Let’s All Throw Some Money at Our Problems: February 2013 Check-In

We’re nearing the end of the month and 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.

We’ve also decided to start checking in with our savings goals as well. So if there’s something you’re saving for—a vacation, a nice pair of shoes, a wedding, a down payment—you should start tracking it here as well.

Logan’s paying off a Barclay Card, which currently has an APR of 22.99 percent, and a minimum monthly payment of $47.
Jan. 2013 Balance: $1,424.11
Feb. 2013 Balance: $1,377.18

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.
Jan. 2013 Balance: 1,098.97
Feb. 2013 Balance: 1,010.01

Jan. 2013 Vacation Savings: $50.00
Feb. 2013 Vacation Savings: $100.00

And as always, if you pay off one of your debts, email me your address and I’ll mail you a card to congratulate you (I know I have a few outstanding ones to send out—they’re coming!). And if you hit your savings goal, I’m happy to send you one as well.


See previous months here.


99 Comments / Post A Comment

sockhopbop (#764)

I’m still cracking away at my ridic 7.9 percent GradPLUS loan:

January balance: $4312
February balance: $4000

I’m also trying get $10,000 in my savings account, because I’ve decided (somewhat arbitrarily) that that’s a number that seems like a good cushion if you want to move to a cool new city without a job. I’d love some Billfold-y opinions on that, actually? It might be somewhere expensivo like NYC or San Francisco, but it also might be somewhere a bit cheaper…

February balance: $6,295
(but may go down because my checking account is slim pickings)

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

@sockhopbop Ahhhhhhhh I’d say $10,000 to move to SF with no job sounds about right. Move-in costs (even for a sublet) can run you around $3000-$4000 dollars right now. HOWEVER, the job market is not at all horrible here (especially if you work in tech). Good luck on your move and your savings!

sockhopbop (#764)

@aeroaeroaero Awesome, thanks so much! Unfortunately I’m not in tech, but my current job has me doing a lot of work writing and editing data-driven content — I’m hoping it might translate over to communications jobs in that industry. I have a lot of hoodies that I’d like to wear to the office!

I’m paying down a personal loan from my sister.

January: $627.90
February: $572.90

And I’m starting to save for a couple things: my emergency fund, a fund for mother-related emergencies (she’s horrendous with personal finance, and disaster on the financial front strikes often and swiftly – rather than just putting it on credit as per my usual method, I’m trying to plan in advance), and a fund for future car maintenance. These were all $0 balance in January.

Emergency fund: $49.01
Mom fund: $56.04
Car stuff: $5

This is literally the most money I’ve ever saved, so that’s exciting. I am keeping it simple, due to extremely stretched funds – $1/day to the emergency fund and the mom fund, and then $5/weekly paycheck to the car maintenance fund.

chic noir (#713)

@the electric mayhem OMG. Well congrats and welcome to the world of savings.

Dancercise (#94)

@the electric mayhem
I am all about simple savings. I’ve throwing $25/month at my savings account, and it feels like nothing. But it’s starting to add up, and that’s exciting!

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

My savings goal is to have $1000 for a destination wedding in NOLA in May. Thanks to my tax return, I have socked away $528.08 AND already paid for my ticket. Not too shabby!

pawnknee (#2,911)

Man, I’ve been waiting for this all month.
Main cc Jan balance: $150
Main cc Feb balance: $0. !!!.

Computer cc Jan balance: $2800
Computer cc Feb balance: $2770

New cc Jan balance: $1537
New cc Feb balance: $1667
Initially I had paid this down to $734, but had to put some significant charges on it, most of which will be paid off in the coming weeks. I am upset with myself about this, but I had no choice.

Which leads to the savings part. I built up a savings account starting last year, and now I’m trying to amp it up since the stability of my job is in question. I’m at $4800 this month. Would love to just pay off my debts with it, but I may need to eat with that money one day.

orangezest (#317)

Yay yay yay! I threw all of my $500 tax refund at my problems AND kept up my goal payments and paid off almost-2 cards this month. I was lousy at staying on budget, though, so I drained my savings down a bit.

Chase Freedom, 22.9% interest
December 2012 balance: $977.34
January 2013 balance: $517.81
February 2013 balance: $0.

(Haha jk I just checked it and it has a balance of $9.17 from my final interest charge, which they assessed after I paid the damn thing off, but at least it’s the last one.)

Capital One Platinum Mastercard
January 2013 balance: $280
February 2013 balance: $50

Next card to pay off — luckily I have a freelance check soon that will take a big chunk out of this one:
Delta Skymiles American Express
Feb. 2013 balance: $1,469

Cdub (#2,125)

Woo hoo! Good job, y’alls.
This is my first time chiming in on throwing money at your problems, so here you go!
Credit card, ???% interest because I don’t pay attention to my finances, apparently
January 2013 balance: $680.18
February 2013 balance: $580.18

I’m also working on saving up an emergency fund aaaand I’m going to start a Roth IRA this month, so yay!

acid burn (#113)

I don’t really have any concrete goals right now except that I’m trying to save my pennies in case I get into school and have to quit my job to be a full-time student in July. I’ve been doing pretty good; right now I have the money saved to live off of for the time I’ll be in school, and depending on whether I get into a private or state school I might have enough for tuition, too. Mostly my goal is less accumulating my extra money and more just trying to gradually get myself into austerity mode so that having zero income is less of a shock. Or should I be spending my money now while it’s still coming in? (Probably not. I am way on the Mike Dang side of the spending spectrum.)

