Why I Stopped Meal Planning & Canceled Our Grocery Budget

Cutting out our meal plan and grocery budget may seem counter intuitive for a family trying to get out of debt. Especially for a family that consistently goes over budget in both grocery shopping and eating out spending categories.

But, that’s why personal finance is called personal finance. It is never going to be a “one size fits all” plan, and sometimes right in the middle of a well thought out plan, you will suddenly realize the plan isn’t working at all.

I am 3 days in to the New Year and I didn’t anticipate this change to become a permanent part of our financial plan. It all happened rather organically. Please read more to find out the reasoning behind my unusual new strategy.

2017 – The Year of the $50/week Grocery Budget

I started 2017 committed to spending only $50 at the grocery store for our dinners all week. At the beginning of the year, I would only take $50 cash in to the grocery store, and if I didn’t have enough cash for the total I would have to put items back or exchange them for a more affordable alternative.

We stuck with a strict meal plan that looked like this:

  • Sunday – Hot Dogs or Cheeseburgers with French Fries (my “easy” meal for grocery shopping day)
  • Monday – Beef Stroganoff with Mushrooms over Egg Noodles or Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli over Penne
  • Tuesday – Tacos or Enchiladas with Refried Beans and Spanish Rice
  • Wednesday – BBQ Chicken Tenderloins or Steak with Mac and Cheese and Veggies
  • Thursday – Spaghetti or Tortellini with Garlic Bread
  • Friday – Favorites (this honestly hardly ever happened)

The problem is we got tired of having the same things over and over again so we would eat out quite often. I also didn’t meal plan for Saturday, that was a designated day to have whatever meal I didn’t prepare during the week because we ate out that day, or we would just eat out on Saturday.

We ate out a lot.

Eating Out and Groceries

I use Tiller to automatically import my bank transactions and to set up my budget for the month. I started doing this in August 2017.

I attempted categorizing my transactions in the past but I found that I had many sub-categories which made the job really hard, so when I started again in August 2017 I decided all restaurant food is “Eating Out” and all snacks from the gas station as well as dish soap and laundry detergent and other household items we needed were “Groceries”.

Before, I had categories called Takeout – Lunch, Takeout, Date Night, and Groceries, Snacks, Pets, and Household. This made it really hard to categorize a Walmart purchase from a week previous, and the Takeout – Lunch categories were also subdivided for myself, husband, and kids. Can you see how the task of categorizing became daunting?

I stopped making lunches for my husband around the same time I stopped making them for my kids. I got tired of my children coming home with soggy untouched sandwiches and crushed bags of chips and cookies. I thought that I wouldn’t make the effort anymore since it was unappreciated and that made me pretty happy.

I now stock up on lunch items for my daughter that she will eat for lunch at school: Campbell’s soup bowls, Easy Mac, Beefaroni cups, Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, etc. My son has moved out.

My daughter is not the issue here (usually) except when she asks for McDonald’s on a particularly challenging or particularly rewarding day at school.

Here’s how the totals look for our “catch all” Takeout and Groceries since I started categorizing and budgeting with Tiller. I budgeted $175 a month for Takeout and about $300 for Groceries ($50 per week plus extra for gas station goodies being added in throughout the month).

  • August 2017
    • Takeout – $179 (This was a good month!)
    • Groceries – $343
  • September 2017
    • Takeout – $172 (Under budget, what?)
    • Groceries – $343
  • October 2017
    • Takeout – $394 (WTF?!)
    • Groceries – $399 (Really how much can a family of 3 eat?)
  • November 2017
    • Takeout – $269
    • Groceries – $578 (How even??)
  • December 2017
    • Takeout – $287
    • Groceries – $453

Well, that was ugly. But I have a plan in place!

Lessons From a Slumlord

That’s a harsh term, and I’m not even sure if this person was in fact a slumlord. But I did learn something from him.

If you are a regular reader and/or a follower on Instagram you know that my mom recently bought her first home. When she closed, she met the seller and he expressed his gratitude to be rid of his rental property. He told my mom that the tenants would leave the water running and the bill would be $600!

