This is the story of life's financial struggles & victories through the eyes of a young woman up to her eyes in debt. Enjoy :)

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Snowball (since it’s winter and all)

Unfortunately, as this is my ‘I’m all grown up now’ blog, I am not talking about a literal snowball, but rather Dave Ramsey’s theory on paying off debt. And let me tell you, it works. It is a realistic, hands-on approach with a surprisingly fast turn-around time in regards to results. A positive attitude can take you far, and for a while that is all I (somewhat) had, but there comes a point when you realize all of your rainbows and butterflies are about to get repossessed.

It is around this point of realization that you begin to accept the fact that a change needs to be made. Making the minimum payment amount each month on an enormous pile of loans, especially when the minimum payment is being applied to interest only, will get you nowhere fast. Excuse me, it will get you somewhere – into more debt. I now understand why Sallie Mae welcomes ‘Interest only’ payment plans with open arms to new graduates as it significantly increases their revenue. Allow me to demonstrate:

I borrowed (in 2007-2008) = $68,545.00
I owe (as of March 2013) = $78,950.18

For those of you without a calculator handy, that’s a $10,405.18 INCREASE of debt in a matter of approximately 5 years.
I have PAID out of pocket (starting in December of 2009 – March of 2013) = $22,510.32
Amount of $22,510.32 that went towards my private loan principal = $0
Amount of $22,501.32 that went to my federal loan principal = $875.85

In summary (5 years):
Sallie Mae gets = $32,039.65
Jessica gets = $875.85


This seemingly unethical situation is indeed legal and is WAY too common than I care to realize. It looks as if my rainbows and butterflies will not have any friends to play with here soon if people in my similar situation do not make the proper financial adjustments. I created this blog not only as an outlet for myself, but as a publicly visible flashing bright neon warning sign to all parents/students out there to read before entering down the same road I did. Why travel for 20 to 25 years down a bumpy gravel road when you have the option of a shorter ride?

I could write pages upon pages on how much I detest the above situation and how many hours of hard work it took and how much I had to sacrifice in order to be able to pay Sallie Mae the bare minimum each month. And I have pretty much done just that in my prior posts, but as I stated in the beginning, maintaining a positive attitude surrounding a situation you loathe can only get you so far. In reality, it is little ole’ you against a beast that gains size and momentum at a daily rate. You shrink smaller and smaller as its monstrous shadow alone expands over you until you eventually shrivel up and freeze to death. Like literally, your mind fast forwards and you visualize yourself as an educated homeless person freezing under an overpass, huddled up in your cardboard box waving a ripped white T-shirt as your surrender flag. Okay, I know that was a tad dramatic, but I would be lying if I said my mind never went there for a split second. I mean, cardboard box/parent’s house, potato/potato :) Only joking mom & dad, but once you calm the hate in your heart and decide you want to survive and fight for the lifestyle you went to school for, what once seemed like an impossible solution, starts to seem possible. A sort of survival instinct kicks in when you take your blinders off and stare your debt in the face.

My baby snowball:
My total monthly expenses: $1,625.00
My total currently in savings: $5,000.00

I should have approximately $600 to put into my savings account every month. In a year, I can save $7,200. This does not include the money I will get from work bonuses or tax returns. Also, my income is somewhat variable as my second job is waitressing so I have more of an earning potential than just the minimum I factor into my monthly income number. That in combination with time and a half for overtime at my day job, I can again increase my monthly income. If I really stay focused and put every dollar I can into savings, I can start to make a dent or two. On the flip side, I will have things happen that will increase my monthly expenses such as doctor appointments, dentist appointments, car trouble, ect.

My rules:
-          I will not let unexpected expenses get me off track as it is not failure on my part for not contributing the entire $600 each month; I can make up for what I lost by saving more than $600 some months.
-          I will never let my savings account fall below $1,000.
-          I will not use my credit cards without paying off the entire balance each month. 

My car and credit cards are paid off, and I rent my house so I aimed at the lowest dollar amount private loan (debt) to tackle first - $12,400.00. In order to get my monthly payment on that loan down a little, and to avoid having what is a mountain of money (to me) just sitting in my savings account, I plan to put money down on the loan in increments of $4,000. It will be a tight rope, but little by little I should be able to get my debt down to somewhat level with my income. I made this plan in March.

It is now December 30th and I am happy to report I have paid off my $12,400.00 loan in a shorter time span than expected! I did have dentist, doctor and car bills pop up, but I picked up extra shifts at work and stayed late some nights at my day job in order to get overtime pay. My best friend moved out of state in May so that helped cut out dinner, movie & going out expenses. It took 9 months, and was very painful to watch chucks of 4 grand be handed over to Sallie Mae; but I knew if I didn't start this now, it would hurt much more in the long run.

1 down, 5 to go.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So, you should sign this petition...

Tonight I signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama which says:

"Total outstanding student loan debt in America has passed the $1 Trillion mark.

Exceeding credit card and auto debt, it is the only kind of debt that actually increased during the "Great Recession." And the problem only continues to worsen.

Reclaim the American Dream for more than 37 Million student loan borrowers - Support the Student Loan Fairness Act (H.R. 1330)!"

Our last petitioning efforts didn't produce action like everyone had hoped, but our voices were most definitely heard. Let's make round 2 roar even louder. Will you sign this petition and join the fight? Click here (It only takes about 2.8 seconds to sign):


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Numbers Don't Lie

The dawn is closing in on what was a beautiful sunny Nashville, Tennessee Saturday so why not take this time to dwell on my private student loans?!

Ha, all joking aside, it really has been a good Saturday (I worked until 3pm) so I won't tear down the whole day with this post, but I wanted to give y'all an update of where I stand. Strictly speaking in numbers.

The total amount of loans that I borrowed for school (in 2007 & 2008) is $68,545.00.
As of TODAY I have paid Sallie Mae a total of $22.510.32 (of which, $875.85 went to my principal).
As of TODAY I still owe $78,950.18.

Is that ringing as loud for you as it is for me?! I only borrowed sixty eight thousand, have paid over twenty two thousand and yet I still owe almost seventy nine thousand dollars. This is where I would insert 2 or 3 demeaning punch words to show how utterly sick it makes me to look at these facts, but I just don't have the words. I can not mentally wrap my mind around the FACT that a company can get away with this. Punch word followed by another punch word ending in a horrific hashtag.

The New York Times

My Mom emailed me a link the other day to check out about people contributing their stories to raise awareness for the unfair private student loan repayment options. They are asking for responses (online or by email) before April 8th, 2013. I sent my thoughts and situation to them via email (studentloanaffordability@cfpb.gov).

I am not sure how far this will get, but everything is worth a try now-a-days. We never know if this is the help we are looking for around the corner.

One of the most eye-opening lines to me:
"Student debt tops $1 trillion, and some policy makers are concerned that it may affect the ability of young people to qualify for other loans, like those for cars and for buying first homes. While the bulk of student debt is made up of federal student loans, more than $8 billion in private loans are in default."

See the original article in The New York Times here.