Let’s All Throw Some Money at Our Problems: November Check-In

It’s time to check in with our debt payments again. If you’re joining us for the first time, you can read about our decision to publicly keep track of our debt here.

November and December are particularly good times to check in while we’re paying down our debt because these two months are times when we begin to accrue debt—not pay them down. It’s very easy to convince yourself to charge all of your holiday shopping on a card and make a New Year’s resolution to get rid of the debt in 2013. I have a rule for myself that I can only buy gifts with cash or using my debit card—money I know I have to spend. This includes the money I’m spending to fly home for the holidays. I’m also lucky to have family members who don’t expect to receive expensive gifts like iPads or designer clothing. In any case, I believe we can all make it through the holidays without burdening ourselves with more debt. Let’s check in.

Logan is paying off her J. Crew Credit Card, which currently has an APR of 24.99 percent, and a minimum monthly payment of $29.
Oct. 2012 Balance: $282.74
Nov. 2012 Balance: $240.69

I’m paying off one of my Sallie Mae Private Student Loans, with a current interest rate of 4.5 percent, and a minimum monthly payment of $55.
Oct. 2012 Balance: $1,334.69
Nov. 2012 Balance: 1,270.15

Give us your updates below. As always, if you pay off a debt, email me, and I’ll mail you a personal note to congratulate you.


See previous months here.


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USAA Platinum MC; minimum payment unknown because I’ve been paying more than that every month so it says $0
Oct 2012 Balance: $1,321
Nov 2012 Balance: $1,186

I made a goal of getting this bill under $1,000 before the new year, and thanks to an inadvertent double-payment (I bought pants with the card online, schedule an auto-payment to reimburse it on payday, forgot about the payment and paid it again) I think I can make that work!

I also am resolving to only buy Christmas gifts with debit or cash, or with a CC (sorry, that’s what’s saved on my amazon account) if I then promptly apply a payment to the card from my debit account. I think my biggest 2013 resolution will be: no more CC debt.

Dancercise (#94)

@polka dots vs stripes
Woohoo! Congrats on almost making your goal! Getting rid of a digit on the balance is awesome.

Dancercise (#94)

Car loan
October: $11,511
November: $11,315
(Oh, I cannot WAIT to get this one down to 4 digits.)

Credit card
October: $886
November: $800
(Minimum payment is $25, but I’m paying $86/month to pay it off before the interest kicks in.)

Vagabond (#2,747)

Logan if you make another $42 payment this month you’ll be in the 100s! That’s so close to your goal, I can feel it.

maude (#1,988)

I still haven’t been reimbursed travel expenses for a graduate student conference last month, which means my plane ticket is still sitting on my visa (very frustrating, because I won’t be reimbursed for any interest, and the repayment was supposed to happen over three weeks ago). My current work contract is going to run out next month, so I’ll likely slow down my payments after this until I know for sure what my 2013 income will be. It’ll be the holidays, too, so I want to leave a little extra buffer room for unexpected expenses. By this time next year, I’d be really happy if I could have my debt down to well under 10K (fingers crossed).

I’m still really proud of paying down so much of my debt in the past few months, though – thanks so much for setting this space up, Mike! It’s been really motivating.

Visa Classic Low-rate
APR 11.99%
24/10/12: 1,337.76
27/11/12: 757.27

Credit Line
APR 7.49%
24/10/12: 14,210.34
27/11/12: 13,948.22

I have to check what my car balance was here last time because I don’t ever see statements. brb!

10/19 balance: $5830.58
11/27 balance: $5658.36

sunshine@twitter (#2,748)

I am only now joining in, but here we go. Paying off a retail credit card, 24.99 APR, $55 minimum monthly payment.

Oct. 2012 Balance: $1798.72
Nov. 2012 Balance: $1719.17

Not a ton of progress, but progress!

selenana (#673)

It’s my Sallie Mae 3% loan!
Last month’s check in on 10/25: $6676.11
After an extra $100 payment today: $6476.95

Does anyone use the Upromise thing? Is it worth linking/doing?

