Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 262 - Weekly Roundup

Lucky You! Since Friday is the first of the month - which means you get a debt payoff update - the Weekly Roundup comes to you a day early!

 Blogs and articles of note from this past week:

Recent Studies Confirm College Ultimately Worth the Cost: If you take $102,000, or the average cost of a four-year degree, and examined the best place to invest it (real estate, stock market, bonds or college degree), college wins out. The study shows that while the stock market investment produced an average return of 7%, a four-year degree averaged a return of 15%. via @huffpost

Celebrate July 4th on a Budget: Planning this weekend's backyard BBQ celebration? Here are some tips to keep your weekend withing your budget. via @sfgate

EARN launches MyDebtStory.com: A Public Forum for Student Loan Borrowers. Share your education debt stories in video or written form. You can even win $5,000 to put towards student loan debt with a video submission! via @earn

I Was Eavesdropping, Guess What I Heard? A fly on the wall perspective of the wrong way a financial planner should approach a prospective client. "Oprah does it" is not appropriate. via @smartstep

The Dancing Traffic Cop.  Ever complain about your boring job? Take a page out of this guy's book - make your own job satisfaction whether it involves dancing, learning a new skill or becoming a mentor. via @cnn

National Geographic Photo of the Day.  I secretly want to be a photographer. There are some great shots from National Geographic on their photo of the day site. Check out this elephant's eyelashes today!

Stay tuned and have a happy 4th of July!





Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 259 - Life After The $60K Project?

As Mike and I excitedly approach the finish line for The $60K Project goal (a few months early, too!), I have been thinking a lot about what should happen next in our personal finance life. For us, this project wasn't about going on a money "diet" for a short period of time and then reverting back to our old ways. The last 8 months have been and will remain a life altering event that will permanently change our financial behavior.

How do we continue our positive momentum and successfully leverage it into a new financial goal? I believe the first step is to try to understand why we successfully paid off $60,000 in debt in less than a year. Aside from a complete commitment from both of us and lots of communication, I think setting a very specific goal had a lot to do with this accomplishment. Having both time (one year) and amount ($60,000) quantified - as opposed to say, "Let's pay off our debt soon" - allows for a specific plan to be formulated right down to the amount of our paycheck that needs to go towards debt on a daily basis. We assigned a responsibility to each dollar we brought in since we knew what amount of our paychecks would need to be used for debt versus living expenses in order to reach our goal. We were also able to analyze our progress regularly and determine whether we were on track. For example, we realized the amount of money we could assign to debt payments each month wasn't enough to meet our self-imposed timeline - so rather than extending the time we figured out ways to bring in additional income.

So what's next? Although undecided, we have come up with a few ideas for next steps. While we don't necessarily need to pick just one of these options, I'm presenting them as separate ideas for ease of explanation.
  • Pay off remaining $51,000 student loan. Yes, unfortunately we are not debt free after paying off $60,000. We still have one more student loan debt remaining and it's a doozie. Ugh. The "good" news (if I can call it that) is that the interest rate is only 3.6% and it's fixed. I expect it would take an additional ten months to pay this loan off completely.
  • Save money for emergency fund. Since we have been throwing all of our extra money at debt we have little to no emergency fund. It would be nice to save for 3-6 months of expenses, but is this a smart thing to do right now since we still have a large outstanding debt?
  • Save money for a down payment on a house. Someday we would like to move out of our tiny condo and end up with a house that allows our bikes to not sit in the living room and parking spots for both cars. But, similar to the emergency fund, I wonder if this is really the right time to start saving for a house?
  • Move closer to the beach. We have always said that there is no point in paying San Diego prices if we weren't taking advantage of the beach culture. We would love to live within walking distance to the beach and be in an area where we can walk to the grocery store and entertainment. My only hesitation is that we will most definitely be spending more for rent - and I'm not sure that is the best use of our income at this time. By sticking it out in our current place - where rent is only about 17% of our monthly take home pay - we will be able to meet our financial goals much faster.
Dave Ramsey would obviously tell me to continue my debt snowball and pay off my last debt. But I think the size of it is quite daunting and for some reason makes me feel a little intimidated to try to tackle it. I just need to keep in mind that, although difficult, having this decision looming in front of us is a good position to be in.

Mike and I will be sitting down in the next few weeks and formulating a plan for our next steps. I would love to hear your ideas so please send me a comment!

Stay tuned,



Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 256 - Weekly Roundup

Blogs and articles of note this week:

You can live fabulously on a budget. Some helpful tips and tricks to cut  your costs yet still have some fun!

