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

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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

July 2017 Net Worth Update

Hello, there. Pardon the lack of enthusiasm, I am a bit annoyed at myself. You see, here I am ready to write out my August Statement of Net Worth, and I find I never posted July! And then when I go to post my July Statement of Net Worth I find that I never even wrote it!

So now I’m going to try to write this post a month later, and try to conjure up the level of enthusiasm I would have had, had I wrote it on time! On to the breakdown!

Statement of Net Worth. July

Assets

The house and the Dart continue to fall in value, sadly.

Our savings account appears to have fallen a great deal, but that’s because I ran our numbers just after paying the bills, so the holding account was at $0. Normal fluctuations there.

Liabilities

We have a new account here: My husband opened up an Amazon Store card. This is a card I have been interested in for a while due to the 5% cash back on regular purchases, and special financing options (0%) on purchases greater than $150. He purchased parts to build a new computer. This is 0% interest for the next 6 months, so we will be decreasing this by $100/mo in order to pay it off before the promotion ends.

Other than adding the Amazon account, all our other liabilities decreased nicely! Aside from Navient, of course. I’ll come for that eventually…

Debt Payoff

At the end of June, we were able to pay off RAC: $127.43, and we were able to pay an additional $206 on our next smallest debt, Vermuelen’s! $100 remains to pay on this debt.

Our smallest 3 debts now are:

  1. Vermuelen’s – $100
  2. Radiology – $346
  3. Amazon – $516

You may notice that Radiology is at the same balance as our June 2017 Statement of Net Worth. I had another math error somewhere along the way, this is the correct balance.

We have a very modest increase in net worth of $484. World’s better than an decrease! So we again are at an all time high net worth: $(65,669)!

Thank you so much for following my journey.

XOXO,

Dolores

Small Scale Home Improvement Goals

 

I have mentioned previously how I am trying to increase not only the value of our home so that it can help our Statement of Net Worth but I am also trying to increase our intrinsic value of our home.

My goal here is to make the home as comfortable for us as possible so that we stay here as long as possible. We however are not going to go overboard with a $15,000 kitchen and bath renovation! I have listed a few small things that we can improve over time that will not break the budget but will make our home so much more enjoyable.

Dishwasher

The dishwasher has been broken for quite some time. It is old, clunky, and doesn’t wash dishes all that well. I have gone through different phases of rinsing the dishes really well before putting them in the dishwasher to washing the dishes and then putting them in the dishwasher to rinse and sanitize.

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One day, I went to throw a load of laundry in while the dishwasher was running, and realized it was raining in the basement!! The dishwasher was literally pouring water through the floor and through the ceiling of the basement!  And it was falling directly in to my laundry room sink so I had never noticed because I had never happened to go in to the basement while the dishwasher was running. What makes matters worse is that the water was raining right next to an electrical box. We were risking our home every time I ran the dishwasher and I even didn’t know it.

New dishwasher: About $500

Floor

I have tried to get the dishwasher replaced before with a tax return a few years ago but learned that the laminate flooring was actually built up around the dishwasher. We were told by the Sears installer that we would have to completely rip up the floor in order to put a new dishwasher in. Which I’m kind of okay with because look at this floor!

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It was like this when we moved in and it’s probably damaged due to the leaky dishwasher.

We have original hardwood throughout the house so you would wonder why they covered it up with a fake wood sticker, but my husband pointed out that it was probably so the transition to this added room would match.

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Ripping up a whole floor is way out of our budget, though. I was told by another handyman that we could actually lift up the counter top, swap out the dishwasher and then put the counter back down and re-caulk it. That will be the plan, and I would like to of course replace the flooring (cover it up) at some point with a realistic tile like this:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Armstrong-CeraRoma-16-in-x-16-in-Cliffside-Beige-Groutable-Vinyl-Tile-24-89-sq-ft-case-A6207161/202709126

Approximate cost for flooring materials for approximately 124 SF: $300+

Garbage Disposal

I would really like a garbage disposal and I think it would make my life easier because my family is constantly throwing scraps in the sink with their dishes as if we have one!

http://www.homedepot.com/p/InSinkErator-Badger-5-1-2-HP-Continuous-Feed-Garbage-Disposal-BADGER-5/100091168

Garbage disposal: About $100

Speaking of the laundry room sink….

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This thing is dark and scary looking. Especially with our old washer that used a ton of water! Sometimes it would get clogged and I would have to reach down in to the murky depths to clear hair and lint out of the drain while imagining dead mice and other scary things that I might be touching that I couldn’t see!

When we bought the house, the hot water faucet was broken, and when we swapped out the old washer and dryer my husband had a hard time with the pipes because they are so old and corroded.

