All Posts By

Brittany

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report Month 14: -$112,378.52

Debt Repayment

Month 14: -$112,378.52

Welp, here’s the effect of planning a wedding, buying a wedding dress and going on two out-of-state work trips! I barely made any progress at all this month. It makes me not want to even post an update. But, that’s sort of the purpose of these posts, right? A real life look into what it’s like to pay off six figures of student loan debt. Sometimes you make huge progress, and sometimes you barely make any. And that’s OK. (I’m speaking this positive pep talk to myself right now, that’s for sure.)

If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report. Remember, calling this “Month 14” is a misnomer. This is year 6 & Month 2 of payoff.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,378 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

Extra Income This Month

Affiliate links are used in this post, and most posts here on WMSB. If you click on a link and make a purchase, WMSB receives a small commission. You don’t get charged a penny more for this, but it keeps WMSB running, and makes my debt repayment happy.

Amazon Affiliate: $0.00, but I think I should have enough for a payout next month.

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $0.00

Ebates Cash Back: $0.00 sent quarterly

Sponsored Posts: $0.00 – I did apply to some but not nearly enough and I wasn’t selected for the ones I pitched.

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: $32. Back in May I went to Denver for work. I paid for the premium seat upgrade each way, which was like $16. The premium seats are a little bigger, you receive service a lot faster, and it includes a glass of wine and a small box of snacks, so it was totally worth it. Then the night before my flight there, and the flight home, they cancelled the premium service on the flight. Thankfully they didn’t change my seat, but no more free wine or snacks. They gave me a credit for a future flight and also said they’d refund the money. Well, they didn’t. Two emails later, they finally reimbursed my office, which meant that they finally were able to reimburse me. I put the $32 toward the flight upgrade I got coming back from Austin, which was a lot more expensive. But at least it softened that blow a little.

Also, Austin was AMAZING.

Austin, TX

Where My Payments Went

Law School Refinanced Loan: $935.00

Extra Blogging Expenses: $0.00

Discover Card: $200.00 (For comparison, last month I put $700 toward this card) – read more about how I screwed up my 0% interest repayment plan here.

Total Payments: Only $1,135.00 toward debt, but several hundred toward our wedding account and my wedding dress! Ahh!

Retirement Savings

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,378 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method We’re back to a two paycheck month. Those three paycheck months are so fun! In any case, I sometimes feel silly by the small contributions I make into each account. But my IRA has $1,000 more in it than last year, and that $270 a month for the pension really adds up! One step at a time!

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

Paying off six figures of student loan debt feels like a bottomless pit. To create this chart, you can see in red that I combined the total of my bar exam, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, so that the progress can still be tracked over time and it doesn’t look like I’m starting over. In my opinion, keeping momentum in debt repayment (and being kind to yourself if you get off track) is key to long term success.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,378 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

I’m looking forward to having that discover card paid off again (should be next month, again, since so much of my money went toward the wedding) so that I can see what a difference the snowball method makes on these loans! Wahoo!

I’m keeping track of how the per-day interest is impacted because I’m really curious to see what a difference making principal payments makes, and also determine what kind of daily impact refinancing my student loans is having on my life.

Before Refi Per-Day Interest: $20.34

Last Month’s Per-Day Interest: $15.77

Current Per-Day Interest: $13.56 – This makes more sense than last month’s interest per day increasing over the month before!

I refinanced with Darien Rowayton Bank. I wrote all about it in the Complete Guide to What it was Like to Refinance My Student Loans. DRB has rebranded their student loan branch into “Laurel Road.” Now I’m saving almost $7.00 PER DAY!

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,378 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

This graph is obviously not to scale of “0” but is based on a low balance of $110,000. It is motivating, though!

I didn’t apply at CommonBond because based on the three rate quotes I received, DRB/Laurel Road was already pretty low and I was ready to start the process. I learned that CommonBond has a process of beating the rate of a competitor if theirs isn’t already lower! I am happy with DRB’s service, but now I wish I had applied at CommonBond, too! CommonBond and WMSB have teamed up to give you an exclusive $200 cash bonus if you refinance your student loans with CommonBond using this link!

Financial Goals Now:

There are still things to accomplish, and goals to achieve that I’ll discuss below. But we definitely need to take the time to celebrate the wins we achieve throughout the payoff process. If we don’t, we will burn out or get discouraged. I’m speaking from experience here.

My Debt Repayment Goals:

1) Pay off my car.

2) Pay off my credit cards.

3) Pay off the Bar Exam Student Loan. I stuck with the snowball method, to pay off the bar exam loan, and it totally worked!

4) Re-evaluate my savings and retirement plan.5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan. CHANGE OF PLANS! Refinance my Student Loans.