Is a debt-free life the best way to live? via @cnnmoney You folks probably already know my answer to this question but I figure I should showcase alternate opinions on this topic.

Smart strategies to get out of debt. Lots of great money-saving tips in this article and also ways to create a plan to get out of debt. Give it a glance.


How my debt-free marriage led to freedom for new opportunities. via @grsblog A reader story from the Get Rich Slowly blog. I hope to be writing something like this in the near future. Very inspiring.

Congress proposes relief for student loan borrowers. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have introduced the Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2011 in the U.S. Senate. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), and George Miller (D-Calif.) introduced the related Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2011 in the House of Representatives. Both bills would restore the ability to discharge commercial student loans in bankruptcy proceedings, reversing a 2005 change to the law for borrowers who find themselves unable to make payments on their loans.

Happy Friday!



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 255 - Mission Impossible: The $25 Starbuck's Gift Card

Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 Good day, blog readers.

Your mission, fellow readers, should you choose to accept it, is to 'Like' The $60K Project on Facebook. You may accomplish this task in the following ways:

1) Scroll to the bottom of this post and click the Facebook icon next to 'Stay Connected'.

Any person who becomes a fan of my Facebook page is eligible to win a $25 gift card to Starbuck's. A drawing will be held July 1st at 9am Pacific Standard time to determine the winner.  You have nine days to complete this assignment. The winner will be announced via Twitter and Facebook and also directly notified on July 1 via a direct message from The $60K Project. As always, should any member of your team be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

This blog will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck. 


Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 253 - June is Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

Photo Credit: www.myasthenia.org

To describe myself as an active person is an understatement. When I was in high school, I played five different sports. In college, I maintained an active lifestyle. In 2001, I hiked and camped in Colorado, Utah, California, Washington, Canada and Alaska during a three month road trip. In 2005 I completed my first 10K and in 2007 my first half marathon. In early 2010, I was in excellent shape after completing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred three months in a row.

But beginning in October of 2010, I was experiencing significant muscle fatigue and could no longer run, or even walk my dog, without my legs giving out. Lifting my arms to wash my hair and put on makeup had become a chore. Even driving was often difficult because my eyes wouldn't quite focus. I chalked it up to stress due to my job and my dad recently passing, but I finally realized that something wasn't quite right with my body.

In March of 2011, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.

Myasthenia Gravis comes from the Greek and Latin words meaning "grave muscular weakness." The most common form of MG is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that is characterized by fluctuating weakness of the voluntary muscle groups. In layman terms - my muscles aren't receiving the message to contract. Without that message being sent, there is no ability to create the strength needed for muscles to work. So when your leg muscles don't contract, you tend to fall over because they aren't "flexing". You also tend to experience double vision and some (thankfully, not me) even experience serious problems with breathing and swallowing.

Why am I telling you this?

1. Most people, including myself, have never heard of Myasthenia Gravis. Awareness. Understanding. This is a slightly selfish request but the difficulty with this disease is that most people look perfectly fine (other than randomly falling down or having to rest a lot during walks). When you don't look sick, people question whether you are truly not feeling well. I was recently on medical leave from work for 3 months, and one of my colleagues questioned whether I really was sick because I posted on Facebook that I was drinking a margarita (note to self: really think about what you post on Facebook). The details behind the difficulty walking to the restaurant in order to have that margarita aren't laid out for her. I guess her definition of "sick" is different from what my doctor advised.

2. By not talking about it, the disease has more control over my life. It's very easy to become defined by a diagnosis. Discussions and thoughts about activities you can't do, medicines you can't take and worries about what people think can easily take hold of your daily thoughts. Keeping it a secret also seems to imply a sense of shame - like I did something to deserve this diagnosis. So I have two options: 1) sit in my house, feel sorry for myself and repeat the phrase "poor me" over and over, or 2) find the best doctors to work with to provide the best quality of life possible, learn to better accommodate my physical and emotional difficulties with the disease, and make the most of my life. Some days the first option is definitely the easy way out but I'm trying to make most of my days align with the second. I still have a long ways to go but I will get there.

3. I am learning to ask for help. At this point, my body can't keep up with what my brain is asking it to do - both literally and figuratively. There are many days when I want to accomplish something that involves physical activity but frankly just can't. Since my level of activity affects the way I feel everyday, more does not ever really mean better at this point. Often that means I need to rely on someone else to help me - not something my stubbornly independent self has an easy time doing. But it's something I'm working on.

