Monday, June 29, 2009

Is the new student loan forgiveness program for me? Part 1

The news this morning about a revamped student loan forgiveness program piqued the interest of several of my coworkers this morning, as a lot of us have just the kind of high debt to income ratio it is designed to aid. After spending the last hour (!) trying to get some answers, however, I'm not sure it's right for me. [This is part 1 in a series of entries about this topics as it's just a little too much to digest all at once.]

After reading several articles on the subject, I was finally directed to ask my lender, good old Aunt Sallie. She told me that in order to be eligible for the forgiveness program, you have to be making income-contingent loan payments. I, however, am making level payments, which are defined as:
Extended Repayment - Level/Standard: This repayment plan, designed to allow you
to make lower monthly payments through a lengthened repayment period of up to 25 years, is available to borrowers with more than $30,000 in outstanding Federal
Stafford, PLUS and/or Consolidation loan balances and whose loans were first
disbursed 10/7/98 or later. Level/standard monthly payments of both principal
and interest are made throughout the repayment term. The repayment term
available on your private student loans may vary depending on loan type,
outstanding loan balance, repayment plan, and the terms of your promissory note.
Thus, in order to find out if I would be eligible for the forgiveness program I first needed to find out if I was eligible to make income-contingent payments instead. Here I entered some data in a calculator and here's what I got:

That chart would be completely accurate if I hadn't guessed my Adjusted Gross Income. No matter, it seems I am in fact eligible for income-based repayment of my federal student least for the next year when I'm single.

Up I want to switch to the income-based repayment plan and how does this forgiveness program really work?

Sunday, June 28, 2009


It seems like only yesterday that we moved my fiance into his (our) condo but actually it has been 10 whole months. Now it is finally my turn to move in officially. While his move involved trucks and moving men and backbreaking work, mine has been relatively low key so far. That doesn't mean we're not exhausted beyond belief after sorting through five years of stuff, most of it so important I haven't felt the need to move it over with me during the last ten months.

We made two trips to Goodwill to donate lots of unneccesary clothing and household items. Unfortunately they do not accept furniture so I've been struggling to get rid of the last of mine. We kept a few pieces, gave away a few, and turned in a t.v. and computer monitor to Best Buy where I had to pay $10 (for the computer monitor) but got a $10 gift certificate in return.

The journey is finally almost over. Just have to get rid of a few more things and have one final meeting with my landlord (cross you fingers for me). Then we can begin the new journey of finally living together (for real!) as an engaged couple. I'm excited to start the next chapter of our lives and also excited to no longer be paying rent!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Budget 6/24 - 7/7

There are a lot of IFs in making this budget. I have been looking forward to the day when I no longer had to pay rent on my Very Expensive Storage Facility, aka my apartment, for SO long and it may finally be here. But to make a very long story short, I may still be on the hook for July's rent. Then again, there's a very good chance I will not have to pay. So here are two budgets - best case scenario and worst case scenario.

Starting Balance = $1,296 (woohoo my pay isn't be lagged anymore)

Best Case Scenario Budget
Aunt Sallie Mae - 406
Perkins Loan - 93
School Loan - 54
Utilities - 45
Sprint - 100?
Laptop - 70
Groceries - 100
Misc. - 128
Wedding - 400
Stupid Sprint has not yet applied my discount. I will have to call them when I feel a little better.

Worst Case Scenario Budget
Rent - 725 or half of 725 @ 360
Aunt Sallie Mae - 406
Utilities - 45
Groceries - 55
Misc. - 65
and everything else waits for two weeks.

So yes I am really hoping that my landlord and I can work this out in the best possible manner. I think worse comes to worse I would just give my landlord half of July's rent and if he really demands more tell him to wait for two weeks as I have given him more than enough notice I was vacating and I've been a darn good tenant for five years. BTW I cannot wait to never have to utter the words "my landlord" ever again. Goodbye serfdom!

