Paying Down Debt – October 2015

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the bright idea to start running to stay in shape {this is going somewhere . . . I promise}.  The problem with said idea is that I am a horrible long distance runner.

Like, seriously.  It’s pathetic.

My good friend Rachel {a runner} offered to be my mentor for the Turn-Courtney-Into-a-Runner Project and offered to go with me on my first few treks.

Bless her heart.  She’s a sweet one, that Rachel.

For our first jog, we decided to only do a mile.  Piece of cake, right?

Yeah.  I think I died.

I had honestly never run that far before in my life.

Sweet Rachel {left} and me at our junior formal in college.

Sweet Rachel {left} and me at our junior formal in college.

As we were running this 1-mile course she had mapped out, I’ll never forget when I realized we were approaching a small hill.  It seemed impossible to tackle.  At that moment Rachel said, “Okay, Courtney.  We’re going over the hump . . . literally and metaphorically.  Not only are we going up a hill, but this is the halfway point.  Get past this and it will be smooth sailing.”

She was right.  Once we got past the half way point—once we got over that hill—it seemed so much easier.   It wasn’t as daunting.  I had this.

What a metaphor for life.  When we start a task, it can seem so intimidating, but if we can just get over that “hump,” the rest of the journey seems doable.

I am proud to say that this past month we were finally able to get over the “hump” in our debt-free journey.  We are now over half way there!!!!

Click here to see our new balance.

You have no idea how refreshing it feels to see the “amount paid” be a higher number than the “amount owed.”

During the month of October, we were able to pay off $3,012.  Here is what we did this past month to make extra money to put toward the student loans:

  • I was a line judge for several volleyball games
  • I was a home bound teacher for a student with cystic fibrosis for over a month
  • Randy has continued working with his Promise Painting & Contracting business in addition to teaching
  • I supervised the ACT test on a Saturday morning
  • We were under budget in several other categories of our finances, so that extra money went to the debt
  • I supervised several detentions on Saturday mornings
  • Bondbons had a record-breaking month in sales—thanks to a local bakery who has started referring us when their customers ask for cake pops.  That has been a major blessing.

October was exhausting, and there were many times I wanted to give up, but seeing that balance drop below the half-way point recharged me again.  What’s really exciting is that with every payment, more and more is going to principle while less and less wastes away with the interest.  Two years ago, $358 was going just to interest every month.  Now only $176 is going to interest each month.  That’s a difference of $179/month!  Getting over “the hump” has allowed us to gain more and more momentum.

Our next goal is to get under $40,000.  Stay tuned for December to see if we’re able to hit it.

Oh, and as for running . . . I’m still horrible.  I think for now I will stick to just paying off debt.  😉

Love

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Paying Down Debt – September 2015

It was almost exactly two years ago when Randy and I took our first Financial Peace University class.  We entered into that room as a hopeless married couple who was $82,000 in debt {and that number doesn’t even include our mortgage!}.  Two years later, we have paid off almost half of those awful student loans.

Click here to see our new balance.

I was so so hoping that this would have been the month we hit the halfway mark, but we didn’t quite make it.  We should, hopefully, get to that point next month.  I’m still proud to say that we were able to pay off $2,637 in September.   

Here is what we did this month to go above and beyond our regular payments:

  • I had an above average month in profits from selling Bondbons {if you placed an order, thank you!}
  • I supervised a detention on Saturday morning {no, it’s not like the Breakfast Club}
  • Randy did a few side jobs of auto and house repair
  • Our gas bill was $60 less than usual {every little bit helps}
  • We {kind of} refinanced on our house {it’s a long story . . .}, and we were able to use money we did not have to pay for the month and apply it to the debt
  • There are several other odd jobs we did {such as line judging, teaching cake pop classes supervising the ACT, and being a home bound teacher}, but we haven’t been paid for them yet.  An update on those next month.

My sweet husband has worked like a dog this month, but unfortunately his construction business has not been profitable for us due to many factors out of his control. Luckily he has a steady income with teaching and the construction is just supplemental. This has obviously been quite frustrating to us, but I have faith that October will be a better month.

I want to mention that if we just worked our teaching jobs, we would be able to pay off about $1,000 a month.  That’s not good enough. To pay our debt off faster, we have to do some major overtime. We have to be intentional.  We have to cut a lot of luxuries out of our life.  We have to watch every penny.

