning process yet, but mark my words, we are not going to fall into the trap of the big expensive wedding.

Beyond that, most of the energy I used to focus into this blog is being used to focus on other creative endeavors. You can always keep up-to-date on what I’m doing via my personal website Tiffany E. Wilson.com. The past two years have seen an increased focus on writing fiction and other passion projects.

The biggest passion project is my new blog The Retrofuturist. If you’re not familiar with the term, retrofuturism is the past’s vision of the future. It includes artifacts from the past like retro film and video, golden age science fiction, vintage advertisements, and other predictions or visions of the future that often never came to pass. Flying cars, jetpacks, and moon colonies are a few examples of these retro-scifi ideas.

Thrifty20something isn’t necessarily dead and I may be back from time to time to post a new deal or something cool I’ve discovered. But as I only have one year left in my 20s, it’s time to move on to other things. Thank you for reading!

2012 Student Loan Debt Update and 2013 Goals!

Happy New Year everyone!

So, 2012 is over, and what a crazy year it was. I’m not sure how it passed me by so fast. The last half of the year was very busy for me between a lot of extra work at my day job (including some overtime) plus a side project eating up all of my time. Fortunately both opportunities allowed me to funnel some extra money towards my student loans.

Looking back at 2012

Last year I set some financial goals for myself that I thought would be realistically achievable. How did I do?

Goal 1: Reduce my private student loan debt to under $80K.
So…I got so close to this goal! After my December payments processed, I was at $80,702.53. Just $700 off.

At then end of 2011, my Sallie Mae loan balance was $90,962.54, so I paid off $10,260.01 (plus a TON of interest) over the course of the year. I didn’t hit the goal, but I am proud that I was able to eliminate $10K of debt.

Goal 2: Reduce my monthly payment amount to less than $900
Well, I doubted my ability to reach this goal when I set it, and I didn’t reach it. This was partially because I didn’t expect Sallie Mae to suddenly start postponing my monthly payment due dates instead of lowering my payment amount.

At the end of the year my monthly payment amount was at $953.67, a reduction of $43.30 from last year’s payment, so not too shabby.

Goal 3: Increase emergency savings to $3000
BAM! My current emergency fund is $3,059.21.

SLAYED IT!

2013 Goals

2013 should be a fun year. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air right now:

My Take Home Pay – With all of the fun things going on with taxes and increase in health insurance costs, my take home pay will probably go down. I should be getting a raise this year, but it’s unclear when or how much. I also am doing some freelance writing on the side of my day job which should earn me some extra cash, but how much remains to be seen.

My Monthly Student Loan Payment Amount – I haven’t made any payments on my federal student loans because my income has been so low (thanks 2 years of unemployment!) since graduation. This should be reassessed this month and I think I make enough now that they will require me to pay something. Until I get that bill, I won’t know though. This will mostly like take away from the extra amount that I usually send to Sallie Mae, so while I have the money, I don’t like the idea of it cutting away from paying down that high interest debt.

With those variables in mind, here are my goals for the year:

Goal 1: Get my total student loan debt under $100K
So I don’t ever talk about my federal loans on the blog, since I don’t have to pay them right now. Since that will probably change this month, I have to start thinking about them and figuring them into my budget and goals.

My total student loan debt is over $105K. While my Sallie Mae balance goes down each month, my federal loan balance goes up because I’m not making payments, but some of the accounts are still accruing interest. The interest rates are 1/2 to 1/3 of my Sallie Mae rates though, so I would rather focus my money on that while I can.

I think this goal is very achievable–it’s something I’ve been working towards since I graduated with about $130K in student loan debt and interest. I can’t wait to reach it!

Goal 2: Reduce my monthly payment amount to less than $900
Yep, I’m just rolling this goal over from last year. This means reducing the payment by $53.67. I can do it! Right?

Goal 3: Increase emergency savings to $4,000
Yeah, that’s only an increase of $1,000, but the budget is going to be a little bit tighter for me this year. Everything is going up and my take home pay is going to be less than it was last year. Hopefully side projects and a raise at work will make up some of the money, but that remains to be seen.

So that’s it! Hopefully when I sit down to write this post next year, I’ll be writing about success.

