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Only skimmed your thoughts about phone plans above, but didn't see mention of Virgin Mobile. I brought my own iphone and pay $30/month for 300 minutes talk and unlimited text/data (throttled after 2GB to a slower speed). Coverage isn't as good as Verizon in my area, but the monthly savings offset the small inconvenience.

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prokopon said:   Only skimmed your thoughts about phone plans above, but didn't see mention of Virgin Mobile. I brought my own iphone and pay $30/month for 300 minutes talk and unlimited text/data (throttled after 2GB to a slower speed). Coverage isn't as good as Verizon in my area, but the monthly savings offset the small inconvenience.
Oh that is pretty solid. The only thing that would make me lean toward T-Mobile prepaid is that they'd pay my early termination fees for switching

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In the end, I took advantage of that T-Mobile promo to get out of my Verizon contract. T-Mobile will pay my $175 early termination fee, I got over $200 for trading in my iPhone 5, paid $130 cash for their cheapest smartphone which was the Nokia Lumia 521, and will have a monthly payment around $35 after taxes and fees -- all with no contract. This feels pretty good

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This is a little late, but this should have been my update at the beginning of February.

Balances:
$(117,400) My total unsecured debt which is my student loan debt only, since I paid off the credit cards
$39,700 My retirement savings
----------
$(77,600) My net worth

Change in balances:
$2,700 Amount my unsecured debt went down
$4,000 Amount my retirement accounts went up in January
----------
$6,700 Total amount my net worth went up in January

I expect these to go up at a slightly faster rate now that I've refinanced both properties and spend less on food, but this jump was pretty huge. A lot of it came from a small January bonus my company gave us in the form of a contribution to the 401(K).

Either way, I'll take a $6,700 increase in net worth

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debtblag said:   In the end, I took advantage of that T-Mobile promo to get out of my Verizon contract. T-Mobile will pay my $175 early termination fee, I got over $200 for trading in my iPhone 5, paid $130 cash for their cheapest smartphone which was the Nokia Lumia 521, and will have a monthly payment around $35 after taxes and fees -- all with no contract. This feels pretty good
  First of all, congrats on excellent progress. Second, whenever buying something check out "Hot Deals" forum for deals Lumia 521 has been on sale for $60-80 numerous times over the past 6+ month. 

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This is the first time I have been reading this thread and I must say congratulations debtblag. You are definitely on your way! 

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DiMAn0684 said:   
debtblag said:   In the end, I took advantage of that T-Mobile promo to get out of my Verizon contract. T-Mobile will pay my $175 early termination fee, I got over $200 for trading in my iPhone 5, paid $130 cash for their cheapest smartphone which was the Nokia Lumia 521, and will have a monthly payment around $35 after taxes and fees -- all with no contract. This feels pretty good
  First of all, congrats on excellent progress. Second, whenever buying something check out "Hot Deals" forum for deals Lumia 521 has been on sale for $60-80 numerous times over the past 6+ month. 

Thanks!
I actually would have been fine with the $30 Huawei Valiant deal that's been bouncing around (Comes with gorilla glass!)
Alas, buying a T-Mobile phone in a T-Mobile store was one of the conditions to them paying my $175 early termination fee so I still got the cheapest smartphone I could...

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I'll update here as well. From Jan 1 to Feb 14, I paid down about $2400 in loans and saved an additional $7000 in 401k/savings. Net worth is going in the right direction!

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Op, any updates? It is March

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MoneyOCD said:   Op, any updates? It is March
  Oops! Yes, it is.

I did a big blog move this past week which put other stuff on hold. Sorry. Funny how the blog started out as just a twice-a-month reminder to stick to my goals and now has become a real hobby of mine

Balances:
$(115,900) My total unsecured debt which is my student loan debt only
$43,900 My retirement savings
----------
$(72,000) My net worth

Change in balances:
$1,500 Amount my unsecured debt went down
$4,200 Amount my retirement accounts went up
----------
$5,700 Total amount my net worth went up in February

February was another big month, but the big jump mostly came from adding to retirement accounts rather than taking away from student loans. This had to do with getting stuff right for taxes.

My big personal finance adventure this past month was that an account in collections popped up on Credit Karma for me. I pulled my three free annual credit reports and found that it was only on Transunion. I called the collections company listed there to ask for a letter of validation without admitting guilt, but when they said they'd remove the account if I paid and told me the balance was $100 (Seemed like a 4-year-old parking ticket), I did that. A week later, Credit Karma said it was gone.