6) Reduce Student Loan Balance by $10,000 to $104,500. I’m coming for you, law school student loans! It’s strange to not have a snowball anymore. So I’m tracking my repayment in increments.

NEW: 6b) Save my half of the cash for our wedding. This is the most fun and emotional savings goal I’ve ever had!

engagement photo by South Sound Weddings

We got our engagement photos back last night. They’re STUNNING! Our photographer, South Sound Weddings, did an incredible job!

7) Reduce Student Loan Balance to less than $100,000. When I hit that $99,999.99 mark, I think we should celebrate!

Thanks for coming alongside me during this journey. I’ve loved hearing your stories too. You can leave it in the comments, or tell me about it on Facebook or Twitter!

Common Questions: 

Here are answers or insight into a few common questions that have come up during this process:

My New Morning Makeup Routine + Running a Side Business with a Toddler & Newborn

Debt Repayment, How-To, shopping, Sponsored

I “met” Krysta through blogging a long, long time ago. We’ve stayed in touch through social media. When she asked me if I’d like to try LipSense in exchange for a review I said, “Absolutely!!” Then she warned me that it may not come right away because her baby was due any day, and her trip to the post office would get interrupted if she went into labor. I was so impressed that she was still working her side job that close to her new baby’s arrival!

Luckily, she sent the package over before the baby was born, and I’ve used the product for the last few months with amazing results. As I shared when I introduced you to Joanne Black, I am interviewing a few friends and power women to hear how small business and multi-level marketing has made a positive impact on their lives. I think we can all be inspired by the side hustle actions of others!

Before we get into the interview, I want to tell you about my experience with LipSense. It’s seriously incredible. I like to wear lipstick, so I keep a couple different colors in my desk at work and in my purse. But I’m always having to reapply. It drives J nuts if I finally convince him to take a selfie with me, and I say, “Wait! I have to put on more lipstick!” Similarly, I catch myself reapplying a color before walking into a meeting at work, delaying me by a few seconds. Because I’m often running late just in general, those seconds matter!

When you combine those things with the fact that I’m pretty lazy when it comes to hair and makeup, LipSense has been the most exciting find in my makeup bag since learning my friends who still don’t have wrinkles simply moisturize every day! The first time I wore LipSense was at Watershed. I put it on in the morning, and it lasted all day, despite the 90+ degree temps, snacking throughout the day, and of course, beverages. I put the gloss on maybe 3 times total, after eating a full meal or just because my lips felt a little dry. The gloss acts as a moisturizer for your lips as well!

Lipsense Review - side hustle with newborn & easy makeup routine

At 12:30, the gloss looked exactly the same. Pink Champagne, the color I’m wearing, is a super natural, neutral color. It adds a final touch to the rest of my makeup, and sometimes I even wear it as the only makeup I have on all day!

So, let’s get started learning about Krysta!

Lipsense Review - side hustle with newborn & easy makeup routine

How did you first hear about LipSense?

I had a girlfriend post a video about this long lasting Lip Color and I was intrigued!

Did you know right away that you’d want to be a distributor for LipSense?

Yes. From the moment I tried it out I was too passionate not to sell it.

Do you work outside of LipSense? If so, what do you do?

Yes! My husband and I own a cafe in Spokane

What’s it like to be a LipSense distributor with a toddler and a new baby?

It’s actually not as tough as expected. There is definitely work that goes into having a successful side business, however I get to do it from the comfort of my own home. And it helps that my girls are really chill and able to entertain themselves!

What is your favorite LipSense item?

My favorite SeneGence product other than LipSense is definitely the ShadowSense. I use it on my eyes as shadow and eyeliner as well as on my cheeks for contour. It also can be used with LipSense on the lips! It’s an incredibly versatile product and is perfect for on the go.

What is your favorite Lipsense color?

Oh gosh that’s tough..it definitely depends on my mood. The one I most often reach for is either Pink Champagne or Caramel Apple. I do love my red lip though 😍

Lipsense Review - side hustle with newborn

Note from Brittany: These are the two colors I own, and I LOVE them! Krysta sent me Pink Champagne, and I bought Caramel Apple at a party my soon-to-be cousin-in-law had. I like Caramel Apple but it’s a bit too dark. So I do one layer of Caramel Apple + 2 layers of Pink Champagne and it’s perfect!

What is your biggest hope in running your Lipsense business?

I’d love to get it to the point where my commissions outweigh my sales. I want it to get to a place where I can focus on encouraging the girls in my downline more than feeling like I have to sell.

Do you have any plans on how you’ll use the extra income?

Probably to pay down debt at first and then save for our dream home. Our dream home is going to be built from scratch and we have very specific wants, so it’s not going to be cheap! Haha.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far in starting your business?

