October 2017 Student Loan Review

For a long while I have wanted to closely observe and document how my student loans grow every month. In October 2016 I started my blog documenting our family’s journey to a positive net worth, and here I was able to list my Navient account as a whole and see exactly how much interest was being added every month. Prior to 10/4/2016 my head was in the sand. I had no idea what I owed and every time I was forced to look I would be shocked to find that the balance had grown by hundreds, if not thousands, from the last time I looked.

If you want to change something the best way to start in my opinion is by tracking it. Since we started tracking our net worth it has grown $20,000 in a year some by hard work and some luck, which I think were caused by the magic of tracking the changes and reacting to them.

I started this same habit by looking at my loans individually. I started writing down all of my student loans and their balances but I continued to make my minimum payment, which was based off my income. If you have been reading my blog, you know that my minimum payment was about $125 too little each month. I wasn’t even keeping up with interest!

While I was tracking how each individual account was growing, I struggled with coming up with a clear and concise way to display it to my readers. Also, I may have been a little discouraged because I was still working on catching up on our regular monthly bills, and I had a few smaller bills to take care of on my debt snowball.

A couple of things came together to really get me encouraged to start chipping away at this debt. And I do mean chipping! I am making very small jabs at this debt now, but I’m beyond excited that I’m finally doing something.

First, a person on the Instagram debt free community recommended Shipt as a side hustle to a woman that I follow. That morning during my commute to work I heard a commercial on the radio advertising Shipt for our local grocery store. It didn’t occur to me then to look in to it but I was a little curious so that post reminded me that I wanted to research it. It turns out Shipt is a grocery delivery service! I signed up to be a shopper: I get a grocery list on the app, scan each item as I grab it, pay for it with a company credit card, and deliver it to the address provided in the app.

That was a very readers’ digest version of the job, but I plan to make another post in the near future about the side hustles I have attempted in the last year.

Shipt pays me $5 for every delivery I do, plus 7.5% of the order total, plus tips. It can add up fast! My very first paycheck I brought home $76.97 after completing  shops the week before. I put $30 gas in my tank, put 30% away for taxes, and paid $25 extra to my smallest student loan!

From then I made a goal: Deliver as many orders as I can until I get to $100 and divide it as follows: 30% tax, less than $30 gas, and $25-$50 extra payment on my student loans.

But still I struggled with how to document and share the journey? During one of my drives to a delivery last night, I started talking out loud outlining my spreadsheet and got it figured out. I came home and plugged in all my numbers while watching Orange is the New Black and waiting for a load of laundry to dry.

Navient.October 2017 Corrected

Figuring out how much interest is added each month to each individual loan is still a bit wonky, because I can’t find it listed on my statement. The best I could figure was taking the previous statement from Navient and comparing the total interest with the total interest for the new month.

This has been a humbling experience. With the Sum feature on my table, I found that I accrue $121.06 of interest each month AFTER my $90.61 payment. We sort of already knew that, but when I looked at the total unpaid interest from the previous month is when the real shock kicked in. This is a huge hole. This is where not making any payments on your Income Based Repayment Plan will get you. This is where hiding from your problems gets you: Nearly $6,000 of unpaid, capitalized (compounding) interest. I’m going to start doing something about it. Or so I said.

Next, came time for my annual Income Based Repayment Plan income review. After submitting my documents and waiting a couple of months I learned that my minimum payment would be more than doubling! I am going from $90.61 due each month to $217.42. I am pretty happy about this because I can afford this payment, and I’m now being forced to at least keep up with interest if I do nothing more than make the minimum payments. No more glowing red accounts on my net worth statements!

With my side hustle going strong, and my minimum payments increasing, we should see these shrinking over the next year. I’m excited to look back 10/2018 and see where I am then. I hope you’ll be here, too!

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Instagram @networthnegative for daily updates on our debt free journey as well as other shenanigans I get up to.

XOXO,

 

Dolores

.

October 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update

Hello and Welcome to our October 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update! It’s been 1 year now since I started tracking our net worth. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun. Our net worth has increased nearly $20,000 but our debt has stayed nearly the same (an increase of $80) in one year.