Also we've been experiencing a tad bit of domestic stress as of late but I am excited to officially live with my fiance. As much as it has felt like we've been living together this past year I can now see that until you have to part with your wonderful girly accouterments for the greater good it has not been the real deal.

Where it Went 6/10 - 6/23

I'm home sick today and lack my usual witty energy to write about my finances but alas it's payday so accountability tells me I must. If it's any indication of how I feel, I managed to drag myself downstairs to put on laundry only to discover I had brought along fabric softener instead of detergent. Then I had to drag myself back upstairs to get the right bottle and back downstairs (no small feat in an apartment) and now two hours later I lack the strength to return to the basement to put said laundry in the dryer.

Oh well, here's where my money went over the last two weeks. I got a little off track due to the music festival - not so much money spent there but money spent in preparation for the trip - and as a result didn't pay old Aunt Sallie until today. Luckily my payment wasn't technically late.

Aunt Sallie Mae - 406/0
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125
Festival - 150/387*
Fiance Birthday - 100/105
Misc. - 62/80
Father's Day - 0/30

*Yikes, that hurt to calculate but about 1/4 of that money was spent on clothes I can wear again. $25 was spent on the requisite commemorative t-shirt. Looking back it was an expensive, but awesome time and I don't feel so bad about it. Life is meant for the living.

I ended up with about $50 left over as well which is rare for me but I will figure out a way to incorporate it into my next budget which will be posted really soon.

The fiance and I are done with expensive trips for the forseeable future thankfully and all focus will now be on wedding savings.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Year of No Fun Money

The wedding is still over a year away. Plenty of time to save up money, right? Yes...but also a whole year of my life where anytime we think of something we want - a video game system, a vacation, an electric fireplace for the condo - we have to stop ourselves and say "we can't afford to buy that yet because we need to save for the wedding." And I know these aren't things we need and we have already traveled quite a bit this past year...but it still something that's tough to get used to.

Case in point. This morning I was innoccently perusing classified ads on craigslist and saw something I absolutely do not need but desperately desperately want. I won't even say what it is to avoid the inevitable bashing by anonymous readers but trust me when I say that having this item would make me very happy AND it was a really good deal. Owning this item, I could revive an old and cherished hobby of mine, spend quality time with my future husband and get some recreation and exercise. But it was not to be.

Alas, luxuries have got to wait for at least one more year. And it's good in a way because planning a wedding takes a lot of time and money so I'm glad we're not rushing into it. Yet sometimes I wish we had eloped.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

17+ Years Til Retirement

So I know I've posted recently about how my new job isn't as great as I originally hoped it would be. I've had a couple of nice conversations with some of the Old Guard in the past couple of days which makes me think it will get better though. Also, there's always the light at the end of the tunnel, retirement statements.

I just got my retirement statement and I'm still trying to figure it all out so what better way then to post about it?

According to my statement, I joined the Retirement System in April, 2007. While that is technically true, I have credited service going back to September, 2006. What this means is sometime between now and retirement I have to buy 8 months of service from the system. When I do this, hopefully in the next two years, I will be on track for a retirement date of September 2027! Woohoo, I'll only be 47 years old then!

Actually, damn, I just reread that part about how your benefits are reduced if you have less than 30 years of service...but they're a lot better after 20. I don't know, the wording is really vague. Must do more research. (I've posted about my retirement system before if you want a little more background.)

My account balance (3% of what I've earned since joining) is currently at $2,433.22. This would be what I get back from the system if I leave before I vest. It isn't much but it's good to know. I earned a whopping $83 in interest this year too!

Death benefits! Yikes! In case of my untimely demise, my younger siblings stands to inherit my ordinary death benefit of $43,260 plus my contributions to the retirement system. As long as this figure is less than $50k it's tax free. That's all well and fine but let's hope he never needs to know about it.

