Author Topic: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans  (Read 6378 times)

jcelestechau

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Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« on: August 29, 2014, 01:26:07 PM »
Family size: 2 (My husband and I).

Take Home Income:

$1542.00 every 2 weeks
Avg. Per month is $3341


Monthly Expenses Barring unexpected expenses, Total: $1982

Rent: $809 - $775 for rent plus $34 for water/sewage. We live in an area of Houston outside the Belt. We love where we live, and it's very bike/walkable, but it's very far away from where my husband works. Even though it's moderately priced for the area, we can certainly go cheaper. I am currently looking for apartments inside the belt (closer to work) that are cheaper and smaller. We're in a loft style apartment that's about 760 sq ft, so it's also very expensive to cool/heat. Would it be worth it to move with application fees, deposits, moving expenses, cleaning expenses (our current apartment requires that we pay for professional steam cleaning), etc.? Our lease doesn't end until May, so we have time.

Electric: ~$100 avg - I signed a 2 year contract (I can take it with me if I move) to get a lower price. We're diligent with the a/c and heat (our apt is currently ~80 F, downstairs vents are closed with upstairs vents open, blinds pulled down, etc. Working on getting/making some curtains to block out the heat), do 2-3 loads of laundry/week with cold water and either no heat or the lowest heat setting on our dryer (The area of Houston that we live in is especially humid, and unfortunately line drying does not happen, at least not until it gets cooler), the fridge and freezer are at appropriate temps, lights are very rarely turned on since we have several windows, dishwasher only used 2-3x/wk, etc.

Health Insurance $177- This only covers me (catastrophic). My husband's comes out of his paycheck. I paid for my own because my job didn't offer it, and at the time, my husband's company insurance policy didn't even cover providers anywhere near us, and I was actively going through a very, very expensive diagnostic process (which has fortunately been resolved). I will be getting on his insurance in January. They're switching plans, so we don't know how much will come out of his take-home pay by adding me yet. Hopefully less than this, though.

[Private Student Loan Payments $141 - Yes, we were very very bad. This is with the absolute lowest min. monthly payments we could get. The remaining private loans have very low interest rates, see details below.

[Cable Internet - $58 - Cheapest we could find. We use our own modem. We're in a monopoly... blech. There is broadband available. They charge less at first, but then charge much more than $58 while you're still under contract, plus there are set up fees.

Groceries - $250 - We shop at Costco and Aldi. This should be going down soon since I'm cancelling an overpriced CSA membership (~$65/mo) and just buying in-season produce at the local grocery instead. It's about half as expensive.

Gas - ~$175 - We're a one car family. We almost never drive for errands. My husband has a very long commute to work, which we are trying to fix (see notes in Rent). My husband drives using the methods described in one of the MMM articles and usually gets around 40mpg.

Pet Care - ~$40 - We have two cats. I feed them a decent quality dry food that I buy in 15lb bags for about $36.50 every 2 months, plus we get a large thing of cat litter from Costco for ~$9/mo. Their vaccines are kept up to date, so fortunately I only need to get them every three years. They're on flea/heartworm medication. They're well cared for and in good health, so we haven't been having any extra veterinary expenses.

Mobile Phone - $23 - My husband and I are on Republic Wireless' wi-fi only plan. It's actually usually less than this because we've done a decent amount of referrals.

Netflix - $9

Other Irregular Expenses - <$200 - Small expenses for things that we don't need regularly. This rarely, if ever, includes unnecessary expenses such as eating out or entertainment.


Assets Total: $11,382+

2007 Honda Fit - ~$4,000? Not entirely sure of current worth. We were just recently in an accident and it was on the verge of being totalled. We will be going for a diminished value claim.

2004 Ford Focus ZTS - ~$2,500 Being loaned to my brother in college. I am not paying any fees or maintenance on it, but it's still mine.

Profit Sharing Retirement Plan - $1582 Husband is putting in just enough from each paycheck to get company matching.

Savings - $1000 I keep this amount for emergencies. I know that many may not feel comfortable with this amount, but I think it's sufficient. If it's not, I'll cross that bridge when and if I get to it. We can always take the extra 1k+ that we put towards loans every month if necessary.

**My husband and I have quite a few things that we can sell (mostly my old, very expensive, work equipment), which I'm estimating at around ~$500-$750

**We're also waiting on a settlement with the auto insurance company after an auto accident (which we were both in - we were rear-ended at a red light), including ~$1,700 in lost wages, ~$600 in medical bills that we paid for out of our own pocket, diminished value (unknown), and pain & suffering (also unknown).