Edit: Even having read the Billfold for months and months now, I still feel weird talking about money in public. Like I feel weirdly guilty for having been able to save so much.

acid burn (#113)

@acid burn (The tuition portion is not from savings, it’s from a college fund that was started for me when I was a baby and that I didn’t totally use up because I went to a cheap school for undergrad, for what it’s worth.)

ThatJenn (#916)

@acid burn The one thing you should spend money on while you have it: any preventative medical care, unless you know you’ll have access to cheap/free relevant care while in school. Oh, and preventative maintenance on the big things in your life (car or house if you own either). Congrats on being financially prepared for school!

acid burn (#113)

@ThatJenn Thanks! While we still have my insurance I’m definitely planning on finally getting around to getting the crown my dentist has been telling me I’ve needed for the past two years, and bugging my partner to finally get his wisdom teeth pulled. Maybe scheduling the crown will be my One Thing this week!

chic noir (#713)

Cap1 buy sweetie 480.00- PIF & closed.
Neimanmarcus avoir ma beau 224.00 & closed.

Yeah yeah I know ya suppose to keep them open or suffer a ding but really, I rather not. I want just three cards open.

eagerber (#1,958)

Soooo I paid off my car last month and just paid off this dumb $300 balance on a credit card (thanks to my tax refund). I think next month I’m going to begin chipping away at a student loan. We’ll see…

Savings goal: Invisalign. I’m seeing a new dentist for a free consultation this Thurs, and hope that I qualify for her “reduced” fee of just $2,995 (I was wrong about the fee my regular dentist charges; it’s actually a flat rate of $5,500). Still debating on whether I actually want to do this or not. I had braces as a teen, but as soon as my wisdom teeth popped up, they disrupted my lower teeth and I’ve felt really self-conscious about my mouth ever since (I’ve also since gotten all my wisdom teeth removed, so there’s room now for things to “un-crowd”). This would probably be the most expensive gift I’ve ever bought myself (I wouldn’t necessarily call buying a used car or grad school “gifts” to myself).

SO: ImpulseSave account:
Jan: $484.44
Feb: $556.50

If I go through with Invisalign, I might either dip into savings to pay it all at once, or wind up taking them up on one of those Care Credit monthly plans… Thoughts from the Billfold family? Anyone paid for a medical expense on a payment plan? Outrageous interest rates? Not bad? Anyone living in DC/near DC know of good Invisalign services going for less than $2,995?

ThatJenn (#916)

@eagerber My dentist offers a payment plan (actually a new credit card you open) for Invisalign that’s 0% interest for the first six months. That might be worthwhile, depending on how your discretionary income compares to the cost – if you think you can pay off a bunch of it or all of it over the six months, that’s worth doing (you can always throw your savings account at it in month six if you haven’t been able to fully pay it down). Not sure if your dentists might have such an option, but I think it’s pretty standard.

eagerber (#1,958)

@ThatJenn thanks! yeah, I think that’s how the Care Credit card works; either a 6, 12, or 18 month “plan” starting with 0% interest.

Dancercise (#94)

Car loan re-fi went through without a hitch! I’m now paying $189/month instead of $250 and the interest rate is 1.99% instead of 6.99%! They also gave me a 90-day deferral period, so I don’t have to pay anything until May! Wooo!!

Car loan
January: $10,929
February: $10,733

Credit card
January: $687
February: $670
I’ve been charging gas purchases to this card for the 5% cash back, so my balance is stagnating a bit right now. But I’m still aggressively paying it off!

ThatJenn (#916)

@Dancercise Sweet, so glad your refinance went through! I was hoping you’d update us. Perhaps the lack of car payment for the next two months will allow you to more aggressively pay down the credit card?

Dancercise (#94)

Thank you!! That’s the plan with the credit card. I should still be on track to pay it off before the 0% introductory APR expires in August.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

Mazel tov to everyone, yay moving toward goals!

I have paid of all of my outstanding consumer debt (a Chase credit card, a Best Buy Credit Card, and an Anne Taylor Loft card) as well as a debt I had left to my boyfriend ($862), via a combination of Chanukah Windfall and Tax Return, so I am THRILLED about that. Still using my Chase credit card for small purchases that I can pay off in full each month, and I plan on using the Loft and Best Buy cards periodically just to keep them active (but, again, no more than I can pay off in full each month).