I feel like the next coming year is going to bring some drastic changes because 2016 going in to 2017 was spent cleaning up a lot of small messes like balance transfers and medical bills. As of October 2017 we have only 2 bills that cost us over 6% interest each month: CP Personal Loan and CP Visa, both of which are 9.5%. I’m choosing to concentrate on bills that are first of all a low balance so that they are within firing range, and I’m also keeping my eye on those with interest over 6% because paying these bills off give us more return than investing in the stock market (assuming the average rate of return of 8%).

We have many bills coming within firing range that will free up a good chunk of money which can then go toward the small balance bills or the high interest ones.

I’m getting ahead of myself. On to the breakdown!

October 2017 Corrected

Assets

It looks like our home is finally stopping its wild run to the top of the market this month. That was great! Let’s just hope that is doesn’t fall drastically like it did around this time last year.

Our Dart also fell a bit in value, but nothing too concerning.

Of course our decrease in savings is a reflection of the normal fluctuations seen after we pay bills and start building up funds for the next month.

The only unusual change this month is our Christmas Fund falling $50 instead of the regular increase of $25. I took money out of this account to pay for a birthday gift for my daughter. We were a little short on funds and I didn’t want to use the credit card so this was the solution, and I don’t regret a thing. I think it was a good choice!

Liabilities

All of our liabilities fell as usual in accordance to the regular monthly payments we send each month. We made more of a concentrated effort to give some love to the CP Visa since we have been abusing it as of late.

Navient of course continues to grow, but we have an exciting change coming up that I am going to talk more about in an upcoming post. Basically, my Income Based Repayment Plan was re-evaluated and my payment changed from $90.61 a month to $217.47, an increase of $126.86. Navient grows typically less than $125 a month so this increase will keep me about even with Navient instead of growing each month. I think in 2017 we are going to see these student loans start to be paid off one by one.

Debt Pay Off

After paying all our October bills we had $275 remaining. My husband and I discussed it and decided to put that extra money toward the CP Visa since it was nearly maxed out. We have been very good since then about not using the card at all.

We are also waiting on the 0% balance transfer offer from Capital One. Once we receive that we will move the CP Visa balance as well as the CP Personal Loan balance on to that to pay off in 18 months and save the 9.5% interest.

We also have canceled our trip to Puerto Rico due to the damaged caused by Hurricane Maria since I updated this spreadsheet so at the time of writing this post, we actually have a credit balance on Capital One which frees up money for the next 2 months.

At the end of October I think we should be very close to paying off the Equinox which will free up $475 every month and the Equinox doesn’t need to be turned in until 3/31/2018! We will have about 4 months of no car payment at all so lots of opportunity to work on more debt pay off.

Conclusion

It’s absolutely crazy how much change can happen in 2 short months. In September we made it in to the 50s, and this month we are well in the 40s for our net worth! We had an increase of $2,408 this month for a net worth of $(47,988).

I hope you continue to follow us on our journey to a positive net worth because I feel like we are going to move up in leaps and bounds this year. We are making smarter decisions, making more money, and just overall dong better. I’m excited to see where we go and I hope you’ll be a part of it.

XOXO,

 

Dolores

September 2017 Net Worth Update

Hello, and welcome to our September Statement of Net Worth Update, only a little late this time! We have had another insane increase in our net worth due to the house going up a crazy amount in value again. I’m not sure how long this trend will continue, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

September 2017

ASSETS

The home increased in value again this month, just over $2,000 this time.

The Dart also increased a good amount again, more than the house! Like I said, I have no idea what’s going on but I hope they don’t revert back to the downward trend we had been seeing the last few months.

Although the house and car is doing well our 401(k) amounts are increasing slowly. These accounts seem to creep up slowly and then about once a quarter they jump a higher amount. I think what we are seeing now is market fluctuations, and then the big increases are our companies making a lump sum deposit of the money we have accumulated in that time. That’s just a guess though from watching this over the last year.

By the way, we are coming up on the one year anniversary of starting this blog! It doesn’t seem so long ago.

Our Savings – Vacation account increased $100 more than usual because we added some extra money at the end of the month after paying off some debts – more about that later.

LIABILITIES

I’ve cleared Vermuelen’s off this list since it was paid off last month, and now Amazon is also at a 0 balance so that will be removed next month. Then, the number of liability accounts will match my asset accounts! Yes, aesthetic!

