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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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Quick July update before the month ends:

Debt: Fell $1000 to $113,000, a 1% drop
Net worth: Grew $3900 to -$66,700

Thanks, as always, for reading and for the supportive words

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I haven't updated in a while, so I guess I'll post something. I have increased by net worth by about $20k since my last post February 14th. About $8k went to 401k, $7k to student loans, and $5k to savings. Should have positive net worth before the end of the year!

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JamesPolk said:   I haven't updated in a while, so I guess I'll post something. I have increased by net worth by about $20k since my last post February 14th. About $8k went to 401k, $7k to student loans, and $5k to savings. Should have positive net worth before the end of the year!
  
ummm.... JamesPolk = debtblag? did i totally miss something in the previous pages of this thread?

EDIT: whoops yep i did miss something, congrats to both of you on your endeavors to pay down debt

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An update now that we've crossed into September:

I had a very low-spend August, thanks to avoiding meat and spending time outdoors for entertainment. As such, I was able to pay off $3,500 in debt and increase my retirement savings by $4400 -- the latter with a lot of help from the market and from some vesting at work.

My student balance now stands at $108,300, which is 84% of where it started.

The other thing I notice among my numbers is that my net worth is just a few-thousand shy of a $100,000 increase since I started this thread last January, thanks in large part to the debt payoff. Thanks so much to everyone for all your help

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Here's my October 2014 update:

Because I knew it was going to be a lean month due to attending a couple weddings in far-off locations, I sent payments early on and banged out $2,700 worth of student loan debt, bringing my balance to $105,700 or 82% of the original. Boom

Sadly, my 401(k) contributions and company match were still not enough to fight off market forces and my retirement savings dropped by $600. Lame...

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Debtblag, did you consider a ReFi at Sofi for your student loans? They have great rates compared to fed loans.

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JamesPolk said:   Debtblag, did you consider a ReFi at Sofi for your student loans? They have great rates compared to fed loans.
Hi! Yes, I actually went through the whole application process. It would only dropped me a percent or so, but I'd lose the ability to do income-based repayment, hardship deferrals, and tax deductions, so I didn't take the offer. Next thing I'm looking into is Common Bond. Hear anything about that?

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debtblag said:   Here's my October 2014 update:

Sadly, my 401(k) contributions and company match were still not enough to fight off market forces and my retirement savings dropped by $600. Lame...

I'm around the same age as you, and what helps me to not get too attached to the value of my retirement account is to think of it's value in quantity of shares. Prices will go up, prices will go down, but as long as you are contributing your number of shares always goes up. On the time frame you are looking at for retirement, that is all that matters (assuming you are invested in solid funds)

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Great progress. I am graduating in December and between wife and I we have about 130k in student loans, 45k in CC, 15k left on car loan, and about 160k on mortgage. Going to use this thread as inspiration for payoff.

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There was a small thread about Commond Bond in FWF last week ( http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1394703/ )

Just ask about the Transunion Special.

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Czechmeout said:   
debtblag said:   Here's my October 2014 update:

Sadly, my 401(k) contributions and company match were still not enough to fight off market forces and my retirement savings dropped by $600. Lame...

I'm around the same age as you, and what helps me to not get too attached to the value of my retirement account is to think of it's value in quantity of shares. Prices will go up, prices will go down, but as long as you are contributing your number of shares always goes up. On the time frame you are looking at for retirement, that is all that matters (assuming you are invested in solid funds)

Oh that is a much better way to think of it. And I guess I've been able to buy MORE shares than normal with each paycheck the past month

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MilleniumBuc said:   There was a small thread about Commond Bond in FWF last week ( http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1394703/ )

Just ask about the Transunion Special.

  Thanks for the heads up! Will read into it

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KatoKrazy said:   Great progress. I am graduating in December and between wife and I we have about 130k in student loans, 45k in CC, 15k left on car loan, and about 160k on mortgage. Going to use this thread as inspiration for payoff.
  Good luck! If I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to ask. There were plenty of things I would have preferred to not learn from experience

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Time for the November 2014 debt payoff update.

So the headline number just crossed a big landmark; from the time I made my first post in this thread up to the end of October the sum of the (debt I've paid off) and the (amount I've added to retirement accounts) is over $100,000. Broken down, that's:

  • I've paid off $58,800 of the original $164,000 in unsecured debt I held and
  • I've added $42,500 to the very paltry $10,800 in retirement savings I had at the time of my first post

Of the amount added to the retirement:

  • $28,900 was my own contribution
  • $4,300 is from my employer match (I'm only counting the portion that's vested at this moment) and
  • $9,300 is from market gains

And holy cow! $100,000! Thanks so much for everyone's kind words, for the mean words, and for the advice. Really could not have made it this far without all the help

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kudos on the 100k swing

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Awesome! I was just thinking about this last week and was looking for an update.

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I was just doing some math today for my 2014 so far and felt like over-sharing:

$68k My take-home net of all cash bonuses and taxes

$18k Contributions to retirement accounts (NOT including employer contributions)
$1k Additions to my emergency fund savings account
$24k Money sent to pay down debt

So, given these numbers, and if you'll allow a flexible definition of "savings," I'm looking at a 63% savings rate YTD

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