4. A blessing in disguise? A year ago I was working ridiculous amounts of hours at a job I hated and had very little personal time scheduled for myself. I don't think I had even given myself time to figure out what was important in my life. Although I was physically in good shape, I was still living an unhealthy life in terms of balance, anxiety and stress. Today I am in a much better place - even after my diagnosis. I transferred groups at work and I work with people who are extremely supportive of each other. And even though my job is still very demanding, I am learning to create boundaries as far as hours worked and how emotionally involved I become in the process. My time off has helped me realize that the world doesn't end when one thing on my to-do list doesn't get done. I have a different perspective about what is good for me and my future health. Sadly, I'm not sure I would have ever figured this out if I hadn't received this diagnosis. So in a way I am thankful.

My advice to my 20-something year-old self: 
* Don't wait for something serious to occur before you make those much needed changes in your life. 
* Set aside the "should's" and begin to consider what really works for you - don't let someone else define it for you. 
* Take a step back (or even a step out) of your current situation to gain some perspective. 
* Make the investment in yourself now.

What advice would you give your 20-something year-old self? Take the time to really think about it and then leave your comment.

To learn more about Myasthenia Gravis, please visit the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America.

Stay tuned,





Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 252 - Update: New Year's Revolution

Image by Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
On January 1, I discussed my plans to start a New Year's Revolution - basically my way of defining my 2011 goals in a more proactive context than the typical resolution. Now that the year is almost half over (yikes!!), I thought it would be a good time to assess the progress I have made on my goals based on the tips I gave out at the first of the year.

1. Surround yourself with supportive people who are of like mind. I have generally been surrounded by supportive people my whole life so this was fairly easy for me. But knowing that I like to be fairly self sufficient and independent, my challenge was to actually utilize those people willing to help me. I have made an effort to ask for help more often and have relinquished some difficult tasks to certain people willing to take them on.  The most difficult, yet most important, part was phasing out people who are unsupportive and oftentimes detrimental to my well being. Sadly, this list of people has included very close members of my family - one being my mom. I do hope that this is only a temporary step, but I am also very confident in my decision at the moment and know it is the best for me and her right now.

2. Introduce accountability. When Mike and I combined our finances it immediately brought with it a sense of much needed accountability for me and my budget. When you have no one to answer to but yourself, it is easy to "cheat" and reason your way through unnecessary purchases. Knowing that Mike has full disclosure when it comes to what I buy helps keep me on track. Plus when I screw up (and believe me, I have) he is pretty good about talking me out of all my rationalizations for what I did. It makes for rocky times every so often but the end result is worth it.

My blog also keeps me accountable. I can't imagine telling the world that I want to pay off $60,000 in one year and then not even coming close! Knowing that twice a month I have to update my readers on my financial status definitely helps keep me in line.

3. Make an action list. This is probably my #1 stress buster. Getting thoughts out of my head and on paper makes future tasks seem more tangible and much easier to accomplish. Most of my lists are on paper - typing just doesn't do the trick for me. Although I have a natural tendency to make action lists, I still need some nudging sometimes.

4. Create a timeline. This has been one of the most important actions I have taken. Rather than tell myself I'm going to "pay off my debt", I introduced a specific amount plus a time limit to paying off that amount. Knowing that $60,000 paid in one year equals $5,000 paid each month lets me know whether I am actually on track each month to meet my goal. It also tells me exactly how much extra money I have to find each month in my budget for debt - either from cutting expenses or creating income. I believe humans are built to meet deadlines and without a time limit there is less drive or dedication to a goal. No matter the goal try to create some sort of deadline for yourself. Otherwise you will most definitely see it again on your 2012 list of things to accomplish.

5. Don't just think big, DO BIGGER.  I struggle in this area. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head at any given time but actually putting them on paper and drafting a plan to "do" still doesn't come naturally to me. Over the next six months, I would like to work on being a do'er in terms of what I want the future to hold for me. I am a little too patient sometimes when it comes to relationships and my future plans. Then I realize I just waited and waited and nothing happened. No more. There may be some big changes in my future personally sooo.... stay tuned!

Sarah

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 251 - Happy Father's Day

Two months after my Dad died last year I wrote a letter to him in the form of a blog post (Day 20). It's been another seven months and a day hasn't passed without me thinking about him. I'm re-posting that letter to him today, on Father's Day, just because it feels like the right thing to do. I was inspired to create this blog by my Dad and I dedicate every word to him. Make sure you take the time to tell your Dad how special he is today - and every day.