ThatJenn (#916)

My whole financial situation changed last month! I sold one car, rolled its loan balance into my new loan for my new car (lower interest rate, so even though I had a year to go and rolled it over five years I will actually pay less interest on it), and took what I got from the sale and put it towards a totally unrelated debt, all of which probably makes no sense to anyone else but I don’t care because I feel way better.

Main card:
10/25 balance: $0
11/28 balance: $3,305.79 (embarrassing! I had to do $1500 worth of work on my old car to sell it and put a bunch of sudden life and travel expenses on this and also the taxes and tags for my new car, BUT a large amount will be paid off over the next few weeks. I don’t have a minimum payment because I always pay more than that over the month; if I did it would be about $55)

Home Projects Visa:
10/25 balance: $5,113.68
11/28 balance: $300.00(I’ve paid down $5936.44 since June, and am on track to pay it off TOMORROW; I’m happy with this since it started at $8800+ in February and I was on a 3-year payment plan, and now I’ll pay it off in like nine months and can put that money towards SAVING for my emergency fund, my new biggest goal besides paying down the card above. My minimum payment on this was $222.76 to pay it off over the three year no-interest period, but obviously I’ve been paying more than that.)

Car loan:
10/25 balance; N/A, refinanced since then to add new car loan
11/28 balance: $20,331.76 (I’ve paid down $1660.03 plus interest since June, and am on track to pay it off July 2017, earlier than the December 2017 date originally planned – my minimum payment is $347.55 but I pay $380/month towards it)

10/25 balance: $108,734.80
11/28 balance: $108,479.95 (I’ve paid down $1,268.21 plus interest since June, and am on track to pay it off in April 2037, heh)

So are we still planning to do a similar check-in for savings? Now that I’ve switched focus to that as a goal, it’d be nice. I remember Mike talking about it back in June or July.

I’m actually nervous about posting this because, although I stand by my choices (my old car costs me more than $5k per year in maintenance, and my new one won’t, for instance), I still feel like by these numbers I look irresponsible. Not that it *really* matters if Billfold people think I’m financially irresponsible, but I was just so proud of my progress on those debts and while I think this is all a move forward financially, it is a temporary setback on paper. Urgh.

oiseau (#1,830)

@ThatJenn I like reading about your progress! Weird I know but since you’ve been thoroughly updating since “throw money at your probs” #1, it has been sort of fun to see what happens? idk.. keep it up!

@oiseau @ThatJenn I like your progress too! It’s interesting to see how people make different decisions to resolve their debt.

I would also like a savings check-in, which might force me to more aggressively save than I do now (which is to say, they might force me to save, at all).

eagerber (#1,958)

@polka dots vs stripes Yes yes, I’d also like a savings check-in. It would be interesting to me to hear how people diversify their portfolios and maybe offer some advice on where you can find the best savings rates these days!

Hope you’re reading these comments, Mike Dang et al!

Mike Dang (#2)

@ThatJenn @polka dots vs stripes @eagerber Perhaps we can do both debt and savings in the monthly check-ins. I’m trying to figure out a way to make these things as inclusive as possible.

eagerber (#1,958)

@Mike Dang Awesome! I think it would be useful to have conversations about how we go about saving (and living within our means), saving while also paying off debts, and how throwing money into savings/retirement often feels just as simultaneously fun and un-fun as paying down debts. Also, it’d be interesting to hear what people are saving for… :)

ThatJenn (#916)

@Mike Dang I’m very much in favor of having them combined! It’s silly to think of them as being in separate silos when both majorly contribute to your overall financial picture. In fact, I first started to put my savings details right in that comment, but couldn’t decide if that was too much info (weirdly, this site has made it NOT taboo for me to say “I put $5,000 towards this debt” but somehow it still feels weird to say “I put $500 in savings” and I think adding that check-in here would help).