My mom was dreaming of her first hot bath in years after trudging through the snow for hours on moving day. She had only had access to a shower when living with my uncle. When she went to take her long awaited bath, she found the water only lukewarm! Strange, because the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink got hot water, just not the tub.

I suspected there might be a safety mechanism in place to prevent scalding of the tenants and potential lawsuits. But to hear my mom tell it, the water was much too cold to even bathe in. Having grown up in apartments in similar conditions I can tell you from experience how a tenant would remedy that. They would boil a bunch of water on the stove, carry it to the tub, dump it in, and repeat the process until they got their bath to a comfortable temperature.

I have a sneaking suspicion I found the reason for the seller’s excessive water bills. He put a plan in place that was meant to save him money but ended up costing him instead!

That is exactly what I was doing wrong. By only allowing the same boring meals, and only $50 a week in groceries, we found our pleasures buying goodies from gas stations, vending machines, and drive-thrus.

A New Strategy

My husband and I went grocery shopping together without a list (egad!) and spent $110. I didn’t complain about what he added to the cart, and I added what I wanted, too: A couple 4 packs of yogurt, some fruit cups, chocolate milk, and most importantly lunch items for the hubby! He has agreed to start taking packed lunches to work again.

I used to get upset with him when he would request extra food because of my strict grocery budget, but now he has asked me to also pack a bagel for breakfast and an extra sandwich. Fine by me. That surely beats the alternative of $14/day on takeout and gas station food!

I only got to eat one bowl of diced pineapples I threw in the cart, and none of the peach yogurt at all. Apparently my daughter is a fan.

The idea here is that if we all have easy access to foods we enjoy at home we will stop looking for fulfillment in more expensive substitutions.

I’ve also been testing out new recipes that make it exciting and fun to cook again. A number of them are slow cooker meals so that I can throw things in the Crock Pot in the morning and have a hot meal when I get home from work.

All is good in the home right now. I hope this is a change we can maintain for the long term. Time will tell if this saves us any money, but at the very least it’s making us all happier and that is something I can’t assign a dollar amount to or categorize in my budget.

January 2018 Navient Review

I made some pretty amazing strides against Navient #9 this past month. It feels amazing knowing the principal is going down, and seeing the way my regular monthly minimum payments are being applied and are already starting to change as a result of my hard work.

On December 1st 2017 my first increased minimum payment of $217.42 applied, and all of it went to interest. On January 1st 2018 $212.76 of my $217.42 went to interest and $4.71 applied to principal.

I’m excited to see how this changes over the next few months as a result of paying Navient #9 off and moving on to Navient #1, both of which are high interest low balance loans.

January 2018 Breakdown Image

Weekly Breakdown


  • $104.29 Paycheck
  • $31.29 Saved for Taxes
  • $30.00 Gas
  • $50.00 Sent to Navient!


  • $198.40 Paycheck
  • $59.52 Saved for Taxes
  • $30.00 Gas
  • $100.00 Sent to Navient!

I was bummed this week because I had to stay home for a day due to icy road conditions. My first two orders of the week only paid $7 each with no tips, so I was really upset wondering if all of winter would be this way.

But the next day the roads were much better so I got an order on schedule and was able to pick up an extra promo order that same night.

The weekend was incredibly busy, and I actually broke my record of the most money I’ve ever made in a week with Shipt! Take THAT, snow!


  • $200.73 Paycheck
  • $60.22 Saved for Taxes
  • $30.00 Gas
  • $ 100.00 Sent to Navient!

Since we had to cancel our trip to Puerto Rico, I had 40 hours of vacation time saved up at my full time job that I couldn’t roll over to 2018. I decided to take off Mondays and Fridays for the rest of the year because those are the busiest Shipt weekdays.

Monday, December 11th had blizzard-like conditions just after I dropped my daughter off at school. I sat around at home dejectedly until it let up around noon, so I took some orders then. At 6pm the conditions got bad again so I stopped. In those 5 hours I made $68.81 plus $20 cash tips! This is in addition to what I was making at my day time job for my paid time off!