It’s WAY easier to sell than anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been a part of a few different multi-level marketing companies and there’s either a ton of pressure or not a lot of success in sales — or both. It only gets frustrating which leads to quick burnout. I’ve not once felt that way with SeneGence — even with the explosive growth we experienced this year leading to a product shortage.

Lipsense Review - side hustle with newborn & easy makeup routine

Do you have any tips on how customers can find the best color for their skin while shopping online?

Definitely search Pinterest. Pinterest has every color on every skin tone. It helps to see what may or may not look good.

Where can Where My Soul Belongs readers find you?

Instagram: HulseSense Facebook group: HulseSense

If you join the HulseSense facebook group, you can place orders and see what Krysta has in stock! Right now she has an awesome Christmas payment plan available. I recently ordered a brand new color through the group, and I can’t wait to get it!

Have you used LipSense? What do you think of it??

The Basics of Starting a Budget

Debt Repayment

Starting a budget can be overwhelming and even scary. But I promise you, starting a budget is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my finances. I follow it loosely now, but I never would have gotten a handle on my money if I didn’t start closely paying attention to where every dollar of mine went in the beginning.

Today’s post is written by Josh. Josh blogs over at Faith Family Finance and is passionate about helping people understand the impact their money choices have. Read on for Josh’s great advice!

The Basics of Starting a Budget without Zoning Out or Freaking Out | dollar bill, financial tips, personal finance, frugal living

Photo by NeONBRAND

I know you are probably tired of hearing about budgets – how they are good for you, blah, blah, and more blah. However, let me just say that they are good for you and will help you gain control of your financial situation. That doesn’t sound so different than blah, but think of it differently.

Everyone’s financial situation is different. After all, there are even a few different budget categories for different people, so it’s reasonable to say there’s no encompassing formula for a budget. One person’s budget isn’t going to apply to another person’s life, so some pieces of budget advice could sound unhelpful while others could revolutionize someone’s life.

With that said, it almost seems foolish not to read up on budgeting stories! Relating someone else’s experiences to your own is a great way to find out what could and could not work for your own financial situation.

Now that I hopefully have you on the budget train, I want to talk about some of the considerations I have made when creating my plan. You may want to consider some of these things too, or maybe you already have some of these ideas in mind. Let’s take a look.

1. Make Sure to Save

One of the things that I ALWAYS tell people is to save as much money as they can. This is a no-brainer of course, but it’s so important that it needs to be iterated all the time. Saving in general sets the basis for any financial goal whether you know your goal yet or not. I try to save as much as possible.

As consistently as I can, I set aside a minimum of 10 percent of my income into our savings account. Since I do have some side hustles, I try to contribute more than usual to my savings, especially if I have a good month. Of course, everyone is different. Some people have additional income options available to them while others have just their income. How much you save depends entirely on what you can bring in, but just know that you should start consistently putting away some money soon.

2. Don’t Forget About the Church 

If you have been reading my articles and following along on my blog, you already know that I am and was raised as Roman Catholic. I believe that tithing to the church is important. While saving money is important too, I think that being generous and humble with your money is equally important. My church and its members have always been there for me when I needed someone, so I feel a responsibility to give back.

Some people would think strongly against donations if you are trying to establish a budget. To me, it brings me peace of mind to donate to a cause that helps people, and in a way, it calms my soul. I can work better and feel better doing this. To be safe, I have made sure to work my tithe amount into my budget. If this is something that you need in your budget, then you need to account for it too. Remember though, you don’t need to tithe 10 percent. This day and age, it’s enough to give anything.

3. Save for the Kids’ College 

If you have kids, then you’ll be able to relate to this. One of the things I make sure to budget for is my children’s college fund. I, like many others, know how expensive college is, and that is why I want to make sure my children have a shot to attend college. Let me rephrase. I want them to have a shot at higher education without taking on an average student debt burden.

In my budget, I have factored in a 529 plan. This helps incentivize myself to sticking to my contribution requirements, and it offers tax benefits which adds value to my budget contributions. Every family is different, so if you choose to budget for your child’s college education, you will need to determine how much you need to contribute. Not everyone is going to have a 529 plan. Some people may even need to factor in financial aid for their savings plan. Needless to say, these considerations go a long way for your short term and long term budget situation.

4. Pay Down as Much Debt as Possible 

This one is a bit of an anecdote and piece of advice. One of the lessons I learned very quickly was that debt held me back. I needed to get it paid off as quickly as possible if I wanted to start working on the last three points I made. In fact, it would have been downright impossible if I didn’t crawl out of my debt pit. For example, think about the issue of saving $100 in a month if you owe $250 towards student loans in the same month.

There are plenty of ways to establish a short-ish term plan for tackling debt. For example, when I had credit card debt at high interest rates, I decided to tackle that one first with a timely balance transfer for a lower interest rate. This was a way for tackling my debt in the short term, and it helped me reach my budget goals sooner.

