Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm Still Here!

So it's been far too long since I've posted an update. I got stuck in a tree! No, not really. I have lots to say and lots and lots of emails and blog posts to catch up on. Sorry about the hiatus. I just wanted to let you know to look out for new posts from me coming soon!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

Hello all! Work has finally quieted down and I'm on my way to a week long vacation tomorrow to celebrate a wedding and the anniversary of my own wedding. Can you believe it's been a year already? I can't!

But first, time to update the student loan numbers! I am getting excited to see the numbers slide down closer to the five figure mark. I predict I will owe under $100k in student loans by February 2014. Yay! Maybe I'll do something crazy to celebrate at that point like go back to school (boo!) or have a baby (yikes!).

As of today, I owe $118,180 for my fabulous education, over $800 less than last month.

Here are the details:

Hope you all have a fabulous 4th of July Weekend celebrating America: where anyone can get a higher education. :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm Never Leaving My Job!

Mark my words Internet, I am here to stay. Today I got my annual pension statement and it's just awesome.

I've been a public employee for almost five years but I didn't officially join the retirement system until April, 2007. I am currently in the process of buying back the service credit from the period in which I wasn't a member. I will be done paying that off in a couple of months. This means in April of next year I will be vested in my pension since it will have been five years since I joined but I will have 5.6 years of service credit.

Vesting in HUGE since, in the five short years since I've been a public employee, the state has created one new tier and is about to create another one with a lot less benefits than the tier I am eligible to vest in. Two major things the new tiers won't have that I currently have are the ability to retire at 55 without penalty and the fact that after ten years I will no longer have to make any contributions to my pension.

Thus, I get out so much more than I put in. Here are some numbers:

As of April 1 of this year my pension contributions total $5,999.95. Assuming I make the same salary for the next six years I will have contributed about $14,000 to my pension. Then I stop contributing but keep working for at least ten more years. How much do I get?

Using a final average salary of $49,312, when I am 57 years old I will have 30 years of service credit. I will thus be eligible for a Single Life Allowance of $29,587 a year. That's 60% of my final average salary. All for contributing just $14,000! This is totally morbid but even if I only collect for one year I am getting 2x my money back! Note that I'll probably elect one of the Joint Allowances because I'm married and then it's a little less ($24,900).

Will I make it to thirty years of service? I don't know. I hope so. We're still child free so I assume I will work until my hypothetical kid is in college. Being that they're not born yet that's another 24 years or thereabout. Even if I only worked twenty years I am still eligible for a sizeable pension as well (just not sure how sizeable).

So....twenty six more years to go!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Net Worth May 2011

The market was really crappy this month. My 457 actually decreased $30 despite my contributions. I think that's the first time that's ever happened to me. Oh well. I guess I have more shares or something.

But at least my student loans also continue to decrease. And my DH's new job definitely increased our prospective networth so all in all it was an okay month.

My new net worth is -$103,579! Have I mentioned I CAN'T WAIT until I'm not in the negative six figures anymore? It's so close I can taste it! I'm not even the poorest person on Networth IQ in my age bracket anymore. There are 17 people poorer than me! NB: Most of them are also lawyers.

Here are the stats:

Cash: Not tracking as all our cash is joint right now.

Retirement: My 457 account balance stands at $9,861. I have approximately $5859 in my pension (refundable until vested). And finally I have approximately $1000 in my Roth I.R.A. but the statement only comes quarterly so who knows if that's gone up. This makes for a grand total of $16,720 saved for retirement.

Student Loans: These are at the LOWEST THEY'VE EVER BEEN at a whopping $119,009!

Credit Card: All of our debts are joint debts now so this number is misleading but they will all be paid off within 4-5 months now that we are working together.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

Another month, another reduction in student loan debt.

I want to start throwing more money at the Perkins loan but we're still adjusting to our new budget and paying off some other debt so we're currently just paying $200 a month. I still think I can knock it out in 2011 somehow. It will feel awesome to only have two payments to make each month instead of three.

My husband is enjoying his new job. His travel schedule is a little crazy right now so we're adjusting to that as well. Just got back from an excellent Memorial Day weekend camping.

