Tax Time! $63,620.94 Paid, $21,687.13 Till Pay Off

Howdy and thank you for stopping by! Your visit to No Debt But Love isn’t taken for granted. Your presence here greatly encourages and motivates me.

Now Let’s Roll…
Grrrr… I hate giving the federal government an interest free loan. This is what happens when you get an income tax return, you essentially paid too much in taxes. Getting a return is better than the alternative, owing the federal government. Just thinking about these three letters makes me break out in a cold sweat! They are the IRS.

Pay What You Owe
The Internal Revenue Service possesses a very particular set of skills. Skills that make it a nightmare for your bank account. If you are some poor soul who owes years of back taxes without legal representation, the IRS will find you and garnish your wages.

I am grateful to have not owed the government a dime. Thanks to deducting $2,500 paid in student loan interest this past year. I also received a tax credit for the cost of childcare for my children. These tax provisions help immensely, but NOT enough to take out more student debt or have more children.

Am I Done Yet?
Paying off student loans has been frustrating and I grow evermore anxious as my balance gets closer to ZERO. I am instructed to not be anxious about anything, as found in Philippians 4:6-7. It’s weird that I am now grateful to have had the student loan debt in my life.

I have learned to count the cost of things I want; as in hours on my job it will take to pay for something. In this case of student loans- the years exchanged for pieces of paper. I am determined and have plans to not allow history to repeat itself through my children.

Making It Rain
As soon as our tax return hit the bank, my wife agreed to put some it towards my student loan debt.  Below is an update of my loan balances. I am blessed to watch my debt shrink each month. I am grateful and can’t stop thanking the Lord for it.

Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love.

Student Loans Are Stressful!/I’m Going Bald: $60,548.56 Paid, $24,759.51 Till Payoff

We have all read the nightmare stories of student loans wreaking havoc on the personal finances of the young and old.  Here’s another thing student loans may cause… HAIR LOSS! DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!! Haha.  Life isn’t meant to be lived seriously all the time, so I decided to post about my male patterned baldness haha.

Going bald is a pain for me, as I have placed a bit of my identity in the strength of my hairline.  Yeah… kind of silly.   This past November, I stressed tremendously about my son starting daycare with his sister.  I was on paternity leave at the time and the stress wasn’t about missing my son per se… it was the pressure to provide for two kids in daycare lol.

Yet the Lord provided and continues to provide.  My nights became sleepless as I wondered how we would make it with my student loans, regular monthly expenses, and now daycare for 2.  I was prepared to reduce my student loan payment to make things work.  I grew frustrated thinking about all the progress made in reducing the debt to only watch it creep back up.

I was literally going bald at the top of my head due to stress, check out the picture.  

The elders in my family with wrinkly, low-hanging, bubbled lips would say, “Boy, the Lord is never surprised”.  To which I would immediately exhale audibly and roll my eyes.

Soon everything became too much, I broke down and decided to challenge the Lord with Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV), “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them”.

I didn’t feel blessed at the time. After I decided to relinquish control as Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight”.

My family follows a strict budget and my wife isn’t too thrilled about it.  However, there is more than enough every month.  The provision doesn’t make any sense, as we should be in the negative.  We may not have always have we want, but we always have what we need.

My hair even grew back, check out the waves HAHA.  Hair is a trivial matter in the grand outlook of life, my razor is ready to “Come On Home” and join the pantheon of bald greats-Dwayne Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Vin Diesel

Below is an update on my student loan balance.  I have no choice but to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever. -Psalm 136:1

The Most Affordable 4 Year Schools in Texas

Hi Everyone and welcome back to No Debt But Love!  I have made the video entitled “Most Affordable 4-Year Colleges in Texas Under 20k Per Year For 2019” available on YouTube.  Click on the play button of the video down below.

Have any of you attended one the featured schools?  What was your experience like? What was your major?  Did you graduate with any student loan debt?  I love to hear from you in the comments section of the video.

Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

Success is a Journey, Not a Destination: $58,661.20 Paid, $26,646.87 Till Pay Off

Hi everyone! Thank you for the continued support along my debt repayment journey. Below is my student loan balance update.

I have now paid off 68% of my student loans. With my student loans now at $26,646.87, I struggle with a lot of what ifs. What if I attended a cheaper school? What if I didn’t have student loans? What if the $58,661.20 paid toward my debt’s principal was money added into retirement accounts?

I snap out of the “Woe is me” and remember…
1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) reads, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”.

This scripture is not saying we should have nothing else beyond food and clothing. Nor is this scripture condemning ambition and the desire to earn wealth. This passage warns us against greed and the misuse of wealth.

Money should not be our final goal. We should aspire to know the Lord more; because he gives us the ability to enjoy what He blessed us with. Have you ever logged into your social media account and became envious of a friend’s latest vacation, celebratory post of a purchased house, or new job/promotion?

Comparing ourselves to others and living with regret is dangerous. There are times we will make lane changes and reverse to parallel park. However, staying fixated on other cars and not the road ahead of us will cause crashes-resulting in property loss or death.

Regardless of what our peers earn annually and possessions they enjoy, we must remember “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”-Colossians 3:23 (NIV).

I will soon release a video entitled, “Most Affordable Texas Colleges-Legit Schools Costing Under 20k Per Year”. The video will be available through the No Debt But Love YouTube channel. Please subscribe to the channel, like, and share the videos; your support is much appreciated.

Impostor Syndrome-The Progress Continues

I didn’t intend to write and post on a holiday break from work.  However, it weighs heavy on me.  Today, the United States commemorates the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He was a man who stood firmly for what he believed in, that we are all created equal by a holy and sovereign God.  His dream was for a united America, not just for unity’s sake but under a righteous God.

It’s interesting to recount how little regard I have placed for the sacrifices of the nation’s founders and my forefathers.  In my ignorance I have failed to understand the significance of the freedoms enjoyed today.  In my freedom, I believed it gave me license to ignore, disrespect, and berate.

You are seen as hateful if you have a different opinion.  Dr. King had a radical difference of opinion.  The truth is what guided him were the traditions of Judeo-Christian values, he was a Baptist minister.  Today, these values are under attack.

Politicians and their constituents are believing that the United States isn’t “that great” or ever “great” to begin with.  If that were so, what were tears shed, blood spilled, and lives lost for?  Besides every day people suffering and dying for ideals, Presidents have paid with their lives as well,

This country has a long standing tradition of seeking to improve the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters.  Let us not fall victim to…

There are days I want to give up.  There are even more days doubt sets in about my capabilities, but then I remember the following.

We can’t correct the hurts and harms of yesterday, but we can enjoy today’s freedoms.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! $57,650.35 Paid, $27,657.72 Till Pay Off

My son just made 2 months recently and I am excited to watch him learn how to express himself. My boy is one happy baby as evidenced by the dimpled smiles, the coos, and flailing arms and legs. My 2-year old is very protective of her brother. Each morning she runs into our bedroom shouting, “I want to hold little man!” or “That’s my baby!”; and is ready to plant kisses all over her brother’s face.

With that said, my wife and I are pleased to announce our family is adjusting well to the new baby. There is so much to be thankful for with Christmas around the corner and recently celebrating Thanksgiving.

First off, I am thankful to have a job that offers paternity leave. My job allows 6 weeks of paid time off to tend to births/adoptions. HOORAY! Also, I have 6 weeks of vacation time that can be applied in addition to paternity leave. It would be a challenge to stay home with a baby for that long lol. Cabin fever will ensue.

However, I am using 2 weeks of vacation to be at home with our new little guy for a total of 8 weeks.

Second, I am grateful for my son’s health. My wife was exhausted after the long (4 hour) delivery, but our son has since grown to a 12-pound baby champ. No amount of money can ever buy good health, even with the best doctors and medicine available. Poor health touches the rich and poor alike.