Whether you have credit card debt or other debt, try to focus on making as many payments as possible until it is paid off. If high interest debt lingers, it will cost you more overall, and it will subtract from your savings efforts. Think of it like a ball and chain around your leg on your path to financial freedom. For many people who are making their budget, debt payments are where you need to devote funds as opposed to a savings account or college fund.

Josh Wilson is the owner and author at Family Faith Finances. He is married and he and his wife have three children. Their names all start with J! Josh and his family are focused on living a life of faith and financial freedom. Check out his blog here! You can also follow him on twitter.

How to Prep for a Football Game Watch Party

How-To, In the Kitchen

I have WONDERFUL news! The NFL regular season has begun again. That long drought without football is always difficult for me. On Sunday, J and I threw a party to watch the Seahawks and Cowboys games.

We love throwing game-watch parties. They’re a great way to get family and friends together. This year, we’re in a family fantasy football league as well. So, this game watch had an added level of competition in it unlike any in year’s past.

How to Host a Football Game Watch Party

After several years of dating during football season, we’ve got this game-watch party planning down to a science. What I apparently don’t have “down to a science” is my DSLR. The photos were all SUPER blurry, even after I thought I fixed it during the game watch. I’m totally bummed! But iPhone photos aside, here’s how to plan a football game watch party!

Affiliate links are used in this post. This means that if you make a purchase using these links, WMSB receives a small commission at no added cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Pre-Planning:

Depending on how important the game is, anywhere between 1-3 weeks of advanced notice is fine.

Assign dishes to guests. Make sure when you set up your game-watch invite that you tell people what they can bring. Most people WANT to bring a dish, so don’t worry about offending anyone. Also, remind people to BYOB if you don’t want to have to worry about the time and money associated with finding the perfect breakdown of beer vs. wine vs. liquor for your party. One thing I try to always have on hand for game watches are the ingredients for mimosas. No one should have to watch a morning football game without a mimosa! Otherwise, people are usually on their own for alcohol.

If you’re hosting a morning game, consider a breakfast theme for people’s side dishes. Afternoon and evening games allow for the typical pot luck dishes. If you know someone is going to definitely going to show up without bailing at the last minute and they’re either really busy or just don’t enjoy cooking, consider asking them to bring plates or cups so you have less cleanup.

1) Clean and get your house ready the day before

I know it sucks to spend your Saturday (or Friday night, if you’re into college football) cleaning. But you’ll thank me tomorrow. Do all of the major cleaning you’re not going to want to deal with the next day, done tonight. Scrub the toilet (yuck), clean off the counters, put away random knickknacks, finally go through all of that mail that’s been piling up on your entry way table. Get it over with and out of the way.

Then, chop up or marinade anything that will need to go into the oven, smoker or crock pot first thing in the morning. This will make your morning a lot less stressful. Plus, now your hands won’t smell like onion and garlic all day.

This is also a good week to go to Saturday night service, if you don’t want to miss church, your church offers a Saturday night service and you want to focus your Sunday morning on having company and relaxing.

2) Meet your self-care needs in the morning

Before we host game watches I wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and put whatever needs to be in the crock pot, into the crock pot. Then, I  go for a run as soon as possible. I listen to an audiobook or podcast on my run to make it go faster and feed my brain. After that, I come inside, shower, brush my hair, and do any other remaining food prep or cleaning necessary.

How to Host a Football Game Watch Party

Since I joined the gym two weeks ago, I ran on the treadmill with my favorite contigo water bottle.

By taking care of myself first, I find that I am less stressed and overwhelmed before people start showing up. Plus, my hair is dry. I have stick-straight hair so I don’t have to worry about blowdrying it. I actually couldn’t tell you the last time I plugged in my blow dryer. As long as it’s not a 10 AM game, my hair is dry by the time guests show up. For those 10 AM games, though, I make no promises.  About 30 minutes before people show up, I sit down to do my makeup. This is also when you put your jersey on, of course! I don’t put my jersey on until all of the food prep is done, for obvious splatter and spill reasons.

3) Get your decorations set up and plates/utensils set out

The good thing about football game watch parties is that no one is going to pay attention to your decor for very long. They’re there to stare at the TV or stand in the kitchen around the veggie tray and chat with your other guests.

There are a lot of tutorials on pinterest for game watch decor. Feel free to go crazy. But if, like me, decorations aren’t your thing, I promise no one will mind if the only thing on your wall is the flag of your favorite football team and the rest of your standard household artwork.

See the end of this post for where I bought decor for this party!

4) If kids are invited, have an entertainment option for them

One party when the weather was still good, we had an adult supervised blow up pool. Another party, we had disney movies on one TV, while everyone else watched football in a different room. One party, a couple moms who didn’t even know each other brought games for their kids, so that helped the kids play together. If you have kids, this is probably easy. If you don’t, at least have something available to keep the kids busy. The parents will appreciate it.