Now for the embarrassing part...
Student Loan Debt

Federal Loans currently at $0 min. payment - We are on IBR, so interest does not capitalize

PRINCIPLE       %             MONTHLY INT.
$12,494.61     6.55%   $68.00
$5,866.42    6.55%   $32.00
$7,972.17     6.55%   $43.00
$9,875.65    6.55%   $53.00
$9,368.07        6.55%   $51.00
$8,269.76    6.55%   $45.00
$7,792.77     6.55%   $42.00
$4,465.65    6.30%   $23.00
$5,358.07     6.30%   $28.00
$5,102.06     6.30%   $26.00
$3,515.42     6.30%   $18.00
$4,500.00      5.75%   $21.00
$3,047.00     5.50%   $13.00
$5,594.20    3.15%   $14.00
$5,500.00    3.15%   $14.00


Private Loans - $141/mo payment
$7,438.90    4.75%   $29.00
$6,036.20   1.75%   $8.00
$5,501.28    1.62%   $7.00

Total:
$117,698.23 PRINCIPLE       
$535.00 INT/MO.


TL;DR of the student loan story is a familiar one - it was ingrained in us that we *needed* a degree from a four year university if we didn't want to be homeless. Both of us were in a situation where our parents made too much money for us to get free financial aid, but our parents were unable to support us financially (although they did a little bit). I don't use my degree at all (Early Childhood Education. It turns out that I suck at working with groups of children. I simply have to laugh at myself). My husband changed majors 3 (maybe 4?) times, increasing his cost.

BUT we are now older and wiser, and if you want to look at it in the positive, we are learning a lot about managing our finances (which is something we probably would have never learned otherwise considering the lifestyles of our parents).

So to summarize:
Income: ~$3,341/mo
Expenses: $1,982 (barring unexpected expenses)


Other Misc. Info

Over the course of three years, we've somehow managed to pay off about ~50k.

I use a UPromise card (and pay it off every month, of course!), and I get maybe ~$60 toward my private loans every 3 months or so

For the last three months, I've been applying everything left over (avg. $1,359/mo barring unexpected expenses) to the student loan with the highest interest and lowest balance first. The private loans are at the lowest min. payment we could get them. My husband and I are motivated to get these loans paid off ASAP. We keep $1000 in a Capital One 360 savings account for emergencies (is this too much?)

Our credit is very good despite the loans (We're both well above 750 last I checked), and we have no other debt.

We're both relatively young (26). I graduated in '11 and he graduated in '12.

We don't have any children, but we do want one. We're trying to balance the debt repayment with the whole biological clock issue, so it may be a couple of years.








It's very difficult (for me, because I'm not too financially savvy) to get an accurate picture of how long this will take, especially with all of the unknown variables. Various approaches I've used to figure it all out puts me at about 10-20 years to repay it all. Is there anything else we can do to help us get out from under this crushing debt any quicker? Is there a better strategy for paying it down? Is there anything else I can reasonably do to trim down my budget? Any reasonable way to mitigate the interest of the student loans while I'm paying down the principle?

I realize that no matter what it's going to take several years at the very least. My husband and I toyed with the idea of a low-interest private loan to pay off the high-interest student loans, but we're not sure if that will be better since we can deduct the interest payments of student loans.

Thank you!

unseenstache

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 01:37:04 PM »
Is there anyway to increase your income?  Take on second jobs? 

Philociraptor

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2014, 01:42:05 PM »
Just replying early to say you are not alone! I graduated with about $100k of student loan debt, down in the 70's now, but it's a heck of a burden. Also living in Texas (Dallas).

You can put in your debts, interest rates, and minimum payments at unbury.us then slide how much you pay each month to show you payoff time. Also, if you use Mint.com, you can use the "pay off my loans" goal for the same thing. Best of luck!

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2014, 01:51:28 PM »
I'm just subscribing to see what people recommend.  You have a tight budget there. I see about $1300 left over per month according to your numbers.  Clearly the 6.55% student loan debt is not a great rate, but it could be worse.  You are already doing some things to reduce your costs. Good for you.  I suggest you push for that smaller apartment or maybe even look into sharing a house to lower rent/utilities/transportation costs. Try and get closer to work.

I may recommend you ask your brother for a small monthly payment to offset the depreciation on the Focus. $50 ? Either that, or sell it to him slightly below market value. You don't need it.

Cats. Don't replace them if they break. I've seen people go massively into debt to extend a pets life a few months. It's just not worth it, and we should all be prepared for the inevitable consequences of life.

Cable internet.  Are there other wifi networks that you can see from your apartment? Consider tracking down the owner and offering $10 or $20 per month to use their network.

Look for an apartment that includes sewer/water. Here in WI those are covered in rent.

Look into side hustle. Can you tutor? Knit? Flip things on ebay/craigslist? A little extra income here would go a long way.  I'm a career 2nd job bartender. $100-200/ night extra adds up.

You could invest and make more than 6.55% in the indexes (over time).  Regardless of what you do, it's going to be almost like splitting hairs. Best of luck, and post your plan when you develop it.

thedayisbrave

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2014, 02:02:08 PM »
You run a tight ship which is a great sign! How do you only spend $250 per person/month on food? I spend about that much for just me, and it's not like I eat a lot... (or maybe I do?)

