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Brittany

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report Month 12: -$113,180.25

Debt Repayment

Month 12: -$113,180.25

It has been officially 12 months since I switched my attention from my credit cards to my student loan! 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 12” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 12 of payoff, or year 6 if you will. Three months ago I made my first ever principal payment on these loans, thanks to refinancing them, and two months the overpayment for the refinance credited to the balance. I’m so excited!

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 12: -$113,180

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

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: $19.37

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $8.85

Ebates Cash Back: $0.00 sent quarterly

Sponsored Posts: $0.00

Side Hustles: $0.00

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: $0.00

I got engaged and became basically useless at anything else in life haha. 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. As a result, my extra income is lacking. However, I’m feeling more motivated now to pick it back up and start pitching again!

Where My Payments Went

Law School Refinanced Loan: $935.00

Extra Blogging Expenses: $0.00 I suppose that’s a positive of becoming too into wedding pinterest boards to write haha

Discover Card: $331.49 – read more about how I screwed up my 0% interest repayment plan here. Now that I’ve corrected my 401k mistake, I can get back on track.

Yard Waste Removal and Deck Replacement: A lot*

Total Payments: ~$1,266.49 toward debt

*I am now a landlord! It’s weird! But in order to become a landlord, I had to finish several big projects that had been on the, “I should do this soon” list for awhile. One was replacing my deck, which is above my garage. My former roommate and I noticed a soft spot in the flooring of the deck a few months ago. I knew to just not step on it while I saved to fix it. But, because I am now renting it to other people, I knew I had to fix it ASAP. Before I officially moved out and anyone else moved in, it had to be repaired. I felt more comfortable knowing that the whole thing would be solid for many years to come, so the same contractor who did my kitchen/bathroom floors, and helped me remodel the main bathroom, came over and he and J tore the old deck up, then he did an incredible job replacing it all. It looks AMAZING. I even got to pick a “floor” cover and it looks like a sandy beach! Now I just wish I would have fixed it in time to enjoy it myself!

I also had some out of control foliage that I’m not sure the sellers EVER maintained. It has taken months to get it all chopped down and hauled away. Thankfully, J and his chainsaw did the chopping down part. But I had to hire someone to come load it up and take it to the dump. These two projects combined were over $1,000 and just about depleted my savings. Thank God August is a three paycheck month! The savings is now rebuilt and I’m back on track with my snowball payment method.

Retirement Savings

You can read more about how I royally screwed up my budget when I started contributing to my 401k. Math is tough.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 12: -$113,180

Like I told you last month, my 401k contributions have been reduced in order to cash-flow our wedding, which will be reflected in next month’s report. 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. As much as I know I’ll fall in love with some amazing “must-have” wedding item that I won’t be able to buy on the spot (or may need to make myself), I will pretty happy on the morning after our wedding when I wake up and don’t have a $10,000-$20,000 bill for the party we threw the night before!

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 12: -$113,180

You can see that I paid a little over $700 in interest. That’s from making my payment early last month, since it’s been accruing for longer (45 days instead of 30), and includes a few days where I wasn’t getting the .25% autopay discount because when I paid early last month, I didn’t know that DRB automatically considers extra payments as “extra” and not “pay ahead.” I had to pause the autopay setting for a few days around when my payment would normally come out. It was informative to try that method, at least, and probably saved me a dollar or two in interest over the long term.

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. It’s interesting to me how much of a difference .25% makes for even only a couple of days! Pausing that for a few days caused me to pay $0.50 more per day in interest over a 45 day period compared to last month.

Before Refi Per-Day Interest: $20.34

Last Month’s Per-Day Interest: $15.08

Current Per-Day Interest: $15.56

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.” So if you hear me talking about Laurel Road in the future, that’s why. Perhaps they heard my point that DRB is a really unfortunate acronym for a bank.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report, Month 12: -$113,180

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 savings goal I’ve ever had!

engaged while paying off student loans

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:

3 Effective Student Loan Repayment Strategies to Speed Up Debt Freedom

Debt Repayment, Guest Post

Student loan debt is a trap many former students are caught up in for a large portion of their adult lives. The longevity of the debt has a lot to do with deferments and paying the minimum amount of the loan.

The truth is that you should never pay just the minimum payment because it will take a very long time to pay off debt. You really need to cut into it as much as you can.