If you’re looking for an easy game that lots of people can play, I referenced this post by Stephanie a lot during football season last year, and I’m sure I will this season too.

5) Find out a theme of your local team and throw it in for good luck.

I am not a Seahawks fan, but I like throwing a good party. When the game starts going south, people get bummed out. And if your team loses, be prepared for people to file out the door as soon as the clock hits 00:00. There used to be a player on the Seahawks who ate a lot of skittles. When I first moved to Western WA, every game watch I went to had skittles at it. One super bowl party even had skittles martinis that were so good I had to get a ride home and go back and get my car the next day. There have been a couple games in the last few years where I handed out skittles as “good luck.”

How to Host a Football Game Watch Party

I would NEVER hand out good luck treats if they were playing the Cowboys or about to screw up a playoff run that the cowboys were on. I’d rather have a bad party than that. But when it doesn’t matter, or they’re facing the Giants, skittles for everyone! That player is no longer on the Seahawks, so I guess we’ll see what the next featured token of good luck will be.

Likewise, if the team wins, be prepared for people to hang around your house to watch the next games, eat more food and even play cards or just hangout outside. Everyone loves when their team wins and we’ve had football game watch parties start at 9:45 AM and end with friends/family sleeping on the couch. We love it!

6) Keep an eye on food that needs to be refrigerated or occasionally warmed up.

Because football games are hours long, you’ll want to keep an eye on the food. If you had a taco bar, and someone brought sour cream, check on it. If you have a chips and dip section, watch the temp of the salsa and dips. Consider crock pots and little dippers for ingredients you’ll want to keep warm like taco meat or pulled pork. 

How to Host a Football Game Watch Party

This weekend, J made smoked chicken. It was INCREDIBLE. He claims it’s just luck, but smoking chicken without drying it out is totally a skill.

In the same vein, make sure your food is easily accessible, and set boundaries for where it’s allowed. J doesn’t like food on his carpet, so if people are snacking, it’s probably OK in the living room. But if they’re eating chili, a few reminders are necessary to watch on a different TV with hardwood floors or concrete around it. Of course, I am terrible at following this rule, so I’m a bad example to our guests. But to avoid any problems in front of your company, make sure you and your fellow hosts are on the same page about where food is allowed and who is going to keep an eye on the food temps.

7) Try to have your chargers handy

People will be watching their fantasy football scores, or checking stats from other games. If you and your friends/family all have iPhones or all have androids, keep those charges handy (like I’ve told you before, I love the 6′ Amazon Basics charging cables). It’s also a good idea to have charging blocks, that way people who have their own cords in their cars can bring them inside and plug them in.

8) Relax and have fun!!!

I think my favorite thing about game-watch parties is that they’re so relaxing! Once the food is done, or in the crockpot where it can take care of itself, and you’ve let everyone inside, your work is done. It’s not a cocktail mixer where you’re introducing everyone. It’s not a birthday party where you’re thinking about photos and drinks and piñatas and when to open presents. The entertainment is the game and as long as your satellite dish doesn’t get covered in snow, the TV takes care of the rest.

How to Host a Football Game Watch Party

Game-watches are so casual that as long as everyone knows where the food, utensils, plates and beverages are kept, you’ll only have to stand up to remind people where the bathrooms are, check on the food temps, and refill your beverage. Easy peasy!

9) Wait until after the game is over to clean up

Remember what I said about game watches being casual? No one is going to judge you for having a glass or two in the sink.

You don’t want to miss the game winning field goal or quality time with your friends and family. Clean up after everyone leaves, turn the dishwasher on, and go to bed. This is especially easy if you have someone bring disposable supplies and if you use crockpot liners (my FAVORITE cooking accessory). It’s hard, even for me, to follow this rule. But you’ll be glad you did.

How to Host a Football Game Watch Party

Where to buy: Table cloth & mini football helmets were from the dollar store. $2 total for decorations! The flowers were from the grocery store. It was hard for me to buy them, but since all but two people coming to our party (one being me) were Seahawks fans, they fit. They were $5.99.

The white dishes are all from TJ Maxx/Marshall’s/HomeGoods. I bought all but the veggie/chip and dip tray for Thanksgiving between TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Two weekends ago, I found the matching dish at HomeGoods. It was the most expensive of them all at $12.99. The rest ranged from $6.99 to $9.99. The clear chip bowl is from IKEA. The dip bowls were from Target, on clearance, for $1.98. They still sell these, just in different colors. Everything else you see was brought by someone else. Pro Tip: If you’re buying a set of something, and a piece or two is missing, check out the other stores under the TJ Maxx umbrella. I was so surprised after finding the dishes at Marshall’s, that when I was at a TJ Maxx across town, they had more to match the set. And then at Home Goods two weeks ago I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. So awesome!