I have confidence in you two :) You definitely seem to have it together.  Keep throwing everything you can at those loans.  Don't worry about investing quite yet.

I think moving, depending on how much lower you could get rent, would be a wise decision.  Another thumbs up on the side hustle.  Not fun but an extra few hundred a month can go a long way. 

There's a blog out there called "No More Harvard Debt."  I'd suggest you read it when you can.  About a guy who killed his student loan debt, $100K worth, in about 10 months if I remember correctly.  He pretty much outlines everything he did and it's very detailed so maybe you can get some ideas (or inspiration) from him.

Good luck & keep us posted!!!! You can do it :)
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 02:04:36 PM by thedayisbrave »

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2014, 02:10:57 PM »
Is there anyway to increase your income?  Take on second jobs? 

My husband doesn't have time for a second job. I could get a part-time job close to home, but that's easier said than done. There aren't very many businesses that are close enough (much less looking to hire). I take medication that has a lovely side effect which prevents me from sweating (In other words, I'm at high risk of hyperthermia), and unfortunately, we're in 100 degree weather, so travel is a slight issue until we get some cooler weather. I recently left my job for health reasons (not eligible for disability, just so difficult and expensive to work around it that it's not worth it for me to work full time anymore). We found that we spend so much less with me not working that it wasn't worth it to go back. I'm putting together a blog with my professional experience and still networking with other professionals through online communities and trade shows, so hopefully I can make at least some extra income. I'm also getting a lot of our stuff ready to sell, and seeing if there's anymore I can part with.

Just replying early to say you are not alone! I graduated with about $100k of student loan debt, down in the 70's now, but it's a heck of a burden. Also living in Texas (Dallas).

You can put in your debts, interest rates, and minimum payments at unbury.us then slide how much you pay each month to show you payoff time. Also, if you use Mint.com, you can use the "pay off my loans" goal for the same thing. Best of luck!

I would say "hooray!" but I don't think that would be appropriate. :)

I played around with unbury.us until I gave myself a massive headache, and mint.com has been a godsend!

Best of luck to you as well!

I'm just subscribing to see what people recommend.  You have a tight budget there. I see about $1300 left over per month according to your numbers.  Clearly the 6.55% student loan debt is not a great rate, but it could be worse.  You are already doing some things to reduce your costs. Good for you.  I suggest you push for that smaller apartment or maybe even look into sharing a house to lower rent/utilities/transportation costs. Try and get closer to work.

I may recommend you ask your brother for a small monthly payment to offset the depreciation on the Focus. $50 ? Either that, or sell it to him slightly below market value. You don't need it.

Cats. Don't replace them if they break. I've seen people go massively into debt to extend a pets life a few months. It's just not worth it, and we should all be prepared for the inevitable consequences of life.

Cable internet.  Are there other wifi networks that you can see from your apartment? Consider tracking down the owner and offering $10 or $20 per month to use their network.

Look for an apartment that includes sewer/water. Here in WI those are covered in rent.

Look into side hustle. Can you tutor? Knit? Flip things on ebay/craigslist? A little extra income here would go a long way.  I'm a career 2nd job bartender. $100-200/ night extra adds up.

You could invest and make more than 6.55% in the indexes (over time).  Regardless of what you do, it's going to be almost like splitting hairs. Best of luck, and post your plan when you develop it.

The house sharing might work if I can find something.

My brother is broke unfortunately, that's why I loaned him the car.

As for the cats, I'm a groomer and I am very adamant about pet care (and pet care is the topic of the blog I'm making). They're considered family members to us, so that's just one of those things that would conflict with who I am and what I do so much that I'm not willing to cut back any further. We do not buy anything unnecessary for them.
EDIT: Just re-read what you posted and realized that I grossly misunderstood. SORRY! I have horrible ADHD and have trouble with reading comprehension sometimes. I agree completely. I'm all for letting go when it's time rather than prolong suffering.

And nope, no wi-fi from neighbors unfortunately. Maybe when we move.

As for some extra income, I'm making a blog and selling a ton of extra stuff we don't need. Who knows? I may get to be so good at it that I can learn how to buy/sell to make a profit. I'm also working on a novel (and laughing at myself for thinking it has any decent chance of making me any money). May have to look into that bartending!

Thanks! :)

You run a tight ship which is a great sign! How do you only spend $250 per person/month on food? I spend about that much for just me, and it's not like I eat a lot... (or maybe I do?)

I have confidence in you two :) You definitely seem to have it together.  Keep throwing everything you can at those loans.  Don't worry about investing quite yet.

I think moving, depending on how much lower you could get rent, would be a wise decision.  Another thumbs up on the side hustle.  Not fun but an extra few hundred a month can go a long way. 

There's a blog out there called "No More Harvard Debt."  I'd suggest you read it when you can.  About a guy who killed his student loan debt, $100K worth, in about 10 months if I remember correctly.  He pretty much outlines everything he did and it's very detailed so maybe you can get some ideas (or inspiration) from him.