Hi Dad,

It's been a little over two months since you died and I'm still really struggling with the fact that you aren't here. As more days pass, I realize how much I relied on you for support - in good times and in bad - and how much it affects me that I can't just pick up the phone and call you. I realize that my phone calls to you greatly helped me deal with stress in my life - you would always listen to me and what I had to say that day;  you always picked up the phone regardless of how you felt. Unfortunately, talking to mom is just not the same.

I knew you were a great man but as time passes without you, I realize even more the commitment you made to your family - and that you kept it both in good times and in bad. I hope you know how much I love you and how great an influence you have been in my life. I am very proud of the fact that I was raised on classical music, Shakespeare, and changing my own oil. I am so grateful for every day I had with you - even the bad ones. I think you and I have a very special relationship that I will always cherish. I'm so thankful to have had someone like you in my life - I feel like I have learned from both your triumphs and miseries and I am grateful for it.

So where do I go from here? I feel lonely sometimes without you - you really "get" me and always have. I feel like I am somewhat of an enigma to the family sometimes. It's hard to move forward in life without your biggest fan and moral compass. But I am making every effort to get to a better place knowing that you will always be in my heart. I know our long talks on the phone where we would keep saying goodbye but never hang up are now just a happy memory. But I know that you were - and still are - my biggest advocate, my shoulder to lean on, my person to share grand ideas and dreams with. I hope that you are still watching and listening because I plan to keep talking even though I keep trying to say goodbye. I'll never hang up.

Love you with all my heart,
Sarah

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 249 - Weekly Roundup

 Blogs and articles of note from the past week:

Developing a debt plan. via @sfgate  I am always curious to see read about different plans for paying off debt. If you haven't found the right plan for you yet, don't fret. Keep looking - start here!

4 Steps to a Simpler (and more frugal) Life: via @cnbc  "Wealth is a relative concept, after all. If your income is over six figures and so is your spending, then that equals broke." This is a great article about what being "frugal" and/or "rich" really means.

The Boss of You. via @laurenbacon and @emiramears   I attended a free webinar this week conducted by these two ladies and learned a lot about small business planning. Two ideas they focused on were the fact that being small isn't necessarily a bad thing and also that unless you define success in your own terms you won't know it when you see it. Although their blog (and book) are geared towards women, I think that anyone can learn a lot from Lauren and Emira.


Year of Shopping Detox. via @annhepburn   This is a really cute blog about going into shopping detox for a year. I think I especially like it because the structure is very similar to mine - she even counts down the days. Some really witty writing, too.

Are We Culturally Encouraged to Spend? via @smartmoneychick  I tend towards yes, what do you think?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 248 - Getting Rid of My Last Credit Card (Not)

June 16, 2011

Day 248 - Getting Rid of My Last Credit Card (Not)
Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A few years ago after listening to a rousing edition of The Dave Ramsey Show I decided to cancel all of my credit cards and cut them up. As I happily snipped away and announced to each customer service rep that Dave Ramsey made me do it, I felt like I had finally taken control. Finally! I was on my way to debt freedom.

Only one card to go - my green American Express card, member since 2001. The scissors wouldn't budge.

I hesitated. I rationalized. I convinced myself - since I have to pay off the monthly balance in full maybe I should keep this one for emergencies. What if something happened and I really needed to use it? Plus, not everyone can get an American Express card so I must be REALLY good with my finances (I'll admit it, ignorant bliss).

Fast forward to 2011 - I still have that AmEx and I just put a bunch of travel expenses on it - hardly an emergency. Rather, I have admittedly delayed our $60,000 debt payoff goal - and even though we are ahead of schedule it still stings to know I couldn't delay gratification to see our bigger picture debt payoff goal as more important.

But here is the kicker - I still can't bring myself to get rid of this last credit card. Somehow I associate credit with safety and security which is a bit ironic given that my indebtedness has brought mainly stress and limitation to my life. Plus keeping a credit card for emergencies immediately tells me that I haven't adequately prepared myself financially or psychologically for those little (or big) surprises that life brings along with it.

Am I wrong in keeping this one card? Honestly, I really don't know. I attempt to live by the principles of The Total Money Makeover - which clearly demands you cut up and cancel all credit cards - but obviously I am not fully accomplishing this task. Despite this, I have paid off a considerable amount of debt. Even though I haven't cut up the final credit card, I have snipped away at every possible expense in my life. I have a tangible goal that I have no doubt I am going to exceed. In the long run, though, I think I need to stop using credit cards altogether.