To make use of my pretty dishes, I put out multiple dishes. I put some food on some of them (veggies, and bread), and left the rest empty. When people showed up they either left their food in the dish they brought, put their own food on an empty dish, or I did it after they walked away. You do not have to have pretty serving dishes. Until Thanksgiving last year, I didn’t have them. But now that I do, I love any excuse to use them!

What’s your favorite food to bring to or serve at a game watch party? I’ll include them in a future post!

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report: Month 13 -$112,733

Debt Repayment

Month 13: -$112,733.39

Every month that I update this, it motivates me to conquer debt and improve my future! I hope it helps you as well. If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report. Remember, calling this “Month 13” is a misnomer. This is year 6 & Month 1 of payoff. Four months ago, I refinanced and I’m still incredibly excited every time I see progress FINALLY made on these loans!

Slow and steady wins the race.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,733 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

Extra Income This Month

Affiliate links are used in this post, and most posts here on WMSB. If you click on a link and make a purchase, WMSB receives a small commission. You don’t get charged a penny more for this, but it keeps WMSB running, and makes my debt repayment happy.

Amazon Affiliate: $36.14

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $8.85

Ebates Cash Back: $0.00 sent quarterly

Sponsored Posts: $0.00 – but a LOT of free laundry detergent for this instagram post, which was worth it. I don’t do blog posts for free merchandise, but if it’s something I’m going to buy anyway, I will occasionally offer one free social media share.

A post shared by Brittany (@brittany_wmsb) on

Side Hustles: $10 for completing a survey; ~$50.00 – selling items on Offer Up that went toward the wedding fund

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: $0.00

This summer I got engaged and became basically useless at anything else in life. We also went to Watershed for nearly a week, where I didn’t have any access to meaningful internet and didn’t bring my laptop so that maybe I’d relax. I’m trying to get back into the habit of pitching, and sent one pitch over last week. My new goal is to pitch one sponsored post campaign or one company per week so that I can get back on track. I don’t work with certain retailers either due to values conflicts, or personal conflicts of a different nature. This occasionally limits my opportunities, but a goal of one pitch per week should be attainable.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella - Meet and Greet passes LANCO

Me and the guys of LANCO

Where My Payments Went

Law School Refinanced Loan: $935.00

Extra Blogging Expenses: $0.00 – I would have spent $10 on Facebook ads, but they gave me a coupon for some reason. I believe Facebook ad coupons are gateway drugs to posting ads on Facebook, but I’m not going to turn down free advertising when it makes sense (not all of their “boost post coupons” make sense)

Discover Card: $700.00 – read more about how I screwed up my 0% interest repayment plan here.

Total Payments: $1,635.00 toward debt

Retirement Savings

You can read more about how I royally screwed up my budget when I started contributing to my 401k. Math is tough. It was a three paycheck month which helped a lot despite decreasing my 401k contributions this month!

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,733 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

My 401k contributions have been reduced in order to cash-flow our wedding. Don’t worry, I still have two pensions (one I contribute to, one my employer contributes to, not shown here) and an IRA I contribute to. I’ve already exceeded the Employer’s match on the 401k so I’m not giving away free money. Once we’ve met our goals for the wedding account, I’ll up it again.

We agreed to not put anything for this wedding on a credit card. I’ve already realized in wedding planning that after crying at night over how we’ll never be able to afford [this must have vendor/item], that once I’m calmer the next day, I can ALWAYS find a more budget friendly option.

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

Paying off six figures of student loan debt feels like a bottomless pit. To create this chart, you can see in red that I combined the total of my bar exam, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, so that the progress can still be tracked over time and it doesn’t look like I’m starting over. In my opinion, keeping momentum in debt repayment (and being kind to yourself if you get off track) is key to long term success.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,733 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

I’m looking forward to having that discover card paid off again (should be next month) so that I can see what a difference the snowball method makes on these loans! Wahoo!

I’m keeping track of how the per-day interest is impacted because I’m really curious to see what a difference making principal payments makes, and also determine what kind of daily impact refinancing my student loans is having on my life.

Before Refi Per-Day Interest: $20.34

Last Month’s Per-Day Interest: $15.56 (partly because I had to pause my auto-pay for a few days, taking my interest rate from 5.1% to 5.25%. The month prior, it was $15.08)

Current Per-Day Interest: $15.77 – why is it more than last month? I have no idea.

I refinanced with Darien Rowayton Bank. I wrote all about it in the Complete Guide to What it was Like to Refinance My Student Loans. The interest reflects the overpayment made on my federal loans.  DRB is rebranding their student loan branch into “Laurel Road.”