I have also put a lot of money into my Emergency Savings account. My goal is $6,000 by the end of the year. I’m trying to put in $100 a week, plus any money I get from things such as odd jobs or clothes I consign. This month the Emergency Savings jumped hugely because I put my leftover tax return into the account. My birthday is in March so I plan on putting all birthday checks into the savings account. The account doesn’t get much interest, but every time I use my debit card one dollar automatically deposits into it, so it’ll just keep growing (especially if I can do my $100 a week!)

At the end of January I had $55.02 in the Emergency Savings Fund
At the end of February I have $1,294.42 in the Emergency Savings Fund (woohoo!)

Really hoping I can keep up at least the $100 a week, so pleased that I have socked that much away in a month’s time.

ThatJenn (#916)

@TheDilettantista Wow, that is all really awesome! Congrats on both paying off the debt and your ambitious savings plan!

tussock (#1,296)

We paid off my partner’s student loans in one crazy fell swoop this month. $68k in debt one day, $0 debt the next! (We had been saving for a down payment and paying off the student loans at $556/month, but decided this makes more sense for now, since the loans were at 7% and we don’t know for sure when we’ll want to buy a place.)

ThatJenn (#916)

@tussock Wow, that is really awesome! Congratulations! I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. And on the bright side, now you can toss that $556/month at a new savings goal!

themegnapkin (#444)

@tussock wow, congratulations!! That’s amazing!

highjump (#39)

@tussock Wow, that is seriously impressive. What will you do intead with all of that money you were paying each month?

tussock (#1,296)

@highjump Thanks everyone! So far we are planning to build our savings back up. Maybe as a future downpayment, maybe also partly as seed money if we move (perhaps across the ocean!) in the next couple of years. Basically it feels like buying a lot of freedom & flexibility. Also we’re taking a weekend vacation in a couple of weeks, too.

ThatJenn (#916)

Main card:
1/23 balance: $1,245.56
2/26 balance: $0 (and also $0 on my other two credit cards on which I carried balances! This is my first time since the Billfold launched that I’ve been totally credit card debt free, and I requested a card from Mike to commemorate the occasion. I’m just trying to decide whether to focus more on paying down my car loan or bulking up my savings account next, and I’m leaning toward the latter because I have some possible and definite life changes coming up, like getting married and my dude going back to school full time and my possibly taking a lower paying but far-awesomer job in the coming months.)

Car loan:
1/23 balance: $19,238.92
2/26 balance: $18,875.32 (I’ve paid down $3,116.47 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)

1/23 balance: $107,968.44
2/26 balance: $107,711.77 (I’ve paid down $2,036.39 plus interest since June 2012, and am on track to pay it off in April 2037, BUT this month I hit a big milestone: my payment is now 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! I’ve refinanced twice – once a regular refinance, once because I bought my ex out of the house, and this is a big deal.)

Savings goal:
1/23 balance: $408.19
2/26 balance: $4507.64 (Kind of cheating: my tenant paid for six months’ rent & utilities and I put it all in this account, though there’s a chance I might have to withdraw some to pay my homeowners’ insurance or flood insurance in the coming months. But this includes my regular contributions, too. I’m on track to hit my goal of $13k by my 30th birthday next year if my boyfriend keeps having a job/paying rent and if I don’t need to touch it for insurance. Even if I totally pay the insurance out of it, I’ll probably still make my goal if I don’t change my mind and use a few grand of it for our wedding next year. Sweet.)

Stina (#686)

@ThatJenn Woot! Go You!

joyballz (#2,000)

@ThatJenn congrats!! it feels so good to get that Mike card in the mail! I’ll be requesting another one today as well since I paid off another card!

@ThatJenn Congrats!!!

megra (#2,906)

Everyone doing so well is inspiring me to join in! Thanks and congrats!

Student loans:
FedLoan (6.55%)
January total: $14,815.06
February total: $14,721.79

Private Loans (3.75%)
January total: $7,307.88
February total: $7,183.37

January: $3,798.68
February: $4,398.68

megsy (#1,565)


Visa (19.9% interest)
January: $8,184.82
February: $2,753.64

I am determined to have it paid off by the end of May.

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

@megsy awesome job! and huge payments made. wow.

megsy (#1,565)

@Runawaytwin It has been as high as $15,000 in the past year (bad relationship moves, etc.). I scrimped and saved and had it down to about $4,000 and then I had to put a $5500 tuition payment on it in September. I finally got some reimbursement and bursaries so I could pay it off with a huge chunk. I also had to save another $5500 for tuition in January. And thanks because it feels SO GOOD

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

All my normal savings/bill/issues aside- I am going to focus on a fun goal

GOAL DATE 1.1.2014

SAVINGS GOAL: 2,500.00 (for a trip next year that i want to take)

I have a long way to go.

joyballz (#2,000)

@Runawaytwin you can do it! and you’ll have the whole trip to celebrate!

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

@Runawaytwin Thank you. It would be a dream trip for me so hopefully im able to do it in time.

danjose (#3,326)

This is my first check-in. I’ve actually made a lot of progress this month as I just sold my car (though waiting on the proceeds check after title transfer/etc but will be getting around $3400 from that) and managed to pay off 4 low balance credit cards with my tax return. I still have 3 with higher balances so I guess i’ll be concentrating on those from here on out.

