Financial Update

When I started posting in August 2012, our debt was $31,787. In the intervening 18 months, we have worked really hard on these numbers. What we have accomplished was achieved mostly by sticking to a good budget. However, we also had a few helpful bumps with good tax returns and a work bonus.

Our numbers then:

Sallie Mae $17,822
Citibank SL $630
MOHELA $1,547
Great Lakes $2,334
Car Loan $9,452

Our numbers today:

Sallie Mae $7,455
Citibank SL $0
MOHELA $0
Great Lakes $1,440
Car Loan $0

We have paid off $22,892 in the past 18 months. That is not as good as some of you superstar debt repayers, but averaging payoffs of over $1,200 month is our version of buckling down. I’m so encouraged to read other’s stories of debt payoffs, I hope this encourages someone to keep plugging away.

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I’m Baaaaccckkk!

I’ve not posted on this blog in over a year. I started with enthusiasm, but life got in the way. Work was overwhelming and motherhood was kicking my booty. However, I consistently read everyone’s blogs, despite not writing on mine. I’m getting the writing bug again and want to revive this site (not that it was ever truly alive in the first place.) 🙂

The blogs I enjoy the most are the ones where people just talk about their lives, families, money choices, money struggles, etc. It may be voyeuristic of me, but it’s the truth. So, that’s where I want to take this blog, make it personal-ish and tell you the mundane things of my life in hopes that it is interesting to you, like your lives are interesting to me.

The State of Our Finances (Part 2 of 4)

Yesterday I talked about the income side of things.  After all, one must have first things first.  Today, “Let’s talk about [debt] Baby, let’s talk about you and me.” (Salt ‘n’ Pepa throwback 😉 )

The DEBT

We have quite a bit of debt, in my opinion.  I totally get that whether our debts are HUGE or small is completely based on perspective.  Some people may be struggling with $5,000 in credit card debt and feel utterly swamped, while others may have $50,000 in debt and feel that it is manageable.  I think our debt is manageable, provided we don’t become unemployed, but it still makes me angry/scared/upset/frustrated. 

I lump our debt into 2 separate categories:  1. Life happens debt, 2. House debt. 

1.  “Life Happens Debt”

Our “Life Happens Debt” includes two things:  Student loans (puke) and a Car payment. 

Student Loans:  A Necessary Evil?  Neither Henry nor I took out very many student loans during our undergrad days.  In fact, we both graduated with about $5,000 each in undergrad student loans.  We also both worked part-time throughout most of our college careers.  However, we still have student loan debt, thanks to my law degree.  I racked up approximately $35,000 in student loans and interest in 3 years.  Notice I say “approximately.”  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure how much the debt was at the start.  I know the ball park figure.  When I started paying it off, I was scared of the number and I did not take a long, hard look at it.

What I do know is, today, my law school student loans look like this:

Sallie Mae $17,822.76
Citibank SL $630.72

We also still have our two, small undergraduate loans hanging around because the interest rates are so low that it made more sense to pay off my law school loans with a whopping 6.8% interest!  Those two undergrad loans started out at approximately $5,000 each and now look like this:

MOHELA $1,547.21
Great Lakes $2,334.77

When I first started keeping track of my student loan payoffs in February 2011, this is what our numbers looked like:

Sallie Mae $20,932.20
Citibank $8,965.53
MOHELA $2,561.06
Great Lakes $2,347.03

As you can see, the Great Lakes loan hasn’t changed much.  I paid ahead on it a long time ago and I don’t owe another payment until summer 2013.  So, I am not currently paying on it and will not do so until I pay off the higher interest SL’s or the bill comes due–whichever happens sooner.

Car Payment:  Yep, this one was absolutely necessary.  I will blow money like it’s going out of style on food, travel, and fun, but I am stingy to a fault when it comes to buying new “stuff.”  We found out last September that we were going to become parents.  At that point, Henry had caved and purchased a new-to-him truck to replace his that literally died in our front yard.  Like, manual transmission grease/fluid (whatever, I’m not a car expert) pouring, gushing out of it and into the street drain (we didn’t mean to be environmentally unfriendly).  I, however, refused to get rid of my hooptie.  That car deserves a post dedicated entirely to it’s existence, so I’ll save the story.  It was unsafe for me to be driving that car and I certainly was not going to drive our little bundle of joy around in that death trap.  Enter the 2008  Honda Accord.  Asking price was $16,000.  I got $1,000 trade in on the piece o’ junk, and paid $3,000 down.  Financed $12,000 at 3.7% interest in December 2011.  Today we owe:

Chase auto loan $9,452.10

2.  “House Debt”

We rented a little duplex for our first 5 years of marriage. In fact, we rented the same little duplex for those 5 years.  It was close to Henry’s work and it was close to work, then school for me.  It was fairly cheap for the area, although the rent seemed to go up almost every year. 

