2018: Debt Paydown Year in Review


Up until this point I’ve been a little sheepish about exposing real numbers in our journey to financial freedom. It’s scary to expose your financial self to the world. Some will disagree with this and say that these are personal matters to be kept to one’s self, but I think for this journey to have the most positive impact on others, transparency and honesty are both important.

In 2017, Josilyn and I got married. With it came a lot of changes. We shuffled through a couple of cars. She had a Subaru Outback that had some mechanical issues, so we ended up getting rid of that for the Toyota Prius she now has and we love. I finished my dance with car loans and other vehicle stupidity and landed in my Mazda Miata. We got married in July of that year. We made a multi-state move away from home to Oregon. We got our first apartment together. Jos started Grad school and I was unemployed for the first 2 1/2 months we were there. There were a lot of moving parts and a lot of “firsts” for us as a newly married couple. All in all, it was a financially volatile year. We made a bit of progress, but most of our time was spent just trying to keep our head above water financially.

2018 marked a new chapter and we began to turn a corner. Our budget settled down and settled in. We integrated tools on our phones and computers like Mint, Simple, Credit Karma, and a very cool, little know site called Undebt. We caught a vision for where we could be financially, with a sober knowledge of the not-so-great place we were. Basically, we started to pay attention to our finances. As my treasured and wise mother in law says, “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.”

During this past year, we’ve had ups and downs with finances. There were unexpected expenses here and there, and living on one income proves to be challenging as Jos continues in her studies. But we also had some major victories. During this year I received raises on three different occasions, two bonuses, and I started working in early October as a pizza delivery driver, all helping to bolster our income. We finished paying off our credit card debt in May of 2018, which was a wonderful feeling not being indebted to high-interest rate lenders. Another win came later when Josilyn received a settlement from a car accident she was involved in. Getting a lump sum of cash is great, but it can be very tempting to spend it instead of saving it or applying it to debt. I applaud my wonderful wife for her willingness to apply most of that to her student loan debt.

Well enough hoopla about victories, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and the numbers (let’s be honest, the numbers are what I live for anyway). Here are some totals of who and what we paid off during the 2018 calendar year, and what we have left to accomplish:

Visa Credit Card – $906.77 – PAID IN FULL

Chase Credit Card – $2,066.86 – PAID IN FULL

Citi Credit Card – $3,399.00 – PAID IN FULL

FedLoan Servicing (Justin’s Undergrad Loans) – $13,880.56

Navient *cringe, I hate these guys* (Josilyn Grad Loans) – $19,542.66

*Side note, this Navient number is inflated a bit because we took out more loan than we needed, so we turned around and paid back some of that disbursement with that money*

Total Debt Paid in 2018: $39,795.75 – Which is probably about $30,000 flat if you subtract out the note above regarding Navient. Still, a bunch of money!

So where does this leave us looking into 2019? Thankfully we only owe student loan debt at this point. Here is the breakdown:

FedLoan Servicing (Justin’s Undergrad Loans) – $7,792.61

Navient (Josilyn’s Grad Loans) – $54,422.22

Projected Loans for final Grad semester – $12,500

Total Debt to Pay before Financial Freedom: $74,714.83

It is pretty intimidating to look at this total. But I look at the year ahead and I have to remind myself of a few key items:

  • This year Josilyn will begin working in May or June so we will have a second healthy income that will all go towards paying off debt.
  • I will work at Pizza Hut two days a week at least until May or June when we might have a potential move. I only worked there for 3 months in 2018.
  • With my raises last year, I will be working at a higher pay rate all of 2019, so my total income should be significantly higher than it was in 2018.

Moving forward, we are focusing on accomplishing this feat one payment at a time. We will apply our entire 2018 tax refund to our debt. We are not going to change our budget when Josilyn starts working, so that will help accelerate the process significantly. We will target our smallest loans first, knocking those out systematically, working our way to the larger loans.

Whew, this has probably been the toughest post for me to write thus far. Lots of emotions as I write this: feeling motivated yet overwhelmed, confident yet uncertain, hopeful but somewhat anxious. Thanks for reading, I hope this motivates you to begin or continue in your debt free journey this new year! Happy 2019!

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