Good luck & keep us posted!!!! You can do it :)

Haha, it was MUCH higher before. It was around $500. I don't include any toiletries or anything else I might buy at the grocery store - food only. I make what I can at home from scratch and buy almost everything in bulk. Most of the stuff I can't buy in bulk I get from the Asian Market or Aldi. I'm also not afraid to eat the occasional packet of ramen with some veggies added in. This was very, very hard, but it's gotten to be quite easy (and fun). We're working on making a garden on our porch so we don't have to buy herbs. Might possibly grow a few veggies.

I've bookmarked that blog, but never got around to reading it. Thanks for reminding me!
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 02:17:20 PM by jcelestechau »

thedayisbrave

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2014, 02:15:55 PM »
Quote

Haha, it was MUCH higher before. It was around $500. I don't include any toiletries or anything else I might buy at the grocery store - food only. I make what I can at home from scratch and buy almost everything in bulk. Most of the stuff I can't buy in bulk I get from the Asian Market or Aldi. I'm also not afraid to eat the occasional packet of ramen with some veggies added in. This was very, very hard, but it's gotten to be quite easy (and fun). We're working on making a garden on our porch so we don't have to buy herbs. Might possibly grow a few veggies.

I've bookmarked that blog, but never got around to reading it. Thanks for reminding me!

That's awesome.. I admit, I haven't been great at that lately.  I've done the ol' Ramen + extras trick, and it's surprisingly tasty.  Have you ever tried putting an egg or two in as well? My mom would do that when she made us noodles as kids.  I usually throw in an egg + some spinach and it sometimes feels as if I'm out at some gourmet noodle shop :)

KittyFooFoo

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 02:16:26 PM »
Your situation could be worse.  You're both still young, you don't have kids to worry about, and you have an e-fund plus a tight budget.  At a glance it looks like you're on pace to repay the loans in ~10 years with your current income/expense breakdown.

Your main goal should be increasing your income at this point.  It looks like you're pulling in ~$50k gross between two people.  If you could bump this to like $80+, you will start absolutely pounding these loans to the tune of like $3k/month on your current budget, which will zap your loans in under 4 years.  I'd make my first priority an ongoing search for ways to increase each partner's primary income (doesn't have to be immediate.  the more you work, the more opportunities you'll have), then second priority would be looking for part-time income.

Good luck!

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2014, 02:19:27 PM »
I am curious how your IBR payment is at $0 with your current income? Is that calculation from when you weren't making as much as you are making now? The main reason I am curious is bc I have similar income but I pay over $400/month on IBR. I wonder if that is the difference between being married and being single?

genselecus

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2014, 02:20:26 PM »

Your main goal should be increasing your income at this point.  It looks like you're pulling in ~$50k gross between two people.  If you could bump this to like $80+, you will start absolutely pounding these loans to the tune of like $3k/month on your current budget, which will zap your loans in under 4 years.  I'd make my first priority an ongoing search for ways to increase each partner's primary income (doesn't have to be immediate.  the more you work, the more opportunities you'll have), then second priority would be looking for part-time income.


Big +1
Free time should be spent finding jobs that pay more.

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2014, 02:21:42 PM »
Quote

Haha, it was MUCH higher before. It was around $500. I don't include any toiletries or anything else I might buy at the grocery store - food only. I make what I can at home from scratch and buy almost everything in bulk. Most of the stuff I can't buy in bulk I get from the Asian Market or Aldi. I'm also not afraid to eat the occasional packet of ramen with some veggies added in. This was very, very hard, but it's gotten to be quite easy (and fun). We're working on making a garden on our porch so we don't have to buy herbs. Might possibly grow a few veggies.

I've bookmarked that blog, but never got around to reading it. Thanks for reminding me!

That's awesome.. I admit, I haven't been great at that lately.  I've done the ol' Ramen + extras trick, and it's surprisingly tasty.  Have you ever tried putting an egg or two in as well? My mom would do that when she made us noodles as kids.  I usually throw in an egg + some spinach and it sometimes feels as if I'm out at some gourmet noodle shop :)

I love Ramen with egg. I started soft-boiling them instead of just dropping them in though - I like my whites nice and cooked. I also like my kidneys, so I try not to eat too much of it (What? Use only part of the seasoning packet? Pff... It's all the way or go home!)

unseenstache

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2014, 02:24:15 PM »

Quote
My husband doesn't have time for a second job. I could get a part-time job close to home, but that's easier said than done. There aren't very many businesses that are close enough (much less looking to hire). I take medication that has a lovely side effect which prevents me from sweating (In other words, I'm at high risk of hyperthermia), and unfortunately, we're in 100 degree weather, so travel is a slight issue until we get some cooler weather. I recently left my job for health reasons (not eligible for disability, just so difficult and expensive to work around it that it's not worth it for me to work full time anymore). We found that we spend so much less with me not working that it wasn't worth it to go back. I'm putting together a blog with my professional experience and still networking with other professionals through online communities and trade shows, so hopefully I can make at least some extra income. I'm also getting a lot of our stuff ready to sell, and seeing if there's anymore I can part with.