How did you get rid of that final credit card safety net? Did you take the plunge and go cold turkey or did you gradually get rid of your cards? I would love some advice so please post your wonderful comments!

Stay tuned,
Sarah


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 247: Mid-Month Debt Payoff Report

June 15, 2011

Day 247: Mid-Month Debt Payoff Report

The first and fifteenth of each month I will update you on the status towards our goal of paying off $60K in one year.

** Check out the Real Time Debt Tracker!!! Keep up to the minute tabs on our debt balance and whether we can pay it off in 365 days! **

To date, we have paid off $49,744 of our debt in 247 days.  In order to pay our debt off within one year, we will need to pay approximately $2,564 each month for the remaining four months.  We average almost $4,000 a month in debt payments so we are way ahead of schedule.

Challenges: I have been spending money like it's going out of style. A combination of bachelorette parties, weddings and other travels - not to mention my affinity for buying people drinks after I have had a few - has resulted in a $1,000 American Express bill. For some reason, I can't wean myself off of this last credit card which I typically use only for travel expenses.

Oh yeah, plus I can't find my checkbook. Awesome. Nice job, Sarah.

Despite my rather large hiccup these last few weeks I am hoping to get back on track without reducing the debt payments. I am trying not to beat myself up over this one but it's hard to do when you realize that a result of my excessive spending may be to prolong meeting our goal of paying off $60,000 in one year. And we are so frickin' close!! I plan on paying the AmEx off immediately and living very frugally for the next few weeks.

I am trying to chalk this up to a moment (ok, moments) of weakness. $hit happens. Rather than dwelling on my mistakes I'm hoping I learned something - like don't bring your AmEx to the bar. Or anywhere else.

Have you hit a bump in the road with your budgeting? How did you overcome it?

Stay tuned,
Sarah

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 245 - Weekly Roundup

June 13, 2011

Day 245 - Weekly Roundup
Blogs and articles of note from last week and this week:

Do you Groupon? It could be bad for your budget. via @ChrisTaylor_nyc We may have a tendency to spend more just because something is considered a great deal. Approximately 20% of Groupon vouchers go unused. Do you have a weakness for Groupons?

Young People See Debt as Empowering, via @Jezebel Apparently credit card debt increases self-esteem in young people.....until they turn 28 and realize how much money they owe. Then it's self esteem out the window.

Number of the week: $22,900, class of 2011 most indebted ever, via @wsj Student loan debt - double-edged sword?

Giveaways are Sexy is giving away $400 in gift cards! via @sexygiveaways Enter to win one of many gift cards being given out this week!

Money and Relationships: What Should Matter? via @squirrelers  Great conversation going on over at this blog about financial compatibility. Join in the fun.

Prosperity Plan #7: Don't Fight Yourself via @goberich  I completely identify with this blog piece. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I am trying to pay off all this debt. Great read.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 241 - Lowering Your Cost For Medical Procedures

June 9, 2011

Day 241 - Lowering Your Cost For Medical Procedures

m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Certain non-routine healthcare procedures - such as an MRI or a CatScan - can be rather expensive even if you have decent insurance.  As an example, say you have an MRI done and the total cost is $2,000.  Your annual deductible is $500 and your portion of co-insurance is 10%. Maximum out-of-pocket annually is $3,000 (assume it is January 1 and you have paid nothing out of pocket for the year). Your total cost for this procedure would be $650 ($500 deductible + 10% of remaining balance $1,500 * 10% = $150).

Despite your health care coverage, $650 is still a significant out-of-pocket expense for most people. And most likely additional tests will be ordered that will require additional co-insurance payments. Thus, expenses can add up very quickly if medical care is required beyond a routing office visit and copay. Based on my recent experience, here are a few ways to try to minimize the out-of-pocket expenses.

1) Read and understand how your health insurance classifies certain medical procedures. For example, my primary care physician (PCP) visit requires a basic copay, but if I have any labwork done it is an additional expense rather than included in the copay. This is only because my PCP is attached to a university hospital and all labwork is sent directly to the hospital for analysis (as opposed to being completed in-house or sent to a private third-party company). As a result, my labwork is considered a "hospital procedure" despite the fact that I never step foot inside a hospital. Therefore, I must meet my deductible before the amount is covered, and beyond that I am subject to coinsurance. In the case of my insurance coverage, if I found a quality PCP who did not conduct labwork at a hospital, I would be able to realize significant savings. In my opinion, the insurance company is just taking advantage of semantics and getting away with charging me for procedures I typically wouldn't need to pay extra to have. But what else is new?