@oiseau @polka dots vs stripes Good, I’m glad it’s not just me who enjoys my super-long comments. It’s also interesting because there’s a whole game involved in picking what debt or savings pile to throw any extra money at, and how much…

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

I am still paying the minimum on my student loan until I save up a certain minimum on my emergency fund (which should be done by January). The student loan balance, though, is now lower than what I expected it to be. Whoo!

However, I am starting to get frugal fatigue and therefore need to reconfigure the budget to allow for non-necessities.

RachelW (#2,605)

I’m slowly paying off my Gap card and my credit card.

Gap card –
Oct 2012:759.46
Nov 2012:459.46

Credit card –
Oct 2012: 5977.11
Nov 2012: 5477.11

I’m trying to pay $200-300 a month on the Gap card, so I’ll be done with that one in 2-3 months. I started with it up around $1,000. On the credit card I’m trying to pay $200-300 per paycheck, plus whatever is leftover unspent at the end of a pay period. I want to be done paying it down by next fall, but would love to be done with it sooner. I hadn’t made much progress with it in the past year, but I got a substantial raise in August, so now I’m throwing as much money at it as I can. At it’s highest, I owed about $6,500, so I’m making some progress.

I’ve had a rough month and I keep planning trips that make things harder for myself. I did get a second job, but I’ve only worked two shifts so far–but I’ve got a few more lined up this week.

Last month I had just transferred my ~$3000 balance from BOA (12% interest) to Discover (0% for 15 months).

Discover card:
10/25/12: $3421
11/28/12: $3380

Plus I had to get oil for the furnace over the weekend, unexpectedly. I had paid the previous owner of the house several hundred dollars for the oil left in the tank, and I really thought it would last longer than this. I put that on my Bank of America card, the only one with enough credit to take that hit, so that’s now at $933.70.

So my priorities have shifted back to paying off the BOA card. The rent from my roommate for December, plus my second job, should cover half of it, and I can hopefully pay the rest off in January. I want to have it gone by Jan 31.

Vesna@twitter (#2,738)

SO be prepared to want to yell at me:

My credit card debt (my only debt) is less than $2000. In theory, I could pay it off in about 2 months IF I stop putting things on it. I pay off a good chunk of it every payday, but I really like buying things!

I’m the worst, I know.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@Vesna@twitter Don’t feel bad…I’m sitting here going over my budget, and there’s an Amazon ad staring me right in the face, ON THIS PAGE, of the leather boots I’ve been dying to splurge on. They’re taunting me!

(I alleviated the shopping urge by sending the link to my husband with a *hint hint Xmas* note)

@Vesna@twitter Haha I don’t think we’ll yell at you – there’s a reason I only post one card on here. I have a credit card that currently has, uh, more than yours, that I also have the circle of “making a payment, charging more things to it” going on. I made a decision to actively pay down the card I write about here, and once I don’t need to save for a dental procedure (I’ll hit that this week), I’m going to resolve not to charge anything to that other card either.

None of us are perfect debt-paying, emergency-fund-saving, budgeting gurus. BUT, whatever you decide your financial goals are, we’ll support you!

Mike Dang (#2)

@Vesna@twitter @julebsorry @polka dots vs stripes — I love how supportive everyone is here. And yes, no judgment! As long as the debt is going down and not up, you are heading in the right direction and we’re all here to support you. This is the point of the monthly check-in!