Third, I am grateful for my wife’s recovery. She is back exercising and is already contemplating a third child lol. I humbly ask she pumps the brakes. Thank you for accepting the challenge of being married to me babe. “I am honored to have the opportunity for you and me to exclusively form a little community of chocolate babies with proper raising.” -Tobe Nwigwe, “Wavy” I can’t take credit for those words. HAHA!

Okay, enough of that. Back to the reason for this blog, the tracking of my student loan repayment progress. Which leaves me with the fourth and final thing I am grateful for. As 2018 comes to a close, I have paid off $11,279.58 in principal. Check out the loan balance updates below.

I will give myself a Christmas present in the form of a student loan payment. The payment amount will be $400. It sucks to think about student loans over the holidays, but this will be $400 closer to debt freedom. The goal to live out Romans 13:8 doesn’t take holiday breaks. Until next time folks, have no debt but love!

How NOT To Drive Professors Crazy: $56,642.09 Paid, $28,665.98 Till Pay Off

As stated in earlier posts, I work in the field of education. In one of my roles, I serve as an adjunct college professor.  Around mid-semester due to midterms and after final grades are posted, professors get frantic emails at unholy hours in the morning.  I’ve literally had students attempt to call me at 3 a.m.

If you or someone you care about is a college student, pass this message along. Below are guidelines to follow when emailing college professors (faculty).  By doing so, you may help save the little hair I have left remaining on my hairline haha.

When emailing a faculty, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Start any email by addressing them with an honorific

An honorific is a title used to communicate respect for a person’s position. For example, call them Professor/Mr./Ms. (Insert Last Name). Rule of thumb, respect is always appreciated!

  1. Don’t misspell your faculty’s name

Double check your spelling through the entire email but also the faculty’s name.  Also, be sure to get your gender pronouns correct: address a female faculty as Ms. Or male as Mr. using “Professor (last name)” is gender neutral and acceptable.

  1. Proofread your email before sending

Your faculty spend their office time and free time reading.  That’s what they love to do.  They will notice the way you write.  Check your grammar and spelling. Use proper English and avoid common phrases reserved for texting your friends (e.g. LOL, LMK).

  1. Keep it professional

Use emails to improve your ability to write succinctly. You aren’t the only student your faculty is receiving message from.

  1. Give the faculty time to respond

Most faculty will need a day or two to reply to your email.  Give the faculty at a minimum 48 hours to respond.  This means not waiting until the last minute an assignment is due.  Whenever you face this type of emergency, reach out to your classmates.

 

Outline:

Dear Professor (Last-Name),

I’m in your (Name of Class) class, section (section number),

(Insert the question you have or the help you need here).

I’ve looked in the syllabus, at my notes from class and I asked someone else from the class.  I think (Insert here what you think may be the answer), but I’m still not sure.

Can you (insert here what action you want the faculty to take: answer my question, let me know what to do?)

Thank you for your help with this issue.

(Your name)

(Student ID Number)

 

Example:

Dear Professor Johnson,

I’m in your SPCH 1300 class, section 12345.

For my class presentation, I want to include a short video clip.  But, I’m not sure how long the video can be.

I’ve looked in the syllabus, at my notes from class, and I asked a classmate.  I have found a 30 second video and another that is 2 minutes long.

Can you confirm if I can use a video clip, and if so, which one?

Thank you for your help with this issue.

Matt Stanley

ID: 0123456

The Case for Community Colleges: $55,645.14 Paid, $29,662.93 Till Pay Off

Lively lobbies, Silent Offices

I started my career in academia as a community college Admissions Specialist and later, Academic Advisor. I remember the numbers of students and their families huddled like cattle in lobbies, waiting to discuss class registration.

Once inside my office, scowl-wearing parents with arms crossed, stood directly behind students plopped in chairs with faces buried in their hands.