We were very selective in our home buying.   Even after I graduated in 2009 and got a job I loved before I even took the bar exam, we still did not jump immediately into home ownership.  We looked and waited for almost a year before purchasing our current home.  It was a short sale and we got the home for a bargain.  It was originally on the market for $195,000 and we got it for $145,000.  It has 3 acres, 2,000 square feet, and a pool.  Virtually no neighbors, yet it is 10 min. from downtown where I work.  Henry is not quite so lucky, he has a 25 minute commute, but since he’s a nurse working 3-4 days per week, it’s not as rough on him to drive to work as it would be for me working 5 days per week.

We paid $7,500 down and took out a mortgage for $137,500 at 5.25% interest.  It would have been more like 4.75% interest if Henry had a decent credit history. He is a cash or debit cardman and at that time had never had a credit card…EVER.  He had the one tiny student loan, but it wasn’t enough to give him a very good credit rating.  I, on the other hand, with my poor spending habits, had great credit!  Today, our mortgage is approximately $131,000 (the interest makes this number change daily).  Seems like an incredibly paltry amount considering we have paid on it for 2 years.  Makes me wish we had saved longer and made a bigger down payment.  Oh well, we love the house, so no regrets yet.

Total debt?  A LOT!!!

Total debt I am keeping tabs on?  $31,787.56.  That is the number I want to get to $0.  The house, in due time, in due time.

Our (Frugal?) Anniversary Weekend

This weekend, the husband and I took the weekend to relax, unwind, and spend some time together and time with Baby Girl.  Today is our seventh anniversary and we decided that since life has been so hectic for us lately, we would stay local for our anniversary.  We booked a nice hotel here in town and just stayed here and relaxed and ate a couple of great dinners.  We did it frugally as well.  I purchased the hotel somewhat last-minute on Priceline.com and got it for approximately $50.00 per night.  One of our dinners at a nice restaurant was purchased using a ½ off deal coupon. 

We ate a lot this weekend.  Too much really.  With an infant in the house, our schedules have been turned on their heads and we don’t always put enough effort into creating healthy meals.  We are trying to get into a fitness routine and lose our baby weight.  Yes, I said “our baby weight.”  Henry gained approximately 20 lbs. along with me as I gained a whopping 55 lbs during pregnancy.  A loving husband does not let his wife drive to Dairy Queen at 8:30 at night to order a buy one get one free blizzard and not do his part to eat the free one.  I have lost 35 of those pounds and Henry has lost about 7 pounds.  I had an unfair advantage since I lost 25 of those pounds by giving birth and losing water weight during the first week.   

It was nice to take a break, spend a little money, eat more calories than we should have, and just enjoy life and each other.  What did you do this weekend?

The First Step

Hi, my name is Arlea.  I’m a 31-year old mom, wife, and lawyer.  Although I have a very white collar job, I identify more as blue collar.    My goal with this blog is to have a place to express my thoughts on life, family, finances, and work.  I am a bit bi-polar when it comes to work and home.   Some days I’m just trying to survive when I would rather be a stay-at-home mom.  Other days, I cannot imagine doing anything other than what I do.  

My husband, Henry, is a Registered Nurse who has more inappropriate dinner stories than you can image.  We recently became parents to the most beautiful, happy, chubby baby girl.  She is more of a blessing than we ever could have imagined before we met her.

I am a huge fan of financial blogs and it was reading those that made me interested in reading blogs at all.  However, as a whole, I’ve gravitated towards blogs that have a broader appeal than just finances.  The blogs I love most have a very personal feel and the bloggers I love most are those who open up about the struggles of life, whether those struggles are with education, finances, family, self-worth, goals, or any number of topics.  I read to be inspired, encouraged, or entertained.   To be completely honest, my interest is probably also tinged with voyerism–I’m simply nosey about the lives of people I will most likely never meet.  I hope to provide some sort of entertainment, encouragement, or escapism with this blog–and that’s just for me.  If you get any of those things out of it as well, I will have been more than successful.