3 effective student loan repayment strategies

Photo by Thaddaeus Lim on Unsplash

If you don’t think you can pay more than the minimum payment, there are some strategies you can use to free up income that can be applied toward the student debt that is crippling you. That way you aren’t like me when I was six years into paying off my student loan debt and wondering why the balance had barely been dented.

This amazing post is written by Jacob at Dollar Diligence. I know you all will love his posts about finances, and his topics range from whether millennials should save for retirement to his own money mistakes. Personally, I subscribe to Jacob’s posts via email, but you can also follow him on Instagram or Twitter! Here are his great strategies for paying down student loan debt.

Student Loan Debt Repayment Strategies

It is very important that you pay down your debt as fast as you can. Your student loans have an impact on such things as your debt-to-income ratio. The loans can make your ratio too high, which can make it difficult achieving a milestone like buying a house.

Plus, clearing out student loan debt quickly means you can free up your income much sooner. The money that’s freed up can go toward your savings account.

To achieve this, you can do several things.

Stop Bad Habits and Start New, Positive Ones

One thing is to stop with bad habits. If you like to dine out a lot, spend too much on entertainment, go out on too many expensive excursions with friends, hop in the car and travel when you feel like it, or spend too much on the grocery shopping, you can break these habits.

Couponing, hanging out with friends without spending a lot of money, minimizing trips, creating an entertainment budget and sticking to it, and dining out very little or not at all are doable. It may be rough at first, but you do get used to it. You have to keep telling yourself that you will adjust and will be much happier when you don’t have student loan debt standing in the way of your future.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Future

You also want to consider that opting for the auto debit of your minimum payment is sacrificing your future. If you are going to use autopay, you need to set it up with the extra amount you’re paying added in. Setting up auto payments takes away the ability to change your mind about the amount you’re paying at the last minute. You’re cutting down the principle when you do this.

You can also consolidate student debt. This could result in a rate reduction and better terms so long as you appear creditworthy to a lender. From there, you can try to pay more than the minimum, allowing you to eliminate the debt even faster.

If by some chance you ever receive a cash windfall, apply it toward your student debt. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a windfall, so tax refunds and other small financial boosts can be used to eliminate the debt. Although this may be hard to do because you don’t want to see the money disappear from your hands too fast, the reward from eliminating the student loan debt goes much further than the money you use to reduce what you owe.

Another option is taking a job that offers student loan forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is one way. If you are a teacher, you can take advantage of the teacher student loan forgiveness program.

Nonetheless, your chosen career choice may not qualify you for the student loan forgiveness programs. In that case, you could apply raises toward paying down student loans.

You also want to avoid repayment programs, if possible. It is nice to lower the payments if you’re struggling to make them as it is. Unfortunately, repayment programs like the Pay As You Earn program will stretch the term. Some former students have loan terms as long as 25 years. If you graduate college at the age of 22, your student loans wouldn’t be paid off until you’re 47.

Trim Down Your Budget

One thing that is going to help you tremendously is trimming your budget. I mentioned earlier that you can do such things as minimize time out with friends or cut your grocery bill. You can also do things like cut down on cable, reduce water usage, stop using air conditioning if you really don’t need it, and put on more clothes in the winter so you can turn down the heat.

It’s hard work, but you can do it when you make a commitment and focus.

dollar diligence - pay off student loan debt

Jacob is a self-proclaimed personal finance enthusiast and blogger. Catch up with him @DollarDiligence!

 

Things I Haven’t Done Enough of this Summer

Adventures

We had a late start to spring/summer in the Pacific Northwest because the weather was terribly gloomy over the looooong winter. Apparently someone forgot to remind Mother Nature to turn on warmer weather and sunshine in this part of the country until we were well into spring. This really cut into our normal outdoor activities like boating, hiking and camping.

With only a little more than a month of summer left (nooooooooo!), I have been thinking of all of the things we haven’t done enough of this summer. Think of it as a mini-summer to-do list.

How to refocus your summer to do list, to enjoy the remaining month before fall

Things I Haven’t Done Enough Of:

  • Gone Boating – I’ve only been once this entire year! What the heck?!
  • Gone Hiking – I went hiking while I was in Denver for work, but that’s it. I miss hiking!

