Let’s All Throw Some Money at Our Problems: January 2013 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.

I get email from you guys daily, and one of the most frequent questions I get is something along the lines of: “I have extra money, what should I do with it?”

We should all think about what our answer to that question would be. Next fall, some good friends of mine are moving to London. I’d love to be able to visit them after they move. If I had extra money, that’s where I’d dedicate it.

So this month, in addition to paying off debt, I’m adding a savings goal into the mix. I opened up a savings account just for the purpose of saving up for a vacation to visit my friends and put an initial deposit of $50 into it. Let’s see how much it’ll grow by June. What would you like? Start saving for that thing, and check in every month with the total. Let’s get to it!

Logan paying off a Barclay Card, which currently has an APR of 22.99 percent, and a minimum monthly payment of $47.
Dec. 2012 Balance: $1,642.36
Jan. 2013 Balance: $1,424.11

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.
Dec. 2012 Balance: $1,190.42
Jan. 2013 Balance: 1,098.97

Jan. 2013 Vacation Savings: $50

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. I still have a few I need to mail out (you guys have been doing such a great job of paying off your debts that I ran out of notecards!).


See previous months here.


58 Comments / Post A Comment

jasmined (#685)

I have been waiting for this post since, um, last month’s post! I paid off three cards – two store cards, and a Visa. All with embarrassingly low balances that I wonder why I didn’t pay them off sooner.

I think the trick is that I’m not using them anymore, or don’t plan to unless there is a dire emergency that can only be solved by me buying lunch with one of my store cards. In which case, look for me to ask if I can submit that as a guest post in the near future.

ArizonaTime (#2,694)

@jasmined great job! I was thinking about closing one of my never used cards – but turns out having a lot of credit cards doesn’t harm your credit unless you’re abusing your limits. (Commenters correct me if I’m wrong)

jasmined (#685)

@ArizonaTime I’ve read the same thing on the PersonalFinance subreddit about closing cards. I’ll keep my store cards open, and let them age while I work on paying off my remaining cards.

ArizonaTime (#2,694)

Paying off my “I don’t have enough cash to move to New York City loan,” 4% interest and $147 minimum monthly payment.

December Balance: $4,069.48
January Balance: $3,932.86

I also have a vacation fund! One of the Mint.com suggestions I took them up on…I use my high yield (Ally) for emergency savings but have dedicated my Chase Savings for the less necessary vacation fund (aka easier to dip into if necessary).

December fund balance: $1315
January fund balance: $2000 (I REALLY want to take a nice vacation).

jasmined (#685)

@ArizonaTime Ha! I set up my savings accounts this way, too, only I’m using a different bank for my high yield account. And I’m *way* behind on emergency savings, unfortunately.

kellyography (#250)

I actually just made my last student loan payment last night. I just have to wait for it to go through and double-check some figures, but the staggering amounts are about like so:

original Sallie Mae loan balance: $46,000 (which is insane, I thought I had about half of that out in loans. I am still not sure it is correct.)

amount I have paid on said loans in the past 6 years: about $53,000 (which is nuts, because that equals about half of the money I have earned for the past 6 years.)

I also had about $11,000 out in a MO Education loan, but I paid those off a little while ago, and again, have to re-check those figures. I guess I didn’t get as good of a deal on college as I thought I did. It still feels somewhat good to be entirely debt-free and able to really start saving.

chic noir (#713)

@kellyography *does happy dance* congrats kellyography:)

jasmined (#685)

@kellyography Congratulations!

terrific (#1,532)

I actually paid off a credit card!!!! Having that $40 a month free is so nice, and only one more to go (granted, one I can’t afford to throw money at for a while…). But I feel so successful!

Chase “Freedom” (ugh) card, 13.24% APR
Dec ’12: $1,930
Jan ’13: $1,870

Savings account! I’m saving up for my next move in April. I need about $3,500 to be happy, but I’ve got a big bonus and a huge tax refund coming my way so I should be good.