ThatJenn (#916)

@Vesna@twitter Yeahhhh that’s much like the first card on my check-in. I did pay it off, last month, but now it’s back up where it was my first check-in back in June for this same reason. We get it! For me, at least, it’s that voice in the back of my head that says “well, I plan to buy [X] anyway, I might as well get reward points on it…”

I had a conversation with my mom (who’s never had any credit card debt and is hardwired to be responsible with money) and my dad (who’s been in credit counseling twice – they’re separate households and have been for 20+ years but friends) recently where she said “I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t just put everything on a credit card every month and pay it off every month, just like I do.” My dad and I spent a little time trying to explain why some people need to go on a cash diet occasionally (see my “no-charge October” last month) to remind themselves of how much money they actually have coming in and going out each month, but it just didn’t make sense to her. I’m… squarely in between their two tendencies. I pay close attention to my accounts and DO always know how much I’m racking up, but can still tend to overspend (though definitely not nearly so much after being bailed out by an inheritance of $20k+ of credit card debt racked up with my ex-husband a few years ago). I wish I had more of my mother in me.

Maladydee (#909)

@Vesna@twitter I feel your pain, I am firmly stuck in that cycle, too. November was a 3 paycheque month for me, so I put the whole extra cheque on my credit card and paid it off completely. For 1 glorious week, I had no credit card debt. (Although there is a line of credit that is making my wallet sad, but anyway.).
But then, all sorts of important stuff that I had been putting off buying (winter boots! Tenant insurance! Non-ripped clothes!) had to be bought and now my card is higher than it was before. Like a yo-yo diet, but with money. It is tough. And yes, some of the things I bought were not strictly necessary, (haircut, glass water pipe, books I have been waiting over a year for) but I am learning new habits and will be strong and get that card paid off again for permanent this time. Just…. It will take time.

annecara (#1,914)

Well, I recently did some math and realized that thanks to cumulative interest, I’ve thrown about $7k at my student loans over the last 2.5 years and actually only paid off $1.5k of the principal. So, I’m going to be making additional payments on those, because, yikes. I’ve got $17.5k left to go, though, so paying them off is going to take awhile.

sea ermine (#122)

@annecara Check with the website where you pay off your loan and see if there is a way to direct payments to the principal, rather thank just the interest. That way the balance lowers and the interest doesn’t get as high because it is being calculated off a lower principal. Also make sure you aren’t on some weird repayment plan, my loan amount is similar to yours and it goes down more each time I pay it than yours does, you want to make sure you aren’t on an interest only repayment plan or something awful like that. Good luck!

annecara (#1,914)

@seaermine Thanks! I did check with the loan company, and the payment goes first to interest and then to principal, and there’s no way to change it because that would mean that they get less money; increasing my payment/making extra payments at least means the principal will get slightly more. However! Once I sign up for direct deposit, which I intend to do this week, I should get a small percentage off the interest. And if I keep up making complete on-time payments for the next six months, I’ll get another larger percentage off some of my loans. So at least there’s that. :)

megsy (#1,565)

I missed last month:
20 sept 2012 $4,685.15
28 Nov 2012 $7,924.20

UGH mine has gone in the opposite direction. I had to put tuition on my credit card in late September ($5000 woot). I also bought a friend an iPad last week because there was an insane discount on campus and she paid me back but the payment hasn’t hit my cc yet.
I hate my CC debt. I’ve even picked up a part time job to help pay down my debt.

3jane (#645)

I have not been posting in the comments (although I am meagerly participating by trying to pay off my $7k-ish credit card debt by paying down the smallest balances first), but I wanted to brag that I used half of my “please don’t quit” bonus to knock $1000 off my highest-interest credit card and raised my credit score five points!

la_di_da (#1,425)

October student load balance: $1,556 at 2.3%
November balance: $1,506

On track to be rid of it by 2015 with the minimum payment, although I might try to be rid of it by next year. After paying off the high interest loans last month though, I think I’m just going to live with this for a while.

jason (#1,335)

My student loans are too astronomical to even think about as one big chunk, so I am just going to update the one I am paying off now. Thanks to IBR being based on last year’s tax returns, the minimum payment is still $0 on all my student loans – I’m going with the avalanche method until my IBR payments actually catch up with my income:

Sallie Mae Graduate Plus Loan, 8.25%
October Balance: $30,107.59
November Balance: $29,050.66

Jellybish (#560)


We now have NO DEBT except our fixed-rate mortgage. I’ve managed to pay our credit cards in full every month this year since about March, and are still saving every month for the kid’s college fund. (We are a dual-income couple in our late 30s.)