Cash Tips

I set aside any cash tips I receive in my Savesaurus Rex box. I’ve never touched them, and I’m not sure how much money is in there currently. My guess is around $100. I don’t really have a plan for my cash tips yet. I might save them until tax time when I see how much if anything we owe to the IRS. At that point I’ll probably combine it with my Savings – Taxes account and make a big payment to Navient.

Part of me thinks I should clean it out December 31st, save 30% of it for taxes and send the rest to Navient. It doesn’t amount to much right now since I just started Shipt in September, but next December 31st should be a whole year’s worth of cash tips assuming I keep Shipting so it could become a sizeable amount. Do you have any thoughts?

Cash Tips

I took that Saturday off to help my mom move in to her new home. If I had worked this day as well, I might have made more than $250!


  • $162.46 Paycheck
  • $48.74 Saved for Taxes
  • $15.00 Gas
  • $100 Sent to Navient!

This was the week that I decided I was putting Shipt and my student loans over my own family and taking care of my home. I vowed this week to stop doing that.  Read more about my thought process regarding that here.

However, I still had taken time off from my full time job so I decided that I would go ahead and Shipt my regular work hours and not feel guilty about it. But I ended up helping my mom buy and install new appliances in her home a couple days this week so I wasn’t able to Shipt as much as I could have.

Due to that, I made only a little extra money but I also didn’t drive as much so I didn’t need as much gas as usual, either.

At the time of writing this post, December 29th I have just used the last of the vacation days at my full time job while still rolling over the maximum amount of hours I’m allowed for 2018. We should see a big reduction in the amount of money I’m able to put toward Navient every week but we will have a much happier home and better relationships because of it. I’m okay with that trade off.


I was able to send $350 total extra to Navient in the month of December! Hey, it looks like I finally have the timing and posting of payments worked out. We are down to a balance of $590.06 for Navient #9.

Since I am planning on slowing down the side hustle, I think I will be paying an extra $150 per month from now on. That means it will be around March or April when this loan is paid in full. That’s a little disheartening but like I said above, having a happy home life more than outweighs the disadvantage.

I hope you will join me next month for another review of how I am attacking my student loans.

January 2018 Net Worth Update

Hello and welcome to our first Net Worth Update for 2018!  I have a big goal this year, but I don’t know if it’s a stretch goal or a delusional one. I think by the end of this year, we might become worthless! I say this because our net worth increases thousands of dollars a month usually. It’s a tall order but we will see what happens.

This month we have a smaller than usual increase in net worth due to the holidays. We cash flowed all our gifts for the first time ever. I actually didn’t expect us to have any money left over but we had an extra $325 at the end of the month that we were able to put on our personal loan!

Please keep reading for a detailed breakdown of the changes in our net worth for January 2018.

SNW Breakdown Image


The home value decreased a bit this month but that is due to normal fluctuations in the housing market.

I wanted to talk more about the decrease in our Savings – Emergency Fund. You will remember last month that I was putting my income tax savings from Shipt in our Emergency Fund because I didn’t have a designated place for it yet.

We went ahead and opened up 2 new savings accounts, one for my husband’s bonuses and one for Savings – Taxes. I will not be reporting the bonus account as an asset on our net worth updates because my husband needs the freedom to purchase big ticket items from that savings so I don’t want to have my eyes on it. Also, this keeps him from taking money from the end of the month to make those purchases as well! We both win!

We transferred the excess money from Savings – Emergency in to the new account Savings – Taxes and added to it as the month went on and I collected more Shipt paychecks.


Not one increase this month! I do believe that’s the first time ever! Not only that, but I just love to see this side of the chart shrinking. I took off the Equinox since it’s paid in full.

Though I will be adding an account for the next car I get, I can enjoy seeing only 8 debt accounts for a while.

Navient decreased $203; I will have more info about that in an upcoming post next week. I’m waiting for the next bill to post before I detail all the extra payments I made during that bill cycle.