Dec ’12: $1,786
Jan ’13: $1,850

ThatJenn (#916)

@terrific In like no time at all, you’ll have more money in your savings account than you have in CC debt, which to me is always the most awesome transition ever (besides, of course, having zero debt).

highjump (#39)

@ThatJenn That really is a great feeling! Positive net worth!

terrific (#1,532)

@highjump @ThatJenn Well, this doesn’t include my $29,000 student loan debt… but hey! Progress!

highjump (#39)

@terrific Oh I don’t like to include the student debt. Maybe I’ll start thinking in those terms when it is a little less depressing. I did recently have the milestone of having my annual salary be higher that my outstanding student loan debt, which was exciting for me.

julnyes (#2,807)

After calculating the difference in my debt (Snowball vs Avalanche) I changed my strategy and decided to start on the lowest balance instead because they all carry high interest. I have been putting so much of my money to the larger bill that I was leaving myself cash poor and having to rely on my cards between checks which defeated the whole point. I haven’t had to use my CCs this month since I changed my payment plan.
Anyway … new numbers!

Barclays Mastercard
December 899.23
January 862.45

I also started a new savings account at a Credit Union and I am depositing money following the “52 Week Money Challenge” but in reverse
December 2012: 0.00
January 2013: 153.00 now (202 by the end of the month)

Well I was making progress on my credit card and then my car needed a new battery and I needed to pay copayments at lots of doctor appointments/buy medication, so now I’m not.

Dec 2012 Balance: $1100 ish
Jan 2013 Balance: $1426

I stopped doing the Friday estimates/Monday check ins because my estimates were always way, way off (I have a very poor idea of how much things should cost), and I felt like I was publicly shaming myself for either estimating wrong or going over what I had planned (when really I had usually just forgotten to mention it on Friday) and it was not making me feel good about myself. I’m starting to feel shame-y about this too, but I think I’ll suck it up and maybe shame myself at the register and not spend money instead??

I’ll try that out for a few months and let you know how it goes.

But! Savings
Dental emergency fund: $40
After the check I sent today gets deposited: $72

ThatJenn (#916)

@polka dots vs stripes Honestly, good on you for stopping doing things that make you feel bad. Also, emergencies come up and sometimes that means you have to increase your credit card balance. It happens. You are clearly working on it. :)

chic noir (#713)

I have the following credit cards I am paying off and closing up:

Neiman Marcus 175.00- I got champagne taste and beer money. I just like having this card to be truthful. I’m resistant to closing it. The “brand got me y’all.

Victoria Secret 699.00 – the half yearly sale is a monster. I added 150 bucks to the previous balance.well at least I’m getting a rewards card for ten bucks *snort*.

Cap1- 424.00- but with 24% interest. Bill be gone.

I hope to have all of these cards paid off by April 1st bar any extreme emergencies. I shall rely on my Discover moving forward.

Sloane (#675)

I paid off my loans in December (yay!). But now I’m in that weird place where I’m adjusting – moving money that previously went toward debt payments to savings, setting up an auto-withdrawal on my brand spanking new Roth IRA, and getting serious about sinking funds for irregular purchases. So, yeah, I have stuff to do and take care of, but it’s nothing that I can see any progress on. I guess that’s the thing about personal finance – you have to do the right stuff (spend less than you earn, be responsible about debt, etc.) even when you can’t see the progress. Blerg.

Well, anyway, enough sobbing. My big financial goal for 2013 is to fund my emergency fund. Because I’m a pretty cautious and conservative person, I want a fund that’s well-padded, so I’m aiming for 15K. I’m considering some life changes at some point in the next couple of years, so the emergency fund will double as a fuck off fund. If I hit my target for the efund, I’l like to start a little taxed investment account. But that’s definitely not a priority.

So far this year:
E-fund: added 1800 for a total of 3100.
I have sinking funds for car insurance, renter’s insurance, running shoes, travel, pilates class card, and large medical expenses. Total for them is about 1400, and I’ve deposited about 500 in those funds this month.

Dancercise (#94)

Woohoo! Congrats on paying off the loans! And good luck getting settled.

Dancercise (#94)

Well, yesterday I applied to refinance my car loan, so I should find out soon how that turns out. I’m hoping for a payment of less than $200/month so I can throw the extra $50 into savings. But as it currently stands…

Car loan
December: $11,123
January: $10,929
Minimum payment is $233, but I’m paying $250. Interest is 6.99%.
Hoping to have around 3% interest in the refinance.