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 13: -$112,733 | law school loans, debt repayment, snowball method

Like I told you last month, I’ve been talking to the people at CommonBond about their service. I didn’t apply at CommonBond because based on the three rate quotes I received, DRB/Laurel Road was already pretty low and I was ready to start the process. I learned that CommonBond has a process of beating the rate of a competitor if theirs isn’t already lower!

CommonBond and WMSB have teamed up to give you an exclusive $200 cash bonus if you refinance your student loans with CommonBond using this link!

Financial Goals Now:

There are still things to accomplish, and goals to achieve that I’ll discuss below. But we definitely need to take the time to celebrate the wins we achieve throughout the payoff process. If we don’t, we will burn out or get discouraged. I’m speaking from experience here.

My Debt Repayment Goals

1) Pay off my car.

2) Pay off my credit cards.

3) Pay off the Bar Exam Student Loan. I stuck with the snowball method, to pay off the bar exam loan, and it totally worked!

4) Re-evaluate my savings and retirement plan.

5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan. CHANGE OF PLANS! Refinance my Student Loans.

6) Reduce Student Loan Balance by $10,000 to $104,500. I’m coming for you, law school student loans! It’s strange to not have a snowball anymore. So I’m tracking my repayment in increments.

NEW: 6b) Save my half of the cash for our wedding. This is the most fun and emotional savings goal I’ve ever had!

7) Reduce Student Loan Balance to less than $100,000. When I hit that $99,999.99 mark, I think we should celebrate!

Thanks for coming alongside me during this journey. I’ve loved hearing your stories too. You can leave it in the comments, or tell me about it on Facebook or Twitter!

Common Questions:

Here are answers or insight into a few common questions that have come up during this process:

5 Things I Learned Selling Stuff/Furniture on Offer Up

Debt Repayment, How-To

I recently moved, rented out my house, and joined homes with J. This means that we have two of pretty much everything. With a wedding to pay for, and student loans always on my back, I knew I wanted to sell what I could and donate the rest. This meant I spent a decent amount of time at Half Priced Books and Runway Fashion Exchange. For the bigger items, I listed them on Offer Up. Any money I received went into our wedding bank account.

I learned a few important lessons about selling on Offer Up, and wanted to share them with you today.

1) Be Patient

One thing I noticed about Offer Up that is different than Craigslist is that your post lives on for a lot longer. On Craigslist, after a certain period of time, your post disappears. It’s important to refresh your post or post more frequently. However, on Offer Up, your post from 6 months ago could show up on someone’s search. When I didn’t get an immediate response on some of my items, I became disappointed.

I donated or gave away some of the items, and moved the rest. I didn’t realize I’d need to remove the listing on Offer Up. Weeks after moving, I was still receiving offers and questions about items I’d posted. It was a little disappointing to know that I could have still sold that kitchen cart for $30, or that desk chair for $10. But at the same time, I’m glad I learned that patience pays off for anything I list in the future.

2) Answer Questions Promptly

People don’t want to wait around. They’re on the hunt for the perfect item, and it’s important that they find out the answers to their questions right away, or they may buy from someone else.

3) Be Flexible and Expect Cancellations

Everyone else has a life too. And if they’re on Offer Up (or Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace) looking for a deal on a new dresser, they’re probably looking to maximize their savings just as much as you’re looking to maximize your profit. People will make plans and then need to reschedule. People will make plans and then cancel entirely. Just be glad you didn’t waste time getting stood up, and move on with your day. See #1.

4) Clean and Spruce Up Your Items

Your dusty end tables won’t earn you as much side income as your freshly wiped-down end table. And if there’s an outdated drawer pull on it, expect to settle. However, a quick wipe down, and maybe even an inexpensive new drawer pull will increase the value of your item and put more money in your pocket!

5) Sell in Lots

One of the most surprising “quick seller” items I had was a lot of Christian music CDs. I sold about 30 Christian music CDs that I’d been moving for the last 5-15 years with me. They’re all in my iTunes, and even if my iTunes crashed one day, I’m sure I wouldn’t sit around re-loading them because my computer doesn’t even have a disc drive! Plus, I pay for Spotify premium ($9.99/month) and pretty much the only time I listen to my own music is when I’m on a road trip through a rural area.

A man responded to my posting who was headed on a missions trip and received a last minute request for popular Christian music in English. I tried giving him the CDs for free, but he insisted on paying. It felt really amazing to know that those CDs I’ve lugged around for a long time would bless people across the globe, AND added $15 to our wedding fund.

Have you had luck selling your stuff on Offer Up? Do you have any additional tips to share? What was your best sale/find on a second-hand site?!