Reason I ask as others have pointed out.  You seem to have the budget definitely under control.  So, the #1 way at this point to improve eliminating your loans is increase of income.  You guys are definitely on the right track.  Good luck with getting the blog going, that might end up being a good way to generate extra income.

Might want to check out this thread http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/who-has-a-side-gigjob-that-brings-in-extra-cash-share-with-us!/

Weedy Acres

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2014, 02:29:13 PM »
Am I understanding correctly that only your husband is working?  If so, then your biggest lever is figuring out how you can bring in an income, because every dollar you do will decrease your debt.  If you start netting $2000/month (which is not real high), your debt repayment schedule goes from 10 years to 3. 

To be honest it sounds a bit cop-out-ish when you say "there aren't many businesses that are close enough, let alone looking to hire."  Your hair is on fire, and you should be willing to take your car back from your brother so you can drive to a job to pay off this crippling debt load.  What skills do you have, what types of jobs have you/can you work, what type of self-employment gig could you work into?  House cleaning, babysitting, lawn mowing (though I guess the heat would prevent that), tutoring, lots of opportunities.  Watch CL for gigs you could do.  I wouldn't put all your eggs in the blogging basket, as that can be a crapshoot.

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2014, 02:30:30 PM »
Your situation could be worse.  You're both still young, you don't have kids to worry about, and you have an e-fund plus a tight budget.  At a glance it looks like you're on pace to repay the loans in ~10 years with your current income/expense breakdown.

Your main goal should be increasing your income at this point.  It looks like you're pulling in ~$50k gross between two people.  If you could bump this to like $80+, you will start absolutely pounding these loans to the tune of like $3k/month on your current budget, which will zap your loans in under 4 years.  I'd make my first priority an ongoing search for ways to increase each partner's primary income (doesn't have to be immediate.  the more you work, the more opportunities you'll have), then second priority would be looking for part-time income.

Good luck!

Thank you! That is the plan! I will be the first to admit that I have a problem with being a bit of a perfectionist to the point that sometimes I don't act. I have all of these reasons not to do certain things (mainly because of a completely benign health issue that is embarrassing, takes a lot of time to manage through lifestyle, and keeps me from getting regular sleep which puts a damper on my self-confidence). According to my husband they're (mostly) all logical (he's only slightly more hardcore mustachian than I am, so I tend to trust him) reasons that I haven't gone back to a full time job (although I only left last month). Even so, I feel like I'm holding back on the whole income potential.

I am curious how your IBR payment is at $0 with your current income? Is that calculation from when you weren't making as much as you are making now? The main reason I am curious is bc I have similar income but I pay over $400/month on IBR. I wonder if that is the difference between being married and being single?

We made under poverty level when we sent in our application and our renewals. That's almost definitely going to change now. Being married makes a huge difference as well - it increases family size, and since we both have loans, they factor those amounts in as well. I'm not sure of the exact math on how that works, but it is substantially less expensive.

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2014, 02:37:45 PM »

Quote
My husband doesn't have time for a second job. I could get a part-time job close to home, but that's easier said than done. There aren't very many businesses that are close enough (much less looking to hire). I take medication that has a lovely side effect which prevents me from sweating (In other words, I'm at high risk of hyperthermia), and unfortunately, we're in 100 degree weather, so travel is a slight issue until we get some cooler weather. I recently left my job for health reasons (not eligible for disability, just so difficult and expensive to work around it that it's not worth it for me to work full time anymore). We found that we spend so much less with me not working that it wasn't worth it to go back. I'm putting together a blog with my professional experience and still networking with other professionals through online communities and trade shows, so hopefully I can make at least some extra income. I'm also getting a lot of our stuff ready to sell, and seeing if there's anymore I can part with.



Reason I ask as others have pointed out.  You seem to have the budget definitely under control.  So, the #1 way at this point to improve eliminating your loans is increase of income.  You guys are definitely on the right track.  Good luck with getting the blog going, that might end up being a good way to generate extra income.

Might want to check out this thread http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/who-has-a-side-gigjob-that-brings-in-extra-cash-share-with-us!/

Thanks, I will.

Am I understanding correctly that only your husband is working?  If so, then your biggest lever is figuring out how you can bring in an income, because every dollar you do will decrease your debt.  If you start netting $2000/month (which is not real high), your debt repayment schedule goes from 10 years to 3. 

To be honest it sounds a bit cop-out-ish when you say "there aren't many businesses that are close enough, let alone looking to hire."  Your hair is on fire, and you should be willing to take your car back from your brother so you can drive to a job to pay off this crippling debt load.  What skills do you have, what types of jobs have you/can you work, what type of self-employment gig could you work into?  House cleaning, babysitting, lawn mowing (though I guess the heat would prevent that), tutoring, lots of opportunities.  Watch CL for gigs you could do.  I wouldn't put all your eggs in the blogging basket, as that can be a crapshoot.

