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.

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!

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!

The Valentine’s Day Crashers: $51,133.40 Paid, $34,174.67 Till Pay Off

Come On Man!

I walked through the door tired from work, annoyed from sitting through traffic, and brow glistening with beads of sweat. My phone rang, “Hello?” I puffed. It was my wife on the line she asked, “Can you text me a copy of the car insurance policy?”

Confused I asked “Why, what happened?” The response I got made my heart sink. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t handle my wife telling me she’d been in an accident well. Thankfully, she was close to home, being in route from work/picking up our daughter from school.

As a self-described slowpoke driver, I floored the gas pedal to reach my wife and daughter. Rushing to the scene of an accident was foolish, being already tired from work and hangry. Haha!

Upon arrival, I noticed my wife had rear-ended a car. I was relieved to find our daughter smiling in my wife’s arms and no structural damage to our car. I then inspected the other driver’s car and took pictures, and found it too had no visible damage.

You Are Kidding… Right?

Later, the driver of the other car decided to call the cops. Before we knew it, our eyes were accosted by red and blue lasers from ambulance, firetruck, and police squad cars. The lights seemed to reflect off everything, including my wife’s face. The whole time I thought, “Is all this necessary?”

Prior to first responders showing up, the driver’s passenger was coherent and mobile. However, once the paramedics asked her if she was okay, she expressed pain in her neck and back. Lol. So in the most dramatic fashion, she asked to be placed on a stretcher and admitted to the ER.

Adding Insult To Injury

Come on man, you gotta be kidding me! To make matters worse, it was Valentine’s Day. So our romantic evening was scrapped for filing an insurance claim. Neither my wife or I had ever been in an accident, and full coverage was $86 monthly to insure our cars.

You better believe the insurance company jumped at the opportunity to raise our premium to $131. Being the frugal person I am, I declined and took my business elsewhere. Haha. I am happy the claim was resolved without issue. I am more excited for the continued progress in paying off my student loans. Check out the updates below.

I have a request for you all, pray that I finish this race strong while serving my family, friends, and community in integrity. Do you have any failed Valentine’s Day stories to share?  Until next time, be blessed and fight on.

Hey There Mr. Tax Man: $49,293.51 Paid, $36,014.56 Till Pay Off

Making it Rain!

Tax season is that time of year when people fantasize about how to spend their tax refunds.  In years past, I’ve used tax returns to fund vacations, cars, tuition payments, and clothes.  My favorite vacation was taking my wife to the Dominican Republic.  It was great practicing our Spanish, walking on beaches, and exploring caves.  It was a much needed vacation, as my wife 7 months earlier, gave birth to our daughter. 

This year, we made the difficult decision to forgo a trip to pay toward my student loans.  Well, it was difficult for my wife lol!  She is such a trooper, thanks for being Bonnie to my Clyde during these difficult times babe.

Big Belly, Small Wallet

Another component to my debt payoff journey is reducing how often we eat out.  After reviewing our credit card statements, I realized we spent over $6,000 last year at restaurants and fast food.  This year has not started off any better, as we’ve spent $600 in the month of February alone.  It seems like the more we make, the more we spend frivolously.  My family and I are blessed having not missed a meal, live in a safe dwelling, and have affordable transportation.  So the following questions boggle my mind: 1) Why must I feel entitled to dine out while having a refrigerator full of food?  2) What if I made a $6,000 payment toward my student loans instead of dining out?

With that being said, my old spending habits will not hold me back from a debt free future.  My last shopping trip included some of my all-time favorites: hamburger patties, General Tsao’s Chicken, and yogurt for smoothies.  There’s nothing like a blueberry/mango smoothie after a long day of work.

Challenge Accepted

The first challenge I foresee with not eating out would be my daughter missing out on pizza, her favorite meal.  Second, my wife and I enjoy trying new restaurants as a weekend hobby.  Cooking on weekends will take lots of time and energy.  Third, managing my schedule to help out more in the kitchen.  Disclaimer: I have cooked twice in the past month.  Thankfully, there were enough leftovers from each meal to last a few days.  Although my wife didn’t eat much of the food I prepared, she was gracious.  Hmmm…  Which leads me to my final challenge, to improve my cooking.

Thanks for stopping by.  Below, is an update of my student loan repayment progress.

What have you given up to help with debt payoff?  Until next time folks, fight on!

Educating the Homeless: $47,445.09 Paid, $37,862.98 Till Pay Off

I work closely with students and find the topics of student loans and homelessness invade our conference meetings almost daily.  This posting will veer from the usual talk of debt repayment to discuss homelessness.   As always, I hope this blog entry is uplifting and challenges the minds and hearts of its readers.

Human Identity:

Jimmy Carter once said, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.” Homelessness is a growing problem in the United States and many believe the destitute are unenterprising. At work, we serve high school and college students who face housing instability and food insecurity daily.  Many days I hear volunteers say a mix of the following, “These people are just lazy.” “Why can’t they just pull themselves up by their bootstraps?” “If I can do it, why can’t they?”