  • Gone to the Museum – exactly no times. I think part of why this was extra enticing during the summer is because they have air conditioning. Now, I have air conditioning. But we can get free passes to the local museums from our library and I love to go visit them.
4 Ways to Stay Active During the Gloomy PNW Winter

Checking out the glass museum a couple of years ago with my friends Sara and Meghan

  • Sat outside and read a book. I have done this a decent amount of times, just not nearly enough.
  • Gone to sporting events.
  • 5ks.

5 Tips for Running Outside as the Seasons Change

Things to do:

  1. Take the boat out and go camping at least one weekend. – We have plans to do this already, so assuming that nothing goes crazy on my work calendar that impedes this, we should at least have one more boating and camping experience this year!
  2. Find a friend to commit to a hike with, or at least go for a walking “hike” in one of our gorgeous parks like Point Defiance or the Tacoma Nature Center.
  3. Go to the library and check out museum passes. Go alone or with a friend.
  4. The next time I’m reading during the day, grab a blanket and go sit in the backyard instead of on the couch.
  5. I have tickets to one more Mariner’s game, but I’m bummed I didn’t catch a single Rainier’s game. Those are really fun! Check out more sporting event options this summer and see if there are any more games I can catch.
  6. I have done one 5k this year, and it wasn’t even during the summer! By this time last year, I had done four! I will find a 5k to run in August or September, and sign up for it.

What haven’t you done enough of this summer? What are you going to do to make sure you fully enjoy this season, before we enter into fall?

Empowering Women through Creative Fashion

Debt Repayment, family, Guest Post, shopping

There’s a new series starting up at WMSB, and it’s focusing on the amazing things WMSB readers are doing to empower themselves, their families and the people around them. I’m going to feature a handful of followers who run their own business or run a network marketing business. I know that MLM businesses can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths with the smarmy sales tactics and products that are too good to be true. But, not all sales-people are like that and not all products are overrated.

I listened to a podcast recently about supporting our friends who are working hard and providing a full-time or side-income using MLM/Networking Marketing businesses and it really inspired me. I’m a big believer in shopping small, and what better way to do that than to buy products I’d already use from my friends?

Empower yourself through creative fashion: Be inspired by Joanne Black's LuLaRoe journey to support herself, her health, her family and the causes she cares about.

For the first post of this series, I’ve interviewed a friend of mine from law school, Joanne Black. Joanne is now a professor in North Carolina. She recently became a LuLaRoe distributor, and it wasn’t just because she wanted to walk around in leggings with no pants all day. Joanne is a huge advocate for the rights of the oppressed, women and the LGBTQ community. When she reached out to me about her new LuLaRoe business, I knew you guys had to hear her story!

This isn’t sponsored and there’s no sales pitch involved. Just sit back, relax, be inspired, and if you feel like buying some new clothes, Joanne’s your girl!

LuLaRoe Joanne Black for House of Black, LLC

How did you first hear about LuLaRoe?

In February 2017, at the age of 42, I was diagnosed for the first time with ADHD. It was pointed out that, due to my sensory sensitivities, I may want to find more comfortable clothes so that I wouldn’t be distracted by the irritation or itchiness of items.

I started researching and kept hearing about #simplycomfortable leggings by LuLaRoe. I ordered my first pair and they were, no contest, the most comfortable leggings I’d ever worn. I felt so comfortable and less stressed! I was sold from that first moment!

Did you know right away that you’d want to sell LuLaRoe?

I did not know right away, but it didn’t take long! I was really inspired by attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. I knew I wanted to have more power over my finances. I researched the company, basics for starting a business, watched videos and then jumped in feet first and don’t plan on looking back!

Do you work outside of LuLaRoe? If so, what do you do?: I do! I am a full-time professor at a small, liberal arts women’s college. I love teaching, but it isn’t paying the bills now that my partner is no longer able to work full-time due to congenital back issues. LuLaRoe is a path to more flexibility for our family and we’re all loving the process so far!

What is your favorite LuLaRoe item?

Oh, that’s such a tough question! I love the Carly dress and the leggings the most!

Carly – One of many patterns and solids! Brittany: This pattern totally reminds me of dresses I wore and LOVED in Kindergarten!

What is your favorite LuLaRoe pattern?

Anything with Tulips. I have always loved tulips. In fact, go ahead and call me the #lularoetuliplady

What is your biggest hope in starting your LuLaRoe business?