The personal loan decreased $387 thanks to the excess of $325 at the end of December and our regular minimum payment.

Planned Debt Payoff

At the end of January I think we will have nearly $1,000 extra to send to debt. Last month I shared our smallest 3 debts and explained my reasoning from straying from the debt snowball method that we all know and love. I am doing a hybrid plan of:

  1. How much our monthly obligations will decrease by paying the balance in full.
  2. What the interest rate is on all debts that are within “firing range”.

Here are our 3 smallest debts as of January 4, 2018. These are listed in order of the typical debt snowball method, taking in to account balances only:

  • Navient #9 – $590.38 (6.5%)
  • Home Depot – $2,275 (0%)
  • Personal Loan – $2,364 (9.5)

Since I’m already devoting all of the money I make from Shipt on knocking out Navient #9, the excess money at the end of the month I am sending to our personal loan. It has the highest interest rate and nearly the same balance as our 0% debt at Home Depot. Even the payments we send are similar: Home Depot is $175 a month and the personal loan is $150 a month. Therefore we don’t gain much from focusing on Home Depot just because it’s a slightly lower balance. The personal loan eats money!

I think the personal loan will be paid in full by the end of March, but I have high hopes we might be able to get rid of it by the end of February!

Here is my updated list of attack items on my personalized debt payment plan:

  • Personal Loan – $2,364 (9.5%)
  • CP Visa – $3,796 (9.5%)
  • PMI – $5,375 (see below)

In order to get rid of PMI we need to bring our mortgage balance down to 78% of the original value of the home found on our appraisal at the time of our purchase. That amount was $72,000, so we need our balance to fall below $56,160 to get rid of PMI.

Our PMI payment is $54.54 per month, but we would of course keep sending the same mortgage payment that we have been sending all along so that $54.54 would become an additional principal payment.

When I crunch the numbers on Rocket Mortgage’s amortization calculator I can choose only a one-time extra payment, and a repeated extra monthly payment. Given that information I can see that a one-time extra payment of $5,375 made tomorrow would save us $11,760.69 in interest and reduce the term of our loan 54 months (4.5 years).

If I were to send an additional $54.54 a month on top of the $24.52 extra I usually send for the rest of the time we have the loan, we will save $16,137.62 in interest and reduce the term of our loan 106 payments (nearly 9 years).

I can’t find a way to calculate doing both of these things, but I do plan to do both of them! And the good news is, I think we should be able to accomplish all three of the goals outlined above before the end of 2018. Maybe even more!


After paying all of the bills and sending the extra payment to our personal loan, we paid off a total of $1,306 in debt and raised our net worth $701 for a total net worth of $(42,438).

I know my numbers aren’t very impressive this month, but I am proud nonetheless. We moved forward even though we gave at Christmastime with the same generosity as we have in recent years, but with much less stress. We didn’t go in to debt.

Making Changes and Finding Balance

The side hustle has been going well. Very well. So well in fact that I find it is taking over my personal life. I found myself griping at my mother about missed opportunities to make extra money instead of spending time with her. My daughter would sigh dejectedly when I told her I had to hurry to drop her off at home to do an order straight after work and school.

One day last week while waiting to hear back from a customer regarding their substitutions, I texted a close friend: “I feel horrible.” It was true. While I was rushing around the store taking care of someone’s groceries, my daughter and our dog sat alone in a dark house. I was enabling someone to prioritize their personal life over the mundane task of grocery shopping while I prioritized their task over my family. I felt heart sick.

My husband made it home before I did that night, and having had a hard day at work he was grumpy with me when I arrived. I was already feeling melancholy and was defensive and it wasn’t a good mix. We had an argument that night and I can trace it all back to putting my side hustle before my own family.

If you read my posts regularly you know I’m an avid listener of podcasts and reader of personal finance books. One line I heard when listening to The One Thing stuck with me. It was in regards to working at Keller-Williams. They encourage your prioritize your spiritual life and your family and personal relationships over your career. In fact, if you are seen regularly working long hours and putting your career first, the CEOs of the company will start to question you on your priorities.  Why? Because they believe that that behavior is unmaintainable. You are going to drop a ball eventually, and not every ball bounces back. Your family is made of glass. When you drop them they crack, and if you drop them too many times they will eventually shatter.