I have a chase card with 23.24% interest, Feb balance $823.27 min payment $25. Let’s see where it is next month.

endofherleash (#201)

My boyfriend and I decided not to move in September after all, so the $4000 goal I’ve been working towards is now for new tattoos and various trips to see friends in faraway cities. First up is my collarbones and Chicago.

January 2013 savings: $80
February 2013 savings: $1680

joyballz (#2,000)

@highwaysofgold I love when people visit Chicago!

rorow (#1,665)

first time doing this, because i have some questions for y’all.

Main cc:
Jan 2013: $2724.86
Feb 2013: $2634.30

Work cc: (I accidentally put some personal charges on it, that I then forgot about. This is what remains that’s mine to pay):
Feb 2013: $231

I have $40k in a retirement account I don’t touch, and a mortgage of $250k.

I do not have an emergency fund or a personal fun life savings account. Everything big/unexpected goes on my credit card, and then I’m stuck paying it off for months. So, question to you Mike/Billfold community – I need an emergency fund, right? Does that take precedent over paying off that main credit card? How much do I need in it?

I’ve committed to no exotic travel for the remainder of the year (as this is where 9/10ths of my money goes) but I do need to fly to my grandma’s 90th in April, have committed to a summer house share in May, and have a friend’s wedding in June, so there are definitely expenses. How do I save for these?

rorow (#1,665)

Further, I don’t even have a savings account (technically) outside of my investments because I was annoyed at my bank. This is a bad idea, right? Should I open an account at my existing bank, or is there one you recommend? Currently all my accounts are across TD in Canada and the US.

megsy (#1,565)

@rorow I’m following a suggestion from Gail Vaz-Oxlade who is a personal finance writer/tv personality up here in Canada. She suggested that you take all of your essential expenses (ones you would need to keep paying in an emergency, if you lost your job, etc…. like a $100 smartphone bill could be reduced to $50 if you really had to and so on) and create a chart. For each expense, you draw six boxes representing each month. Anytime that you transfer some money into your emergency account, you check off the corresponding box. Right now my emergency account is very small… I have two months of tenants insurance and one month of hydro paid off… but it will grow.

My priority is paying off my credit card due to my high interest rate of 19.9%. Once I am down to 2 lines of credit, I will probably try to put more into the emergency fund. I’ve also heard different lines of thought on this – Gail said building up an emergency fund was important so that you don’t wipe out your positive momentum on paying off debt while other personal finance specialists say a line of credit is acceptable if necessary.

Mike Dang (#2)

@rorow I talked a little bit about this week in my tax refund post here, but basically, it’s more important to have an emergency plan in place (what would you do if you lost your house, or couldn’t pay your rent anymore and had to break your lease?). Sadly, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who had a year’s worth of emergency savings that they quickly emptied during long periods of unemployment when the Recession hit—which is why a plan is so crucial. But not having to rely on credit cards is good too. We all have different priorities and obligations. Start by setting a goal of $100. Then build from there depending on what your plan is.

rorow (#1,665)

@Mike Dang So does that $100 take precedent over paying off the credit card? And should I consider my retirements savings as a potential emergency fund or is that a big no-no?

pawnknee (#2,911)

@rorow From what I’ve read you should never touch your retirement funds until you actually retire. There are penalties you’ll have to pay for taking money out, at least for a 401k. It’s something I’ve considered if my situation gets dire, though.

An emergency fund is the most ideal option. Dave Ramsay says start by saving $1000, while you are paying off your debts. Just take baby steps. I considered my emergency fund as being just another bill that I threw money at each month. Once I got to $1000, and I was more worried about losing my job, I made it a priority to keep growing it. But I’m also trying to pay off my debts so I don’t have these extra bills to worry about if I’m not working.

I’d suggest opening a high yield (lols) online savings account. Ally and Barclays have the best interest rates that I’ve seen. The transfers are easy and can be set up to automate each month.

Sloane (#675)

@rorow Like Pawnkee said, I’d say $1000 is enough while you’re getting rid of the debt. So pay the minimums on the debt and build the emergency fund first. While I was paying down debt, I had $1000 at ING (not Chase or something), and I considered my 5K in a Roth IRA as my backup plan – be careful with this though. Retirement funds can be tapped, but seriously, only as a very last resort when you have no other options.

rorow (#1,665)

@pawnknee @sloane thank you all so much! Will set up my emergency account now.

rorow (#1,665)

This is where I go to get all of my financial advice from here on out.

Got a flyer from Chase in the mail today, offering a $200 bonus to any new customers opening a chequing account. Obviously a chequing account is not a high interest savings account, but $200 is $200! There is a $12 monthly fee unless you keep a $1500 balance, but I could do that. The goal would be $2000 in that account I really just leave for emergencies. Beyond that I think I’d still like to pump it into my retirement accounts.

So, what say you all. Should I?