Here are the stats for this month:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Net Worth April 2011

My net worth is rising slowly but surely month to month. As of today, I am worth negative $104,529! This means I will hit negative five figures in 2011 if all goes well. :-)

Now that I've combined accounts with DH I could technically count all of his assets and liabilities too but for now I'm going to just track mine. It wouldn't put me in the black to do so, however, as his networth is around negative $15,000 (still much better than mine!).

Here are the details:

Cash: This category is pretty useless now that my cash is combined with DH's. If I ever acquire some of my "own" cash from saving my fun money, here is where I will track it I guess.

Retirement: My 457 account balance stands at $9,892. I have approximately $5659 in my pension (refundable until vested). And finally I have contributed $1000 in my Roth I.R.A. and for some reason that makes sense when my financial advisor explains it, it's only in a Money Market account now. This makes for a grand total of $16,551 saved for retirement.

Student Loans: These are at the LOWEST THEY'VE EVER BEEN at a whopping $119,790!

Credit Card: All of our debts are joint debts now so this number is misleading but they will all be paid off within 4-5 months now that we are working together and DH got a new job!

Friday, April 29, 2011

DH Got a New Job!

I'm so proud of my own prince today. After months of waiting today I am happy to announce DH accepted an offer for a new and exciting job!

His salary will increase by over 20%! And they're giving him $8,000 in company stock, three weeks of vacation a year and a guaranteed annual bonus worth 12% of his salary. They also match 7.5% of his 401k contributions. It's almost too good to be true!

He starts in two weeks!!

Also I'll just throw this in here as well. We recently combined finances. It was long overdue to be honest and it makes things a lot simpler. Hopefully I can post our new budget soon. I'm going to have to get used to budgeting monthly. Luckily just as we started doing this our budget suddenly got bigger thanks to the new job. We're motivated to working together as a couple to pay off debt and save for our future.

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

Hi everyone and a Happy Royal Wedding day to you! Even though I live across the pond I still woke up at 5 a.m. to watch the festivities live (two hours earlier than I woke up on my own wedding day haha).

Since tomorrow is a Saturday and I will be celebrating some big news with my own handsome husband I decided to do my student loan debt roundup a day early. I'm happy to report that I am finally in the $110's!

Here are the numbers:

And stay tuned for some exciting news in the S.N. family!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Net Worth March 2011

March is gone and I'm $1100 richer (less poor?). My current networth is -$106,073.

Here's the breakdown:

Cash: I'm keeping this the same because all of the cash I have right now is earmarked for debt payoff.

Retirement: My 457 account balance stands at $9,551. I have approximately $5459 in my pension (refundable until vested). And finally I have contributed $1000 in my Roth I.R.A. and for some reason that makes sense when my financial advisor explains it, it's only in a Money Market account now. This makes for a grand total of $16,010 saved for retirement.

Student Loans: These are at the LOWEST THEY'VE EVER BEEN at a whopping $120,793!

Credit Card: Not much progress yet as we're scrambling to pay off joint debts first.

My husband and I talked about our debt payoff progress some this week and we've decided to join accounts. I know this is definitely the right move but I'm still a little nervous to see how it's going to work out. We're a team now so we should act as one financially. I will probably continue to post "my" networth on the blog though just because I like to track it.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

I'm on the countdown to being in the $110's instead of the $120's in student loan debt. Oh for the day that it will be under six figures. I hope I'll still have some readers out there to celebrate with me when it hits a big fat zero. :-)

Unfortunately, a $200 payment I made a few days ago to my Perkins loan hasn't shown up yet so it looks the balance has increased instead of decreased. :-(

The good news, as always, is that the overall balance has gone down and I now owe $120,793.25 in student loans!

Here are the details:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

12 Charities in 2011 - March

So far this month I've donated to two charities - my alma mater (undergrad) because they were running a matching program where every donation made would be matched by some richer alums. Also we were competing for the most donations against a rival school. Note for charities - make donating fun. So far I think we're winning but the contest ends tomorrow. I gave them $25.

I also gave $25 to the American Cancer Society because someone near and dear to me is running in a Relay For Life. I think they're a very worthy organization, and as my family has been touched by cancer, I support their efforts to research and possibly find a cure one day.