It is a cop-out to be honest, but I still feel it's reasonable at this stage. It's just one of those things I'm not willing to compromise, at least until I figure things out. However, as personal experience has taught me, maybe I just need time to feel the heat from my fire before my ass gets kicked into action, but I'm not at that point where I feel that that particular avenue would be worth it. I've made so many changes in such a short amount of time that I may just be at my limit for the time being (which doesn't mean that I won't stop trying, of course). Thank you for your insight.

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2014, 02:50:58 PM »
*face punches coming*  Skip post if you're not prepared for a direct comment.

jcelestechau, Do you have a job?  Are you bringing in any money?  Or do you have hobbies?

You are in a hair on fire debt emergency.  I understand that it's stressful, but it will take you 10 years to pay off your debt at the current rate.  And then you can start saving for retirement. Get over your issues.  You're not a perfectionist.  You're too scared to act.  Two different things. 

You (and your DH) took out over $100k for college.  It's time to pay it back.  Stop making excuses.  Start making money.

I'm aware of that point and in the process of remedying it (and I've only been out for a month, this is not a chronic issue). When I said that I was a perfectionist, that is exactly what I was trying to convey - I am terrifed to act for fear of failure and of making things worse. I think you misunderstood the connotation of the word. They're one-in-the-same. Is it rational? Hell no. Does knowing that help? Kind of. I'm still trying to work through it anyway, regardless of my intense discomfort, I just may not be the most efficient at it. While what you say does hit me hard and close to home, I appreciate that you're trying to help. Thank you.

lhamo

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2014, 05:46:30 PM »
You need to get perfectionistic about getting over your perfectionism :)  Seriously, though, I sympathize (I have a strong perfectionist streak myself) but it is NOT helping you.  You need to put yourself in situations where it is ok to fail, and get used to it.  The world doesn't end.  You will probably succeed more than you fail.  Not acting is holding you back and keeping you mired in debt. 

You mentioned you aren't good at working with kids in groups -- what about more one-on-one?  Could you potentially do some babysitting on evenings/weekends to bring in extra cash?  Your ECE degree would potentially be an asset there.  You could also consider offering in-home care or after-school care.  And there would be no conflict between that and developing your blogging.  Also, you could look into getting into the management side of childcare -- larger centers need staff to keep the operations going, not just teachers. 

If you're willing to share more details about what the challenges are with your medical condition, you might find that people here have useful input -- we have several regular posters dealing with a variety of physical and mental health issues, and I always find the discussions of how those issues impact our financial lives to be really supportive and useful.  We're a resourceful/well researched  bunch and might be able to help you think of some strategies or identify some resources for managing your condition that you haven't thought of yet.  In my book there is no real reason to be embarrassed about a physical or mental health condition -- it is what it is and you need to deal with it, why not ask for help/advice. 

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2014, 06:44:11 PM »
You need to get perfectionistic about getting over your perfectionism :)  Seriously, though, I sympathize (I have a strong perfectionist streak myself) but it is NOT helping you.  You need to put yourself in situations where it is ok to fail, and get used to it.  The world doesn't end.  You will probably succeed more than you fail.  Not acting is holding you back and keeping you mired in debt. 

You mentioned you aren't good at working with kids in groups -- what about more one-on-one?  Could you potentially do some babysitting on evenings/weekends to bring in extra cash?  Your ECE degree would potentially be an asset there.  You could also consider offering in-home care or after-school care.  And there would be no conflict between that and developing your blogging.  Also, you could look into getting into the management side of childcare -- larger centers need staff to keep the operations going, not just teachers. 

If you're willing to share more details about what the challenges are with your medical condition, you might find that people here have useful input -- we have several regular posters dealing with a variety of physical and mental health issues, and I always find the discussions of how those issues impact our financial lives to be really supportive and useful.  We're a resourceful/well researched  bunch and might be able to help you think of some strategies or identify some resources for managing your condition that you haven't thought of yet.  In my book there is no real reason to be embarrassed about a physical or mental health condition -- it is what it is and you need to deal with it, why not ask for help/advice. 

While I appreciate the pep talk, you are preaching to the choir! :)

This isn't something that I've resigned myself to and that I refuse to address, and it's never been a chronic pattern for me (I go through cycles of self-loathing and crippling anxiety where I feel like life is impossible, then pick myself and get my shit together. It's all part of the ebb and flow.)

In fact, as we speak, I seem to have a prospective opportunity to do freelance articles for $100 a pop. Considering my track record, that can potentially be a lot of money, and with the obnoxious health issues I was mentioning, I can be making *more money* on those nights that I can't sleep. I've been doing research, and this is something quite feasible. Of course, if it doesn't pan out, there are plenty of other options that may be less than ideal.