To these statements I say, many students are simply born into situations they either can’t control or are unaware of the dysfunction.  Homelessness is caused by many factors, one seen too often is the lack of family support. Often times, these minors are forced out of their residences due to disagreements with parents and left without basic necessities.  As a result, students may turn to crime to meet personal needs. Recidivism persists when the basic essentials of life (food, water, and shelter) are inaccessible or difficult to come by.  The cycle of a life of crime is tough to break.

Different Experiences:

Abilities apparent at birth or unfortunate events involving mental, emotional, and physical well-being play a role as well. For those who have worked to climb themselves out of the deepest recesses of economic despair, count yourself blessed and teach someone else how you did it.

Consider the following, 1) Not everyone you see on the street is a career panhandler, 2) Requesting financial support publicly by the homeless is the last resort, 3) A common factor plaguing the poor, is the poverty of relationships.

With that being said, the less fortunate need emotional care more than anything else. The sense of belonging is a powerful force.  What we purchase daily communicates something about us rather we want it to or not.  Some can afford to live in an apartment, others a 3 bedroom two bath home, while yet another owns multiple rental properties.

Possible Solution:

There’s nothing wrong with buying fancy houses, cars, and clothes. Allowing material positions to determine self-worth leaves emptiness when houses depreciate, cars rust, and clothes fade. Unfortunately, the poor are looked over daily due to what we can see, their evident lack.

So consider lending a helping hand to a high school or college student.  Someone in trouble may not know what they need to make their situation better.  Here are a few ways we can help combat homelessness if you are not already.  1) Become friends with people from different walks of life.   2) Learn of their needs through authentic relationship.  3) Fulfill legitimate needs without asking.  Most times, friends won’t come forth and request anything due to pride.

I am appreciative of the support received from this blog. You guys help keep me motivated! Below is an update of my student loan accounts.  Until next time, fight and strive on.

Merry Christmas?: $46,370.77 Paid, $38,937.30 Till Pay Off

Image result for christmas hollyWell it’s that time of year again, Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year!  For those of you who are in college or have dependents, remember to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA application was made available October 1st and the submission deadline is June 30th.

In Other News:
There have been current rumblings surrounding issues of: 1) Graduate Student Tuition Waivers, 2) Student loan interest and 3) Student Loan forgiveness.
I will do my best to stay out of politics, since I have a difficult time managing my 1 year old.  In short, law makers as represented by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate considered taxing graduate tuition waivers as income.  Understandably, students were unhappy and protested. Thankfully, their voices were heard.  College students don’t make much and I speak from experience. Click here for more from NPR.

Hard Times Were Fun Times:
During my college days, I worked 3 jobs and enrolled as a full-time student.  Money earned was spent attempting to cover tuition.  My usual meals were Chef Boyardee, Ramen, Ensure, and 99 cent double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s.
However, I was blessed to have some meals provided for by a loving elderly couple.  Also, 3 meals a week were provided at the cafeteria through a job as a Resident Assistant.  Man, college sure was fun.

Paying the Tax Man:
Next, lawmakers considered removing the $2,500 student loan interest deduction.  By what I understand, the deduction is not guaranteed. In fact, the amount a tax bill is reduced is based on the tax payer’s income.  So the higher your salary, the less interest deduction can be used; the lower your salary, the better your chances to use the full deduction.  This is the best I can do to explain this, for more information click here.  This interest deduction greatly reduced my tax bill for calendar year 2012, as my career was in its fledgling stages.  To hear more from the IRS click here.

Generational Debt:
I work in education and student loan debt is a concern for young and old. To my surprise, “seasoned” coworkers disclose more than the 20 somethings about financial issues. What I hear mostly is the shame of still paying school debt while having a child in college.

The recent graduates I work with are really hoping for student loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, not many of them are taking advantage of the Income-Based Repayment programs. Although I am currently enrolled in an IBR program, I’m prepared to pay off every penny of debt should loan forgiveness is denied.  Here, CNN gives insight on the current plight of the first group of borrowers who are eligible for loan forgiveness.

Help Is On The Way:

I am grateful for my talks with coworkers as they have been very supportive. Below is an update on my loan balance.

Speaking of college, I am excited to announce there is help out there. It is called the Dallas County Promise.  It is a last dollar tuition scholarship for students in attendance of any Dallas County Community College District campus or participating university.  So far, The University of North Texas-Dallas (UNT-D) and Southern Methodist University (SMU) are participants in this scholarship program.  Follow the link for details and spread the news!

 

 

Good News!: $44,685.55 Paid, $40,621.52 Till Paid Off.

Hi everyone!

It has been a busy summer and fall is upon us. Lots has happened since June, so let’s dive in. After coming home from work one evening in August, my wife greeted me with two pieces of mail from Nelnet. My immediate response was to shake my head and groan, “What’s wrong now?”

In years past, receiving mail from a loan servicer meant one of the following frustrations occurred: 1. The servicer had not received a payment. 2. Interest accrued on a loan account; or 3. A loan account was transferred to another servicer.