And giving back feels good. :-)

I hope everyone else participating in the challenge found a great charity to support this month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where it Went 3/02 - 3/15

I narrowly avoided my old nemesis, the Evil Overdraft Monster this pay period. All because I forgot I had to go to the eye doctor. Oh and I bought concert tickets, but since the latter was put on a credit card I just now paid them off (will be accounted for in the next budget).

In short, I blew my budget, but I needed an eye exam because of all the problems I've been having and while my insurance pays for all the opthamologists I've been visiting, opthamologists know nothing about contacts and can't give me a prescription for them. And, as I've explained before, while contact prescriptions are only valid for one year, most insurance companies (including mine) only pay for a complete eye exam every two years.

Today, I get to spend even more money ordering new contacts online. I opted not to order them from Walmart where I had my exam because I found the same brand for much cheaper at lens.com.

Anyway, long explanation over. Here are the dirty details.


Joint account - 400/400
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Credit Card - 200/100
Groceries - 75/82
Health - 60/50
Gym - 33/33
Charity - 20/25
Misc. - 185/170
Concert Tickets - 0/200
Eye Doctor - 0/92

Which means I need to account for $117 in the next pay period so everything resets itself perfectly. Boo.

I am, however, very excited to be able to see again...especially with all the concerts and fun stuff we have planned for the warmer months.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Budget 3/2 - 3/15

The extra paycheck plan is in effect. Since the month of March will have three paychecks, there's a little breathing room in this one....which has to go to my joint account for our joint debt and fun stuff pay off account....including the upcoming Mexico trip.

There's a lot happening that I haven't been able to write about yet. One of us may be getting a new job. We owe taxes. We have a list of wants a mile long and are trying to learn about patience and compromise. Sometimes we're really freaked out or frustrated about money. Welcome to married life, I guess. I will hopefully have some news really soon.

In the meantime, I figured I'd make myself accountable and do a budget post while I dream of Mexico, a trip that's still months away but already being paid for thankfully and not so thankfully.

Starting Balance = $1233*

Joint account - 400
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Credit Card - 200
Groceries - 75
Health - 60
Gym - 33
Charity - 20
Misc. - 185

*Includes $45 being taken out after taxes (boo!) for my pension buy back.

Miscellaneous seems really high right now but I'm hoping to make an even bigger credit card payment. Just don't want to set myself up for failure.

It snowed today so I have warm happy Mexican vacation thoughts on my mind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Net Worth February 2011

I can't believe it's finally March! And I'm $1200 richer than I was in February. That feels good. My net worth is -$107,237.

Cash: This has stayed the same. I have more cash waiting to clear my account but then I'm sending it on to our joint account to pay off debt.

Retirement: My 457 account balance stands at $9,213. I have approximately $5258 in my pension (refundable until vested). And finally I have contributed $1000 in my Roth I.R.A. and for some reason that makes sense when my financial advisor explains it, it's only in a Money Market account now. This makes for a grand total of $15,471 saved for retirement.

Student Loans: These are at the LOWEST THEY'VE EVER BEEN at a whopping $121,418.

Credit Card: Not much progress yet as we're scrambling to pay off joint debts first.

Monday, February 28, 2011

12 Charities in 2011 - February

I almost forgot to post my February charitable donation. I donated $25 to my local public radio consortium.

In case you haven't heard, public radio stations are in danger of losing their federal funding - television's P.B.S. is at risk too. I can't imagine a world without P.B.S. but figured my donation would have a greater impact at the local level.

I rely on public radio to give me some of the more nuanced local news that the newspaper can't deliver on such a timely basis. They're also always hosting community events and bringing the arts to the people, so I felt it was time for me to give a little back for all that I receive.

You can give to National Public Radio or your local public radio too if you want to preserve this important public resource.

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

I took a mini break from blogging as I've been so busy with work and some side hustles as my friend J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy calls them. Hopefully a few will pay off. I'll keep you posted. :-)

Also there's some family financial news in the works (no we're not having a baby!) that I will share when it becomes official. Cross your fingers for us.

But I couldn't not do my monthly student loan debt roundup as I so look forward to seeing the numbers go down every month. Right now my current student loan balance is $121,418.12 - the lowest it's ever been!