What to Wear to a Music Festival

Adventures, How-To, shopping

Outdoor music festivals can be really amazing experiences. They can also be SUPER hot! I’ve attended Watershed, a country music concert in central Washington, for the last two years. Trying to figure out what to pack the first year was really difficult. I learned during year one that there’s a festival style that combines comfort in the summer heat, with fashionable, light clothing and just the right amount of accessories. If you’re working what to wear to a summer music festival, check out the outfits I chose for Watershed 2017.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella

Affiliate links are used in this post. That means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of those links, WMSB will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Day One

For day 1 of Watershed Fest, Joey went patriotic and I stuck with a summer desert theme. Both of us made sure to keep cool. Joey found this shirt at Bass Pro Shops last year, and cut off the sleeves on Day 1 of this weekend. There was no music on the first day, so we stuck to drinks and dance parties at our own campsite.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella

Day Two

Who says the guys are limited to American flag gear?! Not I. Apparently Target has already stopped selling this exact tank, which I only bought a couple of months ago. But any stars and stripes tank will be just fine for a summer music festival!

Also keep in mind that your festival may require you to wear wrist bands, so any bracelet jewelry may not look the way you expect.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella

Similar flag tank | Lipstick is Pink Champagne, Lipsense by Krysta Hulse

Have you ever used Lipsense? It’s AMAZING, and really does last all day. This was my first color and a full review will be coming soon.

This stars and stripes tank + a pair of shorts were perfect for watching the first official night of music. I’m positive that the Gorge is one of the most beautiful places in Washington to watch a concert. I have a zip-up picnic blanket that folds into itself with a carrying handle. I brought that to the lawn and we sat up top to enjoy the music, view and fascinating people watching on the first night of concerts.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella

Day Three

For day 3 of Watershed Fest, I kept it simple. I found this tank this summer at Target (are you seeing a pattern that indicates I went a little crazy in the tank top section with my “fun” clothing budget one day at Target?). It has lace-up sides. However, the lace-ups were pretty subtle, so a plain black tank would work just fine. The hot air balloon necklace is a few years old and I couldn’t find a comparable style, but any long pendant will do. Kendra Scott is my go-to for pendants and the Rayne pendant was my other option for this outfit, but I wore it on day 1 and figured I should use the accessories I packed instead of repeating them. During the day, I wore plain white flip flops. At night, I wore the Mossimo black buckle sandals featured below.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella

 

Day Four

On Day 4 I picked this pineapple tank that I got at the Earth Day Bloggers Closet Sale. It was awesome! I received multiple compliments on it, which is saying a lot, because multiple people in our group were dressed rather… creatively. I’m surprised anyone at all noticed there was a pineapple on my shirt.

I was also stoked that I liked my outfit so much, because I got meet and greet passes to meet the guys of LANCO! LANCO’s most popular song right now is Greatest Love Story. Not only are they super talented, they were incredibly nice!! I once got to meet Lance Bass and I was wearing a HORRIBLE college turtle neck with subpar makeup. So now, when I meet celebrities in outfits I like, I appreciate it even more haha.

What to wear to a summer music festival | watershed bumbershoot CMF coachella - Meet and Greet passes LANCO

I bought this exact $9.99 H&M cross body in Denver to go hiking and it has proven to be one of the most useful bags I’ve ever owned! I highly recommend it!

I had a few other shirts packed, of course, but didn’t wear them. On the morning of Day 5, when we cleaned up and went home, I wore a plain t-shirt, but other than that, I think I spent my entire waking hours in a tank top because it was warm from the moment I woke up. I would suggest packing extra shirts just in case you get too sweaty in one, or spill a drink all down the front of it (Klutzy people unite!). Shirts take up such little room that it’s easy to keep your outfits fresh while keeping a smaller amount of pants/shorts in your bag.

Don’t Forget to Also Pack:

Tons of water

Sunblock (Like I’ve told you before, this one is my favorite)

A waterproof picnic blanket or big beach towels

Multiple pairs of Sunglasses as they will disappear and reappear throughout the weekend

A phone charger – You’ll be taking tons of photos!

Pajamas – Sometimes when I’m focused on cute day time clothes, I forget I need some sweats and a comfy tee to sleep in!

Shower shoes and a waterproof bag for your shower supplies – I wore plain plastic flip flops and used a ziplock bag to carry around my shampoo, conditioner, soap, tooth brush/paste and deodorant. Make sure to check out the details of the shower situation before you go to a music festival. Sometimes you may need change, or it may be worth a campsite upgrade to get the nicer showers.

A sweater for night-time. Even though it may be sweltering during the day, when the sun goes down the temperature could really drop. Also, sometimes your body just doesn’t acclimate or if you accidentally got a sunburn you’ll really feel the temperature difference. It’s worth the space it will take up to have a hoodie in your bag just in case.

What’s your favorite outdoor music festival? Live music is such a blast, and I love hearing what other people enjoy!