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Great progress on net worth in just one month , congrats

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Here's the April update, guys.

Balances:
$(115,700) My total unsecured debt which is my student loan debt only
$47,800 My retirement savings
----------
$(67,900) My net worth

Change in balances:
$200 Amount my unsecured debt went down
$3,900 Amount my retirement accounts went up
----------
$4,100 Total amount my net worth went up across the month of March

That increase in net worth feels amazing, and it's hot on the heels of a few other great months in 2014. In total, my net worth is up $16,500 this year. Unfortunately, only one-quarter of that increase has come from reducing my debts -- the rest coming from increasing to retirement savings.

I'd blame it on complicated taxes incentivizing putting more toward pre-tax retirement, but I really REALLY need to get back to hitting that debt hard. Has been a major goal in April.

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congrats on the progress and the dedicated updates.  One thing I noticed was that your retirement accounts have been going up a lot more than your student loans have been going down.  I haven't been following the whole thing to know how much of your retirement account increases are new savings vs appreciation, but it's been a big bull market and most stocks aren't the values they were 2-3 years ago.  It might make sense to think about allocating more of the new principle to debt reduction rather than investment; it's certainly a lower risk approach.

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xerty said:   congrats on the progress and the dedicated updates.  One thing I noticed was that your retirement accounts have been going up a lot more than your student loans have been going down.  I haven't been following the whole thing to know how much of your retirement account increases are new savings vs appreciation, but it's been a big bull market and most stocks aren't the values they were 2-3 years ago.  It might make sense to think about allocating more of the new principle to debt reduction rather than investment; it's certainly a lower risk approach.
Yeah, I sorta panicked at seeing my tax incidence so re-characterized a lot of post-tax stuff to pre-tax. I also anticipate that my required student loan payments are going to go up a lot now that I have a new MAGI for them to be based on, so have been holding back some cash in anticipation...

But these are both bad excuses and I should make a big dent before May.

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So. Here's a May update:

DEBT
+$ 1,300 One-month progress
+$ 5,800 2014 progress
+$ 49,600 Progress since Jan 2013
-$114,400 Current balance

RETIREMENT
+$ 1,900 One-month progress
+$13,200 2014 progress
+$28,900 Progress since Jan 2013
$39,700 Current balance

NET WORTH
+$ 3,200 One-month progress
+$18,900 2014 progress
+$78,500 Progress since Jan 2013
-$74,700 Current balance

I changed how I account for retirement savings to take into account that not all of my company match is vested, so the numbers will be a little off from previous months. It feels good to be paying off debt again. I'm definitely a long way from being done, but I can definitely feel things moving in the right direction.

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debtblag said:   My big personal finance adventure this past month was that an account in collections popped up on Credit Karma for me. I pulled my three free annual credit reports and found that it was only on Transunion. I called the collections company listed there to ask for a letter of validation without admitting guilt, but when they said they'd remove the account if I paid and told me the balance was $100 (Seemed like a 4-year-old parking ticket), I did that. A week later, Credit Karma said it was gone.
  
Great progress.  Quoting the above, bolding mine.  It is best practice to get the PFD in writing before actually paying.

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Venturion said:   
debtblag said:   My big personal finance adventure this past month was that an account in collections popped up on Credit Karma for me. I pulled my three free annual credit reports and found that it was only on Transunion. I called the collections company listed there to ask for a letter of validation without admitting guilt, but when they said they'd remove the account if I paid and told me the balance was $100 (Seemed like a 4-year-old parking ticket), I did that. A week later, Credit Karma said it was gone.
  
Great progress.  Quoting the above, bolding mine.  It is best practice to get the PFD in writing before actually paying.

Yeah, it was definitely dumb of me. I was taken by surprise when they made the PFD ask since I thought they no longer existed... felt pretty dumb when I got off the call.

[Edit] Also, thank you

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Nice job. Keep it goin!

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I'm very slow on this post, but here's a June update

Debt: Currently at $114,000
Down $400 this month, and down $6,200 this year

And holy crap, my debt is down an even $50,000 since I made my first post in this thread!!!

Retirement: Currently at $43,400
That's up $3,700 this month and up $16,800 this year.

That's already more than the entire progress of $15,800 I made on retirement savings in 2013.

Net worth: Now at -$70,600
Vigorously negative still, but $82,600 more than when I started this thread.

As always, thanks for the advice, support, and comments!

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