2) Shop around when a doctor orders a major procedure. When your doctor orders a routine yet costly procedure, you don't necessarily need to have the procedure done at the location your doctor suggests. Many insurance companies allow you to compare the cost of the procedure at different locations in your area. I conducted a sample search for the cost of an MRI in the San Diego area and was very surprised to find a significant price range difference. Using the same facts as the previous example, a cost of $1,000 vs $2,000 results in a $100 savings ($500 deductible + $50 coinsurance payment vs $150 coinsurance payment).

3) Ask questions about your coverage prior to needing non-routine procedures. Although not the most exciting reading, try to spend some time going through your coverage in detail prior to a serious illness. You won't feel like learning about copays, coinsurance and deductibles when you are sick and you also won't want to deal with any surprises.

Despite making a good faith attempt to save money on your medical expenses, this isn't necessarily the area of your life where you want to cut too many corners. Be smart and be willing to spend a little extra for that second opinion if your gut tells you that you need it.

How do you save money on your healthcare expenses?

Stay tuned,
Sarah

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 240 - Guest Post via Blonde and Balanced

Hi everyone! Since I am traveling today and all I have is my two year old Blackberry to do all of my blogging and writing, I'm kickin' it old school. I almost feel like I'm using a typewriter!!

Today I'm pointing you towards my guest post over at www.blondeandbalanced.com. Please take a look at my post entitled 'I Will Survive' and join in the conversation. Also don't forget to take a look around this great blog.

Have a great day and keep up the good work!

Stay tuned,
Sarah

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 235 - Weekly Roundup

June 3, 2011

Day 235 - Weekly Roundup

Blogs and articles of note this week:

Unemployed man sells himself on Dublin billboard: Creativity at it's best - good luck to @joblesspaddy in his job search!

Be financially disciplined to avoid a debt trap: (via @fclive) Advice about living without accumulating debt and also what to do if you already are in debt. No surprises here, but definitely a good read to give yourself a reminder of the basics.

Home clearance sale coming from 'desperate' sellers: (via @cnnmoney) Great read for potential homebuyers - housing prices are now at 2002 levels. A combination of tight credit and a large amount of homes for sale could potentially create some amazing deals this summer.

Colbert breaks down the debt ceiling: I am a big fan of Colbert - interspersed between his comedic schtick are actually bits of knowledge to help you understand current events.

Ten debt statistics you need to know: (via @WhichMoney): June debt statistics report for the UK - would be nice to see a similar report for the USA. Do you think the Brits are more responsible than the Yanks with their money or no?

Stay tuned,
Sarah

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 233 - June Update

June 1, 2011

Day 233 - June Update
The first and fifteenth of each month I will update you on the status towards our goal of paying off $60K in one year.

** Check out the Real Time Debt Tracker!!! Keep up to the minute tabs on our debt balance and whether we can pay it off in 365 days!

To date, we have paid off $47,808 of our debt in 233 days! That's about $205 bucks a day since we started.


Loan Balance Update 5/15/2011 6/1/2011
Student Loan #1  -    -  
Student Loan #2  -    -  
Student Loan #3  13,732  11,992
Sarah Mortgage  -    -  
 $13,732  $11,992
 


Progress: Four and a half months left to pay off $11,992. This equates to approximately $2,665 a month in debt payments. Since we typically pay a minimum of about $4,000 a month towards debt, we are still on track to meet AND EXCEED our $60K Project goal ahead of schedule.

Challenges: I'm going to be honest - we're losing our debt payoff motivation and I'm not really sure why. Our spending habits in May were atrocious - so much so that I just pulled out $500 from our savings account that we had stashed away for upcoming travel expenses. The $1,000 bachelorette party weekend didn't really help anything. Plus we just generally spent more on stuff we don't normally buy - eating out, massage, road trips.

I think seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is almost a double-edged sword for us. We can see that we have more than enough money to pay off our $60K of debt so we are being more lax about our budget meetings and spending habits. I think it may be time to re-evaluate our spending goals and begin to plan for what happens after the $60K is paid off. Without a purpose for every dollar and a long-term goal, we are not as careful with our money

Upcoming Expenses: Trips to San Francisco, Chapel Hill, New Jersey and Colorado. We have already paid for airfare for all of these trips so the remaining expense is hotel/car/food/entertainment.

Next Steps: Mike and I need to reinstate our bi-monthly budget meetings and assign an expense or debt payment to every dollar. We also need to talk about our goals beyond the $60K debt payoff.

Stay tuned,
Sarah
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