My biggest hope is that I can relieve financial stress for my family. My full-time work has seen my salary decrease for the last 3 years due to increasing benefits cost. I’ve gotta put my feminist money where my mouth is and show my boys (age 7 and 8) how strong, resilient and perseverant their Mama is!

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

First, we’d like to pay down the debt from the last 18 months of having only one full-time income for our family. Then, we’ll focus on building our retirement funds and I plan to start kids Roth IRAs for my children. They won’t realize how awesome I am until I’m long gone, but I hope they won’t end up having the same retirement worries that we have as their parents.

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

You’re going to laugh at me! I was so shocked the first time someone paid me in cash! I didn’t realize that people still carried about $100 and $50 bills! I had to raid my children’s money jars to make change!

What are some of the best outfit combos you have in your inventory right now?

You cannot go wrong with the Carly dress! It has a flattering swing style that you can wear alone or style to wear in layers with leggings or a simple Cassie pencil skirt!

Cassie – Joanne also has multiple styles and sizes in her most recommended skirt!

Where can Where My Soul Belongs readers find you?

Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest // Shop as a VIP

10 Snack Ideas to Bring on a Hike

Adventures

During the spring, I shared the Top 5 Things for a New Hiker to Bring on a Hike. Your comments were so helpful to add on other suggestions that a new hiker might bring! One thing you all really contributed were ideas for snacks.

Personally, I’m a huge lover of snacks. I have a pretty fast metabolism so I’m often snacking throughout the day, rather than eating three large meals. Picking quick and easy items to eat while camping or hiking is key to my enjoyment of the experience, and is also a safety precaution. Once, I went on an adventure with some people and we were only supposed to be gone for about 3 hours. It turned into 6 hours. Luckily, I had once-frozen water in the cooler (to act as a dual purpose ice pack/eventual beverage) and granola bars in my bag. I learned an important lesson that day about outdoor activity. I also have learned over time that snacks should be easy to eat without getting you messy, or require your hands to do much prep work, because they may be dirty as well.

10 Easy and Delicious Snacks to Bring on a Hike

This was at Red Rocks in Colorado back in May. I loved the red colors everywhere!

Affiliate links are used in this post. That means that if you make a purchase using an affiliate link in this post, WMSB will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for helping to keep the lights on around here!

So, what sort of snacks should you bring with you on a hike?

10 easy and delicious snack ideas to bring on a hike:

(with credit given from the comments when appropriate)

  1. Lara Bars (Kristin)
  2. Pretzels (Sarah)
  3. PB&J Sandwiches  – Peanut Butter is a great protein, and I don’t worry as much about PB&J staying cold as I do a meat-based sandwich. Plus, they feel more like a snack than a full meal.
  4. Beef Jerky
  5. Fruit Leathers – A dear friend of mine is the Founder & CEO of a company called Peaceful Fruits and their fruit leathers are SO good! You may have also seen Peaceful Fruits on Shark Tank!
  6. Dried Fruit (Kristin)
  7. Chips – they don’t have much nutritional value, but they’re easy to separate into a ziplock bag, toss in your pack, and then pull out when you’re ready for a quick bite.
  8. Nuts (Kristin)
  9. Trail Mix – if you want more than just nuts to snack on
  10. Baby Carrots

10 Easy and Delicious Snacks to Bring on a Hike

Just remember, leave no trace, so pack any garbage these snacks might create right back off the trail with you!

Do you have any go-to hiking snacks?

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report: Month 11 -$113,546.61

Debt Repayment

Month 11: -$113,546.61

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I switched my focus from paying off my credit cards, to paying off my student loans! 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 11” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 11 of payoff. Two months ago I made my first ever principal payment on these loans, thanks to refinancing them, and last month the overpayment for the refinance credited to the balance. I’m so excited!

Student Loan Payoff Report Month 11: -$113,546

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

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $0.00

Ebates Cash Back: $0.00 sent quarterly

Sponsored Posts: $300.00

Side Hustles: $186.00

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: $901.78 – Reimbursement for the overpayment of my student loan when I refinanced; $98.26 Cash back match for the last year of my Discover Card

Where My Payments Went

 

Law School Refinanced Loan: $950.00 = My monthly payment + a little extra* + $901.78 (above) = $1,851.78

Extra Blogging Expenses: $35 for a giveaway; $38 for an instagram loop; $12, shipping last month’s giveaway prize

Discover Card: $727.80 – read more about how I screwed up my 0% interest repayment plan here. Seeing this amount makes me excited, though. I simply put a lot of extra money toward this debt, and didn’t really notice it was missing. Now that I’ve corrected my 401k mistake, I can get back on track.

