Archive | December, 2012

New Year, New Blog

31 Dec

Here we sit at the end of the year.  12 months ago, I was sitting in the same chair on the same rug in the same room, but yet in a totally different place.

In January, I was working five part-time jobs, living at home, and $12,000 more dollars in debt.

Now in December, I am working one full-time job and four part-time jobs, will soon be living in a new apartment of my very own, and my credit report lists a dozen more “closed- paid in full” accounts.

Since I accomplished my goal, I’ve been trying to decide what to do with this blog.  After all, even though my undergraduate loans are gone, my graduate loans still loom large and forboding on the horizon.  I’ve decided that I’ll keep blogging here about money, loans, and life, but less frequently.  I do enjoy writing this blog, and I’ve heard from several people that you enjoy hearing about my constant battles with the student loan companies.

But, a new blog project is demanding my attention.  This is a project that I’ve been working on for a month or so now, and I’m excited to finally share it with you.  I hope you’ll check it out, and I hope the Americans among you will take in interest in it.

The new blog is called What The Health, and it’s being written by myself and a former classmate (this means we both hold Masters Degrees in Public Health).  We’ll be going page by page through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Healthcare Reform) and explaining in plain nonpartisan language what it means for the public.  We’ve also included a Cuteness Clause, for when the project becomes too tedious for our readers.  You can learn more about the project by clicking here: http://saywhatthehealth.wordpress.com/about/

I wish you all a very happy New Year’s Eve, and a wonderful New Year.  Thank you for supporting me on this journey through your comments, your subscriptions, and simply your page views.  You kept me going when I felt like there was no way I’d ever make it though my mountain of debt.  Cheers y’all.

 

Chasing the Fear

21 Dec

I know I promised big news to be revealed on Monday, and it’s now Friday and no news has been revealed.  I’m sorry about that.  There’s been a delay with that project.  I’ve also had trouble finding any words to string together this week.

Shortly after I published last Friday’s post, I found out about the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The news made me fearful above all else.  I run my church’s Sunday School program, and every week I am responsible for 10-20 children between the ages of 2 to 10 years old.  It’s a small program, and I know all the parents well.  We don’t have a security system beyond volunteer background checks, signage, locking the two exterior doors, and setting up portable fences outside so cars don’t come through the parking lot that doubles as our playground.  We don’t even have doors on half of the classrooms.  We’ve never had a security problem.  Honestly, the worst problem we’ve ever faced on a Sunday morning was when one student tripped over a hula hoop and scraped her knees, hands, and chin.

But now instead of seeing the close-knit community that provides us with security, I see all the ways it could go wrong.  An adult getting supplies from our store room might leave the alley way door unlocked and a stranger could walk in.  A preschooler could run out the front door and into the street.  A fire may start in the kitchen and two classrooms could be left without an exit.

If I let myself think too long on these things, I won’t be able to do my job.  I’ll be too busy worrying about what could go wrong that I won’t be able to teach the students about hope, peace, faith, and love.  I would miss out on the moments that make me love my job, and what’s worse, I would be teaching my students about anxiety, distrust, and fear through my actions.

What I can do is provide as safe of an environment as possible for my students.  I can set up fences, I can put signs up saying “parents and students only,” I can lock doors, I can make sure the students know what to do in case of a fire, storm, or security breach.  I can make sure I know every parent, and who is allowed to pick up which kids.  But after I do all these things, I can remember to not take a single moment with my students for granted.

Because as my church was reminded this week, all the preparation in the world cannot stop all the evil.  On Monday morning, we woke to the news that one of our precious preschool students had passed away from cancer.  This little boy was a beacon of light and joy, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.  There is a Facebook page where people are sharing memories and photos of him, and it makes me cry and laugh at the same time every time I read it.  This is the second time I’ve lost a student to cancer, and I pray that it will be the last.

So in memory of the victims of Sandy Hook, and of every child who had been taken from this world too soon, I’m going to do my best to look past the fear of “what if.”  I will provide the safest environment possible for my students, and then I will not take a single second that I have with them for granted.

Tallying It All Up

14 Dec

In case any of you missed it, I accomplished my goal on December 3rd.  I paid off my undergraduate student loans, and I have the picture to prove it:

zero balance

After I finished dancing around the room and texting everyone I’ve ever known, I sat down to total all my payments for these loans.

Over this past year, I paid just over $12k.  Over the 8-year life of my loans, I paid just over $26k.  Since my original loan total was $23,300, I paid about 10% extra in interest.

I could have done a lot with $26,000: a nicer car, a bigger apartment, a lifetime pass to Dragon*Con (and ones for 5 of my friends as well), or a trip to any convention I wanted.

Instead, I have a college degree that informs my work life every day, and shaped my life in so many other ways.  I think I made the right choice.

Here’s hoping my graduate degree pays off in the same way.  Because really, there’s so much more I could do with $70,000.

One final note: this is the first New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made and kept.  And no, next year’s resolution will not be to pay off my grad loans in a year, unless I win big on a lottery ticket in the next two weeks.  But I do have a new project starting on January 1st.  I’ll be posting more about that next week, so stay tuned.

The Best Account SnapShot Ever

6 Dec

zero balance

I think that says it all.

Nickel and Dimed

3 Dec

I sent what I thought was my final undergraduate student loan payment on Saturday.  I bragged about it on Twitter.  I was all prepared to brag about it in today’s post too.  This morning, I logged into my account to get a screenshot of that $0 balance.

Instead, I found this:

nelnet

I see what you did there, loan company.  You charged me two days’ interest because I sent a payment on a Saturday.  Well played.

If I submit a payment for 32 cents, it won’t post until tomorrow.  I’ll accrue another few cents in interest in those 24 hours.  Then I’ll have to send another payment for a few cents, which will take another 24 hours to post.  As Nelnet doesn’t allow me to pay over the current posted balance, this cycle is going to continue until we reach fractions of a cent (and honestly probably for a while after that).

It makes the exchange I had back in May with the loan company on Facebook a bit more ominous:

nelnet

Reread that second line of the reply one more time.  The “…we wish we could keep you forever!” part.

Like I said: well played, loan company.  Well played.

So while I figure out how to beat compound interest, and send a loan payment for 32 cents, here’s a panda taunting Mondays.

Taunting Panda

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