So while we had some success in paying off debt, we have also been really bad with the CP Visa. We put some back to school shopping and birthday spending on here, and basically just used this card when we ran low on funds elsewhere instead of slowing down our spending when we were running out of money. We just swiped s different card and I really wish it didn’t happen now.

The Capital One account also looks to have increased but the $1,150 balance is actually the cost of our flight and rental car to Puerto Rico which will be coming off tomorrow at the time I’m writing this post, so I’m not too concerned with that increase. This account should be at or near $0 for future reports so I might actually take it off the report altogether. That is, until we do our next 0% balance transfer to take care of the Personal Loan and CP Visa. These accounts both have a 9.5% interest rate, and one of them has insurance on it which runs it up an additional $10 per month. That’s frustrating, so I can’t wait to be done with it!

If you remember, the Capital One account was holding the balance for the HHR that I put on a 0% balance transfer last year. We also paid that off this month! Since this account will soon be at a 0 balance I’m hoping we get another 0% balance transfer invite so we can move those 2 accounts over soon. We will see.

DEBT PAYOFF

Some of these details accidentally made it over in to the Liabilities section but I’ll recap here.

After paying all the September bills we were able to pay off the radiology bill, Amazon Store Card, and the Capital One balance transfer for the HHR (2 months ahead of schedule)!

As of today, our smallest 3 debts are:

  1. Navient Loan #9 – $1,254
  2. Equinox – $2,304
  3. Home Depot – $2,972

I would say it is high time for me to go ahead and make that student loan post I’ve been talking about making where I will breakdown my balance, but according to my calculations I will not have anything extra to throw at debt until the end of November, and by that time the Equinox will have bypassed the Navient Loan #9 in being the smallest debt to pay off. Plus the minimum on the Equinox is $475 a month compared to about $1 on Navient thanks to the Income Based Repayment Plan.

These next couple of months will be touch and go with just paying the minimums and seeing if I can make extra money wherever possible.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @networthnegative for daily updates on our debt free journey.

 

XOXO,

 

Dolores

What Happened When I Stopped Asking “How?”

HowIf you had asked me a few weeks ago how I would go about achieving a goal I would have told you I follow the SMART Principal…. Loosely. A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. I didn’t actually know this acronym off the top of my head, I had to look it up. Anyway, my long term focus has always been on what it reasonable and attainable. I realize now what is reasonable and attainable is a matter of opinion and can change drastically.

July was going to be a short month for me, and I wasn’t going to be able to put any extra income toward my debts.

One of the people in the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram posed the question, “What is your goal for July?” Without asking “How?” for the first time ever, I responded “Have something extra to put toward debt.” That was neither reasonable nor attainable for me in that moment because I wasn’t even sure if I was going to have enough to make my minimum payments! Add to that the fact that I enrolled my daughter in driver’s education for a cool $330 (something I had already been putting off for some time), I had no idea how I was going to pull any of this off aside from dipping in to the savings for August bills. This goal was not specific, it was not really measurable ( …greater than $0?), and about the only thing it had going for it was that it was Time-Bound. By the end of July, I would have something extra to put toward debt, I just didn’t ask how I would pull it off, and how much would be a success.

Then funny things started happening.

I got a raise. I got overtime for the first time in 4 years. The Driver’s Education price dropped to $305 and wasn’t due until August. My husband who is typically not cooperative with our debt free journey sold his unused TV for $400 and paid off 2 debts on his own. We now have a surplus for the end of July, and we have already paid $400 extra to debt!

A couple days ago while doing dishes I watched a YouTube video called Napoleon Hill Secrets to Financial Freedom (you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj9Ny3kv0zA&t=310s). The narrator said “Asking ‘how?’ is what failures and losers do. Winners and successful people never ask ‘how?’ first. They define their dream first.’”

This seems to be in direct contrast with the SMART Principal outlined above. Perhaps when I was making sure that my goals were reasonable and attainable all I was really doing was underestimating myself and the universe’s funny way of giving you exactly what you need. Here is a poem written by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse that I discovered while reading The One Thing that sums this up perfectly:

I bargained with life for a penny
And life would pay no more
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store

For life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menials hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.

