Ground Zero – My Challenge


1095 days. 45,159.35 remaining.

I graduated from St. Joseph’s College of New York with an MBA at the age of 24 and 42k of debt in 2008.  This debt is the aggregate total of my loans from 2001 – 2008, including Community College and Undergraduate Education.  I am 28 now, pushing ever closer to 30 and realized I need to do something with my debt before it gets completely out of control.

While my story isn’t as exciting as Mr. No More Harvard Debt, it is my own and no one else’s.  Everyone has to start off from somewhere.  Today April 7, 2012 I owe $45159.35 in debt to various entities.  This number is the culmination of student loans and credit cards.

The breakdown is as follows:
41,971.74 to Sallie Mae at 4.25%, currently on Income-Based Repayment Plan.  Still unsure if my interest will be covered at all.
3187.61o on a Chase Slate Card at 0%, which I believe is good until the end of the year.
47.70 to Citibank.

In 2011 I earned ~14000, working for effectively half the year up until we moved.
2010 I earned ~$13000.  Also essentially working half of the year, since I spent a couple months doing per diem executive assistant type work.  Long story which I prefer to skip right now.
2009 $~25000.  This was the most money I made in a single year.  I also worked in an  environment of mind numbing repetition and dreaded coming in each day after months worth of drama.  I quit to explore my options and my finances tanked as a result.

I will not divulge my income or that of my partner (yeah I’m gay) in this blog, for obvious reasons but he makes considerably more than I do.  I plan to get this debt paid off in the next 36 months.  That’s April 7, 2015 y’all.  It’s doable.  I plan to automate as much as I can and get a raise / promotion in the next 12-16 months.

I’ve been hit with a wave of adversity the past 9 months since moving to Dallas from New York.  I don’t want to dwell on it, but sharing it will provide some background as to my thought processes.

  • Got laid off after working for a company 6 weeks after being out of work for 6 months.  This company also bounced my last paycheck and owed me money for the days accrued between my last check and the day they closed up.  It appears they have violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifcation (WARN) Act by filing for bankruptcy and not giving any employees adequate notice.  I have filed a claim and would really like to get my money.
  • I was on unemployment for 4 weeks while I went on a massive networking campaign and collected about $1000.
  • Got a ticket for $178 from a cop on my way to a job interview I was already 45 minutes to.  I couldn’t find the building and decided to circle around the neighborhood.  Needless to say a cop was hiding and clocked me for 49 in a 30.  Settled, paid the fine and it is off my record.
  • Got $500 from my folks to help with my bills after my layoffs.  I didn’t ask for it, but definitely benefitted from it.
  • Prior to finding the job at that company, I applied to over 120 positions and went on about 10 different interviews including one at a company offering to pay me $30/hr.  After my third interview with no clear answer as to when they could hire me, I made the decision to try something else.

My 2008 Nissan Altima is paid off and I expect to get at least another 4 good years out of it.  I could sell it today and get ~$15k .  I put about 4k into it between upgrading the sound system, installing dynomat and hushmat in key places, along with a strut bar / sway bar, tinted windows, rims / tires etc. and my warranty is good till 2015 so no new car for me.  Some might call it foolish, but I enjoy these things everyday and it isn’t breaking the bank right now.

I just started a new job March 2011 at a company I feel is financially stable and has a great team of smart people working there.  This is my first time working in this industry, so my experience can’t yet command a higher salary.  I’d like to be making $50k by the time I’m 32.  My credit score is presently a 781.

Breakdown of my expenses are as follows:

$101 – Cell Phone (AT&T Wireless on iPhone 4)
$145 – U-Verse (Triple package with 18Mbps internet)
$150 – Gas (commute to work is only 10mi roundtrip)
$34 – Life Insurance
$30 – Haircut
$80 – Car Insurance
$30 – Car Washes
$125 – Entertainment
$200 – Food
$32 – Gas Bill
$15 – Rdio Music Subscription
$50 – Random Miscellaneous
$35 – Washer / Dryer Rental
$800 – Toward Townhouse downpayment, Need 1500-2000 by June 10th.

1827 in monthly expenses short-term, according to my best estimate.  My partner has been paying the rent since we moved here and I’ve been helping out as much as I can with expenses outside of that.

I am paying this debt off as much on my own without help from any outside sources.  I am continuing to research ways of making money on the side and continually develop my skills to start marketable in this fast changing economy.  I get paid semi-monthly, so my updates will be targeted around that timeframe unless I feel a reason to post otherwise.

We are also saving for a downpayment on a townhouse we’re closing on in June ideally.  It’s an FHA loan, so 3.5% down instead of the typical 20, but PMI applies.  Our combined income could pay for off in 2 years, but that is not the goal.  I will go into more detail on that in my next post.

3 thoughts on “Ground Zero – My Challenge

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