We started with $117,000 of student loan debt and we’re currently down to $35,000 – which we hope to have paid off by the end of 2018.
Our goal was to pay off our car in January, put $2,180 extra toward our student loans in January, and put $4,450 toward our loans in February and March.
That didn’t go exactly as planned…here’s how we did.
- January: Paid off the car. Put nothing extra toward student loans.
- February: Put $4,500 extra toward our student loans
- March: Put $8,315 extra toward student loans – paid off my last Navient loan (yay!) and paid off one of my husband’s student loans.
Our amount was lower in January because we had some unexpected expenses, which included medical bills for me, dental bills for my husband, and car repairs for the car we just paid off.
Of course, all of these things happened around the same time. Crazy how that always happens!
Murphy’s law states that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” It’s naive to assume that we won’t have unexpected expenses, so it’s crucial to have an emergency fund.
Ours is only $1,000 right now because our focus is on paying off our debt ASAP, but we’ll have a much larger emergency fund once we’re debt free.
Luckily, we had some unexpected extra income in March and we got a tax return (which we also weren’t expecting). We had planned to break even on our taxes, which we pretty much would have if it weren’t for a new law in Minnesota that allowed us to get a credit for our student loan payments.
We filed our taxes using TaxAct, which was free (there are both free and paid options). Doing taxes is never a fun experience, but TaxAct makes it as painless as possible. I highly recommend it!
If you file your taxes with my TaxAct link, you’ll receive 20% off of federal tax filing products.
After Christmas, I had a few gift cards to spend so I looked for deals on a new pair of winter boots (mine were falling apart). I found a good deal on Koolaburra’s by Ugg (just as warm and comfy as regular Uggs but less expensive – $80 compared to $130+).
I hate buying expensive things, but I remind myself that it’s important to think about cost per use when it comes to shoes. If I wear them every day during the 5 months of winter (I live in Minnesota) for the next several years, my cost per use will be low.
I was also able to use Ebates to get a little cash back. Ebates is a free website that allows you to earn up to 40% off of online purchases at many popular retail stores such as Kohl’s, Toys R Us, Amazon, Macy’s, Barnes and Noble, Lululemon, and Sephora.
Related: Ebates Review: How to Earn Cash Back for Online Shopping
I’ve been trying to cut back on my grocery spending as well. I started using the Ibotta cash back app recently and love it! You can download the app for free and it’s really easy to use. Once you start redeeming cash back offers, you’ll get a free $10 welcome bonus!
Related: Ibotta App Review: How to Earn Cash Back for Everyday Shopping
Over the past several months, I’ve woken up a few times in the middle of the night with excruciating abdominal pain, back pain, and vomiting.
Since it always happened after eating a high fat meal, my doctor suggested getting my gall bladder evaluated…and it turns out I have gall stones.
Gall stones are so common that many people don’t even know they have them, but once you start developing symptoms, surgery to remove the gall bladder is typically recommended.
Before I have surgery, I have to follow-up with a specialist to run a bazillion tests because some of my lab work came back abnormal.
My insurance company is a nightmare (I could write another entire post on that), but the short story is that I’ve already racked up over $500 in medical bills in 2018, and I will likely go over $1,250 by the end of the year (and that’s probably the best case scenario).
This is super frustrating when we’re trying to pay our debt off ASAP, but again, it reminds us of how important it is to have an emergency fund. I am so grateful that we have savings and the ability to cash flow minor emergencies if needed.
I’ve been trying to focus more on healthy habits instead of hitting a certain weight goal. I’ve been going to holy yoga classes more often (I got lazy about this for a while) and I’m trying to get more steps in each day.
I used to average 8,000 steps per day, but I now average 9,000 steps per day (yay!). Ideally, I’d like to get at least 10,000 steps a day but I think 9,000 is more realistic since I have an office job. I track my steps using my FitBit Flex.
Blogging has gone really well the past few months! My traffic is down (it always seems to peak in December/January, and then dips quite a bit in February).
Despite this, my blogging income has been going up and I’ve been toying with the idea of sharing my first income report on the blog.
The two main ways that I earn money through blogging are sponsored posts and affiliate marketing.
If you’re not familiar with affiliates, this means that I’ll include a link to a product or service (an “affiliate link”) in some of my posts, and if someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, I earn a commission on the sale.