I'm also happy to report that Defaulted Student Loan's balance is now at less than what I borrowed - woot woot! That makes three loans out of six that I've actually beaten back the capitalized interest they don't seem to tell you too much about when you take out the loans. Hopefully the Private Undergrad Loan will hit this milestone this year as well.

Getting married meant I lost most of my interest deduction on our taxes (boo) so out of the thousands of bucks in interest I paid last year, I think I got to deduct $400.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Where it Went 1/19 - 2/01

I'm Sallie's Niece and I like clothes. This is actually a new thing. An inspiration to lose weight. Turning 31. The doldrums of winter. Anyway, I hate most of my wardrobe and have been working to systematically replace all of it. If only the budget were limitless.

So with that small caveat in mind, here's how I did with my money compared to the budget I set:


Perkins Loan - 200/200
Mexico Trip - 630/630
Credit Card - 200/300*
Health - 85/46
Groceries - 0/22
Misc. - 153/168

This spending includes $58 in half.com payments from my decluttering project.

*So yes I sent $300 to the credit card but that was basically the amount I charged on it. :-(

I had this business idea to bring in more money so I spent $35 on exploratory costs for that. It's on hold now as I'm too busy and broke to devote to it what it needs.

I also spent $90 on my new niece, $30 of which I will be paid back for. Damn cute baby clothes.

The rest was spent on clothes for me, which sounds like a lot but since I was at the outlets I got some great deals. And it's all clothes for work pretty much so I can get a lot of use out of them.

Anyway, since the credit card balance didn't go down I sent another $300 to it today, which will be detailed in my upcoming budget post.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Net Worth January 2011

January was a pretty good month. I increased my net worth by over a grand, woo hoo. My current net worth is -$$108,441.

Cash: This has stayed the same. I do have some cash sitting in my bank account I need to send to the credit card but I'm waiting until payday.

Retirement: My 457 account balance stands at $8,920. I have approximately $5147 in my pension (refundable until vested). And finally I have contributed $1000 in my Roth I.R.A. and I am waiting to see my first statement. This makes for a grand total of $15,067 saved for retirement.

Student Loans: These are at the LOWEST THEY'VE EVER BEEN at a whopping $122,218.97.
Credit Card: The extra paycheck pay off plan will soon be in effect.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup

Wow, January flew by. Snow, work, snow, fun, life, snow.

All the while, reducing my student loan balance. As of today, I owe $122,218.97!

Here's hoping 2011 means the end of the Perkins loan! It's getting smaller and smaller!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Budget 1/19 - 2/01

Woo hoo, my paycheck is $16 higher than the even higher paycheck I got last time. Still not sure why they decided to reduce Social Security contributions when they probably need them most, but that's not for me to decide.

And....we booked a trip to Mexico! Mexico here I come, baby! We have a family member's destination wedding to attend, and I'm excited because I've never been South of the Border. To go, however, we need diligent budgeting. Luckily, with this paycheck I should be able to pay the balance of our must-pre-pay room for four nights. We got a suite for a great price! It even has a jacuzzi and was only $20 more a night than a smaller room.

So far we can only afford to go for four days but the airfare may make more sense for us to go for a whole week. Still, we have a few months to figure that all out. Here's my budget with Mexico on my mind:

Starting Balance = $1268

Perkins Loan - 200
Mexico - 630
Credit Card - 200
Health - 85
Misc. - 153

I've already paid $500 towards Mexico today, plus the credit card and the Perkins Loan. The challenge is to not exceed $153 in two weeks of miscellaneous spending. I think I can do it! It will be worth it when I'm on the beach. Also I have $25 in my wallet from last paycheck (hee hee).

Where it Went 1/05 - 1/18

I am happy to report that in addition to joining a new gym, I joined Weight Watchers a little over a week ago and am already seeing positive results.

The ongoing process of getting rid of clutter in my apartment yielded an additional $80 this pay period, which helped subsidize the membership fee (I paid for three months in advance I think). It didn't help all the overspending as I really wanted some household stuff too. The challenge of living in a small space is sometimes you have no place to stash stuff but I hung up some shelves and bought those special space saving hangars (they work!).

In addition to my January charitable donation, I also made a political contribution of $28. Speaking of giving, Nicole over at The Budgeting Babe has also pledged to give to 12 charities in 2011! I've been a fan of her blog for years so I'm excited my post caught her interest.

