January seemed to fly by and to take forever…is that possible? I had a busy month with some great highs and a low or two. I definitely spent a lot more than I intended to in the areas of entertainment and food. More importantly though, I had a great month when it came to debt payoff. In fact, I had my best debt payoff month ever!
All in all, I paid off $1,525 of debt last month. What! Who saw that coming? Where did all that money come from?
–$600 of that was money I got from family for Christmas. I specifically asked for money and didn’t give any gifts this year.
–$150 was a Christmas bonus I received. My first bonus!
–$200 came from four catering events I was able to pick up. (One of the events was New Years Day, which meant time and a half!) I made about $450 total catering, some of which also helped pay for some extra expenses this month, like an oil change, the boyfriends birthday celebrations, and in a moment of weakness, a dinner out.
The rest came from budgeting and throwing whatever funds I could come up with towards my loans. Initially, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make a large payment this month but that turned out to not be the case. I catered four events, one with extra pay, and I received a slight pay bump from my nonprofit job. I made less in January than I did Oct-Dec, but not as much less as I was expecting.
Most of that $1,525 went to the principle loan balance as well. I paid $49.64 in interest in January. While interest hurts my soul, it is nice that making payments multiple times a month means interest has less time to grow. I made four payments throughout January on one loan, meaning that most of the interest I did pay came from the two loans I’m not focusing on. My privately held loan cost me $20.20 in interest! God, I hate having debt.
I am following the debt avalanche AND the debt snowball method in my payoffs. The debt avalanche method dictates you focus all extra payments on the loan with the single highest interest rate. The debt snowball method dictates you focus all extra payments on the loan with the smallest balance. I’m actually quite lucky, because for some magical reason, my highest interest loans are also my smallest balance loans. I don’t know how that happened but I am grateful for it! I’ve already paid off my 6.8% loan and my 5.75% interest loans. Now I’m focusing on a Stafford loan with a 5.35% interest.
January starting balance: $3,817.35 Interest Rate: 5.35%
January payments: $1,249.45
New balance: $2,567.90
I’m super thrilled to see such big leaps made in one month on this loan. I’m feeling so hopeful about being able to pay off all my loans within 2015 and not having to bleed over into the first few months of 2016. I don’t expect to pay off quite this much every month. However, if I have a few more months like this, it means less pressure on the months where I can’t pay such large sums. I think of it all this way: the more I do RIGHT NOW, the less I have to do later.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.