For that reason, I have decided to slow down with the side hustle.

Paying off my student loan debt is still very important to me so I won’t quit altogether. A few weeks ago my husband and I came to a compromise regarding Shipt. I would work as much as I needed in order to get to $100 (my demand), but no later than 8pm a day (his demand), and I would stay home on his days off (his demand) unless I had not yet made $100 (my demand).

I’m going to change that now to everything the same, except once I hit $100, I stop. This will still allow me to maintain my family relationships and still have the ability to pay off $25-50 per week to my student loans which was my original goal.

From now on, when I make more than $100 I’m going to know that somewhere in that week, I have sacrificed family time, my home, health, safety, or all of the above. I will question my priorities when this happens and especially if it happens repeatedly.

I got star struck when I started getting orders every day, sometimes 2 a day, and breaking $100 to give to Navient every week. But I recognize that this is not a behavior I can maintain in the long run and still have a happy life.

I want to be able to take my daughter for ice cream after school, let her practice her driving (she’s still so slow!), and write blog posts in front of a fire by my husband’s side. Okay, it’s a fake fire but that was a nice image, right?

I feel good about this change. No breaking glass over here.


2017 Goal Recap with 2018 Updates

I started out 2017 behind in bills, meaning I didn’t have enough money at the end of the month to pay all the bills that were due the next month.

I’m ending 2017 all caught up and feeling pretty positive about 2018! I came across this article recently.  I had forgotten all about it and was amused as I read over what goals I had planned out for the year.

I thought I’d go over them with you.


  • Bills caught up approximately by 4/2017
    • Achieved! I’m not sure about the date, but I did eventually become able to pay all of next month’s bills on the last pay day of the previous month.
  • Send extra payment of $175 a month to Navient, focusing on smallest loans first
    • Fail! – I never did end up increasing those payments like I wanted to. I think instead I decided to concentrate on the debt snowball, focusing on one thing at a time rather than spreading all our extra money among many small things. I think that was the right choice! Now I send extra to Navient and I’m finally getting somewhere with this loan.
    • 2018 Goal – Continue to pay $25-$50 a week from side hustle through the year
  • Increase Christmas Club and Vacation Club savings accounts from $5/week to $20/week.
    • Fail! I had a hard time letting go of that money, and now I know that it’s silly to put so much a month in to something that isn’t THAT important. That was an extra $30 a week that went in to savings and eventually to bills and debt instead.
    • 2018 Goal – Continue $5/week automatic transfer to Vacation and Christmas Club savings account. Cash flow any vacations and gifts.
  • Personal Loan sent to 0% interest 18 months balance transfer 4/2017
    • Fail! Do you know I had still not gotten an offer to do that darned balance transfer?! I’m still waiting! At that point it would have cost $101 (3% fee), saved $336.60 in interest, and moved the loan maturation date from 8/2019 to 9/2018.
    • 2018 Goal – Pay off by 3/2018 by paying all extra money at the end of the month to it.
  • CP Visa paid in full 8/2017
    • Fail! We were sending $100/week to this card in an effort to pay it off, but we ended up just swiping away the $100/week again on miscellaneous stuff. We made a change in 2017 and started sending this card $100/month instead and trying to use it less, but it still stays maxed out.
    • 2018 Goal – I haven’t figured the bills out far enough in advance but I know that after the Personal Loan is paid off in March, this CP Visa will be next on the chopping block. I estimate it will be paid off July or August 2018.
  • HHR paid in full by 10/2017
    • Achieved! If I remember correctly we actually paid it off earlier than this.
  • Save $250/mo. for vehicle to replace Equinox lease in 3/2018
    • Fail! – Like with the Christmas and Vacation savings accounts listed above, I decided our money would be better spent tackling high interest debt like the Personal loan and CP Visa.
    • 2018 Goal – Purchase a used car with less than 100,000 miles, 5-8 years old, and preferably around $6,000. We are preapproved for a used auto loan from our credit union of up to $20,000 at 3.49%. I verified that there isn’t a minimum required amount to finance after I was briefly star struck by a $2,995 VW Beetle convertible. 3.49% beats 9.5% (the rate of our CP Visa and Personal Loan) so our money is better spent going toward those debts rather than avoiding financing a used car.