Extra Yard Service: $50.00 I have a yard guy who comes and makes my yard look amazing. It’s $50 every 2-3 weeks in the spring/summer. Worth every penny. On his last visit, he also cleaned up the appearance of the bushes in front of my house for an extra $50.

Total Payments: ~$1714.54, ~$2,714.58 if you count the reimbursements.

*I made this payment early. I get paid every two weeks and it’s sort of gone off schedule from how I normally pay my bills. They’re separated, naturally, by one check paying the mortgage and the other check paying my student loan. It works out really well. So when the dates get a little off track, it’s harder to organize. In order to not having the money sitting in my checking account for too long, and pay some principal sooner, thus resulting in less accruing interest, I made this payment early. Then, I discovered that DRB/Laurel Road doesn’t require you to send a fancy letter saying all extra payments should go toward the balance and still take out my standard autopayment amount.

This meant that if I didn’t suspend autopay, I’d be paying ANOTHER $932.05. That obviously wouldn’t work. So I paused the autopay on the last possible day, and set up a system to transfer the monthly payment to a different checking account I have. That way, the money will always come out of that account, I don’t have to worry about accidentally spending it in my regular checking while I wait for the due date, and I won’t have to suspend autopay. Having autopay set up provides an interest rate discount. So for about 5 days, I lost that discount. I don’t want to do that again. I’m excited to see how the process goes this month, coming from the other account.

Interestingly, my monthly payment amount dropped too. Now, instead of being $932.05, it’s $923.94. I really like that Laurel Road lets you pick an overpayment amount as well. I’ve rounded my auto-debit amount to $935.00 so it will always take that out instead. Every dollar helps!

Retirement Savings

You can read more about how I royally screwed up my budget when I started contributing to my 401k. Math is tough.

Student Loan Payoff Report Month 11: -$113,000

You’re going to see my 401k reduce again soon. If you don’t follow me on instagram, I have exciting news!!


J and I are engaged! We shook hands in agreement to not put the wedding on a credit card (gah!). I’m so glad we did that. It is going to really keep me focused and on track, and has already made a difference in how I’m spending money on the small items we’ve already purchased. For example, I almost bought a box of thank you cards on amazon. They were $15 and seemed like a good deal. But I figured I’d check out what Target had. They had a similar sized box, a little more our style, for only $9.99. That’s $5 more to go somewhere else that I would have just spent if it weren’t for our focused goal!

Because I didn’t have a wedding savings already, and because I run a 0 based budget, I made some decisions on how to afford cash-flowing a wedding. One of them was to reduce my 401k contributions. I know, I know. Future-Me is a little annoyed too. My employer’s match has already been met for the year, I’m still contributing to it, just by a smaller amount, and I’m still contributing to both my Pension and my IRA. My employer also contributes to a separate pension. So this decision is not made with total disregard for my retirement. But as I’m sure you can tell, I agonized over it for a long time. ugh. However, I will pretty happy on the morning after our wedding when I wake up and don’t have a $10,000-$20,000 bill for the party we threw the night before!

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

Paying off six figures of student loan debt feels like a bottomless pit. But seeing the numbers in a graph and chart form helps to see that there really is progress.

Student Loan Payoff Report Month 11: -$113,000
You can see that I paid a little over $200 in interest. That’s from making my payment early. There is already about $500 in accrued interest for next month, since it’s been accruing for longer, and includes a few days where I wasn’t getting the .25% autopay discount. Ugh. Well, it was informative to try that method, at least.

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: $15.62

Current Per-Day Interest: $15.08

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.” So if you hear me talking about Laurel Road in the future, that’s why. Perhaps they heard my point that DRB is a really unfortunate acronym for a bank.

Student Loan Payoff Report Month 11: -$113,000
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.

Since 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.

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:

Flying Spirit Airlines Review & A Giveaway!

Adventures, Anxiety, Giveaway

With my New Year’s Resolution to fly 10 times in progress, J and I decided to go to Vegas to see my family. We checked out Expedia and found a great deal for the 3 Nights at the Mandalay Bay and both of our flights for less than $800 total. It was with Spirit Airlines, which seemed like a risk, but we decided to book the deal and try it out.