My husband and I are also going through our storage closet where we keep all the stuff we're going to sell and realizing that we can potentially make well over $3,000. My old equipment is in very good condition, and I have several pieces that are worth over $500. I kind of wanted to keep some of it, but realized that if we downgrade, I won't have room for it. There's always storage units, but that's so expensive that by the time I had a place for it (or could set up the business I wanted to), I'll have already paid for new tools and equipment! Plus grooming tools are constantly becoming outdated, and I'd want new ones anyway. Might as well sell them while they're hot! I'll post updates on the income from the freelancing and selling extra stuff when I have more info. Very exciting! :)

Thank you for pointing that out about the medical condition. I really would rather have people judge me for that than assume that I'm willfully not reaching my potential. It really does sound petty, and I'd rather not give fuel for others to put me down, but here it goes:

I have IBS that is so severe that I've ended up in the Emergency Room at one point (I've never willingly gone even when I should have before this point). It was assumed that I had IBD (Crohn's or Ulcerative Collitis). IBS isn't really a "disease" since it's a syndrome, but whatever causes those symptoms also seems to be related to my upper GI since I have spasms in my esophagus as well. That doesn't help, because I have a hiatal hernia (very common) and every time I would lift a dog or fight with a dog, acid would come up into my mouth. The pain from both the acid erosion (now under control with zantac, diet, and going through a whole freaking song and dance before laying down to bed) and the spasms (Mostly controlled with a smooth muscle relaxer - this is the medication that gives me trouble with heat) was so bad that my heart rate would spike and palpitate, that they thought I had a heart condition. I did a 24 hr holter monitor test, ekg, ecg, and it showed nothing wrong with my heart. My heart rate averaged around 130 (that has gone down to 90 since I started staying at home).

With the IBS comes the frequent bathroom trips. It's markedly worse at night after I've fallen asleep (hence the belief that it was an IBD since that's atypical of IBS). I rarely sleep for more than a few hours at a time, though that seems to have gotten better since I quit my job as a groomer.

As for the mental illness, I'm more hesitant to go completely into it, so I'm going to stay vague:
I have Asperger's that never got addressed when I was a child (typical story - diagnosed, but my mother didn't want me labeled), which is probably okay because it's not really that bad as I grow older. I started some therapy in college, which helped immensely unlike any other therapy I've ever had. With that, unsurprisingly, I have severe anxiety/PTSD. And probably for the exact same reasons, I have OCD, and every time I get a compulsion under control to a reasonable level, something new pops up. Some of them are quite embarrassing and challenging to deal with. The latest one has something to do with telephones which is a huge part of many jobs. Most people are understanding when they see me acting, well, deranged... but there are plenty of people who aren't. As a result, I don't really like dealing with people or performing. Still did/do it, but I think it's perfectly understandable that I'm not willing to do it constantly.

This combined with negligence at my job (I could and should have called OSHA) as well as our recent car accident brought me to quit. I wasn't actually making very much money when you considered the money I spent putting into it, and the money that I spent on medical treatments that I don't need since I'm not working. I've been scrambling a bit since then since I don't particularly like being idle.

Notice that I'm, in essence, saying that "I won't" "suck it up" and do some of these suggestions, rather than "I can't." I can, but it's, frankly, not worth getting out of debt faster to me at this particular moment in time. However, I'm not sitting around, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for shit to happen. Also, I'm only sharing the medical things to help show a better picture in the hopes that it makes me look like less of a complainypants (frankly, it makes me feel like more of a complainypants to share, especially since all of those issues are very common things that other people have to deal with. I've just never reached an adequate level of coping with them I suppose). I'd appreciate it if they're only treated that way, and ignored if you can't sympathize.

Also, I thought I posted my work history, but apparently didn't. Oops! It was supposed to be at the end of my original post - I think I went to edit it and got distracted. I will fix that in a moment, but in essence, I've taken the one-on-one route with kids and got screwed... severely. I ended up with a child who had developmental delays and, it turns out, is very aggressive when he hasn't taken his meds. Mom wanted to see how he'd do without medication. She did not tell me. She paid me very well, but after having shit thrown at my head and cleaning up broken objects for 12 hours a day, no thank you! I stayed for 3 days. I tried to get another job as a nanny/tutor and every single parent that called for me stood me up. I would drive from an hour away - it happened three times - that left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I'm not doing that.

As for anything in a supervisory role, the OCD and anxiety are usually quite obvious, so I'm unlikely to be considered for that type of position (and I don't blame anyone for that. I don't think I can handle it either.)

I was wanting to use my degree to go to Grad school to go into Child Development research, ultimately to make changes to the process of standardized testing, but there is no way in hell that I'm putting myself further into debt before I control what I've got.

Anyway, sorry for the long rant - I'm very stressed out (and probably over nothing worth stressing over). For now, I'm planning to follow the freelance writer route and see where that takes me.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 06:57:49 PM by jcelestechau »

lhamo

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2014, 07:44:57 PM »
Deep breaths.  You're dealing with a lot. I can see why you are stressed.  My mom has been dealing with similar GI issues, so I definitely sympathize and am certainly not going to judge you.  The freelancing sounds like a good thing to focus on at the moment, while continuing to consider other options for generating income in ways that don't add to your stress (which clearly has negative effects on both your physical and mental health). 