I then went over some ideas what to do next in 2017 as I didn’t have a clear plan. Here they are:

  • Send extra money to mortgage to bring balance below $56,160 and getting rid of PMI payment of $54.54/mo.
    • Fail! I didn’t do anything above sending the regular extra I do every moth.
    • 2018 Goal – This is still an idea I like. I have been toying with the idea of adding it to my debt snowball. At the time of writing this post, I would have to pay $5,499 to do that. Adding this to my debt snowball would be about #3 on the list. I would put it after the Personal Loan and CP Visa, but before my student loans and before any debts with interest rates under 4%.
  • Send extra money to Navient which has interest rates up to 6.55%
    • Achieved! A work in progress.
    • 2018 Goal – Continue working with Shipt and paying $25-50 a week on highest interest, lowest balance accounts first. Start throwing extra money at the end of the month toward these debts after Personal Loan, CP Visa, and maybe the PMI are paid in full.
  • Send extra money to retirement account which would earn 8-10% over next 29+ years
    • Fail! I now know this is a bad idea as long as I have debts that I am paying over 4% interest on. I will focus extra money on those debts first.
  • See a financial planner
    • Fail! I still want to do this!
    • 2018 Goal – Set an appointment with The Financial Gym the next time we go to NYC.

That’s it for Financial Goals for 2017. It’s amazing how my mindset changed over the year, and how much I learned listening to personal finance podcasts and reading personal finance books all year.

Now let’s see what 2017 Me had to say about other areas of my life.

Home Goals

  • Install new interior doors upstairs 4/2017
    • Achieved! We did install new interior doors, we just haven’t sanded and painted them.
    • 2018 Goal – Sand and paint the doors.
  • Purchase high efficiency furnace and central AC with 0% 24 month special financing through Home Depot
    • Achieved! Kind of. We only did the furnace, which allowed us to install a Wi-Fi thermostat which is really fun to set schedules and turn down when we are away from home. However we haven’t been saving any money on our gas bill at all so that’s disappointing.
    • 2018 Goal – Purchase high efficiency central AC with 0% 24 month special financing through Home Depot. I KNOW this one will save us money because our AC died a couple years ago. One of my coworkers happened to have a motor that fit my fan blade even though it ran at a higher horse power than our old motor. We used it last year and our electricity bills were ungodly.

That’s the end of the 2017 Goals Review!

Let’s go over all the 2018 Goals so they will be easy to review next December.


  • Pay $25-50 a week to Navient earned from Shipt working in this order:
    1. Navient #9
    2. Navient #1
    3. Navient #2
  • Cash flow any vacations and gifts
  • Send end of the month money to Personal Loan beginning 1/2018. Pay in full in or around 3/2018
  • Send end of the month money to CP Visa beginning on or around 4/2018. Pay in full in or around 7/2018
  • Send end of the month money to mortgage to get rid of PMI payment of $54.54/month beginning in or around 8/2018.
    • Will continue to send the same mortgage payment, so additional $54.54/month will go toward principal. This will drastically reduce the term of our mortgage.
  • Send end of the month money to Navient concentrating on highest interest rates and lowest balances beginning in or around 8/2018.
  • Turn in Equinox 3/2018 and purchase used car
    • 2008 – 2012 manufacture year
    • Less than 100,000 miles
    • Between $6,000 – $8,000



  • Purchase high efficiency central AC in or around 4/2018 using Home Depot 0% 24 month special financing
  • Small scale kitchen remodel with tax refund money
    • Garbage Disposal
    • Flooring
    • Dishwasher

>1 Year Goals

  • Eliminate any debt with interest rates higher than 4%
  • Minimum payments on any debt with interest rates lower than 4%
  • End of month money divided in half and sent to individual Vanguard Target Date Retirement Funds

I feel really good about these 2018 and further goals! I had a lot of fun reviewing the goals I made just 2 months after I started my debt free journey.