What are your goals (financial or otherwise) for 2013?

October 2012 Sallie Mae Student Debt Update

Well, it’s 2013 already. Where did all of the time go?

It’s time (past time) for my quarterly student loan update.

Again, I’m two months behind for the debt updated for October. In July, Sallie Mae dropped my monthly loan payment to $962.77. Between July and October I paid $1420.73 extra on my loans, including $190.73 in earnings from Upromise.

My new monthly payment is: $953.67

That’s a difference of $9.10 per month. I’m still paid way ahead on my loans, which is kind of screwing up these numbers, but I’ll take any reduction I can get and I will continue to pay extra each month. I’m focusing all of my extra payments on the loan with the largest interest rate (and coincidentally the largest balance). During the last quarter I finally got it under $30K, so that in itself is a mini achievement.

Here’s the stats for October:
Total Sallie Mae Debt: $82,792.95
Months of Payment Left: 144 (12 Years)
Original Monthly Payment: $1,024.70
Current Monthly Payment: $953.67
Total Pre-Payment Savings: $10,544.75

Stay tuned for the year in review post…

July 2012 Student Loan Debt Updates

But Tiffany, it’s October, why are you doing the July update now?

Well, dear reader, this was a busy busy summer. And I wanted to get these numbers down before Sallie Mae updates my monthly payment amount after my October payment.

So I’ve continued my trend of paying as much as I possibly can each month, though I took a dip in available income because my pet rabbit had a medical emergency that required hospitalization and ended up costing a pretty penny in vet bills over most of the summer. He’s a-ok now and I have no problem paying whatever it takes to keep my pets healthy and happy, but that did set me back a bit in how much money I could pay towards my loans.

However, since then I’ve started working on a few side projects in hopes of bringing in some extra income to help me with paying down my debt, so hopefully that will give me a big boost for my numbers.

In April, Sallie Mae dropped my monthly payment to $973.17. Between April and July I paid $820.78 extra on my loans, including $15.78 from Upromise.

My new monthly payment is: $962.77

That’s only a drop of $10.40, but I’ll take it.

Last time I talked about how my billing is a bit screwed up because I paid so much extra that Sallie Mae advanced my due date. Well I talked to customer service about it and they basically told me there’s nothing they can do to fix that so it shows the amount due normally. It will just keep saying $0 due unless I just don’t make a payment for a month–which I’m definitely not going to do!

So I’ll just deal with it and keep making the payments.

Here’s the stats (all for where I was in July):
Total Sallie Mae Debt: $85,258.80
Months of Payment Left: 147
Original Monthly Payment: $1,024.70
Current Monthly Payment: $962.77
Total Pre-Payment Savings: $9,234.35

Tiffany’s #1 Favorite Survey Site: Pinecone Research

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I know I haven’t posted in awhile about any great money making sites, but I saw Pinecone Research is open to new signups, and this is one you have to get in on if you’re into filling out surveys!

I joined Pinecone Research back in 2003 when they still paid $5 a survey via checks. I was still in high school and felt so silly going to the bank to deposit all of these $5 checks, but I’ve made a lot of money from them over the years.

Now they pay $3 a survey via Paypal, plus you get entry into their sweepstakes.

What is so awesome about Pinecone? Here’s a few of the high points:

  • You qualify for every single survey they send you and will never screen out
  • Every survey you take earns you $3
  • You will be paid via Paypal within a week of taking the survey. There is no minimum to cash out.
  • You will frequently be selected to try products from home and get paid for every follow up survey

If that’s not enough to convince you, then there’s nothing else I can say. This is the best site for surveys, period, and they’re hard to get into, so sign up now while they’re recruiting.

Here’s the stats:
Info Required to Sign Up: Name, address, email, general personal statistics
Sign up bonuses: None
How money/points are earned: Earn a sweepstakes entry and $3 for surveys. They also send shorter qualifying surveys which give you a sweepstake entry.
Value of survey/action: $3 for surveys. Sweepstake entry for qualifying survey.
Earnings for disqualified survey: You never disqualify for a survey.
Referral Program: No.
Redemption options: Cash via Paypal. I believe they will also send checks.
Time redemption takes: Within a week via Paypal.

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