Too often, community colleges are students’ backup plan for the following reasons:

  1. Not getting into college of choice
  2. Unable to afford college of choice.
  3. Failed out of college of choice.
  4. Not knowing what to do in life.

Universities offer their share of many advantages, the purpose of the blog entry is to help cash-strapped students/families to make informed decisions, and avoid big student loan debt as I incurred.

 

The Case for Community Colleges

  1. The community college offers a smaller class setting. I remember my first class in a university lecture hall of 150 students, it was intimidating.
  • The largest class size at my place of employment, a community college, is maxed at 47.
  • Although many universities may boast this same benefit, these institutions will cost students more.

With smaller class sizes, teachers are able to respond to the needs of students faster. Universities rely heavily on TAs (teacher’s assistant), who are highly competent, but are students themselves with their own academic stresses.

  1. In the wise words of Warren Buffett, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”. Lately, people in high student loan debt don’t view the price paid for education as highly valuable.
  • As of 2018-2019, a local community college in my area of residence costs $59 per credit hour. Therefore, a 3 and 4 credit hour course will cost $177 and $236 respectively.
  • A university in my state will cost you $1,338 per credit hour this academic year; making 3 and 4 credit hour courses cost $4,014 and $5,352 respectively.

Oh yeah… this doesn’t include prices for books, food, lodging, and transportation. God bless you if you are able to meet this educational request without debt. This is blog is for those who may find this request challenging. Haha!

  1. Universities don’t grow legs and walk away. They will still be there once you complete your desired school’s “Basics”.
  • Basics are classes required for all students regardless of major (English, History, Political Science, Mathematics, Natural and Social Sciences courses). If your student is unsure about their career, basics are a great place to start versus changing majors frequently.
  • Academic advisors have transfer guides needed to transfer work towards your university degree.

Furthermore, bachelor’s degrees are usually 120 credit hours and take 4 years to complete. Community colleges have articulation agreements which allow students to complete 45-60 credit hours, which is equal to the first 2 years of a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, community colleges allow students to complete half of their university requirements at a fraction of the cost.

  1. Scholarships abound for students transferring from community colleges to universities.
  • Hidden gems on community college campuses are the honor societies such as “The National Society of Collegiate Scholars” and “Phi Theta Kappa”.
  • For more information and eligibility criteria:
    https://nscs.org/member-eligibility/

  https://www.ptk.org/About/Membership/Eligibility.aspx

Feel free to visit the “Scholarship Resources” tab of this blog to view other great college funding opportunities.  The first link features resources for my home state, “The Lone Star State”-Texas. Other resources are links to legitimate scholarship search engines and honor societies.

 

Exciting Updates

Below is my student loans update. I am blessed to see the light getting brighter and closer at the end of tunnel. Thank you Jesus Christ for always providing for me in seasons of employment and unemployment, and I am confident you will continue to do so.

Fatherhood Part. 2: $54,321.24 Paid, $30,986.83 Till Pay Off

Celebrate with Me!

Thank you for supporting this blog! I have an exciting update to share. So my wife and I are expecting our second child. This time a baby boy! We are due October 15th and I couldn’t be happier to welcome him into the world.

You can read how my wife announced the first pregnancy by clicking the following title link, The Sacrifice of a Father.  My debt has gone down considerably since then. Praise the Lord!

The funny thing is she enjoys being pregnant. I’m proud of how hard she works and her passion to stay in shape.

She goes to the gym and even jogs with me. You go Wonder Woman! I gotta brag on her when I can to collect brownie points right?

Bills, Bills, Bills

Thank the Lord, we have saved ahead of our son’s arrival and grateful that medical bills will be covered. It would be a pain to pile on delivery expenses with student loan debt.

I am truly humble to be in the position to pay anything towards my student loans. I just hate seeing money go other places besides my wallet.

With that said, all birthing facilities are not equal. Prices range, and the quality of care can be a hit or miss.