I’d love this one:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/BigTub-Utilatub-Combo-40-in-x-24-in-Polypropylene-Single-Floor-Mount-with-Pull-Out-Faucet-P-Trap-and-Supply-Lines-in-White-28CF/203155730

New laundry room sink and faucet: About $200

Interior Doors

We have old fashioned bedroom and bathroom doors with the old fashioned doorknobs, the kinds that screw on to a square pole. Our door handles are completely stripped out so they go flying off their poles and sometimes they go missing.

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My daughter is taking advantage of the situation by using it as a way to lock her door. This is a safety concern however; if there was a fire we would have to bust her door down!

Not to mention the bathroom door. Our husky, Aspen is a bit claustrophobic. We tried kenneling him and he would poop and pee in his kennel and pace and try to chew his way out, and actually broke a tooth! So we tried leaving him in the bathroom while we were gone to work and school for the day. He pooped and peed and paced in there, too and it would take forever to get the smell out of the house, and well, this happened:

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We have since discovered if we leave him loose in the house while we are gone and make sure that our house is completely dog proof all he does is take a nap on the sofa (where he’s not allowed) and looks out the window. I just have to sweep off the sofa every day, and I’m okay with that.

I found some really great door handles on Amazon for $12. Similar door handles with privacy locks run about $30 at Home Depot.

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We were advised by the handyman that we could fill the old door holes, sand them down and repaint them so they look nice, and drill a larger hole for the more modern door handles . This would be ideal since our house is very old, these doors all have very odd dimensions, however I’m not sure if that idea will work on our bedroom door. It has a weird block of wood that I’ve never really noticed before, and I’m not sure what that’s all about.

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Cost of modern-izing doors: Unknown! My handyman quoted me a price of $75 per door and then promptly stopped answering my calls. I also don’t know if I need new doors, or if the ones we have can be salvaged so I can’t even make a good estimation of what that would be.

One of my best friends advised me of an app called ThumbTack where you can list the work you need done along with pictures, and handymen will bid to do your work for you! I got some quotes for doing that work but then we had to go to the funeral in NYC so I haven’t followed up on them yet.

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And finally, the furnace and air conditioner. I have a HVAC company coming out today at 3pm to give a quote on a new system through Home Depot’s 24 month 0% interest financing. If the system costs $4,000 this will increase our monthly bills about $175 a month but I have faith that it will make our electric and gas bills so much more affordable. Also, it increases our value of the home because it will be more comfortable and the heat will reach to all the rooms in the house.

Our air conditioner is from the 1980s and our furnace is much older than that and they are both very inefficient!

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*UPDATE*

I originally wrote this post on March 11, 2017 and today is March 21, 2017. The HVAC Company did come out and quoted us $7,100 for both the furnace and the air conditioner. This would have increased our bills $300 a month for 24 months which I was sure we could afford, but my husband talked some sense in to me.

He said that right now everything is perfect, but we should figure our bills on what we could afford if one of us lost our income. That’s a huge factor because with Home Depot 0% financing, the fine print is that if you are ever late on your payment, or if you take longer than the 24 months to pay off your purchase, then you agree to pay your regular interest rate amount retroactively, back to the date of the original purchase! I already knew this of course, but I hadn’t thought so far as to think “What if something happens?”

So long story short, we decided to just go with the furnace for now. The cost of the furnace alone is $3,852 and will get us the Wi-Fi thermostat installed which will also help with the cost of cooling in the summer because we can change the heat and AC from our phones, and also set up schedules with the app.

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Shannon over at financially-blonde.com often asks what our “sacred cow” is. You can only have one, and I think mine is home improvements and/or 0% financing. I know that this will decrease my net worth quite a bit, but having a comfortable sanctuary to come home to is more important to me. And, as long as we always keep that buffer I think the risk we assume when taking on a new loan is minimal.

Finally, here is a repair that we have finally accomplished! Meet our old bathroom sink, Mr. Sink Face.

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Oh, how I hated Mr. Sink Face. I hated it because there was no cabinet space, it was bolted to the wall and sloped downward so everything slid off of it (phones, toothbrushes, soap dispensers). My son, who has Spina Bifida couldn’t lean on the sink to support himself while brushing his teeth and washing his face. It was hugely inconvenient.

When we got our income tax refund my husband and I split it in half to use on each of our “sacred cows”. His is travel, mine is home improvements. We each had $340 that we put in a cash envelope.  I posted the job for the interior doors on Thumb Tack, but we know that didn’t work out. In the meantime, I saw someone on one of those Facebook For Sale groups selling a vanity with attached sink for $75! I quickly jumped on that, talked her down to $70, got my husband and his friend to install everything, and now we have this:

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I am in love.

Do you have a sacred cow? Tell me what yours is in the comment section!

As always, thank you so much for reading!

XOXO,

Dolores