I can’t wait to see what else I learn as I continue to educate myself through reading personal finance books, listening to personal finance and personal development podcasts, and sharing my journey with the debt free community on Instagram.

Thanks for reading and following my journey! You can follow me on Instagram @networthnegative where I share inspirational quotes from the personal finance books that I read and post daily updates on debt elimination and more. I hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading!


December 2017 Navient Review

The assault continues on Navient #9!

The wonky billing cycle from Navient breaking all of my loans up continues on this bill cycle. For the January update we should be back to a full one month cycle.

This billing also reflects my first increased payment of $217.47 that was paid 12/1/2017. Thanks to the larger payment, many of my individual loan accounts decreased.  In addition to my minimum payment, I was able to pay extra each week to Navient #9 thanks to my side hustle, Shipt!

December 2017 Breakdown

This is an extra special update because I am finally done paying the accrued interest on this loan!

The Story of Navient #9

I was awarded Navient #9 on 10/3/2012. It is an unsubsidized loan, which means it has a higher interest rate, and it also accrued interest while I was attending school and any of the time that I was in deferment or forbearance. This was awarded the same semester as Navient #8 which was subsidized so that one has a much lower interest rate and did not accrue interest while in forbearance and deferment.

This was my last semester before graduation. It looks as though I was trying to be smarter about taking out subsidized loans and minimizing the unsubsidized amount.  I think at that point I had seen what trouble my student loans could become so I took out only what I needed: $939.

I then let that loan sit for almost 5 years while I hid my head in the sand and ignored all of my loans. In that time of inaction, I allowed this account to grow from $939 to $1,264.77.


Weekly Breakdown


  • $122.32 Paycheck
  • $36.70 Saved for Taxes
  • $30 Gas
  • $50.00 Sent to Navient!


  • $160.78 Paycheck
  • $48.23 Saved for Taxes
  • $20 Gas
  • $100.00 Sent to Navient!

This pay came a little early thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday. It was also a HUGE pay check due to Shipt offering incentives for orders that no shoppers have claimed yet, also known as promos. Some of these promos can be $20 on top of the regular pay and tip. The downside to that is if too many orders are going unclaimed it triggers a hiring wave in our area, which means less orders for all of us.

I picked up a couple $20 promo offers this week.


  • $38.46 Paycheck
  • $11.54 Saved for Taxes
  • $25.00 Gas

This pay was super short. Shipt was offering a holiday bonus for members that could shop a certain threshold of orders in 3 days. They may have been trying to avoid the promo snafu that happened the week before.

Since there was no way I could meet the threshold in 3 days with my one order a night rule, I stayed off the schedule to support the other shoppers who did have a chance.

After taxes and gas, I didn’t have anything extra to give to Navient.


For the billing cycle 11/14/2017 – 12/7/2017 I was able to pay a total of $150 extra to Navient, but according to the Breakdown above, Navient #9 reduced a total of $200. I am obviously still having a little trouble making the amounts match up.

In the November 2017 Navient update, my breakdown was off $25. I think that maybe my last payment of $50 on 11/9/2017 perhaps didn’t post until this month’s cycle. I will figure this out eventually! Sorry for the confusion.

As of 12/7/2017, my Navient #9 is $940.04. Every payment I make from here on out to this loan will be applied to principal.

November 2017 Navient Review

I’m still struggling with a clear and concise way to relay my journey to paying off my student loans to my readers. I think my last attempt at an excel spreadsheet showed too much information so things became unclear.

While I would love to display all the details of each individual loan: The award date, the accrued interest, the interest that’s added each month minus the minimum payments and the extra payments, all of that information muddies the heart of the matter and I think it’s only valuable information at the beginning and the end of each individual loans pay off.