Credit card
December: $711
January: $687
Minimum payment is $25, but I’m paying $89/month to pay it off before the 0% APR intro rate dies in August.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Dancercise Good luck with your refinancing! How much longer will you be paying on it with the refinance, or is that also still a mystery?

Dancercise (#94)

Thanks! If all goes as planned, it’ll only be 6 months longer. I have 54 months left on my current loan, and I applied for a 60 month loan.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Dancercise Not bad! I hope it goes well.

ThatJenn (#916)

Main card:
12/21 balance: $3,468.78
1/23 balance: $1,245.56 (See below; this is matched by a decrease in savings of almost the same amount, but I felt it was worth it for my anxiety levels)

Home Projects Visa:
Still zero! I paid it off last month and I was going to delete this line but I’m still super happy about it, so I’m leaving it.

Car loan:
12/21 balance: $19,968.71
1/23 balance: $19,238.92 (I’ve paid down $2,752.87 plus interest since June, and am on track to pay it off May 2017, earlier than the December 2017 date originally planned – my minimum payment is $347.55 but I pay $380/month towards it, and this month I actually ended up paying more through a complicated thing that even I deem too boring for my own comment)

12/21 balance: $108,224.50
1/23 balance: $107,968.44 (I’ve paid down $1,779.72 plus interest since June, and am on track to pay it off in April 2037, BUT this month I am hitting a big milestone: my February payment will be more than half towards the principal and less than half towards the interest for the first time since I bought the house almost six years ago!)

Savings goal:
12/21 balance: $1706.24
1/23 balance: $408.19 (I withdrew a bunch last week to pay down the card above because it was freaking me out too much, alongside my partner’s 1/3 pay cut a couple of weeks ago, to leave the balance so high. But it’ll get another deposit tomorrow and I’ll be heading in the right direction again!)

Quinn A@twitter (#1,008)

Watching huge debts (mortgage, car loan) go down very slowly is anxiety-inducing rather than cheering for me, so I don’t keep track of those here. I’m staying on top of my bills and that’s all I want to know about that! But I am going to start keeping track of my savings goal.

Wedding/honeymoon savings:

January: $481.50

Goal: a minimum of $10k by summer of 2015, though I hope we won’t need the whole $10k.

@Quinn A@twitter I don’t track my student loan debt for that reason, I look at that bill every 6 months to make sure my direct debit is working correctly and that’s it. I track my credit cards to hopefully encourage me to use them less but that goes and up and down so…maybe I’ll move towards just tracking my savings.

orangezest (#317)

Yay! I threw some serious money at my problems for last month, so super happy to check in on it.

Paying off my Chase Freedom card; 22.9% interest (I KNOW. I DON’T KNOW HOW.)
December 2012 balance: $977.34
January 2013 balance: $517.81

Another month or two and it will have bit the dust. Hoorah!

ThatJenn (#916)

@Emma Peel Nice, you cut it almost in half in a month! (A usually-expensive month, at that!) I’m happy for you that it’ll be gone soon.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

“(you guys have been doing such a great job of paying off your debts that I ran out of notecards!).”

Doesn’t Mike sound like the proudest Papa?

RadScientist (#3,081)

I have been reading (and loving) the Billfold since it began, but I have only just gotten up the nerve to participate! A year ago, I moved back to the US, was unemployed for four months, and then found a new job in a new city, and with the whole expensive endeavor, I went into debt for the the first time ever. Which I found super stressful (thank you billfold, for giving me a place to read about other people with similar issues:). So here it is:

Discover card (0%APR that ends in april):
April 2012 balance: $4750
December 2012 balance: $2333.98
current balance: $1499.98
I’m really hoping to get this paid off before the interest goes up! And my savings goal is to go to South Africa this September, which will cost mucho bucks.
Dec. 2012 savings: $971.24
current balance: $1091

pawnknee (#2,911)

@RadScientist South Africa is pretty cheap! Once you get there, of course. The flight is a killer. Good luck saving, the trip will be amazing!

eagerber (#1,958)

I am juuuuuust about done paying off my car loan. Thanks to joining SitterCity about two weeks ago, I have not one but TWO babysitting jobs this weekend. I’m looking to take that extra “side-job” money and put it towards paying off my car loan once and for all this weekend. My goal was to have it paid off by the end of January, and it looks like it’s gonna happen!