Affiliate links are used in this post, but none for Spirit Airlines. This was written solely for the purpose to share my experience flying Spirit!

A review of flying Spirit Airlines

Making the Reservation

Right after booking the flight, I logged onto the Spirit website to check out more details about their business. When I saw the cost of a checked bag, the added fee for picking your own seat, and the carry-on fee I immediately texted J. We couldn’t believe we’d have to pay $30 to carry on a regular sized carry-on item or $6-12 to pick which seat we sat in in advance! Then, it was another ~$30 to check a bag. You have 24 hours to cancel with Spirit so we decided to do so and get our money back. I went through the steps to process the refund, until we saw how much of our $750 Expedia went to flights. Two round trip flights to Vegas were only $414!

My dad has flown with Spirit a few times so I texted him to see what his experience was like and if he had any tips. Then I went to Alaska and Southwest to see if we could get a better price there. To my total shock, flights were $700 for two, round trip, on Southwest and $800 with Alaska! That was more than the cost of the entire package we got with Expedia!!!

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We decided to sleep on it before we cancelled anything. In the meantime, I talked to my dad about the airline, and read a few reviews online. While the point was repeatedly made that it’s a budget airline, overall the experiences of people who were prepared for the extra fees were positive. We decided to give it a go. I paid $6 each to pick our seats for the way there, and $8 each to pick our seats for the way home. (The way home had seats closer to the front.) I paid for these out of my vacation budget and didn’t ask J to contribute. This was because the desire to sit next to each other comes strongly from my anxiety/nerves about flying. It’s only a 2 hour and 20 minute flight. We were leaving Seattle at 6 AM. He couldn’t care less where we sat, and before the nerves popped up, neither could I. We’d both we asleep anyway. However, given my fears, I wanted to be guaranteed a seat together and the only way to do that was to pick them in advance. If you are flying alone and have no seat preference, you can wait it out and be given a free seat when you check in for the flight itself.

At the Airport

When I was researching more about Spirit, I decided to see if they had a military discount. They don’t have a traditional discount, but military personnel do get to check a bag for free. Wahoo! We always share a suitcase when we travel, so that ~$30 fee was off the table. We simply got to the airport early and went to the reservation counter to check the bag in. For some reason you can’t select a free military bag in advance. This made me a little nervous in case I was wrong about the process and we’d be paying the fee after-all, but it was smooth sailing at the counter. They even ask a clever question on the luggage tags, which made me smile even though it was well before the sun would be up for the day. The customer service was great, and the people in line all had a fun, excited vibe around them.

The free “personal item” sizes are very particular, but my Kate Spade bag travelled perfectly, and J just didn’t carry anything on at all besides his wallet. I noticed while watching other passengers that many people only had a book or a magazine on them.

I brought my Contigo water bottle, which I LOVE. However, I wouldn’t recommend bringing it on a flight. The autoseal feature creates a bit of pressurization and is prone to spray you in the face if something changes (including leaving it in a hot car for the day). I left it slightly unscrewed so that I didn’t get a mini-shower, which caused me stress in the already tight space since the only way to prop it up was to leave it in my purse. In all other situations, I recommend it whole heartedly.

I also noticed before boarding that there were no people in suits. I’m used to traveling Alaska, and the month prior flew to DC for work. There are often people in suits on my flights with Alaska, and a ton were in suits on the flight to/from DC. 30 minutes before boarding, I went through my pre-flying routine which includes things like refilling my water bottle, grabbing a snack from the bookstore, and listening to a meditation exercise.

The more casual atmosphere actually helped me to relax. this plane was full of regular people, just like me! I found a lot of comfort in that. Before boarding there were multiple announcements about bag sizes and extra costs on the flight. There’s really no excuse for not knowing. If you wait to check your bag until you board, or if you don’t pay the extra cost for a larger carry-on before you board, it will be an even larger (VERY large) cost, so don’t delay. The sooner you pay for the add-ons, the cheaper they’ll be.

I always bring my blanket scarf pictured above when flying. It’s the perfect accessory. Do you want a blanket, a scrunched up pillow, or a scarf? The choice is yours! To give you some spatial context, it’s sticking out of the top of my purse in that photo.