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)


annecara (#1,914)

@Jellybish Congrats! :D

Maladydee (#909)

@Jellybish congratulations, that is amazing! :D

IWannaBeKate (#1,323)

I’m working on paying off my J. Crew credit card while paying double the minimums on my Bank Americard and Capital One credit cards. I just put some Christmas-related things on the Bank Americard, but my interest rate on that doesn’t kick in until the middle of next year (one year interest-free), so I’m still feeling pretty good about being able to aggressively pay down a large portion of that so I don’t get hit too hard on the interest.

With November payments:
J. Crew: $190.06 (paying $100 a month – will be done soon!)
Bank Americard: $1,275.32 (paying $50 a month – will snowball the J. Crew amount here when that’s paid off)
Capital One: $1,154.94 (paying $50 a month – will throw any additional here once J. Crew is paid off and Bank Americard is below $1,000)

My parents (very, VERY generously) took on my student loans, which are in the $60k range. They are SO KIND.

hellonheels (#1,407)

I recently realized that every single one of my credit cards was offering 0% APR on balance transfers, so I basically just moved every balance to a different card, paid a small transfer fee for each, and now have no APR on any of them for 12-18 months. I do, however, have a personal loan that I could not transfer anywhere, so I’m now throwing money at that.

October 2012 balance: $4225.82
November 2012 balance: $3285.11

picklefeet (#2,759)

What’s the word on debt consolidation loans? Because I just got one. 3 credit cards at their max and… well. I didn’t know what else to do. I feel good for having a plan, but dumb for letting it get to here.

November 2012: $16,000

lesbian seagull (#2,761)

citibank card
october 2012: $1707.46
november 2012: $1647.10

b of a card
october 2012: $350.93
november 2012: $0!!!

one down, one to go.

Sloane (#675)

Student Loans:
Original Balance (12/2009): ~10K at 7.55% (paid off March 2011) and ~30K at 6.55% (see balances below)
Monthly minimum: $91
October Balance: $4675
November Balance: ~$2560 (I have a payment of $585 going through today, and because EdFinancial is a screwy in how it shows the outstanding interest, I may be off by a couple of dollars).

Car Loan
Original balance: $13K (March 2012)
Monthly minimum: $250
October Balance: $6330
November Balance: $6105

I put about $2000 towards debt repayment every month, in addition to the minimum payments. My original plan was to pay off my student loan in December (with some help from bonus or Christmas money) and then knock out my car loan. But in November, I paid off one of the sub-loans on the student loan, so the monthly minimum payment is now $91 (whereas before it was $156). I’m tempted to move my extra debt payments to the car and pay it off first and then reconsider whether and when to pay off the student loan. The car payment is lower interest (3.9% versus 6.55% for the student loan), so I’ll lose out a bit on the interest payments. I don’t qualify for the interest deduction on my student loan, so that’s not a consideration. But the upside is that I will have a longer history of on time payments on my credit score. I’m generally hesitant to make financial decisions based on my credit score. Bu I’m young and don’t have a mortgage (and I didn’t have credit cards in college) I get hit with lack of credit history and lack of diverse loans, and I’d like to buy a house at some point in the next couple of years (if I don’t decide to go back to school – but that’s another story!). I think that I may be willing to pay $91/month for a while to boost my score. This decision partially depends on my Christmas bonus – I’ll update in December and let y’all know!

joyballz (#2,000)

October CC balance: $478.04
Today: $445.97

faustbanana (#2,376)

I only have one triumph on the books for this month, but it’s a good’un – I paid off one of my CCs! Been throwing any and all extra cash at this one, as it was the only one with a high balance that was actively accruing interest.

Amazon Rewards Visa
APR 18.24%
Balance last month: $943.25
Balance this month: Zero American dollars!

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