Some major things happened in April 2021, yet the month really felt like it just FLEW by.
First, my husband is now fully vaccinated, and the kids have returned to school and one activity each in person (H 4 days/week + gymnastics and J 2 days/week + taekwondo). They have missed it so much. While I am still nervous about their unvaccinated status, transmission rates are low and mask/mitigation measures compliance high in my state, which makes the return less risky. The Covid pandemic is by no means over, but life feels a bit more full and less "on hold" than it did at the start of this year. I am very grateful for this progress in our lives. I am trying to let go of the anger I feel for the disgusting misprioritization of resources that made in person schooling unsafe for so much longer than it needed to be.
Second, I have been admitted into Frostburg University's doctoral program in Educational Leadership. I am very excited to begin this three year program, but a little nervous about the intensity. I feel very lucky to have the support of my family, friends, and coworkers as I begin this process. Classes begin in June. Financially, this changes some of my thinking around my student loans. I will be enrolled half time, so my student loans will go into deferment again. Most are subsidized, so they will not accumulate interest, and I will not have to make payments for three years. Additionally, while my employer has a very generous tuition payment benefit for this degree, I will be responsible for about $15,000 in tuition, books, and other expenses. This is more money than I have saved so far for this doctorate, so I am considering taking a Direct Loan for a portion of this expense. I will write more about this decision if/when I get there--for now my summer and fall tuition will be completely covered, so I have some time to think about it. I just feel differently about finishing paying off my student loans now that I'm going back to school.
Finally, we have paid off the last of the credit card debt! WOWOWOWOWOW! Just a little over three years since we looked at that number larger than $30K and almost cried, it's GONE. I wrote about it every month. Sometimes it felt like we made almost no progress, sometimes we got lucky and made huge forward progress all at once. Boy, does it feel really good. NEVER AGAIN!
Since I no longer have ANY credit card debt and am not aggressively paying off student loans, I will not be doing a monthly Debt Elimination Update; instead I will shift to a financial update. I like the accountability of writing it out, & still believe sharing about finances (a normally taboo subject) demystifies the process for others. I hope you will enjoy reading our efforts to save money for different goals!
Financial progress from April:
- Mortgage Escrow Refund Check and Leave Cash Out. April featured two "windfalls" that enabled us to finish paying off our remaining credit card debt and buy two things that we really value this month (see next bullet). We got the refund from our previous mortgage escrow, and I was able to use my annual leave cashing employer benefit to get paid out for 8 unused vacation days. The next few months will be weird since we've had so many windfalls in this first part of they year. It will feel like progress is slowing, when really, it's just back to normal.
- Paid upfront a late summer vacation rental & clothing. My mother had a stroke in August 2020 and her recovery has been challenging. We decided to rent a small house near one of her favorite beach destinations over Labor Day weekend for our family, my Mom, and my sister's family to celebrate a) her anniversary of recovery and b) our parents' wedding anniversary (It would have been 52 years!). It was so exciting to be able to pay for us to celebrate still being here. I also bought myself three dresses to make me feel better about going back to work. I love them!
- Closed more credit cards & set up a default cashback optimization system. We now have a simplified system and can maximize our card cashback benefits. Of course, my credit score is now in the over-800s club, so that's cool.
- Debt Progress: Here are the numbers for the end of April:
- Balance Transfer 3 (0% through August 2021): $0 CELEBRATE--ALL CC DEBT DONE!
- Grad School 1 (5.5%): $1,463.01
- Grad School 2 (5.5%): $3,884.93
TOTAL Remaining: $5,347.94
Amount paid off this month: $3,083.25
Amount paid off TOTAL: $38,907.84
From now on, I will be tracking overall debt reduction (mortgage and student loans), retirement and giving contributions, and other stuff. I don't quite know how I want to visualize it, but I know I do better when I'm tracking.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me! It's been wild. Onto new things!