An Update on Life: Student Loans, A Half-Marathon PR, and Cheap Toilet Paper

Hello world! It’s Sunday evening in Wisconsin, and I’m finally taking the time to post an update! Let’s get to it, shall we?

Student Loan Progress

If you read this post, you know that I’m dying to pay off my student loans. I graduated college in 2006, and until recently, never really felt the burden of that $38,000 debt. Long story short, I had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment over the summer, and realized I want that debt to go away now.

As of July 14, I owed $27,748 to an unnamed financial institution in Missouri. I am proud to report that today I owe $15,958! Not to toot my own horn, but that’s a reduction of $11,790 in just over four months! I’m pretty excited about that!

Unfortunately that level of progress isn’t sustainable much longer. (And it definitely hasn’t come without the short-term sacrifice of other financial goals.) You see, a good chunk of this money came from selling stocks/funds housed within my taxable brokerage accounts. I originally funded these accounts in hopes of them sustaining me in early retirement, so watching them dwindle to almost nothing is somewhat demoralizing. Luckily there is an equal and opposite feeling of gratification that comes with watching the number on my student loan debt go down.

[Side note: I’m not touching any money in retirement accounts for this purpose. Student loans suck, but early withdrawal penalties suck worse.]

I have also drained a couple different savings accounts to help the cause. I haven’t completely decided whether or not this is a smart move, as it’s a tad anxiety-inducing. But, as with most things, being a little uncomfortable is generally a good thing. Plus: 1) my husband has an emergency fund separate from mine, and 2) I hate this debt more than I love the comfort of a fat savings account.

Beyond that, my not-so-secret formula for paying off the remainder is: earn more, spend less, and throw every extra dollar I have at my stupid debt. Thus far, I am only driving my family a little crazy with my ruthless frugality. (“Sorry honey, there’s no room in the grocery budget for chips and salsa. You get one or the other. Take your pick.”)

I’ve had a successful few months chipping away at this goal, but given the sad state of my savings/brokerage accounts, I need to get a little more creative from here on out. I’m currently applying for part-time jobs to turbo charge my repayment, but haven’t landed “the one” yet. (I don’t need anything too specific. Just a high-paying, low-stress, work-from-home job that has completely flexible scheduling, and lets me work whenever I feel like it. Any takers? ?)

A Half-Marathon PR

One of my goals for 2016 was to set a personal record in a half-marathon. I am happy to report that I accomplished this on two separate occasions – once in August, and again in October. My current personal best is 1:55:23, which is a pace of about 8:48 per mile. For me, this was comfortably challenging for the entire 13.1 miles. I’m no Speedy Gonzalez, but I’ve definitely improved from the days I used run every mile on flat courses at a relaxed 10-minute pace. (Newsflash: running faster during training helps you run faster at races! I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out.)

After completing a marathon this spring and two half-marathons this fall, I’m taking a break from running to focus on some strength training by way of P90X3. I’m hating just about every second of it, and would prefer to do a 60-minute run over a 30-minute weight session any day of the week. But while running is my passion, it doesn’t transform my body the way strength training does. Thus, I’m begrudgingly dragging myself through 90 days of hell once again.

While I’m on the subject of fitness, let me just go ahead and make one of next year’s goals public. In the spring of 2017, I’d like to run a 1:48 half-marathon, which is a pace of ~8:15 per mile. For anyone who may care, this is slightly faster than the 8:23 pace I need to qualify in my age group for the Boston Marathon (someday…).

Random Updates/Musings

  1. I opened a 457B in October. I’m pretty excited about it, even though it’s effectively killing my dreams of paying off my student loans by hijacking a lot of disposable income.
  2. I recently started travel hacking, and it’s awesome! I can’t believe I waited so long to jump on the bandwagon.
  3. I’m going through a major transition at work, and am on an emotional rollercoaster because of it. It’s heartbreaking and amazing all at the same time. Many tears have been shed over this, but I know I’m on a better path now.
  4. I suck at blogging on a regular basis. This is not news to anyone. I’ll try to do better.
  5. I’m trying to resuscitate my very limited Spanish-speaking abilities by listening to podcasts on the way to work. (I’d love to be fluent someday.) It’s proving to be a nice way to distract my mind from the crappy work commute.
  6. My 9 year old daughter is straight-up obsessed with Michael Jackson right now. (She even dressed up as him for Halloween!) I’m not upset about this.
  7. After 7 years of marriage, I can say this for certain: a man never putting the toilet seat down is not nearly as a bad as a man never putting it up to begin with. Think about that for a minute.
  8. More so than ever before, I am inspired to keep working towards financial independence. And while I’m constantly wishing for a lottery win or unexpected inheritance, it looks like another decade or so of earning more/spending less is the best way to get there.
  9. Speaking of spending less…I can out-frugal just about anyone this side of the Atlantic, but cheap toilet paper? No. Just…no. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago after scoring what I thought was a killer deal on a bulk purchase of Angel Soft. Go without paper towels or Cheetos if you must balance the budget, but never put yourself through the misery that is cheap toilet paper. Life is hard enough already.


What’s new in your world?

What small step did you take to reach one of your goals today?

P90X3 – Pilates baby!


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