Farewell… So Long

We have moved since the birth of our daughter; in doing so, we had to leave the midwife who delivered our first born. 😦

We loved the care received, but I figured the commute time would be too much. Besides, it would be a messy situation if my wife goes into labor during the hour-long drive. Haha!

Not Distress, It’s Eustress

Researching birthing centers can be stressful.   In our experience, many of the centers fall into one of the three categories: 1) don’t accept insurance, 2) are out-of-network, or 3) beyond our budget.

After phone calls and visits, we have found the right fit for delivery, for the THIRD time now lol.

Pray for my sanity. 

So, here’s an update on my student loans. I am pleased with progress made this summer.

Sincerely, God bless. Stay strong and fight on!

7 Years a Student Loan Debt Slave: $52,785.68 Paid, $32,522.39 Till Pay Off

Image result for debt slaveryI was afraid when my student loans were set for repayment on June 1, 2011.  Throughout the years, I’ve researched and made my share of mistakes in my student loan debt journey.  Here are a few resources and tips that have helped me along the way.

1)Know who you owe and how much.

Visit www.nslds.ed.gov to get the name of your loan servicer and their contact information.  Communicate  with your loan servicers as soon as possible, missing payments can impact your ability to buy a house.

 

2) Split your monthly payment into bi-weekly payments.

This is a little hack I discovered homeowners use to reduce interest amount paid over the life of the loan.

Make sure that your payments are made before the due date.  If you pay under the monthly amount, you risk accrual of interest and other penalties. Consult with your student loan servicer for more details.

The below tool allows you to see the impact of making biweekly payments.  Click on the link below to view how my loan amount is impacted by making bi-weekly payments.  Experiment with this calculator by entering  your own loan amount and interest rate.

https://www.calcxml.com/calculators/should-i-convert-to-a-bi-weekly-payment-schedule?skn=#results

The standard student loan repayment term is 120 months or 10 years, you can edit this calculator to reflect when you expect to complete repayment. (1 year = 12 months)

 

3) Choose your major wisely.

Consider salaries for jobs within your major. Not every job will pay well for booksmarts and passion, so know your REALISTIC earning potential. For example, social workers don’t earn millions of dollars a year.

Using Finaid’s calculator, you can discover what minimum salary is needed to afford loan repayment. According to Finaid, I need to earn at least $117,807.27 annually to repay my debt comfortably.  Honestly, not making anywhere near this salary minimum has caused for lots of sacrifice and struggle.

Review your minimum salary needed for repayment below.

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml

 

4) Choose the repayment plan that works best for you.

www.studentloans.gov

My loan servicers have calculated my updated monthly payments to be $45.  The reduced monthly payment allows me some wiggle room if I ever fall on hard times.

However, $45 would not cover monthly accrued interest. Not only must you pay the interest, but you also want to pay down a sizeable amount of principal.  Paying more than the minimum amount will effectively reduce your debt load and decrease the amount of time you are in debt.

Which leads us to the fifth point…

 

5) Make extra payments.

I currently make regular payments of $370 bi-weekly through money earned at my full-time job. Additional payments above the $370 bi-weekly amount are from my part-time job.

I have developed a strong hate for my student loans and try to throw as much money at them as possible. I refuse to have student loans when my kids start college.

 

6) Be Honest. Live below your means.

We all want to live in a certain area or drive a nice car.  But at this time for me, the finer things in life aren’t worth the work required to obtain.

It gets difficult at times to tell friends and family members about my financial struggles, but I enjoy very strong relationships.  Everyone won’t appreciate your honesty, get ready to develop thick skin.

 

7) Build a support system.

I’ve learned that you must simply ride the waves of life, as it is possible to feel alone in a room full of people. The key to life, in my opinion, is working to achieve full dependency on someone besides yourself.  For me it’s my relationship with Jesus Christ and right now, I need some Jesus time.

Below is an update on my student loan accounts.  Until next time folks, be blessed and fight on!