I’m going to attempt to update once a month the overall progress and then go deeper in to each week of that month

*EDIT* 12/9/2017 –  The balances reflected in this billing cycle include the minimum payment of $90.61 which was paid 11/1/2017.

November 2017 Navient Breakdown

This billing cycle was a bit wonky because my Navient customer service rep offered to break my loans up for me so I could pay one loan individually online instead of calling in and waiting on hold each week to make the payment to a specific loan. Calling in and saying out loud that I wanted to pay X amount to my loan was kind of rewarding and I miss that. I knew my coworkers could hear me say it out loud, and the rep taking the call was my witness as well.

Breaking up the loans sounded like a good idea at the time, but what I didn’t realize is that once a month I would get 11 individual emails, and my bank would have one page of transactions all from Navient for each minimum payment being made on those 11 accounts.

Now it appears that the act of breaking up those bills tweaked my billing cycle.

Getting all of my student loan balances now is a process. Since each loan is individual, they each have their own bill so I have to open 11 different PDFs, and only 10 are visible on the first page. I have to click “view more” to get my last student loan balance.

Soon I will have all the PDFs on one page! It’s the small things.

I’m currently working on my lowest balance and highest interest student loan, Navient #9. My income based repayment plan is automatically drafted from my checking account on the first of each month so I can take advantage of the 0.25% interest rate deduction.

On top of that, I put all the earnings that I can from my side hustle, Shipt. Read more about my experience with Shipt here.

Every week on Friday, my Shipt paycheck is direct deposited in to my account. Since I’m a 1099 employee, I tuck 30% of the earnings in a savings account specifically for taxes. I then fill my gas tank.

The gas I get each Friday not only gets me to the grocery store and to my customers but I also go to my full time job and take my daughter to and from school on the same tank of gas. After these two things are taken care of, any money that is left goes toward Navient #9.


Weekly Breakdown

October 6, 2017

I received my first paycheck from Shipt this day in the amount of $76.97. I saved $23.09 for taxes, put $30 in the gas tank and sent $25 extra to Navient.

October 13, 2017

I was paid $12.84 from Shipt this week because I decided of the two participating Shipt grocery stores we have in my city, I liked one better than the other so I chose to shop exclusively at that one. I got one order. I quickly got over myself and decided to shop both stores from here on out.

I saved $3.85 for taxes, and put $10 in my gas tank.

October 20, 2017

I was paid $92.12, saved $27.64 for taxes, put $30 gas n the tank and sent $25 extra to Navient.

It took about this point for my husband to come on board with this side hustle of mine. He didn’t like it at all so we came to a compromise: I would only deliver orders as late as 8pm, and I would work every day necessary until I reached my goal of $100. I figured $100 was the minimum I could make to save for taxes, fill the tank, and put $25 – $50 toward my student loans per week. This compromise has been working well for us!

October 27, 2017

I was paid $106.79, saved $32.04 for taxes, put $20 in the tank, ad sent $50 extra to Navient! This plan is working!

November 3, 2017

I was paid $100.93, saved $30.28 for taxes, put $35 in the tank, and sent $25 extra to Navient. It wasn’t my $50 goal, but $25 a week is respectable, too.

November 9, 2017

I was paid $117.34, a little above my $100 goal but that was due to promotional orders and good tippers. I still held up my end of the compromise: Stay home on my hubby’s day off, but working on his day off if I haven’t yet reached $100 for the week.

This pay was also a little early due to a bank holiday.

I saved $35.20 for taxes, put $30 in the tank, and paid $50 extra to Navient.


For the Navient billing cycle 10/6/2017 – 11/14/2017 I was able to pay a total of $150 extra to Navient. According to the breakdown above, Navient #9 reduced only $125.53.

This is something I’ve been struggling with when attempting to share my student loan pay off progress. I can’t get my numbers to match up! I’m thinking that perhaps the payment I made October 6th may have credited on the previous month’s bill.

I think this is the format I’m going to stick with from here on out, so the payments should match up when I make my monthly updates.