Sloane (#675)

@rorow Sounds like a plan, Stan! I think I first opened a checking account with ING because they ran a promotion. There wasn’t a minimum balance requirement, though. Check the rules – you may be able to close the account after a certain period of time, so you could move the money to an account with a slightly higher interest rate.
I know a lot of experts say don’t contribute to retirement while paying down debt. I think it kind of depends on your situation. If your employer is matching, I’d say keep contributing. If you debt pay down period is really short (under six months or so), I’d say move those contributions to debt repayment and make them up later. If retirement contribution gives you a tax advantage that you just can’t say no to, then keep contributing. For me, I don’t have a retirement plan at work, but I can see at some point not qualifying for a Roth IRA, so I kept contributing to that while I was paying down debt.

whitneyarner (#3,346)

My debts are a mess and not going anywhere right now, but I’m feeling good about how my savings are going. It used to be I’d set up my bank to take $75 out of my mid-month paycheck (the one that doesn’t go to the rent) and put it in my savings account, but I’d always end up having an ‘ahh, that’s too much money! I need that money to use!’ freakout and take all or most of it right back into checking.

But now I’ve set things up to automatically transfer $25 to savings every friday, and that’s a nice smaller dose that both is easier for my brain to deal with looking at week by week, and also gives that savings total a nice steady increase! And now I’m actually saving more than before!

snackcarts (#3,300)

This is my first time adding my debts here (which are fairly minimal at this point – I’ve never had a credit card even though I’m 25, always been worried I’d spend beyond my means) but I figure it’s a good time to start:

Student loans (all federal – 4.8%, 4.8%, and 2.39% interest rates):

January: $6,311.96
February: $6,054.89

Car loan:

January: $7,294.25
February: $7,002.48 (officially 50% paid off!)

Savings (most of which is in there for future moving/relocation expenses, as I’m looking for a new job in a new city, but about $4,000 will be going toward a trip to Edinburgh in August):

January: $13,000
February: $13,500

notpollyanna (#2,841)

My student loans went down negligibly since I only paid the minimum and will until I see how my financial equilibrium readjusts after some recent (paying off a student loan) and future big changes. I also put myself back on direct debit for my student loans. I took myself off because they start applying those payments weirdly after you get really far ahead on a loan and that wasn’t the way I wanted the payments applied. However, direct debit knocks off .25% and I have to be on direct debit when I apply for cosigner release, which I can do in a couple months.

I’m going to talk to the retirement people at work to learn about the retirement stuff (those things they send me make no sense) and start contributing 5% of my salary to it. (They are so generous! They will match my contributions up to 5% of my salary! I want to take full advantage.) I got my federal tax refund and that is going straight to my conservation diploma fund. I also applied for financial aid for my first conservation workshop which I will find out about in mid-March.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@notpollyanna Everything in this comment is exciting. Conservation diploma/workshop?? What’s that, tell me more.

A 5% match is so generous I can hardly even believe it. Definitely max it out as long as you are able.

notpollyanna (#2,841)


Thanks! The American Academy of Bookbinding offers a bunch of workshops that are a week or two each. They offer two diploma programs, Conservation and Fine Binding, where you take a specific series of workshops (conservation is 10 weeks worth), do homework between for grading, and write a paper and do a many-binding final project before getting juried for your diploma at a conference. I am so excited! There are a couple other book conservation training routes, but they are much less practical for fitting into my life. This doesn’t require me to move and I can still work full-time while doing this, both of which are critical for making this a reality for me.


aetataureate (#1,310)

@notpollyanna That sounds so fun and neat, and the workableness is like . . . a huge bonus. I’m about to start on a cheap master’s degree FOR similar reasons and an employer tuition discount.

Sloane (#675)

I paid off all my debt in December, so I’m working on building an emergency fund. Balance at the end of January was $3056, and February’s is $4586 (with a dollar or two or interest in there, probably – stupid low interest rates, though).

I’ve always struggled with budgeting because of irregular expenses. For example, in January, I had to start seeing my physical therapist about once a week for about six weeks. Not in the budget, what to do? So I’ve started doing monthly budgeting Dave Ramsay style, and so far so good! It lets me immediately adjust for expenses that I wasn’t expecting instead of hoping that the expenses will even out. For February, I ultimately had to lower my savings slightly to pay for one of the physical therapy sessions, whereas in the past, I would have put my standard amount into savings and then struggled to pay physical therapy and pay off my credit card. My accounts are generally just lining up a lot better.

The other thing that has changed since debt pay off is that I am now tithing, which has been an interesting experiment in another way to live below my means (as well as to share what I’ve been blessed with, of course). I’m giving ten percent of my after tax income, whereas before I would just give when I had a little extra.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

I’ve changed plans (again) and am adding $100 a month to the student loan payment. I’m also working on the emergency fund (have about $6,500 to go).

SterlingCooper05 (#2,529)

February 2013 will be the 1st month in 8 years that I will not have a student loan payment! I paid off my last loan of $1,200 in January. Now, I can really build an emergency fund and start saving for newer car(s) and kids’ college. I’ll be throwing money at the problems, minus the interest!