The Flight & Flight Attendant Service

We boarded and the person sitting next to me was super nice. The flight attendants were also great. I had worried that because it was a budget airline, the customer service would be lacking. In fact, they were awesome. They brought a small cart through once so that we could order food or drinks. They actually had tons of food and beverage, or just food or just beverage, “combos” that made it not much more expensive than buying a snack on any other airline. You do pay for water, sodas, juices and coffee that would be free on other airlines. However, I always bring an empty water bottle and fill it up myself while I’m waiting for my flight anyway. I also usually bring snacks like chips, granola bars and fruit snacks on a flight. If you usually buy snacks on a flight, consider bringing your own snacks regardless of the airline you fly. And while you can’t bring bottles full of liquid through security, you can bring an empty water bottle and fill it up before boarding. You’ll have more money in your vacation budget for the fun things!

I ordered a glass of wine, a step in my stress-free flying. I also took the time to explain to my new travel companion (J was already fast asleep by then) and the flight attendant that I don’t normally drink wine at 6:30 AM… That was the last time the cart came through. After that, if you needed anything else to eat or drink, you simply pressed the flight attendant button! Easy peasy!

This was really nice. It meant that I wasn’t being distracted from whatever I was doing to keep busy on the plane and any time I wanted to go to the bathroom, there wasn’t anything in the aisle-way. It reminded me of a less tech-savvy Virgin Airlines, where you can just tap the screen to order what you want whenever you need it. Also, when I did get up to use the restroom, I noticed that the seats were all significantly thinner than other airlines. Keep this in mind if you’re taking a longer flight. However, for a 2 hour flight they were totally comfortable. Because the seats weren’t big and bulky, it made the plane feel larger and more spacious. A big part of my flying anxiety comes from being claustrophobic. This spacious interior actually caused me to take a big deep breath and relax a little more while I waited for my turn.

I placed my iPad on it’s keyboard stand in my lap so there was room on the tray table for my stuff and beverage.

I also put my makeup on during the flight if it’s in the morning. I do this for two reasons. First, whenever I would get ready before leaving my house, then go through security, wait for boarding, get on the plane, maybe take a nap, and then land, my makeup was not beautiful. Second, it gives me something to do. Our car-share driver warned me on the way to the airport that the table trays aren’t very big, and he was definitely right. I had to be more creative than previous flights on how to set up my iPad and makeup bag.

I finished my makeup while watching the rest of The Choice, which I’d downloaded for free on Amazon Prime Video and started while the flight from DC landed. Try a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime by clicking here. Before I knew it, the flight was landing! My friends were impressed when I checked in with them at landing at actually said it was an enjoyable flight!

All in all, I would whole heartedly recommend flying Spirit Airlines. Just makes sure you read the fine print and know what you’re getting into. I pulled up my receipt so I could show you the total I paid after added fees:

Base fare after taxes for two adults:

  • Checked Baggage Fee: $0 (Military)
  • Carry-On Baggage Fee: $0 (We kept our bags to the personal item limit)
  • Seat Selections: $48*
  • Total Reservation: $462.76
  • Wine to Vegas: $7 + tax (same price as other airlines)
  • Wine from Vegas: $7 + tax (same price as other airlines)

*I changed our seats several times. Each time, if you “upgraded” to a “better” seat, you only paid the difference. So I kind of fell into the “well it will only be $4 more to move up 5 rows” trap. If you don’t care where you sit, they will assign you a seat for free.

You can also select one of their larger seats for $30 each way. These don’t have any added benefit besides being larger, more comfortable and in the first few rows. If it were just me, I probably would have done it. But since I’d have to pay for two of us, it wasn’t worth it.

I also received cash back by using ebates, $12.50. As of today (07/12/2017) the offer is 10% cash back. My discover card then gave 1% cash back, about $7.

I already miss my family and the sunshine, but it’s good to be home.

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If you’ll recall, I was looking at $700-800 for us to fly on Alaska or Southwest. It was absolutely worth it, and I’d fly Spirit again without hesitation. Do your research so that you’re not surprised by what you’re getting (or not getting) out of a budget airline, and you can definitely save money while still having an enjoyable experience!

A Giveaway!

Speaking of saving money, I’m teaming together with a few other bloggers to bring you a paypal cash giveaway of $250!! Use it to go on an adventure somewhere, pay some bills or just buy yourself a nice treat! Enter to win using the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

These big winnings made possible by how much money I saved flying Spirit. haha

Have you flown Spirit or another budget airline? What did you think? Would you do it again?