June 2017 Net Worth Update

Hello and welcome to our June 2017 Statement of Net Worth Update which is extremely late even though I had the numbers ready by 6/2! I’ve been busy settling in to the summer routine, finishing up the side hustle, and I’m working on diet and exercise lately. So sorry I have neglected my blog! I get summer blues and usually find myself more motivated in the Fall/Winter seasons. I’m strange. Anyway, on to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. June

Assets

You will notice an incredible decrease in our Car Insurance savings, because the car insurance became due! So all this money got cleaned out and we were able to pay the car insurance in full without a problem. That was a great feeling. I also charged it to our Capital One account before paying it off to earn 1.5% cash back. Yay, free money!

Starting July 1st we will start an automatic transfer of $325 per month in to this account so we will see it growing again soon!

The Dart lost another significant chunk of value this month as well, but looking at the liabilities section makes me feel a little better about that. The value of the liability decreased $208 compared to the decrease in the asset of $188. It still stinks, though.

Again, the decrease in Savings – Reg is a holding place for our paychecks until we pay all the bills on the last day of the month so that will go up and down in value but it doesn’t mean much for reporting purposes.

Liabilities

This was a good month, with only the Navient going up in value $121. I had planned to increase my payments to this account in order to avoid growth in my liabilities, but I have become very active in the Instagram Debt Free Community and they advised me that I should go ahead with the Debt Snowball method so that is what I’ll be doing.

I have some more liabilities that I haven’t been completely honest about. Well, not un-honest it’s just I failed to add them to my spreadsheet. They are RAC once again. My husband has a laptop on 0% interest. As of the writing of this blog, the balance is now $169.84.

We are also on a payment plan for the medical bills I discussed in a previous blog. In fact it has been my intention to write a blog about our success with the Compassionate Care program – Our $1,800 bill got knocked down to $378.83 and we were placed automatically on a payment plan of $127 per month. I just never got around to writing that blog. We also have a radiology bill for the MRI he had to have of $746 which we are on a $100/mo payment plan. These are all 0% interest of course.

Vermuelen’s didn’t come down at all because I have been counting $50 ahead somehow and just caught on to it. Whoops! This is the corrected balance.

Debt Pay Off

Hey, what is this? This is a new section where I will discuss what debts were paid off this month (if any) and where I will announce future debt pay off plans.

It just so happens we did pay off a debt for the month of June! That $1,800 bill that became $378.83 is now paid in full! This saves us $127 a month on our total bills each month. Win! Now, our 3 smallest debts at the end of June will be: RAC – $106.27, Vermuelen’s – $306, and Radiology – $346. I should have $350 left after paying bills so we will hopefully be saying goodbye to RAC and possibly Vermuelen’s as well!

Conclusion

You guys! We are now at our HIGHEST Net Worth since I started my blog in October! I only see good things from here on out, We increased $1,560 for a Net Worth of $(66,153)!

As always, thank you for reading. Please follow me on Instagram for daily updates on our journey! @networthnegative

XOXO,

 

Dolores

May 2017 Net Worth Update

May.SNWWelcome to another installment of our Statement of Net Worth updates!

I have been slacking on posting lately, I apologize for that. I have a lot of ideas that I would like to share with my readers so I’m hoping to get back in to posting once weekly. Also, I’m on Instagram! Please follow me @networthnegative.

We have made a nice recovery from last month’s decrease of $3,354 with an increase this month of $3,011!

I’m excited because I don’t foresee us having any more decreases in our Net Worth for about another year. I am considering the Central A/C replacement in March of 2018, and we will be buying a used car that same month because our lease for the Equinox is up 3/31/2018.

But, I digress. On to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. May

Assets

Only one decrease in assets this month which is the Dodge Dart depreciation. Quite a sizeable decrease though. $268 in only one month!

You may have noticed that the Savings – Tax CD account name has been changed to Savings – Car Ins. I mentioned to you guys in a previous post how I was unable to put anything extra toward debt for a few months because we were recovering from our car insurance costs. Well, now I have made a plan to contribute an equal monthly amount to this account automatically so that we will be able to make our car insurance payment in one go. We also charge this bill automatically to our credit card and earn 1.5% cash back on it. Winning all around!

The car insurance is due 5/11/2017 so we will have a ginormous decrease in this account next month. Sad face. We are being charged an exorbitant amount due to having our son on our policy and then we recently discovered 1 error on each of our credit reports so we are working on getting those errors fixed and then we will shop around for different car insurance quotes. I heard a quote today: “Your insurance company isn’t loyal to you, so don’t be loyal to your insurance company! Shop around!” I do love my agent though, but he’s not worth $2,020.32 for full coverage on 3 cars for 6 months. Sorry, Chris!