USAA Car Loan: monthly payment $205.97, interest at 4.69%
September 1, 2012: $3,576.36
December 1, 2012: $795.11 (this was after putting alot extra towards it through an awesome 3rd job)
December 20, 2012: $485.40
January 23, 2013: $62.27

Fun Savings:
December 20, 2012: $420.30
January 23, 2012: $484.44
I’m saving up for InvisAlign through my ImpulseSave account. I’m throwing $14/wk towards it, and toss another $2 here and there for the days I bring coffee to work from home rather than buy it. I need $1,500 for the initial payment, so that’s what I’m working towards first. (The next payments are $1,000, then $500, then a final $500). I’ll probably increase my weekly contribution a bit once I have my car title in hand…

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

@eagerber Hi! I joined SitterCity as well and am glad to ehar that someone else is having a positive experience with it. I have hesitated to complete the full profile (background check which obviously any parent would want) because I was not sure how likely it would be that I would find job. I hate to pay to get work. (if that makes sense. I love tutoring and have the education to back it up so it was a logical next step.

eagerber (#1,958)

@Runawaytwin Hey! I highly recommend the background check. It’s only $19.99 and is good for six months. I wasn’t getting any response until after I got it. One note about it: make sure your given name is the name you use on your profile, otherwise the background check will come back “failed,” which, of course, shocked me. After I got off the phone with both LexisNexus and SitterCity, we cleared up that problem. My profile now says “Elizabeth” instead of “Liz” and I’m no longer in a “failed” status.

Also, go ahead and apply to as many jobs as possible. I’ve interviewed now with four families but applied to probably 45 jobs or more. (I’ve stopped counting.) Two of the families I interviewed with said they had responses from over 30 sitters. So the competition can be stiff! 3 of the four families have hired me; still waiting on the 4th to get back to me (they’re still consulting my references).

Good luck! :)

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

@eagerber THank you so much for the information! That really helps. I don’t know why but I am nervous about the idea of putting myself out there for that kind of work (and yet I have a full time corporate job). I will be sure to follow your advice!

eagerber (#1,958)

@Runawaytwin No problem! And I feel the same way. My weekend job just suddenly ended, so I was like, ahhh, how do I quickly continue making some side-money, besides waitressing, bartending, or barista-ing (all of which I’d done in the past)? And then I remembered babysitting, and so far the experience has been great. I’m finishing up my thesis this semester, so it’s equally beneficial for me in that arena as well — getting paid to finish my thesis! Plus it forces me to cutback on my weekend night life, ha. Which of course helps my wallet, too. :)

eagerber (#1,958)

@Runawaytwin And yeah, it felt a little weird at first filling out my profile. I was like, oh what are my baby skillsets again? RIGHT. And it’s nothing all like my real resume! :)

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

@eagerber Exactly! I am kind of in the same boat. Last year I had a very lucrative freelance job in addition to my regular one. While I was smart and saved some of the money- I did become accustomed to having it available. Now that the project is gone- I feel like I took a huge pay cut. I considered the serving or part time retail work but it seemed much less promising than something I can do from home (or a home). Especially given that I’m just doing it for “extra”

I also concur that not going out as much will be a double win of making money and not spending it on drinks and cab fare!

Thanks again

endofherleash (#201)

I vary my payments on assorted debts month to month so I’ve never gotten into participating in the monthly check ins, but I recently started using ImpulseSave after seeing it mentioned on here and I’m so excited! This will be my first time with an actual dedicated savings account/plan, so hopefully it works for me.

My boyfriend and I hope to move in September which is always expensive and exhausting. My goal for the associated deposits and moving costs is $4000, and with the help of a big tax refund that’s coming and weekly autosaves of $30 (plus any random saves I do for the general satisfaction), I think I’ll be in good shape by August.