I would not contemplate grad school until you have both your finances and your health issues under control.  Grad school is incredibly stressful, even if you love your subject. 

You've probably already done a lot to modify your diet, but since you didn't mention it I'll just note that eliminating common allergens/inflammatory foods sometimes helps a lot with both digestive and mental health issues.  The big ones are typically gluten, eggs, dairy, nuts, soy and sugar (and one other I can't think of at the moment.  There are also some ways to use various kinds of supplements to address mental health issues -- sometimes more effectively than with typical medications.  I've had good results with using 5-HTP for depression and anxiety.  There is a book called The Mood Cure that you might find interesting.

Good luck with selling off your stuff and figuring out what will work for you.  It is great that your symptoms are easing a bit and that you are finding ways to bring in money.  There are several posters here who are dealing with similar issues (check out scrubbyfish's journal if you haven't already -- she's very open about her challenges as well as her successes and many of us find her incredibly inspirational).

jcelestechau

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2014, 08:18:45 PM »
Deep breaths.  You're dealing with a lot. I can see why you are stressed.  My mom has been dealing with similar GI issues, so I definitely sympathize and am certainly not going to judge you.  The freelancing sounds like a good thing to focus on at the moment, while continuing to consider other options for generating income in ways that don't add to your stress (which clearly has negative effects on both your physical and mental health). 

I would not contemplate grad school until you have both your finances and your health issues under control.  Grad school is incredibly stressful, even if you love your subject. 

You've probably already done a lot to modify your diet, but since you didn't mention it I'll just note that eliminating common allergens/inflammatory foods sometimes helps a lot with both digestive and mental health issues.  The big ones are typically gluten, eggs, dairy, nuts, soy and sugar (and one other I can't think of at the moment.  There are also some ways to use various kinds of supplements to address mental health issues -- sometimes more effectively than with typical medications.  I've had good results with using 5-HTP for depression and anxiety.  There is a book called The Mood Cure that you might find interesting.

Good luck with selling off your stuff and figuring out what will work for you.  It is great that your symptoms are easing a bit and that you are finding ways to bring in money.  There are several posters here who are dealing with similar issues (check out scrubbyfish's journal if you haven't already -- she's very open about her challenges as well as her successes and many of us find her incredibly inspirational).

Thank you so much.

I'm used to being chastised when I mention any of those problems, and your understanding is a huge relief. My husband and I have only read the articles and I've never ventured into the forums, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.

I tried the 5-HTP and did not have very good luck (became passively suicidal and laid in bed "waiting to die," yikes!). We're still experimenting with the diet thing (my husband's a good sport and changes his diet with me even though I'm pretty sure his digestive system is made up of unicorns and other mythical creatures).

My IBS was under control for awhile, but after I got into that car accident it's been acting up. It's most likely from stress.

I don't think I mentioned it, I may have edited it out (sorry if I'm repeating it), but I wasn't able to make eye contact with strangers until I was around 13. I'm very proud (even if I'm very self-conscious) of where I am today in terms of mental health, and only see it getting remarkably better from there. I made it through college Summa Cum Laude and finished my student teaching without any sort of modifications. It was rough, but I actually felt quite functional most of the time.

My various therapists over the years have all mentioned that I have the advantage of being very persistent, so I've definitely been trying to keep that advantage. To the outside viewer I may seem "slow" in my resolve to address my problems, but I'm really slogging through. When I know there's a problem, I never sit passive, so I kind of resent when it's implied that I'm being a victim or that I need to "do something about it." I tend to get lumped in with the term "lazy" when mental health problems come into play.

I will look up that journal later on, thank you! I could always use some inspiration.
EDIT: Read her post about noise sensitivity, and wow... I think that her comments about it and some of the others practically summarize precisely why I won't work with children anymore. I honestly thought I was being a sissy and that with time I'd get more resilient only to find that I got weaker.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 08:51:19 PM by jcelestechau »

lhamo

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2014, 03:50:30 AM »
Checking in to see how you are doing, and also to suggest that you post a comment on scrubbyfish's journal so that she knows you are around.  I think you guys will have a lot to talk about.


begood

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Re: Reader Case Study - Paying Down 117k+ Student Loans
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2014, 06:19:11 AM »
I think "work from home" opportunities sound like a really good option for you. My mom had crippling IBS from the age of 4 on, so I grew up seeing her choose not to go out for fear of having an accident, taking a bedpan with her in the car on road trips, that kind of thing. Stress absolutely increased her symptoms.
 
Are you familiar with a website called Help for IBS? (www.helpforibs.com). It has forums like this one, full of people who live with IBS.

As with everything on the internet, you can filter out what doesn't speak for you or work for you. It should work in conjunction with the care plan you already have in place, not replace it.