ThatJenn (#916)

@SterlingCooper05 That is so awesome! Congrats!

Dancercise (#94)

WOOHOO!! Congratulations!!

chic noir (#713)

@SterlingCooper05 congrats

annpan (#3,219)

This is my first check-in!

I’m tackling my student loan debt through both the snowball and avalanche method. I haven’t consolidated my loans so I have varying interest rates, so while I’m spreading a big chunk over all my loans, I’m focusing on one with a higher interest rate (6.55%) and a low balance in particular.

January Balance (entire): $17574.41
February Balance (entire): $16974.41

January Balance (avalanche target): $1915.74
February Balance (avalanche target): $1868.53

In the past month I moved, upped my retirement contributions to 6%, and bought a car. Not much left over to put toward my little avalanche loan, but I’m proud all the same!

IWannaBeKate (#1,323)

Oy, what a month:

Bank Americard: $1,137.91 (It was at $500 but the BF and I put over $600 on it this weekend with a cat emergency and eventual euthanasia :-/ He’ll be paying the majority of the extra amount since it was his cat, but I feel terrible for him! Hoping I can help pay this one down with him).
Capital One: $474.46
J. Crew: $116.25 (spring clothes, will be paying most of this off with my next paycheck)

Emergency Fund: $1,084.36
Future Wedding Fund: $660.00

eagerber (#1,958)

@IWannaBeKate ahhh, is your screenname a throwback to the Ben Folds song?! I love that song!!

IWannaBeKate (#1,323)

@eagerber IT IS!! I also love that song – it makes me love my name :)

Runawaytwin (#2,693)

@IWannaBeKate :( poor kitty. that is one of my biggest fears- my cat getting sick- losing him AND the expenses. (and where to draw the line if i have ot make a hard decision)

Dancercise (#94)

I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. That’s always so hard.

IWannaBeKate (#1,323)

@Runawaytwin It was rough – he was my boyfriend’s cat, so the final decision making was with him, but SO HARD to watch someone I love struggle with that decision :-(

Since both cats are/were old (17/18), we had already talked about what kind of budget we would have if we got into a deteriorating health situation with them. It was kind of a relief that it was so clear that he needed to be put down, so we didn’t have to be harsh and weigh the pros and cons of treating him or not. The clinic that we went to also didn’t charge for putting him down, just for testing before that and cremation, which I thought was really nice.

IWannaBeKate (#1,323)

@Dancercise Thanks :) It was really rough, but it was the right thing for him – definitely doesn’t make it suck less for the humans involved though :-/

joyballz (#2,000)

Credit Card that I was trying to pay off during the 0% interest rate:

December: $301.83
January: I forgot to check in.
February: $0!! Expect an email from me, Mike!

No more credit cards to track so on to my auto loan. My sister currently drives and makes the loan payments, but I’ve been trying to add to that to pay it down faster.

December: $5007.41
January: $4890.60
February: $4636.72

My credit card debt still sucks from moving earlier this year, especially since I’ve fallen back on it towards the end of the month a couple times. So that’s still around $1,500

HOWEVER, I have saved $1,100 towards summer living expenses (preparing for the probability of not finding summer employment) and my tax return will be split between that and the credit card when it gets here.

highjump (#39)

Paying off my Visa ~15% interest
January Balance: $2,736
February Balance: $2,009

This month I reached the important milestone of having more $ in my saving and checking accounts than my credit card balance. So I could technically pay this off right now if I really needed to. My goal is to have this paid off by April 1st, get a sweet card from Mike Dang, and save for a trip at the end of the summer.

terrific (#1,532)

OKAY, guys. Chase credit card that I’m paying off, with a 13.24% APR:

January: $1,870
February: $1,391

Woo woo! QUESTION: I have another card with no interest until Dec. ’13 (and has no balance) that keeps sending me balance transfer offers. Should I transfer $1,200 to that card (paying off the additional $191) and pay it down aggressively with no interest? Help! I don’t know what to do.

Savings for moving next month:

January: $1,850
February: $2,700 — goal! Yay!

New savings goal: $1,000 emergency fund, now at $325.

ThatJenn (#916)

@terrific Usually balance transfers come with a one-time fee of 3% of the transfer (sometimes a different percentage). I like to do some math to figure out, realistically, how much interest I’d pay leaving it on the card with interest.

Your APR on your Chase card is 13.24%, so every month you get charged 13.24%/12 = 1.1% interest on the balance you have that month (I think most banks use average balance). So if your options are to do the balance transfer or to not touch the balance on your Chase card at all, you’ll come out ahead in 3 months (3% of $1200, or $36 for the balance transfer vs. 3.3% of $1200, or $39.60 for 3 months’ interest on the existing Chase card). However, if you were actually paying down the Chase card at 400/month (you paid down more than that this month!), you’d pay $1200*1.1% = $13.20 the first month, $800*1.1% = $8.80 the second month, and $400*1.1% = $4.40 the third month, which adds up to $26.40, so if you’re going to be aggressively paying it down, you’ll spend less money on the existing Chase interest than you will on the balance transfer fees.