December 2012: $0
January 24, 2013: $80

selenana (#673)

Still paying my Sallie Mae 3% loan
Last month’s check in: $6271.98
This month: $6173.05

Hmm. Making an extra savings account is kind of a hassle for me. I also don’t budget much and go a lot by feel, which maybe isn’t the best but if I feel like I can’t afford a vacation I don’t take one. I guess I could put some ducats in a cracker box under the sofa.

RachelW (#2,605)

I paid off my Gap card! And I haven’t used it since. However, I did get a bit off track with my credit card over the holidays:

Oct 2012: 5977.11
Nov 2012: 5477.11
Jan 2013: 5719.36

What I’m working on is not paying so much towards the credit card that I then run out of money and have to use the credit card… Oh, and I put $200 into a savings account! So, some good, some bad.

notpollyanna (#2,841)

So exciting! In December, I had three student loans totaling $57k and in January I paid off the smallest one, the one I was snow-aiming at, with ~$4500. Woo! Now I have two student loans totaling ~$53k. And my monthly payments are only $370! They were $870 when I started paying (4 loans, $106k, 2008)!

This month I did the math and decided I can finally afford to start the book conservation diploma I’ve been aiming for. It is a low-residency sort of thing: six workshops, each one or two weeks, mostly in Telluride, CO, homework between workshops, and big final projects once I complete the workshops. I have four years to complete ten weeks worth of workshops, so I have to budget both time off work and money (travel, tuition, tools, boatloads of leather and paper and such). Now, instead of throwing all my leftover money and not-factored-into-budget money (tax refund, third paychecks, gifts) at my loans, I will be splitting it between loans and savings for the expenses of my book conservation diploma. THAT is what I am doing with my money.

So excited!

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

So glad you’re doing a savings addition now Mike! A Hannukah Windfall enabled me to pay off all my credit card debt (not gonna total it here–it wasn’t the best but it also wasn’t an insurmountable debt, I could have paid it off over the course of 6-8 months but HOORAY HANNUKAH WINDFALL) and my tax return will enable me to pay back my debt to my boyfriend, who covered some things for me during a period of funemployment. He’s in school now with student loans so I’m happy to be returning to him money he needs, especially since he was so generous with it when I needed the funds. That said, I am now in SAVINGS mode. I have a Roth IRA that my mom started for me as my high school graduation present when I was 18 and I have a Simple IRA through work, so my retirement savings already have a good start. I need to work on the whole 6 months emergency saving, save for a down payment on a car, and then save for fun things like vacations and presents. Any advice on which to focus on or how to do all three at once? Would you recommend splitting these into separate accounts? If so, what bank/place/thing would you do? My retirement funds are in Fidelity so I could presumably open a savings account or two there, or would you recommend going with something like ING or Ally? I know you’ve written posts on this before BUT, these things can never be repeated too many times. Additionally, where did you open your vacation savings account and other than placing money in it when you can, do you have plans for making it grow more?

Very excited for a Year of Savings especially after being in post-funemployment credit card debt for a year. I’m going to officially start with the next paycheck in terms of opening a new account (or two or whatever) somewhere but for now I’m making sure there is some money untouched so that I can start building!

joyballz (#2,000)

@TheDilettantista I’m a big fan of the multiple savings accounts. I need the purpose to be clearly stated in the online banking name so I don’t dip into it unnecessarily. Right now I have one for bills since I pay my roommates back every 3 months. I have another for vacation and another for weddings for the year. And I started an emergency fund and named it “What Would Mike Dang Do?” and haven’t withdrawn from it yet. Renaming them helps.

And I use ING for savings but they’re switching to Capital One as we speak so I can’t endorse how that change will go. Maybe look into Ally?