My fiance and I love to talk about our hypothetical early retirement plans, maybe moving to the islands and working "fun" jobs. In the meantime we plan on keeping our noses to the grindstone.

Oh wait, there's also my 457 retirement plan. This program is optional and I'm glad I joined because making my savings automatic (coming directly out of my paycheck before I can touch it) has proved the only successful way I have learned to save money. And look how well my funds are accumulating compared to the last time I posted about it? What recession?

All in all I am learning to appreciate my job just a little more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Budget 6/10 - 6/23

Even though we just went away to Orlando the fiance and I are hitting the road again tommorrow. A festival awaits our wallets but luckily we've already paid for most of this trip several months ago.

I am going to budget myself some walking-around money that's a little bit higher than I would normally allow myself, but since we won't need as much groceries hopefully everything will balance out.

My paycheck is still being lagged. It's sort of frustrating. What's the fun of getting a raise if you don't get to see it? I'm told that it should even out soon but here's what I have to work with for the next two weeks.

Starting Balance = $1113*

Aunt Sallie Mae - 406
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Festival*- 150
Fiance Birthday - 100
Misc. - 62

*My fiance actually owes me $50 that I've been holding out on collecting until this trip so I'll have more spending cash while we are away for 4 days.

It's also his birthday coming up so I'd like to do something nice for him but I won't spoil the surprise by posting about it here.

I'll be back next week and hopefully with my budget in tact!

Where it Went 5/27 - 6/9

Here I am! Work isn't SO sucky today but it's busy. So here's a quick little report on where my money went the past two weeks compared to the budget I laid out for it:

Rent - 725/725
Perkins Loan - 93/93
School Loan - 54/54
Utilities - 45.90/45.90
Sprint - 100/100
Capital One - 210/211
Laptop - 70/75
Groceries - 100/?
Misc. - 75/140
Fiance - 432/400

Big news is of course, I paid off my "Boyfriend Debt!!!" Now I finally don't owe my fiance any more money and all of our shared money will be going towards the wedding account. More on that to come!

I'm still trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my apartment lease but at the very very worst I only have one more rent payment to make.

Stay tuned in a few for the new budget!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My New Job Sucks!

Where have I been? Inquiring minds want to know. Well the answer is working and unlike my first impression, my new job is not all it's cracked up to be.

First, the money. My paycheck is still being lagged so I am making LESS than I was at the old job despite the fact that my salary is technically more.

Second, the rules. For some reason I am now obligated to tell my receptionist every single time I have to use the bathroom, grab a soda or go to lunch. And when I come back. Despite this, my new boss glares at anyone that dares to leave the office for even a minute. Well not everyone....

Third, the double standards. Due to a weird office layout, dumb luck, or my perceived incompetence, my cubicle is in Siberia. Everyone in Siberia is exiled from the rest of the office where the non-stop office party takes place. They have a fridge, breakfast treats, a couch, chats, etc. But God forbid anyone from Sibera dares to intrude on the fun! Blank stares, dead expressions, the fun literally is frozen if you stop by ("what, do I smell?").

Next up is my "mentor." She sits in the non-stop office party and if she is on the phone and you come by her cube (trekking all the way from Siberia!) she will turn her head the other way and pretend she doesn't realize you are there (never mind the fact that she summoned you). But if she dares come to your cube and YOU are on the phone she will just stare at you until you end the conversation. She comes equipped with such motivational phrases of "I don't know why we do it this way," and "this is good enough I guess."

The last and very best of it all is the Newer Girl! She just started last week and through some freak happenstance (or my percieved incompetence?) she was placed in a cubicle right in the middle of the non-stop office party! No Siberia for her. She gets to hang out on the couch and socialize with everyone else.

The work itself is okay. Just every day is a lesson in humility. I am getting very frustrated and just wish my co-workers had some basic human decency.

I'll try to post more about money tommorow (it's budgeting time again!) but I can't guarantee I'll be in a better mood by then. :-(