That said, we’re talking about differences of less than $10 over three months. Personally I wouldn’t find it worth it to make the transfer in any case, unless you know something about your life that means it’ll be much much easier to pay off in, say, November than it is now (if you were going to leave the $1200 untouched on your Chase card for 8 months, you’d pay $105.92 in interest and that balance fee looks really nice in comparison). No reason to transfer then aggressively pay off, for sure, and personally I wouldn’t find it worth it unless it’s a pretty significant savings (more than the $3.60 you get over three months of leaving it untouched on the Chase card, honestly).

terrific (#1,532)

@ThatJenn Thank you! This is so helpful. The $500 I paid this month is actually all thanks to my tax refund, so I definitely won’t be paying it down that aggressively — I’m hoping to pay about $200/month towards the balance, contributing a little extra when I get my security deposit back / three paycheck month in May.

I’m strongly leaning towards not making the transfer, anyway, just because this is all too confusing to me — I’m sure I’d screw up, or not think of something, or miss a clause. I’m not using any of these cards anymore (I don’t even have physical copies) so I’d rather just pay it down as quick as I can without worrying about it too much.

ThatJenn (#916)

@terrific I just did a little more math (more fun than work). Assuming you only paid $133.33 per month toward the $1200 you had been planning to transfer (this would be the amount needed to pay it off in even increments every month through November, after which the interest would kick in on the other card anyway), you’d pay a total of about $66 in interest over those months if you left it on the original card (vs. a $36 charge for transferring, so you’d save $30). If you up your payment to $200/month, you’d pay $46.20 over the time you were paying it off on the original card, so you’d only be saving $10 for a balance transfer.

Balance transfers worry me a little too – I also worry about missing a clause or something – so for me personally the $10 or even $30 savings wouldn’t be worth it, though strictly speaking it is a slightly better deal than leaving it on your current card. (I recently did this calculation myself, for a bit more money, but I determined even a possible $40 savings wasn’t enough for me – and it turned out OK because I paid it off early enough that it wouldn’t have been that much savings anyway thanks to an unexpectedly large tax refund.)

Good luck with whichever one you choose!

RadScientist (#3,081)

@ThatJenn you are amazing! I genuinely am unable to understand how to do interest calculations, so I just try to avoid interest entirely because it scares me! (Not a bad thing I realize, but it would be good if I could, for example, figure out how much I would save if I paid off my car loan earlier).

j5459 (#3,351)


I recently had to pay $2,000 for my dog’s surgery. I used my savings account, which still has around $6k in it. I want to set up a way to pay myself back, but my paycheck is currently unsteady (I work wage with varying hours; my place of work shuts down on snow days, which we have had a few of this winter). Additionally, I am about to take a temporary gig from June-August as an administrator at a summer camp that pays less than I’m used to, but I won’t have to pay rent/food.

Should I be worried about paying myself back for the surgery? I don’t have debt. I earn anywhere from $250-$600/bi-weekly paycheck. My rent share is $375 (utilities around $100) through May, then $241 for part of June. Then I’m rent/food/internet bill free on set salary of $3,000 from June-Aug… then I need to find a new job, move, and pay those expenses. There’s so much uncertainty in my life I feel like I need a big cushion, but I don’t know what to do.

Sorry if this question is messy, but my job situation is pretty messy right now, too!

j5459 (#3,351)

@j5459 Oh and if you’re worried about the dog, she’s doing okay and will be staying with her co-owner over the summer!

highjump (#39)

@j5459 Well, why was your savings $6k in the first place? If that is what you determined is 3 months of living expenses or something that you like having around just in case I would implement a little personal austerity to get it back to that figure sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, if you just put $100 a month into your savings account and don’t really thing about it, maybe you can just tick up that number a little until you get back to 6k.

With how you describe your job situation, I would consider the former plan and save as much as you absolutely can until after you find a post-summer job at least. But still, it looks like you could live on the remaining $4k for awhile.

albatross (#2,020)

I’m throwing some money at one of my student loans
$100 for this month (on base payment of $35)
current balance $5,072 (original balance $7K)

Changeling (#126)

First time checking in! This made me actually look at my student loan interest rates, and now I know where I should focus my attentions.

Stafford loan B
Outstanding balance: $2,238.17
Interest rate: 6.8%
Minimum payment: $27.12
Payed this month: $55

megra (#2,906)

@megra I am anticipating my biggest refund yet, and I would like to throw it at one of these loans (each is actually a set of 2). The Federal loan has a higher (but fixed) interest rate, but the private loans have a lower (but variable) interest rate. Should I try to pay off one of the private loans (with refund and some savings)? Or just throw it at the one with a higher interest rate?

la_di_da (#1,425)

@megra Which one has the higher balance? I would be willing to bet that that low interest rates are here to stay another year or two at least as the economy slowly comes back. BUT if that’s your super high balance and you think it’s not going to be paid off for a long time, it might be better to pay it down while it’s still low interest, so that there’s a lower balance accruing interest when the rates go up.

lisaf (#3,089)

I paid off $500 on my student loan (5.5%), and today the balance is $16,336.77

RadScientist (#3,081)

This thread gives me warm fuzzies. Yay everyone for working on their finances!