So that's how the cookie crumbles. Here's how I did compared to the budget I set out two weeks ago:


Sallie Mae - 407/407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Sprint - 74/74
Credit Card - 200/100
Health - 85/65
Charity - 50/78
Gym - 33/33
Weight Watchers - 0/65
Misc. - 148/227

I plan to post a little more on my weight loss journey and hopefully share some tips that have helped for me. Right now all I can say is track everything you eat and get to the gym as much as possible and you will see results.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January Charity: The Smile Train

I just made a $50 donation to The Smile Train, which will be enough to cover the medication for one cleft palette surgery. In case you've never heard of The Smile Train, here's a statement from their web site:

Unlike many charities that do many different things, The Smile Train mission is
focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled
with shame and isolation, pain and heartache.
The good news is every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes.
This is our mission:
-To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
-To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.
Until there are no more children who need help and we have completely eradicated the problem of clefts.

I admit that I first heard of this charity years ago and felt very moved by what they do. Trying to choose which devastating problem of the world to send your money to is intimidating. I like how they isolated one very fixable problem and really make a profound impact in these children's lives.

Here are pictures of a girl named Angelica from the Phillipines, before and after she received her surgery at two years old. Thanks to donations from people like me, she is able to eat normally and is starting to talk. And what a nice smile she has!

Although I was only able to give a small donation, I still feel like I am helping kids like Angelica out there get the care they need.

And just because you always have to be dilligent when picking a charity, I was pleased to discover that The Smile Train only spends 18% of their budget on fundraising, 1.3% on management and 80.7% on program services.

Click here to like them on Facebook and spread the word about The Smile Train!

Budget 1/05 - 1/18

A new year means a fresh budgeting slate. You may have noticed I took a little hiatus from regular budgeting towards the end of the year. But as the saying goes, "when you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So here's me getting back on track,

Starting Balance - $1252 - even though I opened a Flex Spending Account and my federal taxes went up, my paycheck is only $5 less because the feds (for some illogical reason) decided to take less money out for Social Security.

Sallie Mae - 407
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Sprint - 74
Credit Card - 200
Health - 85
Charity* - 50
Gym** - 33
Misc. - 148

*My first charity of 2011 will be announced soon!

**I'm rejoining the gym. Call me a Resolution Maker. Just don't call me unmotivated to get fit!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Financial Goals Review

2010 was a year of saving and planning, all resulting in a beautiful (and paid for) wedding. But I managed to accomplish some other goals last year too. Here is my review of the goals I established for myself:

1. Get married without going into debt. Pass (sort of). Okay so we made it to the big day with everything paid off - rings, dress, photographer, flowers, music, transportation and accomodations. This was no small feat and really was a lesson in savings for us both. And then that lesson was briefly ignored on our fabulously unfrugal Hawaiian honeymoon.

2. Increase 457 Fund contributions. - Fail. I did increase my contributions for a while until I decided to focus on the Roth instead and lowered them. Overall, I contributed about 5% of my salary this year to the 457.

3. Max out Roth IRA. In progress but likely fail. I didn't start this goal until October since I was preoccupied with wedding stuff and have only contributed $1000 so far. I still have until April to make 2010 contributions and hope to double that number.

4. Buy back pension credits. Pass! Well I got the ball rolling and in 15 more pay periods I will have paid off my old time - just in time for vesting.

5. Eliminate law school loan. Pass! Finally done after being on my to-do list for two consecutive years.

Challenge: Twelve Charities in 2011

I don't give to charity nearly as much as I could, or as some would say, should. Although the "rule" of giving ten percent of my net income ($5k, yikes!) or 1% of my networth ($0, yay!) sort of gives me an out because I'm in debt, right? Nah, I'm pretty sure the rule is whichever is higher.

In 2010 I think I gave about $200 to charity - and $100 of that wasn't really "charity" so much as it was a donation to my alma mater. This year, I want to give more. Not neccesarily $5k (sorry!) but more, know what I mean? And I want to use the blog to raise awareness of charitable giving.

So I will be picking one charity each month this year and give what I can and encourage others to do so too if they are so inclined. I'll announce the first charity soon, but in the meantime here's a bunch of info on charitable giving from mint.com

budget planner – Mint.com