Liabilities

2 liabilities increased in value this month and that was the CP Credit Card and Navient. The CP Credit Card continues to be a problem. We went on a bit of a spending spree for my birthday (April 5), and we spent a lot this weekend attending my best friends graduation (flowers, parking, gifts). My card has been put away since the day after my birthday, but my husband still has his and refuses to be cooperative.

Many of our credit card transactions are restaurant visits for us. I like to think that I’m doing much better about cooking dinner at home every night, but the credit card statement says otherwise. Also, my husband is a fan of picking up the check when he has lunch with friends much to my chagrin. His generous spirit needs to be reined in.

As for Navient, this was an odd increase this month. Typically we see over $100 increase each  month but this month it was only $87! I think that may be due to the timing of the month when I’m writing this post. It’s the earliest I think that I’ve ever been able to give an update on our net worth since I changed both our student loans to autodraft on the 1st instead of the 3rd of the months.

Overall, we see an increase in net worth of $3,011 and that brings our Net Worth for 5/2017 to $(67,713). Our record highest net worth was in 11/2016 of $(66,969). I’m sure we can beat that next month! We have only had 2 consecutive months of net worth increases since we started tracking in 10/2016 so having consecutive months of increases in our net worth will be another goal.

Coming up in May:

Fully funded baby emergency fund – $1,000

Drastic decrease in Savings – Car Ins

0 increases in liability accounts???

Thank you for reading and following our journey!

XOXO,
Dolores

Blindsided by Medical Bills

The medical bills for my husband’s therapeutic phlebotomy started rolling in. I did not expect each visit to be $720 a pop! Insurance reduced the $720 charge to about $600, and then we needed to meet our $1,000 deductible. These blood draws started in December and continued weekly for about 5 weeks. Into the New Year, and into a whole new $1,000 deductible. I could throw up, guys. So far we have about $1,800 in medical bills! We are expecting another $1,350 in bills to come in soon, too for a sleep study and a CT Scan.

My husband is healthy which is the most important thing, they just don’t know why he has elevated red blood cells. All the tests have come back normal!

Luckily, we have our emergency fund of $1,000 and the Savings – Tax CD that I set aside to pay our tax bill, which we won’t need since we got a refund this year. So theoretically we can cover the expense, but it will set us so far back!

Fortunately for me, I heard an amazing podcast by Shannon Lally-Mclay over at Financialy-Blonde.com in which she interviewed Pat Palmer. The episode is called Medical Billing Questions Answered. Using the advice from this show, I learned some actionable steps to work out an arrangement with this bill.

  • Request an itemized bill to look for billing errors
    1. This didn’t help me much. There was hope originally because each of my bills that were originally $720 had a charge of $628 that was listed as “other charges”. ‘Great!’ I thought. ‘Let them explain that!’ The itemized bills came, and the $628 changed from “other” to Therapeutic Phlebotomy. Boo.
  • My second plan was to negotiate a reduction in the bill BUT, I found that my particular hospital has a program called Compassionate Care in which you submit your financial information and if approved, 70-100% of your bills will be forgiven. That will be a God send!

I submitted the application a few weeks ago and we are waiting to hear back regarding it. Now that I know the hospital is willing to forgive up to 100% for charity, I feel much better negotiating our balances!

What Now?

Here are some more steps as I interpreted them:

  1. Ask for a payment plan on the negotiated amount. Medical bills are a 0% interest payment plan! We will not bust the budget if we don’t have to! It doesn’t cost anything to stretch the payments out as long as possible and make it easier on ourselves. However….
  2. We can request a further discount for prompt payment in CASH. Like, today. Right now. I will bring you $500 to make this go away. That’s what the good ol’ Emergency Fund is for! Also, always make sure your negotiation is in writing.
  3. If we cannot get a further discount for prompt payment in cash, we will use our Flex Spending Account to make the payments. If we don’t have enough on my Flex Spending Account to make the monthly payments, I’ll make post tax contributions which we can claim on our Income Tax at the end of the year regardless if we itemize or not. This could mean a further discount of however much our income tax rate is for the year.

Wish me luck in battling these medical bills! Thanks for reading.

 

XOXO
Dolores