Discover credit card, 0% interest until April, minimum $35
January balance: 1499
current balance: 899
I can’t waaaait to get my tax return, although sadly it won’t pay off the whole thing.

Savings goal: a trip to South Africa (oh, and pawnknee, I didn’t see your comment on my last update until just now, but if you have tips for awesome/cheap things to see and do in SA I would love them!:)
Feb balance: $1091
current balance: $1191

la_di_da (#1,425)

Holy crap this thread got so long! Love it!

December: $1,458 at 2.3%
January: $1,406
February: $1,354

This is on schedule to be paid off by 2015 if I only do the minimum, but…as I’m going to hopefully be enrolling in an MBA program in 2014, I think I should probably kick this one before taking on 100,000+ more worth of debt. Ugh. how much am I looking forward to those check ins?

Savings! Emergency goal is 12,000 which sounds like a lot, but in New York that goes so quick. I’m kind of taking my time because my employment is super secure and I’ve got a lot of travel coming up, but not too bad so far.

January: $2,905
Feb: $3,308

vicky austin (#2,938)

Paying off my BananaCard.
Last statement balance (2/4): $1493
Today’s balance (2/27): $1316

My spreadsheet tells me that if I actually stick to a budget, I could have this little guy paid off by the end of July.

megandubmoore (#3,358)

This is so timely for me! February is the month i’ve decided to get my financial shit together. #grown

My recent student loans don’t come due for another 4 months, but for the past few months i’ve been making $200 a month payments towards the huge balance.

I took my tax return dollars to wipe out some credit card debt, start a savings account at a separate bank, and buy a CSA share.

BOA Visa @16%
January $7,093
February $5,093

With the sale of my car, I should be able to wipe out the rest.

New Ally .09% Savings (No monthly fees or minimums!)
$300, with a $35 recurring weekly transfer set up going forward.

kristindru (#2,477)

Car Loan (3.9%..I thought it was 3.1% whoops!)
January balance: $6,661
February balance: $6,481.44

I love this new savings goal!
Primary savings/emergency fund GOAL (by June): $5,000; by December: $10,000
Current: $3,409.82
I dipped into this savings to pay of a $1,850 student loan this month…which was a very quick decision that I am kind of regretting now, only because I was OVER my $5K goal and getting really close to my ultimate $10K savings goal. But the loan was 6.9% which is almost double my other student debt and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Travel Savings Goal: $1,500
Current: $301.01
I am hoping to quit my job in June and take the whole month to travel before starting another job mid-August. I am really wanting to do that without spending any of my emergency fund, so this is my attempt at that.

e (#734)

I’ve got a long term savings goal, that I never quite activate, so this is definitely the month for it. I’m trying to put at least 1,000 dollars a month into mid-term savings for my life- either for maybe quitting my job or living abroad or something. I paid off all my debt several years ago and live within my means, but I’d like to try and be much more aggressive about living below my means and saving my money. Its easy to spend money when you are young in a big cool city with fun friends who like good food.

I lost my expensive camera this month. It was terrible. So I have to throw some money at that problem. My guess is that after replacing the camera and making sure I put the new camera on my electronics insurance, I will have about 700 (plus or minus 100?) in mid term savings to start this month on. So for the next month my goal is to add at least 1,000 dollars, ending up with 1,700, but if if I am careful and eat in and don’t buy anything, maybe get up to 2,000, then on track to start saving at least 1,000 per month from here on out. Let’s see how it goes.

Australian credit card
January balance: $5,122.38
February balance: $5,108.74

I can really only afford the minimum payment of $102/month, but $88/month is coming out in interest, so seeing it here makes it feel like a bit of an uphill battle.

kickmuri (#3,118)

I’ll play.

I paid off all credit card debt (over $3,000!) in December 2012. WOO. Right now, I have about $400 in my Capital One card but that should be paid off by April.

I’m currently working on my emergency fund and hopefully I’ll have around $2,000 by the end of the year.

My next big thing is paying off my car in May!! I’m so excited.

CTYA (#3,363)

BOA MasterCard, 5.5% (they really will knock a ton off your rate if you manage to convince them you can’t pay otherwise)

January: $5,166.60
February: $4,566.60

After months of unemployment, this thing was three months delinquent at $16,000/30% a couple years ago. Would like to get it to a permanent $0 by 1/1/14. We’ll see.

julnyes (#2,807)

Debt – Barclays Mastercard
January 862.45
February 824.91

Savings – My Reverse “52 Week Money Challenge”
January: 153.00
February: 388.00

So I am sticking with the savings challenge! but am still seeking a balance with paying enough to decrease my credit card debt faster without going overboard and putting myself in a position where I need to use my cards to bridge the gap. I didn’t use my credit card, but I think I should have paid a larger chunk of it.

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