I don’t share what we do and how we pay extra to brag.  I share this each month to show the masses that this is possible.  Hopefully this is an encouragement and inspiration.  If you look for opportunities, are willing to work, and live below your means, you will be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish.  Between teaching full time, being a mom, a wife, a small business owner, a volunteer, and working extra jobs, I get about 5 hours of sleep a night.

I love my sleep, but right now, I love seeing the balance of our debt go down more.

Stay tuned for our next update on November 1st.

Love,

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Paying Down Debt – August 2015

August is hard, friends.

That’s when school starts back up, and since everyone in our house is either a teacher or a student, August means we have to readjust to a life of packing lunches, lesson plans, homework, carpooling, grading, learning new names, and actually showering on a regular basis (I speak the truth, people).  All that sucks up a majority of our time, which doesn’t allow for much money-making to throw at our debt (or for me to blog, which is why it’s been awhile, sorry).

Our required minimum payment for the student loans is $400/month.  With what we budget, we typically pay down at least $1,000/month.  In the midst of going back to school, this month we were still able to pay off:

$2,541.  

You can check out our current balance here.

Not bad.  I will be honest, though.  Even though that is a lot, it’s hard to see those numbers compared to last month.  Those numbers are also not going to get us to our goal to be debt free by January 1, 2017.  That means we’re going to have to kill it going forward.

Here is what we did in August to pay down our debt:

  • I made a decent profit through my Bondbons business.
  • My husband put in many hours with his Promise Painting and Contracting Business.
  • I was paid for a few cake pop classes I taught at Sweet! in July.
  • We discovered an issue with our home security system and received a credit.
  • I was paid for working on a curriculum committee through my school district over the summer.
  • We budgeted earlier in the summer to visit my parents in Ohio.  We ended up spending way less than what we allotted, so the leftover money went toward the debt.

I also wanted to touch on our compound interest.  It’s the devil when it’s working against you. When we got serious about paying off our student loans nearly two years ago, we were paying $10.93 just in interest PER DAY.  Today, our daily interest is $6.61.  In two years that is a difference of:

$4.30 PER DAY

$129.60 PER MONTH

$1,576.80 PER YEAR

I delight in the fact that less and less of our hard-earned money is going toward interest and more and more is paying down that principal.

Stay tuned for our next update on October 1st.

Love,

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Paying Down Debt – July 2015

You guys,

I’m pretty pumped.  This July was probably the most productive month we’ve had since we’ve gotten intense about paying off our debt.  On average, we typically pay down about $1,000 a month, but this month we killed it.

We paid off $4,561.

Whoa.

You can check out our debt snowball progress here.

We also finally got our balance below $50,000 for the first time ever.  If you haven’t read our full debt story yet, $50,000 was Randy’s original student loan amount when we married in 2004.  After denial + accruing interest {that grew an additional $26,000} it took us 11 years to get our debt back down to that original amount.

ELEVEN YEARS.

Isn’t that dumb?

If we would have tackled our debt back then, we wouldn’t be in this situation.  All we can do now is push forward so we don’t have this regret in the future.

So . . . how did we have such success this month?  We made some smart moves and worked our tails off.  Fortunately we are both teachers and have extra time this summer to do so.  I usually catch up on my sleep during the summer.  Not this year.

Here is what we did to put such a huge dent in our debt this month:

  • I taught summer school for a month.
  • My husband put in about 70+ hours a week with his Promise Painting & Contracting business.
  • We both supervised the ACT test on a Saturday morning.
  • We were able to lower our monthly home security bill {money saved applied to debt}.
  • Our kids didn’t have piano lessons for the month {money saved applied to debt}.
  • I changed one of my checking accounts.  This account grew interest, but I had to keep a minimum balance of $500.  With the interest rate now only 0.01%, that means it only grew about one cent/month.  So . . . I had $500 just sitting there to gain $0.12/year? That makes zero sense.  I called the bank and switched to a non-interest earning account and put that $500 toward the debt.
  • Randy fixed a couple of cars for people {he used to be a certified mechanic}.
  • We had a garage sale.
  • I taught several cake pop classes. 
  • I was fortunate to get a lot orders for my Bondbons business—including a large wedding this month.

Pretty monogrammed bondbons for a July wedding

Pretty monogrammed bondbons for a July wedding

Phew.  There were some nights I was up until 2:00 AM dipping bondbons in chocolate with tears in my eyes—wanting to give up.  Then I see results like that and it reminds me that it will all be worth it.

Stay tuned for September 1st for our next update.

Love,

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