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.
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?
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…
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
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.
If you’ve been around here before, you know that the boyfriend and I grow various herbs and vegetables in containers in a small garden on our patio. Each summer we do a whole webseries on youtube documenting the process. I used to write posts on it as well, but I don’t have time anymore. If you’re interested, you can subscribe to our youtube channel to see new episodes each week.
So what are we up to this year? We’re growing some of our old favorites and also trying some new plants. We’re also experimenting with new ways to start seeds.
Here’s the full list of what we’re growing:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Jubilee Tomato plant
Check it all out in our first video of the season:
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