The awesome thing about affiliates are that they’re passive – you do need to put in the work up front, but you can still make money off of affiliates later on…sometimes even years later!
I’ve been making more of an effort to implement the strategies I learned in the class Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and it’s been paying off!
Michelle (who created the course) is a master at affiliate marketing – she earns over $100,000 a month (yes, you read that correctly!) from her blog!
I went to church every week, went to holy yoga classes often, and started using the Bible app. The Bible app has a lot more features than the She Reads Truth app (which I used to use).
It also has the option of listening to an audio version of the Bible which is nice if you don’t want to look down at your phone all the time.
Highlights of the Months
I like to include a few highlights of the months in these updates…because life is about more than just reaching goals. As a Type A person, I have to frequently remind myself of that.
The hubby and I took Herbie to a pug event and it was so much fun! I met the most adorable black pug puppy and now I want one :)
What I’m Watching
Watching Netflix is one of my favorite frugal activities. I watched:
- The 4400 (3.5 stars) – 4,400 missing people return with no memory of where they’ve been, and some have developed special abilities.
- Travelers (4 stars) – A group of time travelers tries to prevent a terrible future.
- Colony (4 stars) – After LA is invaded by aliens, a family makes difficult decisions as they try to survive.
- the new season of Grace and Frankie (5 stars) – Always hilarious. Proper Grace and eccentric Frankie bond when their husbands leave them for each other.
- the new season of Crazy Ex Girlfriend (3.5 stars) – I’m not a big fan of musicals, but this show is so funny. A mentally unstable lawyer moves across the country to stalk her ex-boyfriend.
- Dark Matter (3.5 stars) – In a future where interstellar travel is commonplace, six crew members wake up on a spaceship with no memory of who they are or how they got there.
I’ve watched so many shows on Netflix now that I’m starting to run out of good ones! What are some of your favorite shows on Netflix?
What I’m Reading
I don’t normally do much reading since I’m on a spending ban and reading aggravates my neck issues, but I decided to buy some books since I had a couple gift cards and I’ll probably do a lot of reading when I’m recovering from surgery.
Here are the books on my to-read list:
- Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together – Erin Lowry
- Retire Inspired – Chris Hogan
- Leaving Time – Jodi Picoult
- 52 Lists Project (not technically a book; it’s a journal)
- Soulful Simplicity – Courtney Carver
- The Broke and Beautiful Life – Stephanie O’Connell
In Case You Missed It
Popular posts for this quarter:
8 Strategies We’ve Used to Pay off Over $80,000 of Debt
Why Blogging is the Best Side Hustle
My 3 Year Spending Ban: 25 Things I Stopped Buying
Get out of Debt and Achieve Financial Freedom: The 7 Baby Steps Explained
7 Ways to Make Money Blogging
5 Reasons I Stick to a Super Strict Budget – The Financial Diet
How Jen Paid Off $77,000 of Student Loan Debt – 6 Figures Under
6 Things I Learned From My $1,000 Vision Insurance Mistake – The Financial Diet
Jen’s Student Loan Payoff Story – $77,000 of Debt Eliminated – Millennial Boss
How is your year going so far?
Want more? Download my free budgeting guide which includes a printable budget worksheet!
Next, read the personal finance book that changed my life: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
I just found your blog today because I realized that at 32, for the first time since 18, I may have to move back in with my parents. I was really trying to understand how to pay down debt and found you. I’ve been on your blog for hours now saving every link lol! Do I subscribe so that you can receive credit?
As far as Netflix, I recommend:
1. The Push
2. Santa Clarita Diet
3. Altered Carbon
4. Black Mirror
5. A Series of Unfortunate Events
Thanks so much for reading and for the Netflix recommendations! I’ll have to check those out. Moving back in with parents is tough, but it’s definitely a smart move financially. Best of luck with your finances and paying down debt!
Sorry to hear about the health issues, but I love seeing how even with EVERYTHING going on you still managed to pay so much off! So congrats to you, because I know that it’s not easy trying to manage everything at one time. Can’t wait for the next update, I’m sure it’s going to be even better!
I’d love to see an income report! I think people seek that out (at least I do!) in blogs and might increase your traffic as well! Love your blog
Thanks Erika! I appreciate the feedback. Have a great day!
You’re crushing it! Awesome. Keep at it.