After staring in space for a while, I reluctantly tore open the first envelope. I have included a picture of the letter below, click to enlarge if you wish.

In summary, the letter says that ACS owes me .01 and the student loan will be transferred to Nelnet. Yippee! ACS owes me a penny, thanks for the mini heart attack.

My interest is piqued at this point, I ripped apart the second envelop and expected to be another penny richer. To my surprise the second letter informed me that another loan was transferred from ACS to Nelnet, and I am owed $225!


Out of all the loan servicers I’ve worked with (University Accounting Services, Brazos, Fedloan, Nelnet, and ACS), ACS made the repayment process most difficult. Tax and income-based repayment paperwork always seemed to get lost with them.

So that’s my good news everyone! I am $225 closer to reaching my goal of repaying my student loans. Check out the updates below.

September Update2

Now I only have 2 loan servicers to keep up with.  Until next time everyone, fight on and keep my hometown Houston in prayers!

House Hunting: $42,701.83 Paid, $42,606.24 Till Pay Off

Hard At Work & Daydreaming

The past four months have been packed with stress. However, I am thankful the stress is due to new and exciting developments: new jobs, our daughter starting preschool, and house hunting. So far our jobs are going well, and our baby girl likes her school. House hunting on the other hand, has been less enjoyable.

The housing market is booming in the areas we are looking. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to afford a mortgage. I get excited thinking about my daughter playing in the backyard and hosting cookouts.

Reality Hits…

Then I realize not considering a means to an end got me into debt in the first place. Although home ownership is ideal, delaying it will improve my family’s financial situation. In addition, to be honest, we grew frustrated with the overall process.

While actively placing offers, our realtor went on a Caribbean cruise lol. That’s all I’m going to say about that. So we’ve decided to continue apartment living a little longer. Moving from one apartment to another sucks. On the bright side, we are enjoying the new neighborhood’s amenities, and check out the repayment update below.

A Change in Plans

Since we aren’t buying a house right now, I’m tempted to apply the house down payment toward student loans. I would love to reach my goal of zero balance sooner, but the money could be of better use elsewhere.  Besides, having money saved for a rainy day is usually a good idea.

Lessons Relearned

Looking to buy a house is an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve experienced the highs of coming within a nose hair of closing, and the lows of sellers rescinding late in negotiations.  Through the process I’ve reinforced:

  1. Happiness doesn’t last forever, because it depends on what happens.
  2. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
  3. Whatever happens, accept your lot graciously.

Questions for You

How long did it take to close on your first house? What was your realtor experience like?  Any helpful insights will go a long way.

Until next time, continue the fight until no debt is owed but love.

 

Busy, Yet Productive: $41,507.06 Paid, $43,801.01 Till Pay Off

It Feels Like Forever:

Hi everyone! This post feels long overdue. Work has been very busy and having things to do at work is job security. As stated in the last post, I’ve picked up another teaching job.

When I’m not advising students on career choices, I am grading, and replying to frantic emails at unholy hours in the morning. The emails and office visits from students energize me, so I’m happy to assist in any way possible.

In addition to job duties, I have made the decision to torture myself by returning to school. On top of this, my daughter is crawling now. While I’m studying, she gets into EVERYTHING; so it can be fun finding her, but scary when she hurts herself.

Student loan repayment hasn’t stopped. Check out the updated balances below.

Reminiscing On Love:

My wife and I just celebrated another year of marriage, pray with us for many more. As the years roll by, I realize the importance of not taking her for granted. We’ve been through so much in our little 6 years and can’t believe she has stuck with me this long. I’m awestruck when meeting couples who have been married for 20 years or longer. A long list of joys and sorrows are undoubtedly present when loving someone.

Love Isn’t Easy:

I remember fondly my first job out of college. The pay and benefits were great and the feeling of accomplishment swelled in me everywhere I went. Being recently married, next on the agenda were children and a house.

Then One Day…

I was given the ultimatum at my job, leave or be fired. Being young and dumb I quit voluntarily. Now thinking back on it, I would’ve allowed my employer to fire me, for unemployment benefits lol. Naively I thought having a college degree would exempt me from hardships.

I imagined my voicemail box full from employers offering even higher paying jobs than the one I left from. My next job wouldn’t be found until six months later, washing cars.

No Love Lost:

My wife loved me before I had the high dollar job and she loved me after it was gone. She remained consistent in her affection toward me, and for that I am thankful.

Student Loan Advice:

  1. Expect and plan for hardships along the journey- A friend once told not to worry. Citing a theologian he said, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.” So it’s best to do what you can when you can, don’t fret.
  2. Believe-To do the seemingly impossible you must believe in the impossible. Someone had to eventually create the first plane, then came breaking the sound barrier, next was space flight.
  3. Stay Consistent-Learn as much as you can and learn to fail. When you fail, never give up because it is your “First Attempt In Learning”. Things take time to improve, with each payment there’s less interest and hopefully less principal owed.

Feel free to comment below and share your warm and fuzzy memories. The next post will be titled, “House Hunting”.