Sloane (#675)

@TheDilettantista Yay for windfalls! I’m debt free thanks to end of the year bonus, and now I’m focusing on savings too. I’ve had ING for a long time, and their interest rates are slightly lower than some, but not enough to convince me to move. I use savings accounts for stuff that I’m going to buy in the next year or so. I may look into investing at some point for purchases that are further off. I’ve got something like 5 accounts other than my emergency fund – car insurance, renter’s insurance, travel, bike savings, and savings for large, irregular expenses that I can’t predict (medical, pilates, running shoes, etc.). I try to amortize the cost annually, and put that amount into my savings each month. In other words, renter’s insurance is $220/year, so I put $10 in my account each month and budget $10/month. That way when the bill comes around, my budget and the corresponding cash can absorb the cost.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@joyballz My mother (the wise woman who started that Roth for me) is a tax attorney and does estate planning, so I’m asking her for advice too. She and Mike Dang, my financial gurus. But thank you for that suggestion, I very much like files and folders and labels and special places for each thing so I think the multiple accounts will likely be the way I go. I love that you call yours What Would Mike Dang Do. I will likely call mine that too. I think that Mike Dang might single-handedly change how our generation looks at money maybe (ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!)

Wish I’d had a wedding fund last year, but since this year looks like it will have THREE WEDDINGS ALREADY (and I’m likely to get engaged soon yay) I should probably just go ahead and start one anyways. At least two of those weddings will not involve travel costs or hotels, so that’s good.

joyballz (#2,000)

@TheDilettantista Definitely start one! It felt so good to be able to quickly replace the cost of gifts, bachelorette parties, travel, etc. when I had paid from my checking account.

highjump (#39)

Terrible Visa that I once paid off and then fucking maxed out this summer/fall due to poor decision making!
December Balance: $4,482
January Balance: $2,736

My payoff goal is April 1st, which should work out if I stop going to the bar so damn much.

kristindru (#2,477)

car loan (3.1%)
december balance: $7,000
january balance: $6,661

i am trying to figure out right now if i should pay off my car loan sooner, or one of my smaller student loans ($3,999 4.5%ARP). my car payment is about $200/month and the loan payment i am making is $87. i just can’t seem to wrap my head around how i have been paying my $80K in student loan debt for 3 whole years and in total i still have $77,000 to pay. i know it’s something called interest but come on! go away loans!

lisaf (#3,089)

student loans (at 5.5%)
Dec balance: $17,221.91
Jan balance: $16,389.72

la_di_da (#1,425)

Student Loan (LAST ONE!)

December: $1,458 at 2.3%
January: $1,406.73

Savings! I set up an emergency fund with (apparent commentator favorite) Ally Bank. I need 12k, and because of various weddings I have to go to this year, I’m starting it off slowly at $250 a month.

January balance: $2,905.90. –>25% complete!

sockhopbop (#764)

Jumping in with Gob and Co. for the first time!

I’m concentrating on paying off the student loan with the highest interest rate, which I’ve whittled down from an original balance of about $9000. My goal is to get it gone by the end of 2013 (if not sooner)!

Student loan, 7.9% interest rate
Dec balance: $4500 (rough estimate, my online payment history doesn’t make it easy to see the exact numbers)
Jan balance: $4312

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

I need help with savings! I am lucky that I have no debt, but I just can’t seem to save money. I have no idea how this happened. I keep getting raises at work and I keep…spending every last cent. I have a wedding to go to in May in NOLA. My plane ticket alone is going to be $500. My tax return is on its way and my goal is to save about $1000 by May. Wish me luck, dudes.

selenana (#673)

@aeroaeroaero Good luck dude!

pawnknee (#2,911)

Main cc December balance: $1382
Main cc January balance: $150
One tiny payment on this card left and then I am free, woo hoo!

Computer cc December balance: $2830
Computer cc January balance: $2800
Next month I begin paying this off in earnest.

New cc December balance: $825
New cc January balance: $1537
But I can explain! The majority of the new balance is work expenses I’ll be reimbursed for. I should have this down to $0 by March.

I’m new to this! Paying off my Australian credit card, which I used for NYC rent for the first 6 months I lived here (ouch currency conversion & cash advance fees) and am now only allowed to use in emergencies (and as “health insurance” which I don’t have). I’m paying the minimum $102 a month.

Jan 2013: $5122.38

gidgetjones (#3,141)

I would like to join in! This site gave me panic, then hope, then realism (I actually bothered to parse out daunting CC debt – monthly payments = years to pay off.
So, January 2013: $19, 767.95
Interest rate: 6%
Goal: To increase available line of credit to $3,000.00 by year’s end – not for use but for a cushion. Also, less debt.

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